August 23, 2008

Keeping busy

The waiting has been really hard. I was prepared to wait till next January (or actually next Spring when the other litter would have been ready to go home), but now that I know the pup will be ready to come home in just 40 days (who's counting?) the anticipation has been getting harder and harder to control.

I have been trying to prepare for the pup's arrival in between doing what I SHOULD be doing :-) I just finished reading Brenda Aloff's new book - Get Connected With Your Dog. I saw her doing the techniques from the book during her presentations at the 3 Dog Scout camps this year. It's a really interesting way of working with the dog, using your body movement/direction as a cue to the dog, similar to how a horse person might cue a horse when doing ground work. Because you can use your body movement as a cue for certain behaviors and also to reward the dog, the leash is not used as a cue but instead as a safety line (as it should be.) She also stresses lots of calm handling to get the dog desensitized to touch by humans so the dog can use that touch as a relax cue. I'll be using several of the exercises in the book with the pup, some I have used with my dogs without realizing it but others are new.

I also reviewed Brenda's "Fundamentals" DVD. In that video she works with several puppies to teach them to accept touch and restraint without fear or tension as well as eye contact, sit, down, stay, leave it and walking nicely on a leash. She teaches the walk nicely by teaching the dog to move WITH collar pressure instead of the instinctive reaction to pull or push against pressure (opposition reflex.)

I just got the Leerburg "Preparing Your Dog for the Helper" DVD. I watched it twice. The first time I was really tired and kept falling asleep, so I watched it again and took some notes. I was disappointed that it's not much new stuff. It says "you HAVE to watch the "Focus and Drive" DVD or you'll be lost", but then it just about fully repeats everything that is on that DVD. Only about the last 1/2 hour was really new stuff.

I have created an extensive training check list and weekly record keeping forms so I can keep myself on track and keep a record of progress. I have found this helps a great deal when I think the dog hasn't made much progress. I can then look back and see how far he has come. This blog, if I can keep myself on track to keep it updated, will help with that as well (and cut down on the number of emails I have to send about his progress :-). I plan to buy a digital camcorder soon so I can share training and progress clips. That means I'll probably have to get an external hard drive to give myself enough computer space though :-)

Given that the pup's parents have excelled in ring sport, I'm guessing the pup will enjoy that, so I have been learning about Schutzhund and working on positive training plans for the stuff he will need to know. The Leerburg videos have shown me what is needed and between my training knowledge and that of a group of friends I have (that are interested in training without compulsion) I think I'll be able to do it. For some reason, no one thinks it's possible to get high level titles without a shock collar. One of my goals is to prove them wrong. If the pup turns out to be suited to that, I'll just have to find the time and money to pursue those titles! :-)

I have an extensive training library and I'm looking that over to see what I need to review. I plan to read over the "Control Unleashed" book and maybe "The Culture Clash" again. I also have many notes from seminars and books I have borrowed. My guess is that I won't have much time to be reading once the pup arrives. I plan to do my best to wear him out by working his brain as much as his body though, so at least till he builds some stamina, I can hope he will sleep regularly so I can keep my work caught up. :-)

I just ordered a few new books, so that will keep me busy on some trips I have next month.