February dog training goals

Here are our training goals for February!

Couch time with the #germanshepherds.
They’re both drowsy here, which is probably why their expressions convey such crankiness.

February Goals for Pyrrha

  • “Wait.” We’ve been working on this for a while, and I think she’s finally getting it, but we need to generalize this command to other places. So far, we’ve just been practicing it in the basement, and now I think she thinks it’s just a basement activity.
  • Continue working on crate-exiting calmness.
  • Continue working on classical conditioning protocol for perceiving small children.
  • “Leave it!” Pyrrha could also use a refresher on this command; we don’t practice it enough with her (probably because she doesn’t have the same inclination as the puppy does to put everything in her mouth).

February Goals for Eden

  • Recall. Generalize this command; keep practicing it when she’s barking pointlessly in the yard.
  • “Go to your mat.” Teach her to go to her place and then chill out there. Should also probably get her a more substantial dog bed than an old quilt…
  • Tolerating grooming/handling behaviors, such as letting someone grab her paws, open her mouth, look at her teeth, groom her, etc. She’s a very people-friendly dog, but she doesn’t seem to have been exposed to much of this. Most recently, I’ve been clicking and treating her for her permitting me to open her mouth and look at her teeth.
  • Curbing the counter-surfing. Arrgggh.
  • Continuing to work on not jumping on people.
  • “Leave it!”

What do you hope to teach your dogs in February?

2013 goals for Pyrrha

I am really big on goal-setting all year long, but I get particularly jazzed about it at the end of the year. Accordingly, here are some of my Pyrrha-centric goals for 2013.


Goals for Pyrrha and Me in 2013:

  1. Help her get more comfortable around infants and small children. Get advice from our trainer. This is the big one.
  2. Teach her 5–10 new tricks/behaviors.
  3. Work on teaching her how to play more gently outdoors (e.g., teach her not to maul people’s back legs when they’re not looking).
  4. Take her hiking! This is a shame I haven’t done this, because we live in a perfect place for great, mountainous hikes.
  5. Brush her teeth twice a week. Whew. We’ll see.
  6. Accordingly, help her get more comfortable with all aspects of grooming.
  7. Have even more doggy play-dates!

Do you have any goals or resolutions for your dog(s) in the coming year?

Pyrrha is going to school

In the front yard

This past week, I decided that it was time for our shy princess to go to obedience school. We have signed her up for a 6-week basic obedience course at Canine Campus, a local training facility.

I feel confident about the head trainer, who is certified with several training organizations and has trained with Pat Miller, who wrote one of my favorite step-by-step training books. I e-mailed with her about what she thought about Pyrrha’s suitability for the group class, since Pyrrha’s history with strange dogs is not a good one. She assured me that the dogs aren’t supposed to interact with one another, and a portion of the class is just teaching the dog to focus on you and not the rest of the room. Alternately, she said that if the group class turns out to be too overwhelming for her, we can funnel our payment for the class into either private lessons or another class. She said that shy dogs have often done well in her nose-work class.

I expected that I’d take more initiative training her at home, but I have been so busy lately in the evenings that I haven’t put in nearly as much time as I have wanted to. Pyrrha knows her name, “come,” “sit,” and “down,” but that’s it–and she really only responds to me; she won’t take any commands from Guion, unless it’s clear that he has something delicious in his hand.

That said, here are my basic goals for these next six weeks of training class:

  1. For Pyrrha and Guion to build a better relationship and for her fear of him to be mostly eliminated. (Guion will be coming to as many training classes as he can.)
  2. To jump-start my incentive to train with her on a more regular basis.
  3. For Pyrrha to be able to interact in a room with distractions, other dogs, new people and be able to focus on me.
  4. For Pyrrha to gain confidence.

Our first class starts next week, so you’ll be sure to hear lots from me on how that goes!

Has your dog gone to school? What was your experience like?

The kind of crazy dog lady I want to become

OK, maybe not THIS crazy... Click for source.

I don’t want to be the kind of crazy dog lady (CDL) who has so many dogs that she tiptoes the line of being an animal hoarder. I want to have the right number of dogs that I can adequately care for, train, and love. (In my mind, that’s 3 at max for me, but we’ll see… I know some people can definitely handle more. Starting with one for a few years, and then we’ll see how that goes!)

I don’t want to be the kind of CDL who is constantly judging other dog people or freaking out about differences in the way we rear and raise our canines. I want to be humble and gracious, always willing to learn from someone else and always willing to give someone the benefit of the doubt.

I don’t want to be the kind of CDL who neglects personal care. I want to take great care of my dogs and great care of myself–as much as that’s possible! I know people who do both.

