Thursday, November 11, 2010

Early Training

After adopting Katie in February 2001, she presented me with some challenges I had never dealt with before. Number one, she was aloof and unaffectionate... a perfect example of a dog that does NOT work for any praise. She was constantly on the hunt for squirrels, cats, and crumbs (note the prong collar in the photo above, it was a shoulder saver). Katie had no use for human beings. She was busy.

Katie quickly discovered that I was a cookie source. I used to have my agility equipment in my backyard and the squirrels would taunt us. Katie would break away from training to pursue an unattainable squirrel high in a tree or safely on the other side of the fence. I never tried to stop her. I always let her go because I did not want to chance having her ignore one of my calls. One day, she just looked over at the squirrels and then picked me instead. Katie was intensely focused from that point on and ridiculously easy to train.

Distractions were never an issue. I was truly spoiled with Katie. I never had to worry about people, noises, or other dogs. I was Katie's everything and she became immune to the environment.Katie was an excellent demonstration dog for the greyhound obedience classes I teach. She would walk in and all the other greyhounds would surround and sniff her, but Katie paid them no attention. She was working and did not want to miss any cues from me. She was so cool and confident ignoring any posturing or exuberant behavior. Most of the time she laid out of the way while I helped students individually. Once, I was helping someone with sitting their greyhound and I looked over at Katie sitting on her bed (instead of lying down).

Agility training progressed quickly. Katie did not have any problems with any of the obstacles and quickly mastered the weave poles. She was confident and fearless. She competed for the first time eight months after I adopted her (Travis took almost two years, Riley took a year and a half).

This is Katie's very first agility trial run on October 7, 2001.

13 comments:

gyeong said...

Sounds like you were spoiled with Katie. She is your Gold Standard.

Robin Sallie said...

I love the Katie stories. Please keep the coming.

Never Say Never Greyhounds said...

Definitely the gold standard.

Thanks, Robin. I will. Its my attempt to remember all I can while I can. Unlike Reagan, Riley, and Seven... I didn't have the blog when Katie was young.

Amy / Layla the Malamute said...

Wow, she looks awesome! I love the story of her sitting on the bed instead of laying down.

It's so funny that you asked about ideas to talk someone out of having a Malamute. I was thinking of putting a post together of a sampling of the destruction that Layla caused as a puppy. Yes, they're my favorite breed, but I'd say less than 5% of people would be good owners. Unfortunately, a lot of breeders don't make good owners, either! I spend so much time talking people OUT of getting one. I'll try to come up with a good list and I'll let you know. In the meantime, slash their tires to keep them home if you think they're going to look at puppies.

Lauren said...

That's so interesting about how she, seemingly randomly, snapped out of her aloof mode and chose you one day instead of a squirrel.

I liked the video! I have not watched a dog do agility before.

Sue said...

What a fabby dog. Your dogs have a lot to live up to in her.

houndstooth said...

Holy smokes! She was so darned good! I'm curious, did you work with another breed before you started with Greyhounds?

Sandy ~~~ said...

What an inspiration she was and is....

4-legged Wiums said...

Wow she was amazing!!! I have my first agility trial with my non-greyhound Snoopy next weekend, very nervous - we still have the somewhat very distracted moments! Katie is an inspriation :)

Never Say Never Greyhounds said...

Houndstooth, greyhounds are the only breed I have trained. Probably a good thing... I didn't have any preconceived notions about it and didn't bother to ask the adoption group what they thought.

Good luck at the trial Snoopy and Wiums.

Thanks everyone.

Oscar the Indefatigable said...

Sounds like you and Katie were soulmates. It's wonderful that you're remembering her on this blog so we can all know what a beautiful dog she was.

Love, Oscar and the gang

Kim Doorley said...

Hi Jennifer, I very much want to learn to train dogs. I used to walk 3 rescue greyhounds and think they are great. Before I get any dog I want to have a clear path to my goals and the amount of info to become a trainer is overwhelming. My ultimate goal is to become skilled enough to train rescue dogs to enhance their adoptability and to compete with my own future dog(s) in obedience, agility and whatever else. I have read Don't Shoot the Dog, done online research into all of the many forms of dog trainer certification and am lost as to the best way to proceed. I understand that I need a dog to train and a trainer/training facility. I would like help in picking the best trainer/facility and help finding the best route to becoming a dog trainer. This is not a frivolous request. I am 55. My husband passed away a while back. I have really reassessed my life and what I want out of it. This is what I have always wanted to do but have always let other demands and needs precede my own. Now it is my time. I am a very motivated and focused person. I will put in the hours needed to achieve a goal. I just need to see the path I want to head down. Can you please point me in a sensible direction?
Thank you,
Kim Doorley

Never Say Never Greyhounds said...

Hi Kim,

That is a big question. I definitely think mostly positive and clicker training is the best way to go and you will never do any harm. But you just need to take classes, go to seminars, and just get started. Just jump in. You are always going to screw up the first dogs you train, but if your training has always been positive, it is no big deal to tweak and retrain. But don't let trying to be perfect paralyze you. Just do it. - Jen