Saturday, December 17, 2011

The puppy tells you who the dog will be

What a puppy is like tells you a lot what the basic tendencies of the dog will be.  Yes, you can modify and change it through training, but the basic temperament and tendencies will always be there.  Its like a river, it wants to follow its path.  You can make it jump its bank and take a new course, but that is a lot of work!

Tycho as a puppy at about 8 weeks old.
Tycho as a puppy: Tycho arrived on a plane, in the kennel next to his litter sister Mini.  Tycho was excited about all the exciting new things going on and was trying to figure out how to kiss and play with all these new people:  luggage handlers, airport employees, crazy blond ladies, dark-haired guys...  He was really cautious around other dogs.  A friend's gentle yellow lab had to lie down and be still before Tycho could get up the courage to sneak up and sniff the end of her tail.  (Once that was accomplished, he was quite eager to play!).

Tycho as an adult:  he adored people.  His idea of a good time was meeting people and getting petted.  He was perfectly happy to go new places, to meet new people.  He liked some dogs, dogs he knew, and got uncomfortable around dogs he didn't know.  

So what about Bo and Tip?

Bo as a puppy, about 15 weeks old.
Puppy Bo: Even as a little puppy, Bo watched his breeder.  That is what he did.  She was the center of his world and his eyes were on her all the time.  He would play and gambol, with an eye on her.  If running through a tunnel made her laugh then BOOM,  he was going through that tunnel again!  And he had endless energy.

Adult Bo: Bo spends his life watching me and figuring out what I want so he can do it.  again and again and better and better.  I have managed to work Bo so hard he gets overheated, but I am not entirely sure if we have ever actually exhausted him.  He will keep going and going, and pay later.

Young Tip, about 15 months.
Puppy Tip:  OK, all I can say is his breeder's daughter actually thought he was autistic or retarded or something.  seriously.  He didn't play or interact or bumble about like the other dogs.  He would just sit there and watch.  Sort of like a vegetable.

Adult Tip:  It took a year of living and training by Bo, but Tip will now play and fetch balls.  He suffers through innumerable play attacks and mounting sessions by Bo.   Though suffers is the wrong word because it often seems like he doesn't even know Bo is latched on to his other end.  And Tip watches and thinks.  I am hoping that is what he was doing as a puppy:  watching and thinking.  Because the other option is he was just sitting there like a little fluffy white vegetable...  Like a hairy mangel-wurzel.

Having read that, it makes Tip sound like a horrible little lump.  Nothing could be further than the truth.  He is very sweet, entirely charming and truly earns his nickname "the little gentleman".  Tip truly does not wish to do things wrong, has excellent manners, and is universally loved by all that meet him.   When we take the smalls for walks, Tip charms everyone we meet, while Bo stands by me, watching me, avoiding the strangers and waiting for a cue that we will start doing something again.  Yes, Bo comes off as unfriendly because the rest of the world simply does not matter to him (only I do).  The rest of the world matters to Tip, because it is more people that can admire him...

Monday, December 12, 2011

Bo's fabulous weekend

Bo finished his 16th title this past weekend, earning his MXJ at the Oriole Trial.  He ran fabulously: Qed in 4/6 runs and should've been 5!  He also placed in each run (in a very large and competitive 8" class), and earned 75-80 MACH points from those 4 Qs.  On top of that, he picked up a double Q (QQ).  He came very tired, very dirty, and with a rosette bigger than he is!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

We're gonna party like its ...

Tip did it!!! He opened his mouth and took the dumbbell!!!!!

So maybe this seems silly but... I am so proud of Tip and so happy!!!!

I have been working for weeks to get Tip to take and hold the dumbbell. Started trying to just open his mouth and put it in, and that was met with fearsome resistance. Just a couple tries and I had a pissed off little dog who clenched his mouth shut, and shoved the dumbbell out as hard as he could, and who was clearly not pleased.  He would avoid the dumbbell and look away.


So then I went to do clicker training for a week or so.  That got him to the point where he would open his mouth and grab the dumbbell and immediately release.  I could not get him to extend the hold.  So he had a grab, but not a hold.  But at least he was now feeling positively towards the dumbbell.

So then I went back to a more correct implementation of the inducive retrieve.  The first week or so I got it so I could open his mouth, put the dumbbell in, and have him hold it very briefly.  No longer trying his best to shove it out of his mouth! About a week ago I came home and decided he could certainly learn to hold it for a short period of time.  Lo and behold, 5 minutes later he was doing so!  All this training depended heavily on the amazing powers of liverwurst, and a small amount of "cut the crap and keep holding that, its not going to kill you."

Today, I decided that the next step I wanted him to take was I wanted him to open his mouth and take the dumbbell, rather than having me open his mouth and put it in there.  aka: I wanted him to take ownership of the behavior and not be a passive participant.

For this I used chunks of fresh beef roast (from the deli, cut very thick) and Bo.  And as I was grabbing lunch at home today, I decided to take 5 minutes and work the retrieve with the dogs.  I did 3 repetitions of "put in Tip's mouth praise, take, and feed hunks of beef". Then I let Bo take and hold it a couple times and get treats.  Then I decided that if Tip was going to get the chunks of roast beef, he was going to open his mouth himself.

He sat there for ~30 seconds, then I offered it to Bo, who got chunks of beef. I offered it again to Tip.

Poor little guy was so stressed that he was literally shaking like a leaf.  All I was doing was holding it in front of his nose and I said "take it" once.  I am not exactly sure what was so difficult, but clearly this was REALLY HARD for him to take the initiative.  Finally he opened his mouth and took it, though it came out quickly.  For this he got 2 pieces of beef and gobs of praise.  We did that a couple more times, then took a break (and Bo got to take it and get treats).  Then went back to Tip, who started consistently opening his mouth and holding it, and now I had him hold it for a few seconds each time before taking it.  And each time he got HEAPED with praise and several pieces of beef.  And by the end of the session the shaking had mostly subsided.

I am very proud of Tip.  This was clearly VERY VERY hard for him, and he worked through it!  But seeing him sit there shaking like a leaf while he was working it out -- wow.  And I was working this in a very non pushy and low-stress way, just waiting for him to take the initiative.

If I can just teach him sits in heeling and fronts and not try to take on every big dog he sees...  he could be going places!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Tip's first obedience title

This past weekend, Tip finished his Beginner Novice (BN) obedience title.  So he is now CH. Waytogo's Walk This Way BN NJP.

I am rather divided how I feel about this achievement. In one sense, I brought a dog who was scarcely trained at all into the ring and earned three qualifying scores (with decent scores) without hardly trying.  All I really did was to teach him to gait next to me (only slightly changing his breed ring behavior) and teaching him how to hold a sit stay.  He did not give a single sit in heeling, figure 8s, or recalls.  This lack earned me (well-deserved) steely looks from the judges.

So in one sense, it feels like a cheat.

On the other hand, my little Dipper earned his first obedience title in three straight shots, with really decent scores and is showing great promise!  Yeah Tip!!!!

This I will say, however: on both days, I went right from the BN ring with Tip to the Open B ring with Bo.  To work a dog who could heel so perfectly!  Is delighted to work and give perfect attention!  Knows what to do and tried so hard!  Yeah to BO!!!!!!