Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Herding Breeds

Nike is my first herding breed. She's also my first purebred dog (the Lhasa and Poodle my family had when I was kid don't count.)

I can already see where people could run into issues with higher energy herding breeds. Especially people who maybe have not had a dog before or aren't sure about training. She is a handful. Small does not mean lazy or low energy that's for sure!

I'm also beginning to see just what the addiction is for sport people. When they want to work. Wow. The train-ability is incredible. Coming from my "non standard" breeds, it's jaw dropping and Spencer is very smart.

Pretty and smart!

Nike has learned about shaping and the clicker with me from the get go. But, to let you in on my dirty little secret ... I'm not putting a lot of emphasis on pet dog manners yet. Really I don't care if my dog jumps on me - the other 3 do, what's one more? I also don't care overly much about biting my clothing - especially with Nike. She doesn't really want to tug yet - if tugging on my sleeve makes her happy, I'll work with that until I can transition it to a toy. Maybe we get a CGN, maybe we don't. Not a really big deal.

I don't want my dog to sit there in a shaping session and offer attention instead of interacting with an object. I also don't want to break her backing up, which is being shaped and not on cue yet.

 So in our first puppy lesson, I wasn't working on "handler focus/attention." I want my dog to DO things, not just stare at me when I don't offer any information on what they should do.

On Saturday our first real puppy lesson was on loose leash walking/nose touches. Do you know how is hard to do any kind of walking, let alone on a loose leash without any handler focus? We struggled quite a bit with focusing on the other puppies and ignoring the human on the other end of her leash. It didn't help that she wasn't very hungry having eaten a TON of cookies for nose touches.

So I changed up my plan a little.

Not having handler focus is not setting my puppy up to succeed in class. Especially considering how she loves other dogs. I don't need her to practice ignoring me to look at/try to get to them. So I've modified handler focus (like I've done with pretty much everything taught in puppy class!) Attention is the thing we do on a mat. 4 feet go on a mat and you offer attention for cookies. Sitting, laying down, standing - whatever you want. Just be on that mat.

We have done 1 and a half sessions on this. For 3 handfuls of kibble.

Tonight in class I plopped our blanket down and Nike was a rock star. Absolutely ignored the older higher energy puppies who really wanted to play with her. Howling, shrieking, flailing puppies? Not a problem - they're not the game. The game is stare at mom for the click then eat the cookies. Tons more handler focus. After playing the game with the mat and the clicker for 5 min at the start of the class, she's watching me as we move as well. It's crazy how quickly she picks things up. I love it!

Very impressed with my little one (and my training with her so far.) Clickers for the win!

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