Why won’t she write?

It has been over 1 month since I posted to this blog and of course, in the life of a puppy that is forever.  So why haven’t I written?  Well, I have sort of…the blog posts have floated around in my head  – actually quite well formed – as I’ve walked the dogs, set up courses, cleaned the house, weeded the garden jungle or while driving.   The challenge has been finding the time to sit down and transfer them from one virtual space – my brain – to another – the blog-o-sphere.  And since the topics are mostly “real-time”, there is little incentive to do so if several days have passed and so I wait for another topic to roll around and form and to converge with the opportunity to sit for an hour at the computer.   Right now, I’m out of town for a wedding, sans dogs and using the hotel computer while my husband sleeps in.

So, if my excuse is time…you are probably thinking…wait a minute…she’s retired so why wouldn’t she have all the time in the world?  I’ve found out it doesn’t work quite that way.  There are still only 24 hours in the day and without vacation constraints there are now even more options for spending my time than ever before.

So, Tai is now 6 months old.  He is about 20″ at the withers and weighs around 35 pounds.  He looks big to me when standing next to the shelties but tiny next to my friend’s German Shepherd. He still looks quite leggy but he’s  learning to use his body quite well.  He still has a puppy brain for sure but he’s surprising me at times that he actually knows some things and that his choices reflect wanting to be with me.  A gratifying feeling!

We work on relationship every day, in every interactive moment and in every training session…that is a given.  And as I watch him, I see where he is and I hold in my mind the vision of what he will be and fix my training priorities accordingly.  For example,  a priority for the next week will be getting him to soccer games to be around little kids.   He had plenty exposure to kids and babies as a 3-4 month old but needs more now as evidence by his reaction to my friends 2 year old.  He was very stimulated by her and it initiated prey drive….obviously not a good thing.  Another priority is desensitizing him to traffic.   He long ago moved from being afraid of it to being fascinated and now we’re into the border collie must stalk the traffic phase.  He goes into that mental place that is hard to reach.  So these two things will take priority this coming week and when I return from the Czech Republic where I’ll be competing at the European Open with Breeze.  See what I mean by fitting it all in?

Meanwhile…I’m still working his retrieve – getting better but not where I want it.  His drive into his crate is vastly improving using a tip from a friend to use a toy reward for driving into the crate…that is…tug inside the crate.  This is where the “vision” thing comes in….you might think…who cares if he doesn’t drive into a crate? I could make excuses like maybe he’s just too big to feel comfortable running into a small space.  But here’s my thinking…if I can’t get him to drive into a crate…how am I going to get him to drive to the bottom of the dogwalk?  So, crate games is a model where I can figure this out in a non-agility context.

We’ve been doing lots of other things as well… puppy jump grids, rear cross basics, circle work, loose leash walking, durations stays on a dog bed or in open crate, hand targets (now with distractions) and generally working around distractions.

Oh…and from his perspective one of the highlights…swimming.  A few weeks ago, I went to a creek with a big swimming hole to “teach” Tai to swim, prepared to go in and encourage him to the deeper water.   When we got to the spot, he looked, he waded in and started swimming.  I wish everything was this easy.   But wait…do I really mean that?   Nah..what fun would that be?  Right Tai?


  • Mary Ann

    This is the time when you should be seeing work drive surfacing. It is also the time when lot of puppies come back to the breeder or end up in rescue for “herding the kids”, nipping or biting, or just unruly behavior. It is it perfect time to properly direct the behavior. In Cap’s case, he will be further introduced to working sheep. The first thing he will learn is a “that’ll do”. His reward for calling off will be to go back to work. Btw – I don’t think drive to a crate and driving to the bottom of a dogwalk are related? The dogwalk target is amidst work – crate is not. He should have more drive when working. What are your thoughts?

    • Hi: The drive to crate is in the context of “work”. The game will be used as one way to teach drive away from me (into the crate). The agility “work” is all taught as games but there are criteria and consequences (reward, no reward mostly) so it is definitely work. I don’t mean to leave the impression that he isn’t enthusiastic for his games/work. He is! Just this piece was a little slow and I’m working to build the value of driving to the crate using toys now, not just food. Pretty much all of agility is artificial skills – not like working stock. So I have to build value for one thing (toys) and transfer that value to other things – like driving to the crate. Make sense?

  • Julie

    He is so handsome, I just want to snatch him up. Love the picture of him in the chair with his wink and expressive ears!!

  • Sandy

    He’s filling out into his body nicely. He’s going to be a beauty.

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