Quinn may be a nut. She may be rather hyperactive-slash-enthusiastic.

But she has a brain and is learning how to use it. Which is frightening and joyous at the same time.

For example, she figures stuff out on her own. Training her isn’t just about tasks, but keeping that brain active and allowing her to figure out the puzzles. Like, I accidentally dropped something. Asked her to pick it up. I couldn’t bend forward so I kept my hand on my knee, palm up, and asked her to give it to me. Because my chair was partially reclined, she couldn’t just simply put it in my hand. She had to step up onto the footrests and put it in my hand. Not my lap, my hand. And it took her just a few seconds to figure it out. I watched the wheels turn and heard the rocks grind in her noggin.

And it was like any other kind of “shaping” a behavior except she did it herself. She knew she had to put her feet on the footrests in order to reach me. We do this a lot. She knew she had to put the item in my hand, something we always do. She combined the two and bingo! it was in my hand.

Now, keep in mind this is Quinn. The Mistress of Duh. The dog that runs and hits her head but keeps on going.

We did the same thing to teach her, in one or two tries, how to walk by my side. She doesn’t STAY there yet, but we’re getting there. How? She knows “touch it”. She knows me patting my thigh means “come here”. So I pat my thigh and put my hand down, palm back. She comes back, turns around, and touches her nose to the palm. Alas, she is almost immediately off again, but that distance is closing. She’s not going as far.

Quinn is also off leash now! I wouldn’t trust her just anywhere yet, but she’s getting better. How? She knows “get in the van” so runs right to it. Well, yeah, she wanders along the way, mostly because I take so long to get there. And once, just once, she saw a squirrel run from the ramp and up the tree so each time she has to go check out the tree. So to get from van to house, I said “let’s go to the house”. With her on leash, we walked directly to the front door with me saying the cue about twice more. Then I started dropping the leash and she’d drag it behind her as she went to the front door. (but she often would stop, pick it up, and hand it back. Bless her heart) Finally I stopped using the safety of the leash and just said the cue. She doesn’t go straight to the door. She does wander a bit. But not out of sight. And by the time I get to the door, she is, too.

Next week I’ll brainstorm about what other tasks or training she needs and we’ll work out a plan! Okay? Okay!