Carl Day 1

Meet Carl!  Carl is a super cool Cat­tle Dog mix who is doing some day train­ing with my while his per­son is busy with work.  Carl has some main areas that need work and he is an active work­ing breed mix and con­se­quently, can get pretty wild and crazy.  He needs to know how to set­tle down. Carl nor­mally goes to work with his per­son and is off-leash for most of the day so off-leash reli­a­bil­ity is a must.  Here are the main areas we are work­ing on…

  • Down stay
  • Heeling/attention walk­ing
  • Gen­eral focus and respon­sive­ness off-leash

Our first day, like with most first days, is just going to be about me fig­ur­ing out what Carl likes and what areas he needs work on so that I can get him eat­ing out of my hand (lit­er­ally and fig­u­ra­tively).  Like most active young work­ing dogs, rewards that engage him phys­i­cally are going to be the most moti­vat­ing.  Carl has a lot of yahoos and treats alone are not going to cut it.  I have to give him some­thing to do because if I don’t, I assure you, he will find some­thing to do him­self and most of the time it will be some­thing I would rather he not be doing.  Activ­i­ties that engage his body are the key to his heart and his focus.

So, day 1 is play­ing with toys.  Tug is the eas­i­est toy to use in the most set­tings so we begin with that.

The dog sets the pace for this ses­sion.  In Carl’s case, he is a pretty sen­si­tive guy and is more con­cerned about get­ting too much up into my space or being too rough with me.  Some dogs are on the other end, prac­ti­cally (or lit­er­ally) knock­ing me down to yank the toy out of my hand.  Since he is so polite, it takes some coax­ing to get him engaged.   When I do I want to make sure I reward his par­tic­i­pa­tion by giv­ing him a lovely long game of tug.  I edit most of this out but we tug for a long time each session.

I did start to push it here a lit­tle by ask­ing for a “drop-it”.  I choke down on the toy with my hands and make it go still.

WARNING: I am invad­ing Car’s space quite a bit here so this is an exer­cise that I use with cau­tion.  It is very easy to use food or toys to get too close to an uncom­fort­able dog which can end in dis­as­ter.  The dog sees some­thing he wants, goes for it, and then real­izes that he is way too close to this strange per­son that he is com­pletely not com­fort­able with.  It can also be a way to get acci­den­tally nailed in the hand by a very excited dog grab­bing at the tug toy.

I already had some train­ing expe­ri­ence with Carl and was pretty sure, based off a thor­ough analy­sis of his body lan­guage, that he would respect my space and back off instead of freak­ing out or grab­bing for the toy and bit­ing me.   Also notice that I don’t put my face in his face or try to pat him on the head here to get him to release the toy.  Both of those things are rude in doggy world and stu­pid for me to do in human world.   Carl was a fan­tas­tic gen­tle­man and releases the toy when asked every time.

We also work­ing on some just basic focus exer­cises walk­ing on lead.  I will show those on a later post.

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