The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Training your dog by training yourself

Patting Lucy on the head.Of course, Lucy isn't a saint.  She's been known to carry off tools and spread the contents of trash bags all across the yard.  She used to tear up the garden pretty badly too, running across raised beds and choosing a few as favorite napping spots.

Dogs aren't large picture thinkers the way we are --- I'm pretty sure that I could train her not to chew on a tool, but I'd have to train her on every tool we own to really get the point across.  Similarly, Mark trained her not to go in the front door of the barn...but then caught her trotting through the back door because all she got out of the training was "don't go through the front door" not "don't go in the barn."

In cases like this, we've figured out that it's better to train ourselves rather than train the dog.  How hard is it to keep trash in the barn and gloves in the house?  We also developed main paths in the garden based on Lucy's regular routes, and when necessary put branches on the beds she was obsessed with to physically keep her off.  In our early days on the farm, I yelled at Lucy a lot.  Now, we've trained her and she's trained us and we're like a happy married couple.

This post is part of our Training a Farm Dog lunchtime series.  Read all of the entries:

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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