My Dog Training Squirrels!

I have a person who is masquerading as a dog at my house. His name is Tuxcitto. The reason I say this is that no normal dog can take random information and figure out the things that Tuxcitto does everyday. I have a perfect example in the following story of Tuxcitto and our resident squirrel population. You never know who's doing the dog training around our house.

Before Tuxcitto came along last fall, we had one dog named Spoofy. She's an older dog and has been with us since she was a puppy. Spoofy loves to chase squirrels. Back in her younger days she almost done one or two. But These days the squirrels have their way with her and get just close enough to tease her, and then easily run up the nearest tree.

But that was soon to change when Tuxcitto arrived. I learned in the first few weeks that Tuxcitto was an experienced escape artist. Until we came to an agreement, he would often take off and run through the vicinity heather and yon until he got thirsty, hungry, or I came and caught him. During this period he was usually bound to a long tether tied to our front tree if we were not outside with him.

Since we now agree that he will not run around the neighborhood he gets to go out with Spoofy and our two cats, Blackie and Baby with out being tethered. During the time that he was tethered, he often watched a little game play out with Spoofy and our local squirrels. He was always interested but never really participated since he knew the 30 feet of tether limited him. Or at least that's what I believe now in hindsight.

Our resident squirrels do not needlessly come by everyday. They come pretty often since they love to rob our birdfeeders and tease Spoofy. But there are plenty of dogs and birdfeeders to visit in our neighborhood so they feel obliged to give all some attention. So the first few times that Tuxcitto was free to roam there were no squirrels in the area.

Now Tuxcitto is a Border Collie who has tremendous speed and agility, since the breed is a natural at herding animals. I have seen Tuxcitto clear a 5 foot fence with room to spare. These are popular dogs for freebie competitions. So he has a lot of natural talent. But beyond that, this dog is smarter than a lot of people I know and enjoys demonstrating this on any occasion.

So one morning I go to let the dogs and cats for their midmorning break. My neighbor happened to be out working in the yard so all four animals had to trot over over to see what he was doing. I traveled and followed the crowd. As I was talking to my neighbor, the animals lost interest and wandered back into our yard.

I am so grateful that I had a witness for what followed. As my neighbor and I talked I noticed the squirrels working their way way over to my yard through the trees. As soon as they got close they started chattering at Spoofy. Spoofy's ears perked up, she jumped up and was ready for the game to begin. But little did the squirrels know that the rules were about to be drastically changed.

The squirrels talked to each other and scampered down a nearby tree. Not all the way to the ground, just to the bottom of the trunk. As they were eyeing Spoofy, and looking to another tree about 40 feet away they ignored Tuxcitto laying just to the right of Spoofy. I'm sure they never considered him a threat since he had never joined in the game before.

I think they were very confident that they could reach the next tree before that old fat Spoofy could even get within 15 feet. And that was probably true, no doubt about it since I had seen this played out many times. So the squirrels got ready to jump, and Spoofy was ready to lunge after them. And Tuxcitto was just watching as usual.

The squirrels leaped down and started to scamper across the 40 feet of grass separating the trees. Spoofy lunged after them coming up on their rear. But what caught my eye was an explosion of Tuxcitto leaping off the ground, not chasing after the squirrels as Spoofy was but going directly for the tree to cut them off.

And he got there in about 3 or 4 seconds, far ahead of the squirrels. In fact the squirrels about went into a train wreck trying to stop their forward momentum towards the tree. In about 5 seconds this had turned from familiar game to their biggest nightmare. A dog was blocking each tree and there was nowhere to go.

And Tuxcitto stand in front of them like a coiled spring waiting to see which way they were going to go. And good old Spoofy, finally seeing that there was a real opportunity here to finally catch these little devils, was running full speed towards them from the rear.

The squirrels decided that they did not want anything to do with Tuxcitto and turned to run back to the original tree. As soon as they moved Tuxcitto burst into action and actually caught up with them as they all got to the tree. Spoofy was a little late since she had to do a full stop and then turn around to head in the opposite direction.

I do not think Tuxcitto was even trying to catch the squirrels, he just wanted to beat them to the tree. I'm not sure who got there first, it was a tight finish. My neighbor turned to me and said "it's a good thing Tuxcitto was just playing or there would have been two less squirrels in the neighborhood". Both dogs sat there for a while looking up at the squirrels but lost interest in a few minutes.

The amazing thing about this little adventure was the fact that Tuxcitto had watched Spoofy and the squirrels perform this little game several times. Tuxcitto had learned from Spoofy that just chasing the squirrels was not the best strategy. Between watching Spoofy and his natural herding instincts, Tuxcitto had figured out the best way to beat those squirrels. And he knew exactly what both Spoofy and the squirrels were going to do and so when he got the opportunity, he was ready.

That's a good way to train a young dog, put them with an older dog that knows what to do and let them learn from the more experienced animal. Of course in this case Tuxcitto learned what not to do, but the same principal applies. Tuxcitto has learned a lot from watching Spoofy since he joined the family. And he also learned from the squirrels, since they repeatedly did the same thing. So dog training around this house is up for grabs.

The epilog to this story is that the squirrels never get out of the trees now. They still come over and chatter at the dogs but they know better than to try and make a break for the nearby tree on the ground. But they still have a few birdfeeders to rob so our yard still gets frequent visits.

Source by John Dow

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