Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Learning by Example

Some dog breeds are known for learning by watching others of their type. Border collies, for instance, have been trained for generations by getting plonked into the sheep fields to work with older border collies. Quite a few of the herding breeds are trained for the job with instructions that start off, "Well, you put your new dog out there with your old dog..." which makes life difficult if you're training your first one.

However, little Bruce is no herding breed. I'm not too sure what he is -- he looks a bit like a working-line Lab as he gets older -- but he's definitely not built for sheep or cow control. He's living his life with shepherds, though, and he likes to please the humans, so he's doing his darnedest to be a German Shepherd Dog regardless of his genetics.

This isn't always obvious, but he gave away the game yesterday. Sunny taught Dustin to bark and whoop with excitement over an impending ball game, it seems. McCoy likes to have a good yawp now and again too as we approach the door and I juggle toys for the pack. Bruce decided yesterday morning that he, too, could join in the noisy fun. He threw his head up and bawled like a hound.

And then he looked around with a puzzled expression on his face. "Who did that? What was that strange noise? I certainly never made such a sound!" After a moment's thought, he barked the way he has lately, which is to say he made a fairly threatening sound which imitates a shepherd's alert-bark. I'm onto him now, though. That's not his real vocalization. His mutters, whoops, and that bawl -- those are real. I may have to find him a hound-dog buddy to chum around with, just so he can learn there are dogs other than shepherds in the world.

1 comment:

  1. Ha! Now I have to keep an eye on Wanda and see if she starts sounding like a frazzled English teacher - or like BH...