Big-dog-little-handler: Two month mark.

We have had another 4 weeks of dog trainin.  So we have now been going for over 2 months. I was feeling proud of all three of us. I felt like Duke had made tons of progress; That was until someone said “oh you have been going for ages now I bet he’s really obedient and does loads of tricks”. They then went on to tell me how there friends went to dog training and they where perfect by a few weeks in , hanging on to every word their owner said.  I smiled and laughed of course, saying things like : “oh Duke is  just strong willed” and “he’s very energetic”, oh and my personal favourite, “well he is younge”… and all those things you like to say when someone talks about your dog’s obedience level. I politely suggested that maybe Duke just isn’t that kind of dog. On the inside I did feel a little inferior. He’s perfect in my eyes; but far from perfect in obedience . Despite no miraculous change in his behaviour this weeks sessions reminded me just how far he realy has come. I have to remind myself every dog is different and motivated in different ways. And also “unmotivated” in different ways.

Duke is a sensitive soul to say the least; if a dog growls or barks at another he reacts. If an owner shouts at a dog he reacts, even though it’s just a “leave it” or “wait” command, he gets very confused and wants to help. Duke isn’t keen on shouting or loud noises. Understandably that can be difficult with training. Despite his deceiving size Duke is the biggest wimp you can find. He is scared of lots of things. My big baby!  More things than I can count. He has only just decide that his fear of the vacuum cleaner is out weighed by his desire to protect his mum:  We where sat on the sofa as my husband vacuumed. We where sat calm as can be, Duke normally runs away from the vacuum (and mops and brushes), my husband thought it was funny to poke me on the leg with the hose while I wasn’t looking! Duke freaked (because I jumped) and he decided to then try and bite the end of the vacuum! Thankfully he didn’t chase it. He’s okay as long as the vacuum isn’t near us! Until then he just watches it with great suspicion.

We have been staying on for the O’Rally part of the classes. Duke seems to enjoy it. But it’s proven hard to keep him motivated and get him out of his bed. Once he’s finally out of bed he is happy to participate. We have just bought some special treats to help with that. He also seems to get really shy when everyone’s watching him.

Duke is so clever he’s been picking it up really fast… I’m a little slower. The rules for O’rally classes are a little different. Unlike the obedience part of the class you can continually use a treat as a motivator and reward. I was makeing the mistake of holding the treat too high, so he would eventually get tiered of waiting and jump to try and get it, whereas if I hold the treat at muzzle hight it’s much more effective. he will follow it without jumping up. Once I tweeked that things where much better and we were much quicker.

I’ve started dropping the lead during class as he’s much more controlled and focused. Giving him abit more freedom. Hopefully soon I’ll be able to let him off the lead entirely! Fingers crossed. I realy want him to have a reliable recall and you can’t learn that unless you go lead-less.

I’ve noticed a massive difference when we go out in public now. We went for a coffee and cake yesterday and he was really chilled even though there where other dogs around. This is great! Such a change; it’s also really lovely to see the behaviour in dog class translating to the real world.

We tried some agility jumps a few days ago; Duke loved it. He got so happy and excited it was really nice to see. I’m hoping to give agility a go again down the line; I don’t know if he would make it all the way through a session without getting too excited at the moment.

We are definitely makeing progress though. We have got to the point where the guy who jointly runs the club tells us we are doing well. Less correction more well done! We have been pretty committed to attending sessions weekly; it’s the only way forward. We have found consistency and perseverance is key for Duke. No matter what Duke always gets there in the end.

Our biggest improvement; I’m able to take his no pull harness off during the quieter sessions. Despite his size I’m able to keep him focused !

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