Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Puppy Class - Week Three......

The puppies seem to be getting use to the idea of ‘class night’ and although they do exhibit some interest in playing with the other puppies, they seem to have a bit more self control. Of course there is an occasional unintentional ‘puppy encounter’.

Some handlers admitted to lacking patience and wanting to help their puppies too much. That's understandable, but in fact your puppy will be a happier and more willing participate if he figures it out on his own. I am not by nature a patient person. I LOVE instant gratification, however, shaping behaviors pay off in the long run and I don't believe I'll need to go back and re-train them in the end. Hum, patience, that reminds me of a comedian I really like. Have you ever felt this way?

The evening began with a math problem! Yes, MATH!! All that was required was to add a couple 9 digit numbers together. Oh, you had to do it in your head. One other thing, I was reading a complicated story problem with multiple numbers rather loudly. Coach was helping with some background noise of his own.

The point of this exercise was not to impress the others with their math skills, but to show how distracting and frustrating it was to try to concentrate on something and have someone chattering about after you.

How does this relate to dog training? When you’re working on shaping a behavior, please be quite and let your dog think. When you’re running an agility course, do so quietly and let your dog concentrate on what he needs to be doing.

This reminds me of an old John Wayne Movie, Rooster Cogburn. Rooster and Eula are sitting out in the woods finishing up some stew. The verse goes something like this, Eula speaking to Rooster. “A wise old owl sat on an oak, the more he heard the less he spoke. The less he spoke.the more he heard. Now wasn’t that a wise old bird.” I know there’s a lesson in there for me anyway.

We worked on some recalls with a clicker, treats and a puppy. Being sure at this time just to use the puppy’s name to call him, click when he looks and give the treat on the handler’s thigh or lower leg. Occasionally taking a hold of the puppy’s collar and giving them another treat. As the puppies became more attentive to their handlers, the pairs began to get closer to other puppies and handlers. They did very well!

Next came the time to show off those TRICKS!! Luckily for the class, I’d forgotten my FLIP at home, so no pressure until NEXT WEEK! Then I promise some BRILLIANT puppy tricks.

No matter what the trick, remember to get the behavior ‘before’ you name it. Seeker is getting pretty good at his skate boarding, but I still haven’t named it! I don’t LOVE it yet.

We worked on some ‘agility’ equipment. Remember to find yourself a plank to work that ‘pouncing’ into position. An elephant board works WONDERS for rear end awareness. Use a large box as a tunnel. Speaking of boxes, is your puppy putting all 4 feet in his yet? If so, maybe it’s time to down size and get a smaller box?

Don’t forget your ‘jump circle’. It not only builds value for the jumps, it helps your dog start to get some obstacle focus. You’ll want that down the road when we start working on zig zag jumping! Okay, so that will be NEXT SUMMER! Remember Michele, no matter HOW HARD you SQUEEZE the CHEESE, it will NOT CLICK!! LOL

Again, these behaviors should not be named until you LOVE what they are doing. For example, having them offer going back and forth through the tunnel is GREAT!! You can name it as soon as you have 100% certainty they are going to do it every time. If not, what’s the harm in waiting a little longer?

One more thought before I close this post. Something we haven’t talked about yet, but I don’t want to forget to tell you. Please do not let your puppies run down an open ‘chute’ of weave poles. Think about what information you are giving your puppy. “I see a row of poles and I should run by them as fast as I can!” Is this the behavior you really want to see from your puppy? Now, think about if you “name it”, you’ve just told your puppy, when you see a row of poles I want you to run past them just as fast as you can. No wonder we have so many weave issues!

My hope is you will continue with your shaping and ‘naming when you love it’ training. Then, when your puppy is 12-15 months (or older), we can talk about 2 by 2 weaves. By then your puppy will know “how to learn”. You’ll have a FANTASTIC relationship and you’ll be pleasantly surprised how quickly (literally in days) they learn to weave.

In the mean time, have fun loving, squeezing, training and ENJOYING your puppy!

1 comment:

  1. I love that video... no matter how many times I watch it... always makes me giggle.