Sunday, 8 July 2012

Training Fun

Are we having fun yet?   Of course!

I am still very early on the training journey with Stella.  I hope to compete in our first pre-novice obedience class later this month and also to complete the final round we need for our CKC rally novice title.  Most people look at obedience competitions and must think that stuff looks sooooooo boring and they are probably right in a lot of cases.  I don't know how far our obedience journey will go but I have pledged to do my best to try to make training with my dogs fun for them.  I'm human so of course there are days that bring frustration but this is a learning experience for all of us.  I made some choices with Riley's earlier training that I'm not proud of but I was lucky that his personality is very solid and forgiving.  I learned some valuable lessons and learned to recognize his stress signs and we found better ways of working together.  

Stella benefits from that experience which is lucky for both of us because her personality is absolutely made for positive, happy training methods.   I think if I tried to use harsher training techniques with her it would probably shut her down.   It is something I will need to be very aware of as we progress in training to harder things.   Does that mean she doesn't occasionally get yelled at to get out of the damn cat litter box?  or to drop that underwear (sock, shoe, etc)? or to stop barking at the non-existant boogy-man that must be hiding in the trees behind the back fence?   I occassionally yell and she is just fine with that.  In fact it usually causes her to wiggle happily at me because mostly those things are her just looking for attention! She is still a puppy and at a year old likes to test things sometimes.  If I seriously need her to stop doing something I basically just need to hold her collar for a few moments to stop the reinforcement she is getting from whatever she is doing and that is usually all that is needed to reset her brain. 

When we are working on our formal obedience type training we work with a lot of food rewards but I am also working with play.  We can't take food in the ring so I want her to think that all this training stuff is about having fun with me.  I can clap my hands and call her my super star and that just makes her bounce with glee.  When we work heeling I sometimes just take off running from her because she loves the chase game.   Jumping nose touches and a few fun tricks are a good break between exercises.  She enjoys tugging although isn't quite the crazy tugger like Riley.  She prefers more the chasing of the tug as a toy but still can put up some pretty good moves when she catches it.  I've noticed a few times lately that she wants to prance around with her prize instead of engaging back to me so I will have to make sure that doesn't become a pattern.  I am making a note to myself to go back and review some of the recaller games and start using more of those.   I am also auditing a seminar in august with Denise Fenzi who does some fabulous stuff on playing with your dog for obedience.   I would love to hear other fun suggestions that anyone wants to share!

We are just back from a lovely, hot weekend camping at nearby Whistler.  Here is the latest "family" picture taken while visiting some waterfalls.   I think Riley was considering the 200 foot drop to the water but we convinced him that was a bad idea.

Family fun weekend camping at Whistler


  1. I loved your recall games video! I am going to start working on Indi's recalls like this, all fun and games if I can. I tend to get angry easily but I think I'm learning to control my temper better as I get older.
    Riley is huge next to Stella!

    1. Thanks Claire. I am far from perfect and get frustrated and grumpy just like the next person but I improve every year! Riley is a very large lab and a lean 102 pounds to Stella's 39 pounds. Thankfully he is a wonderful gentle giant with her.