Train the trainer re-commences

Paul and Mr Tilly re-commenced obedience training last week. Tilly did his initial puppy training prior to Christmas last year.  Now it’s time for the ‘real deal’. He’s seven months old, and is ok for his age, but there’s room for improvement.

Are you paying attention Mr Tilly

One thing that becomes clear is that without formal training, both puppy and owner can get a little tardy. Another thing that becomes clear is that dogs are easy to train, providing they’re given sufficient mental stimulation. As far as I can see the main point of the training is to provide ideas for the owners to mentally stimulate and challenge their four legged friends. The interaction between owner and dog when learning tricks seems to result in such a good relationship and bond that obedience just naturally follows.

Hoops provide great training aids

Tilly gets his daily walk, usually on the beach, but that’s not enough to keep him out of trouble for a whole day. Ideas to stimulate him mentally, and at the same time help him develop into a mature dog with good social habits are very much appreciated.

As I’m still in my moon boot, the training during the sessions falls to Paul, as do his daily walks. I still attend the training and sit in the shade with our old camera (hence the poor quality photos). Whilst I’m not involved in the formal training process at the sessions, I still pick up on some things that Paul misses. Paul’s out there in the sun, trying to keep Mr Tilly calm so as he can listen.  This sometimes means trying to hear over some of the other dogs who’s owners are having even less success than Paul at keeping their canine companions calm and quiet.

Sometimes he’s very good…

And sometimes he’s easily distracted

In the two sessions we’ve attended so far this year we’re learning a mixture of important commands, like ‘stay’, and ‘wait’. And we’re learning things like how to get Tilly to walk with us zig zagging between obstacles. This involves the normal walk with me command, ‘this way’, when he’s on the correct side of us to follow, and also a ‘turn’ command when we’re going to walk into him if he doesn’t turn prior to us.

Walk this way, and turn that way

We’re also learning some things that will form the basis for more complicated commands later. One of today’s lessons was to teach him to ‘touch’ our closed fist with his nose, at which time we need an unused praise word followed by a treat delivered from our other hand. The praise word must be delivered immediately his nose touches our fist, and works like a ‘tick’ works when we ourselves as children managed to get our sums correct. Again it was stressed that this praise word must be a previously unused word. We’ve decided to simply use ‘tick’ for want of a better word. Certainly haven’t used that one before. Our homework is to let the closed fist evolve into an open hand. In time that’s supposedly going to progress to him being able to locate specific things for us, once he learns the names. The example we were given was to locate a misplaced mobile phone. Mmmm – hard to imagine, but perhaps it’ll all become clear with the passage of time…..

Sometimes it’s all very confusing – take the different words needed for different expectations to similar commands.

There’s, ‘wait up’, which means hang about for a while and relax (used perhaps when you meet someone on a walk and want to stop and have a natter). Then there’s ‘wait’, a slightly more formal version, used perhaps when we’re going out of a gate and want Tilly to wait a few moments whilst we get the gate open and check everything’s ok for proceeding forward. Then there’s ‘stay’, used as a command for staying in one spot for longer periods of time. And today, another similar command, ‘freeze’, meaning don’t move a muscle. It’s difficult for us to get the words sorted out for each situation, and not to use ‘wait’ when we should be saying, ‘stay’. If we get it wrong though, what hope has poor Mr Tilly got.

We try to use ‘here’ informally to get Till’s to check in with us when walking off lead at the beach. And we try to use, ‘Come’ as the formal command that must be obeyed, for when a potential danger is evident. Do we get them in the right place….. Haha – not a chance! Thank goodness we have a smart dog. He seems to forgive our dog training inadequacies and rewards us with behaviour that goes above and beyond our level of training expertise.

He’s a great little dog, and is shaping up to be sensible above his mere seven months of age. He’s such a joy, a true companion.

 

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