I took Finn to the park to do work on curbing his desire to herd joggers, and there was nobody there! I guess I should have anticipated that. It was all I could do to drag myself out to train as the weather is just disgusting. It’s cold, damp and alternating between raining & snow. The ground is covered with either heavy wet snow, or mud. Just lovely! So I didn’t get a chance to practice focusing the dog on me around distractions. However, I did work on his sit-stays, distance recalls, tug motivation and heeling.
I have not done any tugging with him since he started teething. Finn is a relaxed, easy going puppy and doesn’t seem to develop issues quickly. But still I prefer to be careful playing tug with a teething puppy. Mira was extremely quick to associate a negative with training and stopped tugging completely while teething, I believe because her teeth hurt. I never had that problem with Hannah, who lost a number of puppy teeth while playing tug and never flinched! But Mira must have felt pain and associated it with the tug, which then became a scary thing. It took me months to get her over that. Mira is a special case, but I didn’t want to take any chances with Finn when there is just no need for a 4 month old puppy to tug. I don’t like puppies to do intense, repetitive behaviours anyway.
Since it has been a good month since he last played tug, at first he wasn’t that interested. But he quickly remembered how fun it can be and I was quite pleased with the outcome. He became keen enough for me to use it as a recall reward, which I prefer to feeding as recalling to a tug leads to rocket recalls.
Finn’s heeling also went extremely well. I swear this puppy learns by osmosis. He’s had all of 3 sessions to teach him to heel, each less than 10 minutes. He had it down pat by our second time out. My method is simply to mark the behaviour (clicker or ‘yes!’) when he is in position, then feed. He likes the game so much he continues to heel even when I’m done training! I actually have to focus him on something else to get him to stop offering a heel in hopes for more treats. Today we did it off-leash for the first time, and added a sit when I stop. He did it perfectly.
Finn is the third puppy I’ve raised in under 2 years, in addition to a couple dozen foster dogs. So I’m very tired of starting dogs. My hat’s off to rescuers who can maintain the energy to put foundation after foundation into dogs they are not going to keep. I have long since become burned out and lack the motivation to start even the dogs I am going to keep. Thank goodness my other three are already there, and Finn will be my last for at least a couple of years. And I’m particularly glad that this puppy (Finn) is so darn easy and fun to work with. His lovely attitude and quick learning is a real treat and keeps me motivated and looking forward to where we are going to go together.