QuickPress: LTD – Sing a Song

I have so much fun and interesting Barnum training news, I’m trying to do more, and shorter, posts to celebrate and keep you updated.

Leading the Dance (LTD), as I mentioned in my previous post, is Sue Ailsby’s protocol for problem-solving and building a better relationship with your dog. Overall, it’s going very well.

LTD consists of 12 daily activities you do with your dog. This will be a series on how these various activities are going. Today, I thought I’d introduce one of the most fun and easy, which is number seven:

Sing a Song – make up a silly song using the dog’s name. It doesn’t have to rhyme, only make you smile and get the dog’s tail wagging. Sing it to him (he won’t criticize, I promise).

Barnum is actually extremely sound-oriented[1] and enjoys music, so I thought this would be a fun and rewarding behavior for both of us.

I tried out three songs before landing on the one that made us both the happiest. He wags his tail a lot and spins in circles. I would love to video and post it, but then you’d hear my truly terrible singing in this song that often goes beyond my range. You’ll just have to take my word for it that he enjoys it almost as much as I do.

It is Sing,” from Sesame Street. Here is my slightly altered version of the song:

Sing (Barnum, Barnum, Barnum)
Sing a song (Barnum, Barnum, Barnum)
Sing out loud
Sing out strong
Sing of good things, not bad (Barnum, Barnum)
Sing of happy, not sad

Sing (Barnum, Barnum, Barnum)
Sing a song (Barnum, Barnum, Barnum)
Make it simple
To last your whole life long
Don’t worry that it’s not good enough
For anyone else to hear (Barnum, Barnum)
Sing (Barnum, Barnum, Barnum)
Sing a song

Barnum-Barnum-Barnum, Ba-Ba-Barnum-Barnum
Ba- Ba- Ba- Ba- Ba- Ba-Ba
Barnum-Barnum-Barnum, Ba-Ba-Barnum-Barnum
Ba- Ba- Ba- Ba- Ba- Ba-Ba

Yes, it’s a grueling business, this service-dog training. . . .

Do you sing to your dog? What is “your song”?

-Sharon, the muse of Gadget (whose song was Ruth Brown’s “A Good Day for the Blues” — amended to “A Good Day for a Bouv, and Barnum (musical SDiT)

[1.] We have actually started pre-training for sound alerts to various devices and alarms, and he’s picking it up very fast! Post forthcoming on that topic. . . .  Back to post.

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12 Responses to “QuickPress: LTD – Sing a Song”


  1. 1 Ashley January 8, 2011 at 11:28 am

    Great song! Lola’s is (big shocker here) Lola by The Kinks (yes, I know it’s about a tranny but neither Lola nor I really care) and Dixie’s is I’ve Just Seen a Face by The Beatles with her name stuck in. I’ve been singing it to Dix since I got her 4 years ago and now she recognizes it any time it comes on a movie or out of my computer before I start singing.

  2. 2 Jennifer January 8, 2011 at 8:05 pm

    Hi Sharon,

    I’ve been reading your blog since seeing your posts on the Training Levels group. I always find your questions and updates so interesting, as well as your blog posts.

    After reading the silly song discussion on the list, I decided to be more active in finding a song for Laila. I’ve come up with “Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye”:

    Lai-la Lai-la, Lai-la Lai-la, hey hey hey, good dog…

    I’ll have to study the lyrics a little more to flesh it out, but at least the chorus is catchy!

    Jennifer & Laila

  3. 3 Sharon Wachsler January 8, 2011 at 10:13 pm

    The Kinks’ “Lola” is definitely one of the best songs ever. One of my favorite songs to blast and sing loudly with. Any dog (and person) should be privileged to have that as “your song.” (And glad to know that Lola is not transphobic! 😉 Though, I’ve yet to meet a dog who is. . . .)
    I don’t know which song “I’ve Seen a Face” is. I bet if I heard it I would recognize it instantly. That’s how it is with the Beatles, huh? Hum a few bars? 😉

  4. 4 Sharon Wachsler January 8, 2011 at 10:18 pm

    Hey Jennifer!

    Always lovely to meet another Levels addict trainer here! I’m so glad you enjoy my blogs — and my posts! Sometimes I feel self-conscious about how much I post.

    Terrific adaptation of the song! I’ll bet she looooves it. After all, it not only has her name and a really catch tune, but also “good dog”!

    So glad you commented.

    I think I’m gonna go around singing “Lai-la” and “Lo-la” all night tonight. . . . Well, it’ll be a change from Sesame Street.

