Scoop is 5 months and one week old now. He is all legs and tail. He is 20 inches tall. YIKES! I keep wondering if I stop feeding him if he will stop growing. Doubt it:( His size has led me to decide absolutely no more jumping on guests. A cute little 5 month old pup can get away with it, but not a bigger than usual one. I have to tell friends and students not to talk to him until all four feet are on the ground, don’t even look at him! He is extremely friendly, (pushy, engaging) and can’t quite figure out yet what all the fuss is about.
I am happy with his training progress and especially pleased he did not go totally feral last week when I had absolutely no extra time to spend with him. The AKC world team was here at my home for team practice and guests started arriving early in the week and stayed the full weekend. We had 10 guests here at the house and of course that meant lots of people in and out and much ado about nothing according to the baby border collie. Morning and night I saved time to go to the field for some training and exercise, but not nearly as much as he is used to getting. I wanted to do restrained recalls with him, not just trot him around the yard, to burn off some of his steam. That was ok for a a couple days but he started to become upset about being held while I ran away so many times, and decided he did not want to be kept from running along side of me as I left him. He wasn’t scared, he just had too much anticipation of the run and didn’t want to be passed off to Jim so I could leave him. I had not really seen a negative side to doing restrained recalls with any of my dogs before, but he certainly showed me there could be. I really felt if I pushed him to comply with being held while I left that I would make being left with someone into a really big negative instead of the fun it usually is for him. The last times I passed him off I didn’t leave, I just fed him for accepting that someone could hold him by the collar politely while I stood next to him. I will pass on these recalls for a while and hope he forgets about it, and I will be sure to reinforce him for liking others to hold onto his collar or leash while I am with him. I do not want to crossover from play to coercion with this dog, I know I will lose the game!
In a couple days I am teaching a foundation workshop for a local agility club. Scoop will have his first real demo job as I expect to use him on and off throughout the workshop to show training skills which are both finished and in progress. I am a little nervous about how he will perform. He has gotten so much better about hanging out quietly while other dogs are working, but usually that is because I am rewarding him or playing with him. I will be busy talking and working with handlers and their dogs, as well as using my border collie Ace for some skills. I hope Scoop will mind his manners and show how good he can be. A few weeks ago I would not have considered being able to have him with a room full of working dogs and handlers, he would have been screaming if I did not give him my full attention. I will let you know how it goes.
Here’s an update on what Scoop knows and what I hope he can show everyone he knows this weekend. Tug, retrieve, leave it, sit, down, stand, break, kennel up and wait with door of crate open to be released, short duration in sit and down and in the crate, left, right, feet (put your feet on anything I point you towards) touch (nose touch a plexi target or target stick with a ball on the end) hop-up (2o2o on a step) close and side (swing to heel on both my sides) heelwork on both my right and left, go around a chair or post and probably some other stuff I am forgetting. All of these skills are still rewarded a lot with food and toys. They are not perfect and would probably not stand up to lots of repetitions without food and toy rewards.
Tonight I worked on having Scoop stay quiet in his kennel while I trained my border collie Ace. He whined loudly when the cage door was closed, but was really good when the crate door was open and he had to restrain himself and think about staying in the cage. He did come out a couple times and I silently walked him back to the cage, then after he stayed for maybe 5 seconds I threw a reinforcement treat to him and started to play with Ace again. I lobbed cookies to Scoop periodically while I interacted with Ace. I called Scoop out of the cage a few times and rewarded him then sent him back in again and repeated all the steps. I have not done nearly enough of this work. I think I will get Jim to reward him for me while I train Ace next time. I think that will make a big difference. I do have to remember though, he is just 5 months old! I am trying to keep my expectations realistic.
I hope you enjoy the photos of some of our balance training and water play that Marcy shot of us yesterday in my field.
I hope your weekend is as successful with your puppy training as I hope to be with mine.