Fiona 7 months

Fi is 7.5 months  (And only 40lbs.)  She is doing very well in her training and I love working with her.  She has great drive and loves working for a toy as much as she loves working for food.  Big change from the little puppy where I had to work very hard at building toy drive and even harder at being able to do tug with the possibility of food being present.  For a lab she's pretty cool ;)

For the most part her submissive issues are gone.  She is very confident out in public and loves everyone she meets.  But at home we're still having the occasional wussy Fi show up.  Every now and then she will submissive pee when she thinks she could be in a little trouble, even if I'm just praising her for finding a bone.  When super excited she will also pee, especially if she is asked to sit.  And there are also times where she will suddenly hide in her kennel and not want to come out.  Thankfully these situations are rare, occurring a few times a month rather than on a daily basis.  There's hope for her!

Fiona is also a complete teenager now.  Her biggest testing has been with loose leash walking.  OMG my best friend!  Oh, my other best friend!!!

Cinnamon  – ( December 12, 2011 at 3:16 AM )  

Fiona is a ultra-clever pup!! I am so impressed!!!

Kathy  – ( December 12, 2011 at 11:43 AM )  

She is doing so well, that is fantastic! The video was great and she looks just so amazing! You guys have done so fantastic, it is very impressive

achieve1dream  – ( December 27, 2011 at 9:46 AM )  

She is so smart and you're such an awesome trainer!!

I think I've asked these questions before, but if you'll bear with me I'll save your answer this time for future reference. How many sessions per day and how long are the sessions when you work with your dogs? Do you work on multiple things per session? Do you finish a behavior before moving on to teach a new one? Is there a certain order than you teach behaviors in or do you just go with what presents itself that day? I wish I could be as dedicated of a trainer as you are. :) Watching your videos is always so inspiring!

Laura, Lance, and Vito  – ( December 27, 2011 at 1:32 PM )  

With a puppy I try and train x2 per day. I'm usually not motivated enough to set aside specific training sessions so I use their meals. Since I'm not a morning person with a puppy I'll feed them 3 times a day until they're about 6 months just so I can get that 2nd training session in, with my adult dogs I train with their dinner. Not every day, but I try and do at least 3 times a week. Sessions are from 2-15min long, and I try and spend no more then 2 minutes on any one behavior. I'm usually train 2-5 things in each session. And since I"m not good about polishing behaviors (what's the fun in that!) my dogs are introduced to a ton of tricks but most are unfinished and need some sort of help to do the trick still.

I don't have a specific order, but a lot of tricks build on each other so usually I tend to teach things in roughly the same order. But every dog has different strengths and develops on a different time line. My main goals with the puppies are:

1. Attention. I reward eye contact a ton and do a ton of impulse control activities where the puppy learns to look at me to get what they want. I do have an informal goal of being able to train with their food dish on the floor within 1 week of moving in, and to be able to be out while the other dogs work for their meal within another week. My socialization work is also about attention. Ignore the nice people, learn that nothing is scary about them in the same way that furniture isn't scarey, but the focus is on attention to me.

2. Offering behaviors. I do a lot of free shaping with a different object each session when i'm working with a puppy. I want the puppy going to an object as soon as I put it down and interacting with it in some way. I also want the dog offering even if I don't have an object out but I'm not as good with practicing that. But this goal is why I teach so many tricks at a young age. They learn how to learn, how to work through frustration, and develop body awareness.

(3) And of course with everything they're learning the underlying focus is on play. I want learning to be fun. I want the puppy to learn I am more fun then other things. Toys are way more fun with me then on their own.

Once you have attention as a default and the dog is fluent in shaping, learning goes so quickly and it's easy to take on the road. I don't need to spend a lot of time training my dogs because they have good foundations. Of course I really should spend more time training them if I want to reach the goals I have set!

achieve1dream  – ( December 31, 2011 at 7:56 AM )  

That's awesome! Thank you for taking the time to explain your methods for me. :) I'm looking forward to getting another puppy (probably be about five years) just so I can see what I can do now that I know what I'm doing. :) Clicker training was still so new to me when I got Jackal that I made some mistakes, but we still love it, even if we aren't as far along as I like at times. I'm not very good at polishing off behaviors either because I get so bored. Glad to know I'm not the only one.

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