Crawling for beginners

Pippin, the cat, still keeps telling me that he isn’t speaking to me after the tale I told recently. I pointed out to him that every time he tells me that, he is in fact speaking to me – he wasn’t amused! He said that I should be doing some crawling if I want to get back into his good books.

I know he meant it in the sense of being extra nice to him and not literally, but it reminded me that I have found it very useful at times to be able to crawl. I’ve already told you about being able to crawl through the dog gates at the side of some stiles.

I’ve been meaning to explain how I learnt to crawl. I said it was quite easy, but when I thought about explaining it I realised that it was only easy once I had the idea that my biped wanted me to shuffle forwards without getting up. It was then a case of doing a tiny bit more each time for the treat, but getting started was a little harder.

My biped asked a trainer for tips on how to teach me to crawl when I was still a puppy. The advice was for her to sit on the floor with her knees raised while I was in the down position.

Stick figure seated on floor

Like this, but both knees raised

She was told to hold a treat under her knees just out of my reach. There were only two problems with this! I was already too large to wriggle under her knees without knocking her over. And it was still tricky to be on the floor with me because I didn’t yet have the good manners that I have now! My biped tried a couple of times, but it was a failure and she decided to wait a while.

We had lots of short training sessions and I learnt lots of new tricks. One of my favourites was taking a treat when told! We also fitted in all the things I found boring, such as the “down” position.

Sphinx of Hetepheres

A sphinx demonstrating the classic “down” position
Attribution: By Jon Bodsworth [see page for license], via Wikimedia Commons

She would often bend over me and touch my shoulders or my back. If I kept still I would get extra treats, but if I tried to turn it into a game by grabbing her sleeve she would take her arm away and ask me to do something else.

A few months later she did start getting on the floor with me again when I was in the “down” position. She would offer me a treat but it would be just out of reach!

Cartoon dog and bone

Down with a treat just out of reach

My first reaction was to get up to get it, but that wasn’t what she wanted – I didn’t get the treat. She would put her hand on me when she saw me about to get up. We had a number of sessions where I was trying to understand. It can be quite frustrating as a dog when you want that treat and can’t figure out what to do to get it! My biped must have been watching my body language quite carefully because as soon as I started to get frustrated she would ask me to do some easy and fun things – guaranteed treats!

The day I decided to shuffle forwards a fraction to get the treat, I hit the jackpot! After I’d eaten the treat I was given a few more. She told me how clever I was and we had a game of football – that’s my favourite game!

From then on I was keen to shuffle forwards. She gradually expected me to move a little bit farther and added the word “crawl”. It wasn’t long before I could crawl a few feet. She would stand close to me when I was crawling to encourage me. Some dogs may find it intimidating to have someone standing over them and may need to practise together to feel relaxed before trying to learn to crawl.

It isn’t difficult to crawl – the hard part is understanding what the bipeds want, but that is so often the case!

See you next Wednesday!

I’m Gonna Crawl

I was really excited when my bipeds took me to Devon with them for a holiday. We stayed in a cottage that was close to the South West Coast Path and most days we went out and walked a different section of the path. We explored some wonderful beaches!

I thought I was quite an expert on stiles and kissing gates. I already knew that I can get through some kissing gates and that it usually means a nice reward. I had also seen stiles of different shapes and sizes and I knew it’s usually difficult for large dogs to use a footpath unless there is an alternative to the stile – I told you about one of those last week.

So I was surprised to discover a type of stile I’d never come across before. At first it looked just like any other stile, but then I noticed it had what looked like a large cat flap at the side. I couldn’t believe it when I heard the male biped say it was a dog door! It didn’t look very big at all.

Shows the way a dog door works at the side of a stile

This photograph of one in Kent shows how a dog door works.
Attribution:
Richard Dorrell [CC-BY-SA-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

The male biped raised the door. It wouldn’t lift very far. My bipeds said it was about the right size for a Border Collie to walk through, but the Collie would bump his head if he didn’t duck! They looked at the size of the gap created and then the female biped climbed over the stile, leaving me with the male biped.

The male biped asked me to get into the “down” position really close to the door. The female biped bent down on the other side of the door and asked me to “crawl”. I edged forward a little and then I stopped because I would be in the gap if I continued. The female biped urged me to “crawl” again and encouraged me through the gap. When I was through she told me I could get up and gave me a tasty treat and a cuddle.

The male biped was busy singing “I’m Gonna Crawl” (Led Zeppelin). He looked hilarious standing on the top of the stile singing and playing air guitar in the pouring rain!

We encountered many stiles with dog doors after that. The doors varied in size but most of them were larger than that first one. I got quicker and quicker at wriggling my way through them. The female biped said that was because I didn’t want to listen to the song again, but that’s silly because I love it when my bipeds sing! I had thought that crawling was just a trick I did to get treats, but it can be just as useful as walking backwards!

We saw some beautiful places, but my bipeds didn’t take any photographs on that holiday. Each day they said it wasn’t worth taking the camera out with us as it was raining so hard. They said the weather was bound to be better the next day, but we didn’t get any days without heavy rain. I don’t know what else they expected in the Springtime! I’ve found some photographs on Wikimedia Commons of some of the places I saw – it looks like other people have had better luck with the weather than we did. It’s a good thing I enjoy getting wet!

See you next Wednesday!