Sunday, 15 September 2013

The Journey

This is my 100th blog post and so I am taking a few moments to reflect on my dog training journey to date.

I did some basic puppy stuff with Lucy but it wasn't until Riley began to develop some issues as a two year old dog that I began to get interested in training.  We had already done the basics but registered with a trainer to address the problems we were having.  We "fixed" the issues in what I thought was a positive way but with my knowledge today I regret some of the choices.  I am lucky that he is your typical hard-headed labrador with high tolerance and a very forgiving personality.  I try not to dwell on past mistakes and I am thankful that this was the start of wanting to learn more about behaviour and training.

My first step was purchasing a few books to read.  Lucky for me I picked two from authors that I still think are amazing.  Patricia McConnell "Other End of The Leash" and Suzanne Clothier "Bones Would Rain from the Sky".  I have now seen both those authors at seminars and they are just as wonderful as the books they have written.  I also stumbled upon Susan Garrett and her very first online Recallers Course and she introduced me to a new approach to joyful training.

Lots more reading followed and I decided I wanted to do some more training with Riley.  The dog gods led me to working with a local Karen Pryor Academy trainer who introduced me to rally obedience and encouraged me to try competing.  I really enjoying the work with Riley and could feel how different our connection was with these methods.  My trainer has now become a good friend and we often travel together to seminars and competitions.  A strange twist on "small world" is when I discussed getting a vizsla puppy and the breeders I was considering it turned out she knew Stella's breeder and agreed to vouch for me.

My conversion really kicked in when my trainer dragged me to my first Clicker Expo.  I was now fully hooked on learning about dogs and how to apply all this wonderful positive knowledge to both Riley and puppy Stella.   I jokingly said to my trainer/friend the other day that I must be driving her crazy because I should be taking better advantage of all her knowledge on how to train our way to obedience titles but because of the world she helped me see I really want to explore things in my own way.  With Riley I was happy to follow instructions on how to train the exercises but I want to inject more of my own "style" with Stella.  I'm still figuring out that "style" so I'm not totally stupid and will take advantage of her knowledge and experience but will also have fun figuring things out.  Thankfully I know she is there to help fix my mistakes!

I will not pursue more obedience stuff with Riley as it is to hard for his body but there are other roads we will travel.  Stella is only two and we have a long way to go and will enjoy the journey getting there.

Here are a few pics from our most recent camping trip.  All this training stuff is great but really just enjoying life with these wonderful dogs is what is important.

Such good friends!

Sunshine + beach + ball = Riley Heaven

How do you like my boots?

Campground cavelleti work

Beach patrol