Posts Tagged ‘Puppy training’

More mature, physically and emotionally, that’s Manny at 13 months. So, time to get this over with.

Subject and object ... now, to combine appropriately

Avid trainers insist that force fetch training:

– Shows a dog who’s really “boss”

– Doesn’t have to be traumatic

– Ensures a reliable retrieve, of anything at any time

I agree, all are true – in theory. The first one may be the most useful in our case as Manny has learned enough about life to find ways around just about anything in the way of commands. A little bearing-down in the obedience department will be of value for our long-term relationship. And ultimately, that’s what force fetching is.

So, we’re off! And the first few days have been positive. Thanks to Dave Carty’s most recent column in Gun Dog magazine for a clear outline of the process that even I can understand, coupled with a sensitive ear on Manny, we are almost a week into the ordeal.

So far, so good ...

Manny is opening his mouth with little “motivation,” making the connection between obedience and absence of pain. I’m subtly pushing him forward a bit to encourage a move to the retrieving buck and he’s “getting it.” There is some, but not a lot, of fighting once it’s in his mouth but eventually he relents and simply holds it. The release, as you can imagine, pretty much takes care of itself once I give the command.

I’ll keep you posted.

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Well, he’s 20 weeks old so I guess I’ll refer to his age in months from now on (20 divided by four = five, right?). What have I learned, and what has he learned?

Did I mention he's feisty, too?

Manny can climb to the top of his crate, which is inside his living room playpen … a recipe for disaster. Box goes, he sleeps on the floor until night time and the other crate next to Buddy.

He’s tall enough that Emmy our Corgi can weave her way through his legs, but too tall to do the same to his Uncle Buddy, but it doesn’t stop him from trying. He’s figured out that he can outrun me, so the check cord gets longer and I only give commands I can enforce (sound familiar?).

Speaking of commands, he’s doing well (I fully expect some backsliding based on what experts tell me) on: whoa, here, heel, and over, and will do almost anything to mimic his uncle. Though I haven’t tried “jump through a flaming hoop because your uncle did,” quite yet.

He is learning to manipulate as well. Not completely housebroken, so we jump at most of his barks just in case. The consensus is, most are simply tricks to get attention (he does). He’s also a jealous S.O.B. and voices his disapproval (more…)

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Alright, our hands should never be used to discipline/hit/shove or otherwise create negative impressions (literally and figuratively) on a young dog, right? Hands are your friends, we tell pups, bringing pleasure and good things. They can’t possibly also be cruel, two-faced, mutinous appendages bent on emotional or physical harm, huh?

So, when he’s barking, chewing a table leg, eating deer poop, or worse, what can we do? Evict him!

Um, what's he eating and how do I stop him?

I wonder what animal behaviorists would say, but so far, physically removing 16-week-old Manny from the temptation seems to work as well as removing the temptation. Yep, simply lifting him up and moving to a new location. And when the temptation is smelly, fresh, wet horse manure, believe me I’d rather pick up a puppy than an armful of horse apples! He’s pushing 35 pounds and I’d still rather risk a backache, than backsliding on the bonding thing.

Maybe it has something to do with the whole “place learning” theory … dogs learn and associate behavior with where they learned it (or are learning it).  And it has an added benefit: no tug-of-war with the check cord and the long-term problems that could harbor.

Ideally, Manny is learning that being picked up by his human leads to good things: physical interaction, food, water, crate and nap time, etc.  So he hasn’t yet savvied to that same set of hands lifting him away from the mmmmm-good chipmunk burrow and plopping him down 20 feet distant. Poof! New surroundings, no enticing smells and it’s off on another adventure.

And so am I, less worried and more relaxed.

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Every day, in every way, Manny is a wonder. By keeping an open mind, I can learn as much as he does as he grows physically, emotionally, and intellectually. And there’s the pressing motivation of that fleeting time when he’s a puppy … moldable, impressionable, as Rush says, a “skull full of mush” just waiting to be influenced.

Settle down, boy, it's sleepy time.

He’s going on 15 weeks old today and so we’re still working on basics of all sorts. (I’m sure I’ll be able to say that for quite a while.) Many of the lessons don’t have a place of prominence, or even a place, in most of the books and videos I’ve seen. So here’s hoping my putting electronic pen to electronic paper will help you with your next (or current) pup.

Today’s lesson: sleeping through the night.

[Anyone who brags that their 10-week-old pup sleeps through the night is either a). very lucky; or b). hallucinating. A young dog’s bladder simply isn’t big enough to retain the fluid his body creates, so is likely somewhat dehydrated if he can “hold it” all night.]

That said, we were getting a good five hours of blissful REM sleep before the whimpering started when Manny was 10 (more…)

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Once again, thank you, thank you, thank you … to every kind soul who has offered me advice about dogs’ behavior. It has opened my eyes over and over again to a different kind of thinking: canine. And if you watch and listen to dogs enough, you realize they do think differently than we do. More honestly, literally, and with baser instincts. (Maybe we mere humans could learn something from this.)

I wish I could remember who first suggested this trick, used last weekend when picking up Manny. If you know who you are, please know I’m forever grateful. So are Buddy and my wife’s Corgi, Emmy.

Dogs, as we know, are territorial. They will often defend their turf against anyone and anything … from other dogs to people, to a newly-planted tree, but especially against puppies softly and ungainly treading in their space.  In a fit of brilliance borne of desperation, I remembered this lesson one puppy ago (Buddy) and employed the strategy again with Manny: I brought all the other family dogs with me to meet him on neutral ground.

Without turf to fight over, without the need to assert one’s “alphahood,” all three warily sniffed both ends, peed in numerous places, then settled into getting to know each other through careful watching and eventually, play. Once the pack was loaded into the truck, all was well in the world.

By the time we got home, everyone knew where everyone else stood, how the pecking order was to shake out, and the pack had gelled. No defense of the home base required when we pulled into the driveway, tired and stiff from the five hour drive. We were on our way to becoming a team.

Have you experienced this? Or the opposite? What about MORE than three dogs? Two: one established and one new? Should I have peed too? I’m interested to hear from you.

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