Kaya, Norman and I kicked off September with our version of doggy boot camp. It had been a summer of slacking for us and their obedience had definitely been falling by the wayside. So I finally decided to do something about it since summer has finally started calming down. After getting a roommate, moving into a new house, having houseguests, going out of town, remodeling and having my parents plus Zoey here all the time, our structure has fallen apart a bit. Their recall is not what is used to be, their heel is wavering and their wait is also pretty sloppy lately. These are all super important as nearly all of our outings are off leash.
Plus Kaya's house manners are not great so far. She is a little saint when it's just me around but between my parents being here half the time, my roommate and guys working on the house, she is pretty excited with all the commotion. Something that has always been important to me is having the dogs be calm and respectful in the house which means no running, no playing and waiting patiently to go through doors, up the stairs and generally not being underfoot. Norman is naturally calm so it's easy for him but Kaya is always troubled by these rules. My mom tends to shout when she doesn't listen and she likes to praise with an excited, high-pitched tone but with an energetic dog these are the last things you should do. The best method for Kaya is body language, hand signals or quiet commands with eye contact. And to praise her just pet her calmly and allow her to get up and move only once she's calmed down. But these things are easier said than done!
To top it all off, whenever my mom is here, Zoey is too. My mom hates to hear it but I always say, Zoey is a good dog but not a well-trained one. She is sweet, loyal and mostly easy-going but she does not listen, she drags you on the leash, she barges through doorways, she barks all the time and she won't even come in from the yard when you call her. And of course my dogs are influenced by her so it's an added challenge. It's been a struggle to get everyone on board with getting all the dogs on the same page but now that my parents are away for at least 6 weeks, I have the dogs to myself to get everything more settled.
Of course, it's not going to be as horrible as the term boot camp sounds. We just need a refresher course. And to me it's more like getting back to the way we were doing things before and maybe even improving a bit! So here's the goals I've made for us...
Step 1 is morning training walks. For the first time, I will be taking Kaya and Norman out separately for a short morning leash walk. I will be arming myself with treats and the primary purpose is to have no leash pulling or loss of focus. They need to stay right by my side the whole time and sit/make eye contact whenever I stop walking.
Step 2 is heel. I found some awesome videos on youtube to train a proper heel. I've always wanted to teach them this. My idea is to keep the sessions short and fun. I am not worried if it takes a very long time to teach this as long as they are doing to right and enjoying it.
Step 3 is recall. I'm starting and ending every hike or park outing with some recall practice.
Step 4 is learn a new trick. To add some fun to all this, I've decided to teach them something new and fun. I haven't decided what yet!
So I'll post our progress soon and break down some of the steps, hopefully with videos! I think this is going to help all of us sleep a little better at night...
Has anyone else ever tried to set up a list of training goals and did it work out?
On Training Dogs vs Training People
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