Monday, August 13, 2012

"Wait" and "Back Up"... Good Save!

I don't usually train my dogs to 'Stay'. I like the 'Wait' command better.

Stay means "freeze"... don't move a muscle until I return to you and release you. The reason I don't teach it often is that most people use it incorrectly and indiscriminately, and I see more dogs breaking a stay than understand it. They inevitably get corrected for breaking the stay, unfair and not needed. Not to say I don't teach it, but it requires some very specific parts, broken down so that the dogs understand it well and the handlers are using it clearly and with their own understanding of what we want the dogs to do.

"Wait" means don't move forward. When I tell my dogs to wait at the front door, it means you can move about the house, just don't move forward... don't follow me out the door, the gate, up or down the stairs. But it doesn't mean "freeze".

Yesterday I was working with a mini GoldenDoodle, Tillie, our Lagotto puppy now 5 months, and Glory my English Shepherd was out with us in the back yard.  Tossing the frisbee, Glory has a lovely retrieve. Not perfect, but she'll find it, take it, and bring it to hand 90% of the time.

I had just tossed the frisbee, and as Glory was bringing it back to me I noticed that the Doodle had just pooped. Right between Glory and me, and Glory was about to step in it, dancing around with the frisbee she so proudly brought back to me!

"WAIT"!  "BACK UP"! Good girl!

Stepping in poop and ick averted, I was so proud of my girl, and so happy I had taught her those two commands.

There are so many reasons I love these two commands, and I'd never had to use them for that reason before, but let me tell you... short of "come" and "down", they are the ones I use most often, and probably always will!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Tillie, our Lagotto Romagnolo puppy is here!

Tillie ~ Our Lagotto Romagnolo puppy, getting chicken from me while being held by our friends' daughter, Dani.

Tillie is just 8.5 weeks old now, and every day is new, exciting, fun and challenging for us all. In a good way.  New people to meet, safe places to explore.

Her breeder is in Arizona, and did a marvelous job getting the pups ready for their new lives.  Our job started the day we brought her home. My plan is to blog about our lives together, the good, the bad, the ups and downs, the fun and the OMG we have a new puppy and she doesn't take "breaks".

Today we took her to meet our friends at their son's baseball game.  There were 4 or more games going on at the time, but we were able to hang out in an area that would not be overwhelming for her.   The best part was having the very well-behaved children (and their parents) coming over to say hello and hold her.

Tillie is a social puppy, but even social puppies need socialization to keep them that way.  I subscribe to much that has been written about puppy raising by Dr. Carmen Battaglia , including The Rules of 7, which follow at the end of this blog.

Tillie did beautifully today! With a handful of chicken, some space to get away from all the excitement but still expose her to new sounds, people and places, we both had a blast... and that's the MOST important part, isn't it?

If new puppy owners could take even some of the Rules of 7 and apply them, many more pups would grow up to acclimate easily to all sorts of stresses and pressures found in every day life.  It's our responsibility to do that for them... don't you think?

Dr. Carmen Battaglia created the Rule of 7′s as a guide to increase a puppy’s exposure.  You do not have to follow it to the letter, but make sure your puppy is current on all shots before taking him out into a strange area.  By the time a puppy is 3 months, make sure he has:
  1. Been on 7 different types of surfaces:  carpet, tile, linoleum, concrete, wood, vinyl, grass, dirt, gravel, and wood chips.
  2. Played with 7 different types of objects:  rope toys, plush toys, big balls, small balls, soft fabric toys, squeaky toys, paper or cardboard items, metal items, and sticks.
  3. Been in 7 different locations:  front & back yard, basement, kitchen, car, garage, laundry room, bathroom, kids room, living room, hallway, Vet’s office, groomers.
  4. Met and played with 7 new people:  include children and older adults, someone walking with a cane or in a wheelchair or walker, someone tall, someone in a hat.
  5. Been exposed to 7 challenges:  climb on a box, go through a tunnel, climb steps, go down steps, climb over obstacles, play hide and seek, go in and out of a doorway with a step up or down, run around a fence.
  6. Eaten from 7 different containers:  metal, plastic, cardboard, paper, human hands, pie plate, tin pan, frying pan, Frisbee, elevated bowl.
  7. Eaten in 7 different locations:  crate, yard, exercise pen, basement, laundry room, living room, bathroom, back yard.