Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Seismic Shift

Maddie is 19 months old now and is still very puppy like. Reagan was much more mature at this age. Training ebbs and flows. It has been and continues to be a grand learning experience for me. I learn something from all of my hounds, but only a few really tear down your walls and make you rethink everything. Jessie set the course to my current foundation (introducing me to clicker training) and it worked very well with Katie, Travis, Riley, and Seven. I think Maddie is going to cause another seismic shift.
One issue I had with Maddie a couple of months ago was with her recalls. My other hounds are/were so food motivated that food tended to override whatever had their attention (except chasing prey).  On a 10 Scale, food rated a 15 with Katie, Travis, Riley, and Seven. But that is not the case with Maddie. And if my others ignored me, I can/could verbally scold them into coming and then treats made everything awesome again.
You cannot be stern with Maddie. Even if I am upset about something completely unrelated to Maddie (like a bad day at work), it is best not to work with her that day because she will soak it in. Or just recently, we were practicing some jumping and during the process we collided. Well, you would have thought I had just smacked her on purpose. When something like that happens with Riley or Seven, I just tell them how cool that was and give them five treats and all is well in the world again. Not the case with Maddie... she will not eat treats or play with toys when something like that happens. It can ruin her whole day, but I am pleased to say that it took a few minutes, but I finally did get her to reconnect that day.
It all comes down to relationship. Maddie is not going to do obedience, agility, or come when called because I have good treats or a fun toy.... it has to be because she cares what I think and she is only going to care if we have a good relationship. So I am wo
rking hard to grow a personality. Ha!

So in the last month or two, I have been mostly agenda free. I do not think I have planned a single training session for Maddie. I prepare courses or exercises for Seven and Riley and then I just play with Maddie. And while we are out there, we might try this.  And if that this goes well, we might try that. Normally, I am a heavy planner and goal focused... some might say I am Type A (okay those that know me in real life are laughing out loud right now), but it is just too much pressure for Maddie and I to follow a plan right now... and I think it is working.

Today, I finally turned on the video camera for a little obedience and a lot of play. I trimmed some of the play, but this is what most of our sessions look like.  We play, we doodle with training, and we play. Somewhere along the way her off leash heeling has started looking gorgeous!

Still a silly, lovable goober though!