January has come to an end, and with it, Train Your Dog Month. The pups and I took up the Train Your Dog Month Challenge from Something Wagging this Way Comes, Alfie’s Blog and Rescued Insanity, so today is the day for summarizing what we learned over this month.
Kringle: Kringle left before the end of Train Your Dog Month, but I am proud to say we accomplished our goal. This is far more thanks to the other dogs than to any skill of mine, but our goal was to be able to get him to walk on a leash when necessary and on walks and he was perfectly able to do so by the time we left. In fact, when he met his new parents, he was walking on a leash through a busy dog show environment, and he happily left with his new parents and doggy brother when we parted ways. I have been hearing great things from his fabulous new parents and I am glad we were able to be such an important transition point for him while he adjusted to life outside of the puppy mill, and he was able to make a good impression right away in his new home.
Jeni: Because Jeni and I are always so sporadic in our training, I didn’t have a super solid goal at the beginning of the month. We were working on a moving down and drop on recall at the time – the moving down is great and the drop on recall is making great progress, but I did slow down the work with those in favor of prep for competitions in February. Originally we had planned on a conformation show, a rally trial and an agility trial this month, so at our new All Star Dogs Club meetings/training sessions we focused on those.
For conformation prep, it focused mostly on her standing still while allowing people to touch her. Jeni is altered and any conformation we do is just for fun, so I just want her to be happy and comfortable while playing in the ring. We have a UKC show on February 8 where I will be showing her and Icie puppy Asta, and I think she should handle it well (hopefully even enough to make up for her handler’s faults!)
We have been working a lot on rally, especially, and she was doing pretty well. The video here is not very pretty or perfect but this is her second week ever doing a full rally course so I think she is making good progress:
Unfortunately due to some outside circumstances I have had to pull her from the rally trial this month. There should be another one we can enter in March sometime so we will just have more time to prepare. I need to get better at my leash handling, personally, to make sure the leash is not tight and that I am not too awkward with where my hands are. When working on heeling with her I prefer to practice off leash but when you throw the leash in there, especially with an awkward person like me, it gets a little silly!
At this point, we are still planning on participating in an agility trial at the end of the month. She has not done any trials since early December, which was really a mess of a trial, so we took a break for a month or so and have just started getting back into running. During this break we worked a lot more on focus and recall and dealing with distractions and nerves so I am hoping that will help prepare her more for the trial environment. I hope to get her out to a fun match at the same facility the trial will be held in before the actual trial so she can be introduced to the ring before doing an actual competition. Again, this video is not perfect or pretty, but she is doing well with the obstacles, particularly the contacts which had previously been difficult for her:
Mid-month, one of my “added” goals was to get her comfortable in our new training facility, as the first time we attended training there she was very nervous and anxious. As you can see by the rally video, she has really improved and loves attending training now! She also passed her Community Canine test at the same facility so I think that demonstrates her level of confidence and comfort in the building and with the people there.
Snoopy: Poor Snoopy, or maybe lucky Snoopy, is not involved in nearly as much training work with me as Jeni and Bauer are. He is older, and honestly prefers to stay at home and sleep with my husband, who is his favorite person. Snoopy has a few titles to his name and he has even won a few trick contests but these days, especially in the winter, he is quite a homebody. Still, it doesn’t mean we couldn’t work on a few things at home so we focused on his “stay” command which has gotten pretty shaky over the years.
I didn’t take any video, because video of a dog staying is boring, but I did manage to get this (really terrible cell phone photo) “distance” shot of him which sort of demonstrates his new staying skills (with distractions!):
With this, we just took it back to the beginning, as though he didn’t even know what stay was. Treats for sitting for a second, treats for sitting for two seconds, three seconds… gradually spacing them out until he was sitting and staying for a minute or more. We also worked on some impulse control and “leave it” at the same time because what is stay but self control practice?
Bauer: Bauer’s fun new training project for this month was nosework, which was equally new to me. We got started at a class with a guy who used to train drug sniffing dogs, and both of us have really been enjoying the process and the game, and have been moving quite quickly. In our last session we were working on teaching a signal (sit) for him to tell me when he has found the scent. Before that, I would watch for him to linger on a spot, but we wanted to transfer that to a very recognizable indication. You can see a bit of that work here:
The coolest part of our last class was when, at the end of the session, we were hanging out on the couches on the training room, and Bauer kept nosing and fussing about a wooden decorative box on the end table. He messed around with this for a couple of minutes, and kept looking at me. At first I thought he was just being annoying, but then I remembered that the week before, an advanced nosework student had been searching the room and our instructor had hidden a scent tin in that wooden box. I asked him if he had accidentally left it in there from last week, and with a grin, he opened it up… and sure enough, there was a scent tin in the box! Bauer got a lot of praise and treats for that one, and I was really impressed at his skill in picking up an old scent in a difficult and unusual place.
In addition to nosework, Bauer also earned his Community Canine title this month, and made some really nice progress with the “take it” command.
So there is the summary of our month of training. I am proud of all the dogs and really enjoyed setting and achieving specific training goals, rather than just playing around with no end game. Of course, training is an ongoing process, even the goals we “accomplished” this month will need continued work. But it was great to put some more conscious thought into it for a month and really focus on the bonding that comes from playing with your dogs!
I’ve been enjoying reading what others who took part in this training challenge have accomplished and you can see what everyone has been up to by checking on the blog hop links on Something Wagging this Way Comes. Thanks so much to all of our hosts for this great training month challenge!