Friday, September 07, 2012

never stop the learning ...

I read the blogs, the wonderful blogs out there; I watch the videos; I read books; I chat to training friends; I listen to podcasts; I work with great pros; I think about training issues quite obsessively. You'd think I'd be an accomplished trainer by now huh? Well ...

I wish my life with dogs went in the lovely linear fashion that so many other people's lives appear to. Case in point, there is a lovely little video about putting barking on a cue, then adding a quiet cue as the cure for a barking dog. It's had a bazillion views and is nicely done.  I know that the method shown works in daily life our biggest barking issue with Sampson is the middle of the night - at coyotes. Not something easily cued to cease.

Take biting. I live in a positive world. So we do the yelping when the puppy bites, standing up and walking away, giving the puppy a toy as we see him amp up and redirecting. All of them have been successful with other puppies. Wyn has good bite inhibition to date but he has puppy shark teeth. He can amp up in 2 seconds or less.  And once he's ON that's it. None of the techniques work for us consistently - he'll literally attach himself to my leg as I walk away. Yelping stops him occasionally and redirection works well if my timing is good but I'm simply not always that capable.   It's proving difficult not to get punitive, tho so far we have resisted the impulse. (I am by nature a bit reactive myself - pain provokes lashing out - something I am always aware of and keep in check).

Wyn and I  went to class this week. It was great fun and good for the little Mr. but I could literally see the lovely gentle pet folks in the class recoiling from us. Wyn was happy, curious, bold, noisy and full of spunk. He tugged happily and bounced out to the end of his lead to stare at the other puppies. He worked hard on sit, go to mat, doggy zen, and polite greetings but he was an intense little ball of energy. I'm pretty sure that the other people would be shocked if they knew how many puppies I've brought along. Polite?  Not so much - in fact at one point he got frustrated and bit at me. Isn't it supposed to get easier?

And that quite simply isn't fair for me to even think. Wyn is an amazing puppy - largely house trained, rocket recall (for now), polite on leash, travels nicely in a car, meets people happily, gentle with new dogs, sits, tugs and outs, goes to bed, and kennel, snuggles, chews puppy toys, is getting the concept of fetch, and is overall a fun little guy to live with  - but when he's biting it's as if I've never read a darn thing let alone worked with a puppy before. I'm still optimistic that his forever home is out there - but applications for him have been few, far between and bad matches for our handsome, hardworking pup. What will be will be. This I am much surer of than my ability to do this soul justice.

To all the folks who have THE ANSWER, who know exactly how to do "it" whatever your "it" is, I wish you a Wyn in your life, and soon. Sally grounded me well 6 years, and many foster dogs, ago; Wyn is a great reminder that every dog is unique, every soul deserves it's own plan. If Sally is a whole lot of dog Wyn is plenty of puppy. How fortunate am I to get to revisit this lesson?

If, by chance,  you want the real Wyn - and there is lots to cherish about him - let me know!


Amy / Layla the Malamute said...

I kind of feel a little ... I don't know the right word. Inferior maybe? When I see how quickly some friends are advancing in their journeys with their dogs compared to mine. I know in reality, it's totally different. I'm the one that's still in college, and working full time, and training my first dog, and having a hard time with money, and so on and so on, but it's still hard to see people go from Novice A to Excellent B in less than 4 months. It doesn't mean I'm not happy for them! It just means that sometimes I feel a little insecure about my own situation.

I had bought a bunch of old Clean Run issues from someone, including a special handling issue from a few years ago. It might've been OLD, like 2005, but it definitely isn't recent.

But in the very beginning, in the editorial section, it had a quote that made me feel so much better, I took a picture of it and keep it in my phone to re-read when I'm feeling off.

"Don't give your power away to others by letting them make you feel that you are letting your dog down. If you do the best job you can with the time and resources you have available and your dog is happy, that's nothing to be ashamed of. If your dog gets one less Q or title, it's not a reflection on you as a person or on the quality of your dog. No one knows what you've gone through so maybe you've done it better than anyone else could have. Be open-minded, learn as much as you can, and enjoy your dog." - Kathy Keats

I do think you're a great trainer. If people in the puppy class were recoiling, they obviously don't get the joy of a whole lot of puppy. He'd probably be my favorite in that class. His forever home is out there somewhere, with people who will cherish him as much as he deserves. In the meantime, he's very lucky to have you, just as you're lucky to have him!

andrea said...

awww Thanks Amy - he's a very special little dude no doubt at all - my favourite by along shot too!! Keeping your faith in yourself can be tricky at times, no doubt. Human nature and all ... as you know I'm lucky if I can get to 3 trials a year at the moment - a whole bunch of 2 year olds have just come out and many of them are technically "ahead" of Sally - but they actually have a lot more trial classes under their belts!