Leon, who works and plays as a team member of Mannerly Mutts in York Beach ME) is about to turn 7 this October 2011 (right around when our other dog, Boris, turns 2). Leon has known all of our previous pets except Neptune (black male Doberman who died at 9) and Clyde (orange cat who died at 19). He was really the first of my dogs actively involved with my business and the very first dog I competed with.
Leon has gone to trials for Novice Obedience (I think two before we discovered his knee problems), but I pulled him out of competition when it became clear he had suffered an ACL tear. It’s hard for him to do a row of auto sits for instance or a 1 minute sit if his knees are bothering him. However, he has been a constant front man for our business in many other ways (demoing, greeting, seen in public, known at businesses that we can bring him into). He is great around babies, children, seniors (pretty much all stages of humans), small animals, dogs, cats, and even people who are normally afraid of large dogs. He is my husband’s best bud (and mine), and my primary business partner. He looks mild and low energy, but Leon is anything but. He actually likes to remain quite active during the day with occasional breaks from daycare or training with everyone (we all need those on occasion to stay sane LOL).
For the last (little less than) two years, I had not been maintaining the training on Leon, as I should have, during a grieving period for my dog, Jackie CD. I just was not as focused on my dogs’ training as I should have been. Leon got played with, exercised and spoiled for more than a year and a half. Not a terrible thing, but realize that we both love our job. The better trained Leon is, the safer Leon is when we are out training dogs. I sometimes need him to move away from a dog quickly, or trust me speedily and lie down instead of growl when he feels unsure (something that is sure to trigger an aggressive and presently unstable dog).
In order to keep myself honest, I have maintained a written journal of our work, and where we are (weeks, days, exercises, progress, observations) everyday since 8/25/11. With 3-5 other dogs during each day to train, it has been the only way to keep what is going on with each straight! It also keeps me realistic on where we should be based on keeping track of how many actually hours we have actually been training together as I have some training dogs coming here for five days a week, some for three days a week, and some who are spotty as we are going over certain issues with an owner who has a limited budget. So it’s very important to be able to jog my memory on exactly where we are with a particular dog. Also, it helps you look back and be able to acknowledge the progress you made. Believe it or not, in the moment and being so close to it, you sometimes forget where you and your canine partner actual began. It’s important that you can acknowledge the progress both for your self and for your canine team mate.
I have also written out the goals for Leon. It is so easy to forget where you are trying to go when training a dog, and get caught up in chaos while changing things up for your dog all the time. It is especially easy to do this with Leon, as he knows a little about everything and he is so fun to work because of that. Course I also have to remember their are my clients’ dogs to train and my own dog, Boris, so I have to stop with Leon at some point. He is addictive though, but I also have to remember his knees as well. Leon gets addicted to the time with me doing his thing, so I have to remember that I have a schedule of many things to get done during the day.
So Leon and Boris have been my focus every day that I can get training in for my own dogs. I try and am mostly successful at getting their training in one way or another, even if it’s not the full scope of what I wanted to do.
Here are some things having to do with our goals that we have been working and progressing on:
- Leon has a nice heel already under a lot of conditions with no or minimal equipment. I am maintaining that by making sure he gets out and heels every day. I am also noting any areas (the woods where deer poop is for instance) where he has more trouble heeling or heeding to add to our training areas. Also being sure to go to any crowded public events to maintain his heel for those outings (also on restaurant decks that allow dogs, ET and so forth). Also requesting that when husband takes Leon out for a walk that he spend some time maintaining the heel and let’s go in addition to just having fun with him.
- Emphasis has been on “gogogo” and “funfunfun” for Leon for the last year and half plus. So the long down stays, places, and stationary commands in general have suffered greatly. Just had a great lunch at the Bagel Basket (Salt Bagel with Peanut Butter and Coffee) with Leon in a down for about 15 minutes (yes we did not bring the friggin camera again). He got up once, but no temper tantrum barks, whines, or begging. He looked great! Brother Boris was there as well allowed to stand if not begging, and put in a sit stay when he was making “the eyes”.
- When Leon has been having fun playing games, he has gotten away with being allowed to bark alot. The Quiet command under very distracting situations has commenced, and Leon has improved greatly on his adherence to this and the ability not to bark non stop every time something fun is going on.
- Something I have been remiss in is practicing passing him to a stranger (though it’s not likely I am going to pass him to someone who does not know me) and then walk out of sight (for CGC-Canine Good Citizen). I have been leaving him in a down stay while I walk out of sight.
Leon is doing great of course. There are some funny things that he learned while I was not doing my job maintaining as well as I could have been.
- When I tell Boris to “leave it”, Leon comes running as he knows a toy has just been acquired and about to be played with. I have had to teach Leon when he’s in a stay that “leave it” does not release him from the stay to come and play (though I do use play on command after a successful stay has been completed under those circumstances occasionally).
- Ditto above for “out”.
There are more of the above that I can not think of right now, but may add later.