Can and Will

As a result of my just talking to him, one of the things Max has picked up is the phrases "Can I pick you up?" and "I'm going to pick you up." "Can I pick you up?" is used when it is optional. For instance, he is often more comfortable in the presence of strangers if I pick him up so he is at eye level. He also may find the terrain we are walking in difficult given his small size - he doesn't always like walking in tall grass where he can't see where he is going. He has started offering the behaviour of coming and sitting on my right side in response if he wants to be picked up and moving away and to my left if he does not.

Of course, sometimes Max has to be picked up. He might need to get up on the exam table at the vet. I might be picking him up to deal with a hazard like a hot street we are crossing. Often if strangers are coming over I don't give him the choice and just pick him up because I know he is less stressed that way. For those situations I tell him "I'm going to pick you up." and he knows what is coming.

Having these kinds of options is a great thing for your dog to have. I plan to generalize Max's use of positioning to say yes or no here for other situations, so he will be able to answer yes or no questions using vocabulary he has learned.

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