Today I am joining the Positive Dog Training Blog Hop. I thought I'd talk about a very simple "trick" that I've taught Shyla that has proven to be useful as well as fun! I taught her to lie flat on her side. I taught her this "trick" by luring her into this position using a treat, and then rewarding her while she lay in this position. There's a short video about how to do it at this link.
I call this trick "relax", and my hand signal tells her which side to lie on.
This is her favorite side. For some reason, it was the only side that she was willing to lie on until quite recently.
With Shyla, I have to take everything at her pace. For some reason, lying on her right side was very scary to her until quite recently. She made a big breakthrough while we were practicing her "relaxing" on her favorite side. During that session, without any urging from me, Shyla suddenly decided to lie on her other side. I was surprised, to put it mildly. We had a treat party while she lay on that side for the first time, and then I immediately followed up by teaching her to roll onto that side when I requested it. Now it's easy for her!
Here she is, on her previously "scary" side.
This "trick" can be very helpful at the vet. A few weeks ago, Shyla had to go to the vet because she ate something bad when we were outside and was very nauseous. The vet wanted x-rays of her GI tract to check for an obstruction. Before the vet took her to the x-ray room, I quickly taught the vet how to have Shyla "relax" for her x-rays. Afterwards, the vet reported that it worked perfectly. By having Shyla "relax", they quickly got good pictures of her stomach and intestines.
Since we usually practice this "trick" out in the forest, I was thrilled to hear that Shyla was willing to do it while being x-rayed in a vet's office!
What I didn't know until Shyla's illness is that compost is highly toxic to all mammals, including dogs. The decaying process produces a neurotoxin that causes grand mal seizures and frequently results in death. We were super lucky that the decay process hadn't started.
Due to that knowledge, I am now hyper-vigilant about not allowing our dogs near the unprotected compost unless they're tightly controlled. I wanted to share this information with all of you because I suspect that others, like me, don't know about the toxicity of compost to dogs and wildlife.
So, I wish that we hadn't needed to go to the vet and that Shyla hadn't been so ill. However, I was super happy that our "relax" command made the x-rays and exam easier.
We've made huge strides in that direction just since last week's incident but I won't be letting down my guard anytime soon.