Saturday, December 17, 2005

Day 149

Today's Retrieve class will be the last class for this year. Not a bad thing since so many have had to miss one or more classes. We will start up again in January and that will give everyone a fresh start.

Meanwhile in checking the response to "open on command" and finding holes in the training, Sanity was called on to show how it is done. I really needed her to be a little slow in her response and so I used my hand instead of the Dumbbell. Was good training for her and made it really easy for everyone to see what I was talking about.

Then for good measure we moved on to looking at why they were having problems with the simple open on command. To do that it was necessary to go back and look at the sit. This meant Sanity came out and demo'ed getting up on that tiny foot stool and holding a sit. With her help I showed them how to get the dog to step up on the stool using the place command and then follow it with the sit command. One thing it does is put a stop to that business of rocking back into a sit. If the dog tried to rock back into a sit they simply fell off the stool. Was pretty amazing to see how fast they all figured out how to do a tuck sit. I like it so much better when things can be set up to allow the dog to figure things out on their own.

Having done that part, it was clear that we actually needed to go back a bit further and make the definition of sit clearer and so Sanity came out and stepped up on the place board to show what a sit should look like. Head up, eyes on me, back straight, rear legs tightly tucked and front feet firmly planted. Step a quarter turn and require the same sit again. Repeat. Does wonders for clarifying the entire sit exercise in the dog's mind. You leave no fuzzy spots where confusion can creep in on tiny cat feet.

Later, we went outside and Tonia and I tossed bumpers for the Doberman girls. It was really interesting to watch the interaction between the three. It also became very clear that the reason Jersey gets shut out of games so often is that she has a temper and is struggling to learn how to control it. She will also forget herself and grip too hard, causing the "gripee" to yelp. When that happens, poor Jersey is once again kicked out of the game.

When I watch an interchange like what went on with the bumpers, I can't help but wonder, how much is breeding and how much is early training. Of course, when I say early training I am talking about from age 4 weeks to age 16 weeks. I suspect the lack of proper training between 4 weeks and 10 weeks is truly critical to later behavior. Leda and Sanity both show the behavior of two well brought up pups who had the benefit of a serious headstart program. Properly differential of their elders, able to play with a soft mouth, not afraid to try new things, these are some of the traits I see in not just Sanity and Leda but other pups coming from breeders who take the time to do the early puppy training. They are also traits I see as missing in pups who lack the earliest training.

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