Sit. Stay. …Touch?

No amount of reading [“So You Just Got A Puppy: NOW WHAT?” “Barron’s Guide to Bernese Mountain Dogs” “The Idiot’s Guide to Puppy Training”] can truly prepare you for a ten-week-old puppy. Books tell you what to do to get your dog to listen, but they don’t tell you what to do when your dog doesn’t listen to the way the book told you to get him to listen.


Thankfully, Shaun and I met Jessica – dog trainer extraordinaire. Whilst taking advantage of the Charlottesville Petco’s $9.95 “puppy portrait” package [in an attempt to be able to prove in the future that yes, our dog did once weigh less than 150 pounds], Grady of course charmed everyone in the store, including Jessica. Oddly, Grady did not put Jessica’s ENTIRE FOREARM into his mouth and chomp down like he does with us. He sat. He stayed. He licked, rather than bit. It was magical.

I love Jessica.

The most fascinating thing we learned from her that day was that the cue “come” doesn’t work. The word is too difficult for most dogs to comprehend. This would have been great to know weeks ago, when we struggled to get Grady to “come” inside every time we let him out into the yard. Instead, Jessica showed us “touch.”

It’s simple: bend down and stick your hand out, palm facing the dog, and say, “Grady, touch!” Just once. He comes every time now, touches his nose to the palm of your hand, and then eagerly awaits his reward. It’s a beautiful thing.

Jessica had us signed up for her puppy class within 30 minutes. Grady gets 5 weeks of boot camp with a French Bulldog, English Bulldog, Golden Retriever, Labrador Retriever, and Newfoundland. Tonight was his first class!

He loved playing with the other dogs.

He failed miserably at “leave it” – a cue in which you hide a treat under your shoe and reward them once they ignore it. He almost tore my shoe apart trying to dig under it.

I'm actually older than Grady, but I'm only the size of his head.

He succeeded at being HUGE. He was the same age or younger than every dog there, and towered over them all. Our little monster.

Meet Fred: He was the size of my fist, no joke.

Jessica gave us a list of things to practice. Grady has his first “quiz” next week. He’ll actually get a letter grade. We’re hoping for something better than D: “Slow, but still responding.”

Slow, but still responding?

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Categories: C-Ville, Dog


Courtney grew up in Reading, PA, and has lived in New York City (where she earned a bachelor's degree at NYU), Prague, Philadelphia, and Charlottesville (where she received a J.D. from UVa Law). Courtney and her new husband will settle in Philadelphia following a six-week Euro-trip extravaganza in September of 2012. Courtney's interests include music, writing, criticism, fitness, travel, cooking, and sports. Please enjoy the blog. LinkedIn: Tumblr:


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5 Comments on “Sit. Stay. …Touch?”

  1. September 2, 2011 at 12:51 am #

    Ahh! Such a cute little puppy!

    He is going to be HUGE. Look at those paws XD

    Good luck with his training!

    • September 2, 2011 at 12:55 am #

      Thank you! Can’t wait to teach Grady to swim like yours.

  2. Amy
    September 2, 2011 at 2:57 pm #

    stop it with this cuteness. I haven’t done work for a half hour, I’m just looking at pictures of this puppy!!

    • Michelle
      November 19, 2011 at 11:24 am #

      @ Amy: ^^ story of my life!

  3. Michelle
    November 19, 2011 at 11:25 am #

    Wish I knew about “touch” last year…is this why Mickey doesn’t come inside when we call him?! We know he hears us…he turns and looks at us…

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