End of a chapter, beginning of a new chapter

End of a chapter…

Well, little Holly is now in her new home. It is so hard not to have her happy little face here. Amazing how much she had grown on us over the last 10 weeks. It feels like she has always been here. We were concerned with how JoyJoy and Sammie would take it, but JoyJoy watched them put her in the crate in their vehicle and didn’t seem too bothered by it. I did tell them this morning that Holly was going to her new home. I don’t know if they understand or not, but, I figure it can’t hurt. We took down the ex-pen and picked up the blanket in the hopes that it would help Sammie and JoyJoy. JoyJoy did whine for a minute or two, then Sammie came in and now they seem fine. Both are sleeping on the couch, one with my hubby and the other lined up with the other dogs.

The good news is that Holly really seemed to take a shine to the lady, so that will help her. And they are borrowing her auntie Cricket for a bit to help her transition over. I am concerned how she will be when she doesn’t have any dogs to play with, but I’m sure she’ll adapt quickly. I can see lots of walks and tug of war games in her future! The great thing is they have sent photos of her already! I’m looking forward to more, and also look forward to watching her grow. As they are local, hopefully we will see them off and on. We sure love the little one!

Beginning of a new chapter…

I’ve been reading a few “positive training” books lately, trying to learn how I can work with and train my dogs better. While I didn’t exactly believe or train to the old, basically military, type training, I was kind of caught in the middle. I will admit, I was, and still am up to a point, frustrated with training, as I wasn’t sure how to do it to get the results that I want and need. But after reading a few books and watching a few YouTube videos, I think I’m getting a grasp on the “positive training” and am better able to train my pack. I’m still not perfect by any means, but I’m working on it, and have a clearer vision now.

That being said, I’m bringing each dog, Sammie, JoyJoy, Maddie and Colt, one at a time into my office area and training them for the scent work and basic obedience as well as some tricks. Instead of drilling them and getting irritated at them for not “getting it,” (irritated with myself not knowing how to train so that they would understand it), I am keeping the sessions really short, say 5 minutes, maximum, and not stressing out about it if they don’t seem to understand what I want or when I go a step too far and they get confused. Depending on how they are reacting to me, I may just ask for a “sit” or a “down” and pull them off the search for the scent article. Then I’ll toss in a few other commands that I have been working with them on, like “shake hands” or “turn around.” I might bring in the scent article again, but if they just don’t “get it” during that particular training session, I don’t worry about it. My main goal is to keep it positive and light.

Currently, I’m giving them treats for finding the item, but I’m wondering if once they get the hang of it, I should graduate to a toy for them to tug with or retrieve. When I actually reach my goal of taking them out in public, a toy may be better, as they won’t get full of treats and quit on me. And also the game may keep them a bit more “up” and focused, as it would be an active reward instead of pretty much a passive reward.

Sammie is doing the best of out of the four, which doesn’t surprise me. She has shown great interest and ability when I’ve worked with her in the past, so hopefully I can maintain and keep that focus and not get her frustrated, with either me or the “game.” JoyJoy follows closely in her momma’s footsteps, but with just a tad bit less enthusiasm. Where Sammie just about knocks the container over trying to show me where it is, JoyJoy holds back just a little bit. She also gets confused if she doesn’t see three containers out when I hide the third one, and hasn’t figured out how to look for it yet. But she’ll get it, I have no doubt.

Maddie is my serious worker. She’s doing really well, although she’s kind of a touchy little thing, so I have to tread carefully, otherwise I’ll turn her off. Colt is also doing well. He doesn’t seem to have the same spark as he used to, but since I just started back into training them, maybe it’ll return.

I don’t have any pictures yet, but hope to shoot a few “this is what I’m doing” videos here pretty soon.

In regards to seeking AKC and UKC recognition for at least Em, Sammie, Maddie and Colt, I have moved a step or two, hopefully in the right direction. It will be a bit slow going, at least on my part, but I think the ball is rolling now. There is an AKC dog show down in the Four Corners area in May. I’m tossing around the idea of attempting to get my crew registered with the AKC by then and trying my hand at showing in the conformation ring. I don’t know if it will actually happen, but I am thinking about it. If nothing else, if I could start training the dogs for showing in the ring, it would give them some good training exposure and may help them in the future. It will be a bit challenging for all of them, as they will have to accept a stranger running their hand down their back and checking their mouth, etc. Yup, better start working on that now!

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