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Saturday, August 9, 2014

On Training My Own Anubis, Captain Midnight, Common-Core Style

This summer has been one big learning experience for me.  I am trying to help raise a pup to be a well-mannered, civil member of society, realizing full well that what I expect from a dog is very different from what I might expect from one of my kids.  His name is Midnight; his code name is Captain Midnight.  Sometimes, I just respectfully and fondly refer to him as Anubis.  

Given our current society is crazed with evaluative measures, I mused for a few moments.  Am I succeeding?  What measures do I have to evaluate myself as the teacher and my pup as the student?  How might I know whether or not my pup is on track to be the canine equivalent of college and career ready?  

If I follow the Common-Core approach, I scrap insights into puppy psychology.  I start at the end point, the knowledge and skills necessary for any respectable adult dog to function well in society, and work my way backwards from there.  

The problem, of course, is complicated by the fact that there seems to be a debate about dog years.  Is each dog year worth seven years?  Or, are the first two years worth 10.5 human years and then four human years for each subsequent dog year?  I'm confused.   For a human of possibly 197 dog years, that's pretty embarrassing, but as possibly 8.25 years in dog time, it doesn't seem quite so bad.  And, since human years can mean so many different things in terms of actual health, maturity, etc., I'm willing to dispense with too much brooding on the subject and move along.  

Let me invoke a system of test-based accountability.  Otherwise, how would I ever know how I and my dog are doing?  Why should I trust my own reflections or those of long-time dog owners in the neighborhood?  It's much better to have a battery of tests administered by people who cannot be biased by knowing me personally or having any practical, first-hand experience in the field. 

In trying to research a little about the methods of best training a dog, I have come across diverse plans.  I've read about the commonly accepted approach of reinforcing good behavior with doggy treats.  Boy, my dog loves this approach!  I've listened to Cesar Millan--whom I'm not sure ever puts a treat in a dog's mouth, but fully seems to impress the dogs (and me) with his "calm, assertive" energy.  And, I've been told about clickers.  Should there be just one standardized way of training a doggy?  Should there be a common set of standards?  If so, I should probably search for it, but I'm guessing I'd be searching until the end of time.

In the spirit of the Common-Core, can you imagine a curriculum and tests for proper dog training--through which every dog is equally held up to the same high standards, above and beyond any currently accepted age-appropriate skills--in human or in doggy years?  

Here are some Common-Core aligned puppy goals.

Month 1, Our Dog is Currently Practicing to be on Target!:

Month 2, A Longer Term Goal:

Month 3, A Healthy Body, a Healthy Mind:

Month 18, Gaining Independence:

My doggy must meet all his mile markers and be fully common-core aligned!  Otherwise, I might actually have to chauffeur myself to a few places!

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