  5. 5 Allison Nastoff January 9, 2011 at 5:13 pm

    That is such a cute idea! I didn’t know singing to your dog can be used as a training activity, but actually at Christmas time just to be silly, I sang a little bit of Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer, adapted to Gilbert the Wet-nosed puppy, to which he acted bored, ignoring me. LOL. But I love to sing, and in fact, he seemed to enjoy going to choir with me, so I will keep working on finding a song to get him excited. He is a fully trained guide dog, but hey, it never hurts to try new, fun activities to strengthen our bond, and I’m glad to know I’m not the only one who sings to my dog!

  6. 6 Sharon Wachsler January 9, 2011 at 5:56 pm

    Hey Allison!

    You know, I used to think I was the only one who sang to my dogs, and then I discovered, on the Lymphoma Heart Dogs Angels list that we ALL had songs we sang to our dogs! Some of them were extremely creative and hilarious. One person, in particular, had multiple songs for her dog that were so funny.

    I now think that, among people who are really in love with their dogs, it is more common than not to sing to them. Patricia McConnell (behaviorist, ethologist, trainer who studies both humans/primates and dogs) writes about how people tend to speak to our dogs the same way we speak to babies (termed “motherese”), and about dogs as “oxytocin pumps,” whereas I’d thought previously that oxytocin was only released in new mothers — the bonding/love hormone.

    So, I think probably singing to our dogs is part of that very human urge to “baby” our pups. Singing to our dogs isn’t so much a training exercise — we are not trying to get them to do or learn something — but a bonding exercise. In this case, a way to make sure that the “lessons in humility” that are part of LTD are balanced with lots of love and fun. This is just my random free-association rambling.

    I know what you mean about getting that bored reception. I have always noticed Barnum to be musical. In fact, if I whistle to him, he is entranced, and he’s much more interested in some notes than others. If I play music, he sometimes listens. He particularly likes brass instruments. So I thought finding a song to make him wag would be easy — not so!

    I tried bits of a couple of Beatles songs and other pop songs I like, and he wasn’t interested. Then I sang full versions of “You Are my Sunshine” and “Happy Birthday,” figuring those are some of the happiest songs there are — no dice. Then I did “Sing” and he was wagging all over.

    Hopefully, in a forthcoming post (though it may be a long way away), I will write about an Abba song that he likes, that might be very special to us. . . . (Mystery!)

  7. 7 L^2 January 10, 2011 at 4:48 pm

    Haha… fun! I’ve always sung silly songs to my dogs, but never thought of using it as a reward sort of thing.

    Also, I wanted to remind you that the Second Assistance Dog Blog Carnivalis happening soon. Post submissions are due by Midnight next Monday Jan. 17, 2011. 🙂

  8. 8 Sharon Wachsler January 10, 2011 at 6:00 pm

    Hi! So glad you dropped by!
    I am definitely, definitely planning on sending you something for the Carnival.
    Suddenly, Barnum has really gotten into training, so he’s been keeping me busy, and now I’m crashed really bad (illness). It tends to get in the way of my plans, don’tcha know.
    I do have a title picked out, and an outline in my head of what I’ll write, I just need to write it. It will be called “My Operant Dog.” If I can’t get it up by the 17th, can I have a teensy extension, as the mother of the carnival? (Yes, so soon into it, and I’m already begging for favors. Bad blogger! No cookie!)
    I’ve seen how much you’ve been promoting the carnival, and I’m just thrilled! I know it will be fantastic. I’ve been getting hits every day here on carnival announcement posts from your blog, so I can feel the excitement building!

  9. 9 L^2 January 11, 2011 at 5:00 pm

    Haha… no problem. If you don’t make the deadline, just let me know how much extra time you’ll need. We have 13 post submissions so far, I think, and I’ve heard from at least a hand-full of others who say they are “planning” to write something for it. 😉

  10. 10 brilliantmindbrokenbody January 17, 2011 at 4:27 pm

    I can’t help but point out, the song is actually by The Carptenters. It was one of the songs my preschool teacher played, and I loved it as a little girl. I was trying to sing along with it before I’d fine-tuned the art of figuring out what singers are saying, so it was a lot of gobbledegook, but my mother found it very amusing. ‘Shout’ by Tears for Fears was another early favorite, and me attempting to sing along with it is one of her earliest memories of me. I was musical from a very young age.

    Hudson is sometimes interested in me singing, sometimes confused by it, and sometimes utterly bored. The only consistency I’ve noticed is that up-tempo songs are more likely to get his attention. He’s more interested in me (literally) dancing with him, I think. He tends to think it’s fun, even if he can’t discern the rules to the game.

    ~Kali

  11. 11 Sharon Wachsler January 17, 2011 at 7:20 pm

    I knew the Carpenters sang it, too, but I didn’t know they wrote it.

    And besides, I sing it the way Big Bird did. grin. I have a hidden talent at Muppet impersonations.


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