Kazee – 21 weeks

It is hard to believe today is the last day of March. Where does the time go? My teenaged (twin) boys will be 17 years old in two days. While they are turning into wonderful young men, I miss the days of preschool and coloring books. Puppies are the same way. I love working with puppies…little sponges, who soak up everything. Seeing their little minds work while you are starting to shape exercises is so enjoyable.

Kazee had a week off with nothing but a few play sessions because the boys were on spring break last week. He has also been a little off of his food, since he is teething, but he still (surprisingly enough) wants to tug. His adult canine teeth appeared this week and I am trying to “help” some of the baby canines fall out, to hopefully avoid issues. One baby canine may need vet intervention if it isn’t out soon, so hopefully this weekend I can work it loose.

I filmed a little bit of my training this morning, since I haven’t taped him for a few weeks. If you never film your own training, I HIGHLY recommend doing it at least once a month. Even Gunner, who has over 600 OTCH points, gets filmed routinely. It allows you to see your dog (and you!) from a different angle. What looks good to you while you are next to your dog, may not look as good from further away. For example, Gunner forges, pushing the envelope of “heel position”. In my opinion, a dog who forges is much more desirable, over a dog who lags any day, but, how much is too much? By filming our heeling, I’m able to keep both of us in check.

Kazee is coming along wonderfully. He is VERY different than my last two dogs, but that is what makes our sport so much fun. I have stopped trying to shape a retrieve for right now, as a cookie was not enough incentive for him to put his mouth on the dumbbell with him teething. We still work play retrieves, since he is in higher drive during this game and the fun outweighs any discomfort. My only requirement during the play retrieves is that he not drop the dumbbell. If he drops the dumbbell, he doesn’t earn his tug toy. I will revisit the retrieve shaping later and hopefully start him tugging on the dumbbell, which he does not want to do right now.

I have been playing around with different things on heeling. I really enjoy the hand targeting behavior I use with Gunner, so I’ve been working on getting an longer hand “push” with Kazee. To make it a little easier for him to understand, I work the hand push with me walking backwards, cueing Kazee to touch my left hand while he’s moving towards me. This is the first time I have asked for the behavior away from home, and I was happy with his effort.

I have started to bring my platform out more often (so many things to work on!). I am not “calling” it anything at this point, simply shaping the behavior of him sitting on the platform. After the behavior is solid, I plan on using the platform for go-outs and anywhere I need Kazee to wait during an exercise (to make “stay” easier in the beginning). I generally do not use platforms for fronts and finishes, as it requires different body mechanics on the dog’s part to come into a front on the floor, versus coming in to front on a platform. But, I never say never.

Kazee loves toys with rabbit fur and I recently ordered some different toys from Margie at Dog Dreams Toys (http://www.dogdreamstoys.com/Site/Welcome_1.html). I’ve used them for a couple of weeks now and am very happy with the way they have held up. She doesn’t have an online store, but just email her and she will love to make you something for your dog.

Train hard. Play harder!!!!

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Kazee – 18 weeks old

Kazee is in the gangly teenager stage right now and is growing like a little weed. Attention span is still minimal and the food drive is about the same. He will eat certain things, but he doesn’t LOVE anything. We do a lot of little things in the house at meal time (as he loves his raw food), but at this age I don’t like having him miss a meal just to use his raw during training. Plus, it’s just messy and not very convenient.

He still loves his tug toys, especially those with rabbit fur in them, but he will tug on almost anything. His adult teeth are starting to come in, but it has not slowed him down much. If he doesn’t want to tug on any given day, we just keep the sessions short and use more food.

Kazee went to his first indoor obedience trial a couple of weeks ago and I’m happy to say  he was a perfect angel (although the next trial may be the complete opposite!). I was a little apprehensive, so we crated back in a corner. But, he was quiet in his crate and was very well behaved. While we did get some heeling and basic attention work done inside during the trial, all of his tugging had to be done outside because he’s so loud.

Today’s training –

Still working on what heeling method will work best for him, so I’m concentrating on muscle memory and offered focus for the time being. He is starting to get better on shaping different behaviors, but I have to almost exclusively do it for his meals because he just doesn’t care enough about the regular treats (hot dogs, cheese, salami, etc.) to try too hard. Definitely a change from my last Springer, who would jump through hoops for a piece of hot dog. But, the differences between dogs are what keeps it interesting!

Train hard. Play harder.