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Archive for October, 2013

On Monday, October 21 the Golden turned 6 months old!

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Isn’t he just the cutest? The other night we were in a parking lot where we ran into his Breeder, and a half sibling. The Puppy did an awesome loose leash walk over to see them. I was so proud of him. We’ve been doing more visiting of new places, working on loose leash walking some, and it’s finally starting to pay off! Gotta keep it up though as we didn’t do so well at the last Festival we attended. Too big a crowd. Too many dogs. Too much STUFF! We’ll get there though!

The old issues that are cropping back up are my issues. I still want to believe that training a dog is like simple math. A + B will always lead to C. The problem is it’s more like Algebra, where you often have to solve for X. X is what works for your dog at that moment, and often that’s a matter of trial and error to find. The reason this little issue is raising it’s head is we are taking classes with a new trainer, and her methods are different from my last trainer’s methods. Of course this is to be expected, and part of the reason I’m going to a new trainer, but my brain is screaming at the conflicting information. I’m having to try to evaluate the information based upon my understanding of myself and my dog. I also have to balance it with the natural tendency to want my trainers to be an expert. I think it’s like doctors — we want to believe they know best. After all they are trained for this! And then there is my natural tendency to assume others know more than me. I’ve only been training for two years. I’ve only just started training one dog. What do I know? I want to want to believe my trainer knows “the right way,” but she only sees my puppy once a week for an hour. I see him every day. I work and play and train with him every day. I have to decide first what I want, and then what works best for my dog. Now that’s not to say everything this new trainer is teaching is causing this reaction, in fact I’ve gotten some very good ideas from this trainer, and Mr. Puppy has started working on a beautiful hold. There are just somethings I need to think though, consider and work through making decisions on how I feel the best way for Puppy and I to reach our goals.

I’m sure I’ll have a lot more of these moments as I continue to learn and grow. I suppose I should look at them as good moments to have. It means I’m learning new things. It means I’m aware that I don’t have to try every method I read or am told about. It means I’m learning to train my dog in a manner that works for him. Maybe one day it won’t make my brain short circuit first!

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New Classes

Not only did I start the Puppy Performance Class this week with the Golden, I started Novice Obedience and Introduction to Open with the Labrador. All three of these class are at a new location, with new trainers. Until now I’ve had one trainer for Obedience. I’ve been working with her since I got the Labrador, and we’ve repeated several of her classes. They are the only classes offered locally, but even she encouraged me to move on to these classes as they are specifically designed for what I’m looking to do, where as her classes aren’t. The new classes are over an hour from my house. The Labrador’s class doesn’t start until 7:30, and they are back to back lasting until 9:00 pm. That’s then followed by over an hour drive home.

When I first signed up I wondered if it was going to be worth it. Longer drive, more expensive class, late night etc. Having repeated the local classes a few times I felt like we were doing well, that I was at the top of my game, star pupil! I left the first night of classes feeling discouraged, frustrated and hopeless out of my league. I texted two of my training friends, and the response from one of them was perfect. “That’s why you’re there.” She was right. I’d been taking classes with, and comparing myself to people who weren’t going to compete. Most of the people in the local classes are looking to train pets, not competition dogs. They aren’t looking to move on in Obedience. The people I’m now in class with are competing.

But oh boy did I leave feeling like I have a long way to go. I had to remind myself that we have two legs in Beginner Novice and Novice. I am doing something right, but now it’s time to step up our game a bit. It’s time to learn how to perfect some of the behaviors we’ve been training, to take them to a new level. Here’s hoping for better scores on our final legs for our BN and CD!

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25 weeks

I introduced the puppy to the soft crate today, and as I was typing that he walked into it on his own. We played a few crate games with it and I’ll continue to work on getting him used to being in it. Soft crates are so much easier than metal to transport to shows!

This week we started our Puppy Performance Class. So far a lot of what we are doing are things I’ve already introduced. Spin and circle, touch, and target. But they’ve added a new dimension to spin, circle and touch — the idea of the dog offering behaviors, of engaging, so now as we train we use the word “hungry” before each command — “hungry spin,” “hungry circle,” etc. The idea as I understand it is the get to the point where I just ask, “Are you hungry?” and he will engage and offer a sequence of his own. I’ve heard of this concept before, I believe Bridget Carlsen uses the same idea, asking her dogs to show her something.

Another new thing from the class is working with a stool. Pedestal work where the dog keeps his front feet on the stool, and pivots around with his back feet. We’re working on it and the Golden definitely has a weaker side. So we’ll just have to work that one more. He also manages a very nice sit on top of the stool! We got the sit through shaping, which I really enjoy doing. I need to find more objects to shape with.

We also started playing with a dumbbell this week.

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Isn’t that just the cutest face?

I still don’t feel like there is enough time to do everything I want to do. I didn’t practice walking on a loose leash this week, and I need to make that a priority. He’s only going to get bigger and the last thing I want is him dragging me down the street! These people who claim they only train five minutes a day — I don’t believe them! Either they are really good, or I’ve really got a lot more to learn, cause five minutes a day just isn’t enough!

 

 

 

 

 

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My baby boy will be 6 months on Oct. 21. Time is flying by. He’s 40.2 lbs as of Monday. And we start our puppy performance class this Tuesday! I am really looking forward to the class.

Saturday we headed off to a State Park. At least those aren’t closed due to the Federal Government shut down! It was a place I hadn’t take the Golden before, so there were lots of new and exciting distractions. We did a lot of fetching — balls, frisbee, and a bumper. Everything was on land, except for the ball, though I was a bit nervous at first tossing that into the water. I wasn’t sure he’d get it, and I didn’t want to loose a toy. I should have known better. He loved it! I kept the leash on and had him drag it as he fetched, but there wasn’t one time he didn’t turn and come back.

I made the tag line of this blog “Lessons from my dogs” and one lesson they are teaching me, with the help of some supportive friends, is trust. Trust in them. Trust in the training. And trust in myself.

With competing with the Labrador and things at work getting a little crazy we haven’t been doing as much formal training as I’d like, but as my Trainer tells me you’re always training your dogs. One thing I’ve noticed about myself is I’m learning not to bribe as much, not to beg as much and to expect the correct response. Last weekend at a park a young girl approached us. I told him to sit. He didn’t. So I placed him in a sit. And then praised him. Two years ago with the Labrador I would have tried to bribe her with food. I would have assumed she just didn’t understand that she was supposed to sit. The Labrador got away with murder!

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