Don’t worry — I’m not going to leave you hangin’ for 4 months. I just want to comment on the fact that no two puppies develop or train the same.
When Tempest was 4-or-5 months old, I took a job at a local hospital. It was entry level grunt work, but it supplied Bud and I with health insurance, plus a small paycheck.
I hated the job. I came home exhausted 4 or 5 nights a week, after an 11-to-7:30pm shift. I was generally irritated with the mean girls and dopey managers with whom I worked, and would cry about the rudeness I was forced to endure each work day. It was awful and no one deserves that life for $12,000 a year plus health insurance.
When I started the job Tempest was about 5 months old, and when I quit the job he was 9 months old. Tempest’s training was put on hold from mid-August to nearly Christmas 2010.
After quitting my horrible job, Bud and I took leadership positions with TDAA, Bud had an automobile accident in Indiana, and our lives were in turmoil. Tempest’s training slowed for the winter, and we didn’t really start sequencing until he was about 11 months old.
At 12 months he started learning how to weave, and began an intermediate agility class at a local club.
I don’t think we ever made up for those lost months. Before he got sick (Dec.2011) my plan was to spend the winter doing the training we had missed Fall-Winter 2010.
So, in other words, I was continuing with the 2-minute dog training protocols, and Tempest’s individual obstacle performance was great, but his introduction to sequencing and following handler direction cues was LATE and INADEQUATE.
I’m hoping to redeem myself with Phoenix.
My work life is different now. My work day revolves around my laptop and I spend a great deal of time in my office. I do all the paperwork for TDAA, as well as the class and camp rosters.
At 4 months of age, Phoenix is enjoying obstacle training for 3 meals a day (will be transitioning to 2 meals a day in about 2 weeks).
Once a day, for about 15 minutes, Phoenix and I go to the building where we do simple sequencing with his tug toy as a reward.
My first goal with each session is to make sure he’s conditioned with each of the obstacles I plan to use in my mini-sequence.
When he’s confidently performing each of the obstacles in the sequence I start putting together 2-and-3-obstacle bits.
When he’s putting the sequences together, I practice the longer mini-sequence (5-6 obstacles).
Last week’s mini-sequence was teeter-tunnel-teeter, with a front cross between the tunnel and the second performance of the training teeter.
Today’s mini sequence was tunnel-under-the-aframe, across an 8″ jump, into another tunnel, front cross, turn-back into the same tunnel, and through the tire.
The sequence isn’t important. What is important is that he learn to look at me for his directional cues.
I’m pleased with Phoenix’s drive to run with me, with his interest in focusing on obstacles as we run, and his quiet, calm working style.
By conditioning individual obstacle, then conditioning tiny 2-3-obstacle sequences, then performing longer sequences, I hope to build in him an understanding that agility is fun. But that the fun of agility is following Mom and doing what she says to do.
Mealtime training this week (15 weeks of age) includes: 1) breakfast = contact trainer, 2) lunch, pause table on the ottoman with an automatic down, working on STAY as I walk around the living room, occasionally disappearing from sight, 3) dinner, contact trainer or hoops / jumps in the back yard.
We do contact training with breakfast x 7 days a week.
We do pause table training with lunch x 7 days a week.
We do contact training with dinner x 3 days a week.
We do jump training with dinner x 4 days a week.
Therefore, we do 21 training sessions on obstacle performance each week.
If I add one 15-minute sequencing session 5 days a week, I’m totaling over 125 minutes of training each week with my puppy.
All without stressing his body, overworking his little brain, or interrupting my life overmuch.
That’s what the 2-minute dog training protocols are all about. They’re designed to fit training into every day with your dog, and into every interaction with your dog.