2-Minute Dog Trainer, Tempest week 7

I got Tempest at 8 weeks and 2 days of age. I’ve had him 7 weeks. It’s hard to believe it’s been that long — time truly DOES fly when you’re having fun.

I sometimes watch the video of my evaluation process with Tempest’s litter, and I was wearing a sweatshirt and winter pants. Yesterday our thermometer read 102-degrees though certainly some of that heat was bouncing off the deck surface. I broke out in a full-body-sweat just walking to the training building.

Tempest has changed from a little guy I could easily sweep up in my arms to a gangly boy. I now have to support multiple points on his body or they’ll flop and slither out of control.

With 2 meals a day we do contact training. My criteria continues to tighten and I’m working now to get Tempest to understand that the 2-on-2-off contact performance should be in a perfect line with the ramp, rather than off to whichever side I’m standing on. He’s starting to pick up on the fine points of my training.

I continue to insist on the following behaviors, and reward for them with praise, freedom, and the occasional handful of kibble:

1.  “T-come!” whether in the house or the yard, whether playing or training.  He must come when called, every time, and I have zero tolerance for ignoring my call. He can  a) come when he’s called and get an occasional reward and constant praise, or  b) NOT come when called, be hunted down (“like a dog”), picked up, carried back to the house, and placed gently in his pen.  Note I hunt him down, I don’t chase him.  I walk behind him, not looking directly at him, while he glances at me over his shoulder and walks away. Eventually he stops moving when he realizes the futility of trying to get away. There’s no punishment or shouting or berating happening.  “Resistance is futile.”

2. Going into his crate or ex-pen. There’s never any punishment associated with his crate, and he actually likes both his crate for sleeping at night, and his “play-pen” full of toys for resting during the day.  Last night he started out trying to sleep on the bed, got restless, hopped off the bed and circled his crate, finally lying down next to his crate, leaning on the wire. I got out of bed, opened the crate door, he entered, sighed, and went fast asleep immediately.

3. Walking on a loose leash. I introduced this by simply stopping forward movement whenever Tempest pulled forward, going to and from the training building, or into and out of the YMCA, etc. We battled a bit during weeks 3 and 4, when Tempest realized what fun awaited him when walking on leash. In week 5 I changed to a series of left spirals, stepping directly into Tempest’s path if he forged forward, making him turn 360-degrees to the left, then resuming our forward movement. The first trip to the building took about 5 minutes (for 100 feet <g>), so it was slow going at first but he’s getting a lot better with this whole concept. After years of teaching obedience classes, I sure won’t ever let him drag me forward.  No way, no how, under no circumstances.  I’m not going to pop and jerk him, but I’m going to be his strong leader.

4. Accepting grooming processes, including calmly allowing toenail trimming, standing still for a bath, being examined all over, etc.  I swore that if I ever had another puppy and the set-up for easily bathing him, my puppy would get regular baths to help him accept all sorts of grooming activity. Tempest has had 4 baths in 7 weeks and is actually quite calm for this procedure. Toenails require calm stroking and vocalizations, but are easily achieved by one person. Our vet trims toenails each visit as well, so Tempest is learning this is just part of life.

5. Being calm in the house, including the avoidance of “spoiled brat syndrome.”  When Tempest fusses in his pen or crate, I casually get up and remove myself from his sight. Fussing equals Mom leaving. When my sister was considering buying Tempest’s littermate, we spent an hour discussing crate training, house training, really basic stuff. I told her, “if he fusses in his crate you just leave the room — like a baby in his crib, you never pay attention to or give freedom to a puppy that’s barking or fussing.”  She grinned and said, “you’re not supposed to pick up babies when they fuss in their crib?” ….. “That explains a lot about your kids,” I said, laughing.

6. Sitting to ask permission to greet people, to ask permission to exit a crate or pen, to ask permission to go through a door, etc.  “Sit” means “Mother, may I?”  In the past couple of weeks I’ve added a couple seconds of steady eye contact along with the sit.  Tempest is getting really engaged in the game, offering all sorts of sits, downs, eye contact, etc., when he wants something.

In addition to these basic pet behaviors, Tempest has been introduced to heeling, to positions (sit/stand/down), and to agility equipment and concepts, including the wobble board, the training teeter, the full-size teeter, standard jumps, wing jumps (bars on the floor), 2 pause tables, several tunnels, training dog walk, and training a-frame, parallel movement, front crosses, and tandem turns. The only thing he hasn’t engaged yet is the tire and weavepoles, and I’m certain he’ll get to see some this Sunday in his beginner agility class. I’m excited when, instead of teaching, I get to actually take a class with my dog. Tempest and I get to attend our first agility class this Sunday and I intend to maximize my use of the 2 hours.

On July 13 Tempest will be 4 months old and, on September 20-ish, he’ll be entered in his first novice Rally trial. I’ve always thought it was weird that people put their puppies in obedience trials, actually putting CDs on 6-9-month old puppies. In my experience, these 9-month-old geniuses can turn into stressed underachievers.  My goal for Tempest is that he think the inside of a ring is exciting and fun, and that he be able to maintain focus for the 1-2 minutes necessary to get into and out of a novice rally course. No stress, all fun, just a little dance with Mom!

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One Response to “2-Minute Dog Trainer, Tempest week 7”

  1. Georgette Says:

    Marsha, I just love reading about Tempest’s progress and the methods you use to acheive training goals. I feel that reading your blog I am learning so much about positive dog training. Thanks for sharing! Georgette

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