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!