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.


Alchemyrr said...

You made me laugh. :). For years the hardest part of training for me is to quit on that one perfect performance. Leaving them wanting more.
"Trained Luc on signals last night, they were perfect, decent distance. Jackpotted that first attempt and moved on to something else. Could have done more, but I want him to love signals, not find them boring.

Those Brindle Kids said...

That photo - 4th from the bottom - just pops with Maddie's personality! Perfect!

jet said...

I have a young foster at the moment and I think I am going to use the 'break' strategy with her training :)

houndstooth said...

A lot of the quotes remind me of hubby's work with Kuster. We try to always quit on a high note and leave him wanting more, too! It's hard to rein yourself in sometimes, though!

Greyhounds Aren't Grey said...

We're in awe of what you have accomplished with all your babies. And Maddie is just so stunning. She takes my breath away every time you post new photos.

Team Zero Gravity said...

Some of what you talk about is just like some of the struggles I have had with Blaze. However, now at age 5, he and I have a very solid relationship. He thinks I am fun (most of the time) and it shows in our training & practice. We keep working on those weakness (his desire to show off, chase & want to play with other dogs). He's better, but I don't know if he'll ever be able to compete in a 2 ring agility trial. Our first Novice Obedience trial is end of April. I'll be interested to see how that goes. He's been really good in class and practices.

I totally agree with you though. I don't want agility, obedience or other dog sports to be easier because the dog is a "traditional" dog for that sport. I want a dog that is my pet & companion first. The sports stuff somes second. Then when you do accomplish something togehter it really feels like an awesome accomplishment that you did together.

Greyhound puppies are different (and a blast) and there is nothing quite like them. I have LOVED pretty much every minute with Blaze--ok, there's a few I could have done without ;)

Keep up the good work!

Claire Krigbaum said...

Oh I love Denise Fenzi's blog! I have gotten so many good ideas from it.
How interesting to see the differences between your dogs. I wonder what Riley and Seven would have been like to train from puppies?

Hazel, of Class A Greyhounds...RVing with the big dogs! said...

Love the reference to Denise Fenzi's blog, and the quotes you included.

Really loved the photos!

RubyTheWhippet said...

"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." - I couldn't agree more! And play, play, play...

I love Give Me A Break game. I used it with Ruby a lot and with great success. I also used a game from Francoise Joiris, described here:

This allowed me to go from 3-5 repetitions per session to 15! What a difference that can make in training. I will always be thankful to Frankie for it.

You accomplished a lot with a hound who is not very food driven!

Morgan said...

I bet you would also like Exercise Finished blog.

Gloria Sanders said...

I understand your backwards thought process too! I am trying to adjust to a dog that will work for me because he should rather than having to spend my time making it worth his while... Love both, but it can be a challenge.