The Real Time Canine II

After spending 2 years writing the Real Time Canine, the adventure continues with The Real Time Canine II. Read along as I look for just the right puppy to continue the experience. After false starts with Tim and Jed, I am currently training young Tam, and Spot, which are both off to a strong start. Please visit the RTC II to read about training sessions as they occur.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Raising Puppies

They're absolutely adorable. They're irresistable really and, if you're involved with sheepdogs, sooner or later you'll raise a puppy. How many times have you been to a dog trial and seen someone being led by their dog? The dog is keen to get somewhere, straining at the end of the lead and pulling the owner along with them. Man, that makes me crazy. It's disrespectful and likely the dog's been doing that all of it's life. Why doesn't my dog listen to me? Why does my dog chew, bark, jump up, fight with other dogs, bite, grip off, miss flanks, run through my stop whistle, fill-in-the-blank. Did you teach him to respect you when he was a puppy? I don't think puppies need much correction, but there's certain things i don't allow and I don't allow them from day one. Instead of correction, I prefer to stop it before it starts. That's so much easier on you and them in the long run. I never allow them to put their feet on me, no matter how little and cute they are. They don't jump up, or put a foot up to get a pat or crawl into my lap. They keep their feet on the ground when they're around me. In this picture of Kep at about 3 months old, I had bet someone that I could sing him to sleep and he is sound asleep. My puppies don't bark. Have you ever been somewhere trialing and somebody's dog is barking it's fool head off because it's not his turn or because it's owner is running another dog. That behavior wasn't created over night. It's been around for a while and was allowed to develop. If I'm working one dog and the others are tied out, they're quiet. If they're on a lead I don't put up with a lot of squirming, whining and fussing about. They can sit quietly no matter what's going on. You just have to deicde what you're willing to live up with, but when you start early and you remain consistent, it's easy to raise a well behaved dog. My puppies have a place of their own. They don't run loose. They get a lot of socialization, but unless they're with me, they're in a kennel or a crate. How many times have you seen someone calling their dog or commanding a dog incessantly and getting completely blown off. That dog is used to doing what he wants when he wants to do it and it's going to be tough to turn him into a team player at work or on the trial field. My dogs rarely fight. With a bunch of males around there's going to be some stiff-legging, but I make the rules and they know it. There's a pecking order in a dog pack and I'm at the top of it. If my dogs have an argument, I settle it immediately and for the most part they all get along pretty well. You'll never, ever see one of my dogs pulling at the end of a lead. To me, putting their feet on me and pulling on me is absolutely disrespectful and I simply won't have it. From the first time I put them on a lead at whatever age that is, if they pull, I pull back then I release. If they pull, I simply give a short pull back then I let the lead go slack again. It's no big deal. It's not hurtful or scary or harsh in any way. I don't pull them over backwards, yell at them or even speak to them at all. For all I know they think the lead is doing it. They tug, I give a tug back and then i release. If you hold the lead tight all the time, you are actually teaching them to pull because it becomes habit and they know no other way. You have to tug and release so they realize that when they pull, they Get pulled but then it's over and they're on their own again. In the beginning you have to do it constantly, but, depending on the puppy, they learn pretty quickly to walk or sit quietly beside you on a dangling lead. There's no excuse for anything else and when you see handlers being led around by their dogs, you can expect a wreck on the trial field as well. I can just about guarantee it. It doesn't take any more time to raise a good puppy than it does to raise a bad one, so why not do it right? They're not human and we do them a disservice and, in my opinion, disrespect them when we treat them as such. In a dog pack there's a pecking order. If you're not at the top of it I suggest that you not expect much from your dogs.

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