Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Why training puppies is great for big dogs!

Hoot is now 5+ months old and I am beginning to do a little more with her.

We are going around cones/uprights.  I am trying to lay down the foundation well, so we are taking our time.  I watch the path she takes, her commitment to what I have just cued, how soon she commits, response to motion, drive out of the curve etc...  Not really that I am choosing to perfect each one of these items now, but I take note and we will perfect them as well go along.

When I am training a puppy I automatically assume that the puppy doesn't know anything.  I introduce it, we take baby steps and I am very good about rewarding each step of progress in the right direction.

However, when I train my older dogs I get lulled into thinking that their foundation is done, we only have to review, they *know* all the steps along the way, and we are only working on those tweaks that will take our team work  from good to great.

I am sure I am not alone in this bad assumption.  I think many of us fall into this trap.

When I am training a puppy, because my head is in a different place, I am much quicker to recognize a lack of understanding in one of my adult dogs.  Because I am training the puppy and paying attention to all the micro steps along the way, it bleeds over to the adult dogs.

I LOVE THIS!  It improves the quality of the adult dog training as well.

Specifically, I was training Tangle.  We were working on a sequence that was hard.  But, we were having trouble with a spot that I didn't expect (1-2-3).  What should have been a simple backside of a jump.  One of those that should *almost* be a gimme.

So I isolated that particular sequence and it hit me.  He has a lack of commitment problem on a backside of a jump.  The moment got better!  I have been working this with Hoot (who comes by the problem out of ignorance) and I know how to solve this one!!  I know how to teach it, and how to reward it to get results quickly.

Split had his foundation issue (come to hand) from 3-4.  Again, I am working this with Hoot, I have my mechanics honed, and I can work through this issue quickly.

I love this synergy!  It makes it better for the dogs, it makes it better for me.