Wednesday, April 3, 2013

38 Weeks - Houndie

Mad Dog is quickly closing in on 9 months.  Time flies!  It is funny that she is bigger than Seven and Riley, but she still seems smaller.
I have been reviewing my training strategy for Maddie.  Working with a puppy is so different from working with an ex-racer.... especially my type of ex-racer.  My ex-racers (with high prey drives, extreme food motivation, and higher than usual energy levels) are so happy to jump right into a new line of work.  I have never had trouble motivating or getting them to focus on me. They can do lots of repetitions and they are always left wanting more.  They quickly give up on all distractions and zero in on the task at hand.  Seven and Riley are my 6th and 7th greyhounds to compete in agility and obedience.

Maddie is a bit more houndie.  Generally when someone describes training a sighthound, they usually recommend keeping your training sessions short and suggest no more than a couple of repetitions. Sighthounds are usually thought of as hard to train.
Well, it is true! Ha! Maddie fits that houndie description more than any of my other greyhounds. She is going to make me earn everything she gives me.  I guess if I wanted it to be easy, I would get a more traditional breed of dog for my choice of sports... but what fun is that?
I have been doing some reading.  I read "Control Unleashed: The Puppy Program" before I brought Maddie home and thought the book was excellent.  But I never bothered to implement any of the ideas it outlined.  Now I am going back for a review and putting some of the suggestions into practice such as the "Give Me a Break".  In a training session, before your puppy disengages, you give them a break which I cue by saying "break" and dropping a few pieces of kibble on the ground.  During the break, the dog is allowed to sniff or look around.  The premise is to take the pressure off the dog so frequently that they ask for more work sooner and sooner and eventually stop taking the break all together.
I have also been reading the Denise Fenzi Blog (Click Here).  I have found it so inspiring and thought provoking.  I copy quotes that speak to me and read them periodically. Such as:

It occurred to me that maybe I had been approaching it backwards; trying to build relationship through training rather than building training through relationship.
I am so guilty of that!  Building a relationship via training has worked with my ex-racers, but not so much with Maddie.  It makes perfect sense to build the relationship outside of the training.

I want to be the “package deal”, not a dispenser. I want to offer food, toys, play, praise, and emotional support, all wrapped up in one fabulous human.

I love this quote!  Now when I train, I think "am I being fabulous?"  
This is not a Denise Fenzi quote.  I read it years ago in a Suzanne Clothier book.  It is the only thing I remember from the book.

Train without Ego!

So true and wise!
Right now, the most important thing is to develop work ethic, create a good attitude, and build drive and motivation.  The individual behaviors are not important.