A spot finally opened up at the recommended “puppy school” provider, three weeks ago. Rollo was 13 weeks old. Everyone there is pretty energetic and of course the puppies there constitute 6 of the 8-10 dogs he sees every week. It’s very distracting for all of us! But I think he is doing pretty well. He’s the biggest dog there. Not sure if he’s the oldest.
Week 1 curriculum included:
- Introduction to method: choose a success word to always say when pup does something right. Like “yes!!” We had already been using “Good boy!!” And “Good job!” so low we have three. This instant positive reaction gives the dog a snapshot of exactly what the owner wants. In theory.
- Then give the good boy a treat. we used Zukes, then a little Chewzzies and this week, Charlee Bear Original Crunch treats. The Chewzzies didn’t work quite as well as the other 2. The trainer suggested that Rollo may be more motivated by something other than treats (like affection, which is true sometimes), or by more appealing treats like string cheese or hot dog slices (we sound out a few nights later: YES). It’s interesting that the super crunchy Charlee Bear ones work better this week than 3 weeks ago. His tastes are changing, or maybe just his teeth are changing.
- Getting him to respond to his name. (Success!)
- Sit (Success. We’d already been working on this as had everyone in the class)
- Spin (Success.)
- Release – as in, telling him he can get up from Sit or whatever lease we ask him to do. Semi-success.
- Getting him used to us handling his body, especially his hind legs (No problem there. He’s a snuggler.)
- If the pup bites on us while playing, we should yelp like it hurts, or find some way to convince him it’s hurting us. I’m working on whining, as yelping just eggs him on. But, his bites are softening. Am I winning?
Week 2 curriculum included:
- Down (as in, go from sit to laying down, elbows on the floor). Success!
- Stand (up). Success!
- Place, with a raised cot: get him to go to a designated spot (like a dog bed) upon command. Not a success, that day. We’d been working on it already, but the only place we have him place at is the crate and that always means nighttime in a different room from us. Which he doesn’t like. Snuggler that he is.
- As prep for “heel,” which means to walk alongside our left knee, we use a treat to walk him from facing us in a sit to sitting at our left knee in a sit.
- Posture of the human: stand up fully while training. The dog will remember that a command seems to involve bending over. But we don’t want it to because: ouch.
- Do training where there are distractions: outside, maybe at a park. It’ll help him learn to focus.
Week 3 curriculum included:
- We asked for a strategy to deal with Rollo’s tendency to try and run at some of the moving cars we see while walking. Trainer said that maybe we shouldn’t walk him where cars will be moving, until we can condition him in a more controlled manner, to ignore them. I was a little heartbroken, as a I adore our walks. I was also a little confused… avoiding this seems bonkers. So we are seeking other guidance, or at least more details on what to do. And I bought a strong harness.
- Leave it
- The rule of 7: expose him to 7 new things every day. Our trainer brought out all sorts of agility obstacles, a walker and wheelchair, and a Habitrail-like tube. While pups are young – under 4 months and Rollo will be 4 months old tomorrow! – it’s good to expose them to a variety of things so that they don’t get more traumatized by them when they are more fully grown. We dodged fireworks pretty effectively a few weeks ago but it may be a good idea to put a YouTube video of some up on the big screen TV, for him to react to.
In sum: he’s doing well and we need to find a hot air balloon, STAT.
We’ve also been working on crate training, with medium success. Well, good success until a few days ago. Either our July 4 camping night gave him a nice taste of sleeping next to us, or his teething is really hard for him: he will bark half the night in the crate. So that everybody gets a little more sleep, we are letting him sleep on the floor near one or both of us, for part or the whole night. For now.
Anyway: he is amazing and my laughter and love muscles are getting a workout.