I don’t want to be the kind of CDL who sacrifices human relationships constantly or pushes people out of her life for the sake of her dogs. I want to maintain strong, intimate, and healthy relationships with humans, as much as I may be tempted to neglect them for the love of dogs.

What do you think? Is it possible for a CDL to be all of these things?

Places to go with my future dog

Places to Go, People to See, Things to Do with Our Future Pup: A Preliminary List

Click for source.

Let’s go to…

  1. The dog-friendly downtown mall.
  2. All of the beautiful parks in town (especially Pen Park).
  3. Local rivers.
  4. A lake.
  5. A pet store.
  6. A dog-friendly restaurant.
  7. Someone’s backyard for a play date.
  8. Carter Mountain Orchard in the fall.
  9. A cookout with friends.
  10. A campsite, for an overnight stay.
  11. A playground.
  12. Urban Outfitters, since they allow canines.
  13. The woods.
  14. Monticello.
  15. An off-leash dog park.
  16. The quarry.
  17. That dog-friendly winery I’ve heard about.
  18. My parents’ house.
  19. His parents’ house.
  20. My grandparents’ house on the lake.
  21. A farm.
  22. The beach.
  23. A cabin in the woods.

Or, anywhere! I can’t wait. I want to take my future dog everywhere.

Where are some of your favorite places to take your pooch?

The four-month plan

Here's what I think about your training plan. Click for source.

We’re now officially four months away from moving and welcoming a dog into our new home. After a year and a half of concentrated waiting, four months sounds unbelievably close.

In this interim, here’s my (overly ambitious?) four-month plan for our future dog once we bring him/her home. I’m hoping to work through The Power of Positive Dog Training, which has been my favorite step-by-step training manual I’ve read so far. All that said, here’s the game plan!

MONTH ZERO: Goals for the months leading up to the move and adoption

  1. Move into new place! Make home as dog-friendly and dog-proof as possible.
  2. Interview GSD owners, meet some area GSDs.
  3. Send out applications to various GSD rescue organizations. Make home visits, speak with foster parents, and meet prospective dogs!
  4. Sit down together and establish house rules for the dog (furniture, bed, room privileges, etc.).
  5. Figure out our daily care schedules for the dog: Who will be home when, if we need a dog walker, etc.
  6. Give Guion a crash course in positive reinforcement dog training! And pretty much an overview of… everything I’ve learned in a year and a half of canine study.
  7. Start buying dog supplies! I’m really excited about this, even though I know it will be a lot of initial expenses.
  8. Choose a vet. Get recommendations from other pet owners in town.

MONTH ONE: Bringing the dog home!

  1. Learn new name (if needed. I have a feeling we’ll probably want to change the dog’s name. We’re both kind of particular about names… And I feel like a lot of the GSDs I’ve seen in rescue have rather silly ones).
  2. Get acclimated to house rules: House-training, daily routines, rules about furniture and certain rooms, etc.
  3. If needed, gradually transition to a healthy and high-quality kibble + weekly supplements of fruits, vegetables, rice, and beans.
  4. Carefully train and transition to avoid any separation anxiety.
  5. Evaluate potential problem areas (possessiveness, shyness, fear-based aggression, excessive barking/boredom, fear of inanimate objects, thunderstorm phobia, etc.).
  6. Create cautious and mannerly introductions to different dogs. Think of other calm, responsible adult dogs to introduce him/her to. Bo and Zoe would be great dogs to start with.
  7. First vet check up.

MONTH TWO: Settling in

  1. Attend a training class as a family. The PetCo and the PetsMart in town offer training classes, but there’s also an independent dog training studio nearby that sounds very promising.
  2. Work steadily and consistently on leash manners, if needed.
  3. Practice basic commands together: Sit, down, stay, heel, wait.
  4. Make introductions to as many types of people as possible. Aim to have these interactions be incredibly positive.
  5. Begin walking in bigger, busier areas, like the downtown mall and other parks.
  6. First bath. Also train for exposure to grooming, nail clipping, etc.
  7. Target problem areas identified in Month 1.

MONTH THREE: Working hard

  1. Practice car ride manners.
  2. Work consistently on basic commands, adding a few others to the repertoire.
  3. Once I feel comfortable with his or her mannerisms toward people, spend some time with calm, trustworthy children.
  4. Go hiking!
  5. Keep working to eliminate any problem areas.
  6. Have some play-dates with other neighborhood dogs.
  7. Begin training for a reliable recall.

MONTH FOUR: Adventuring out

  1. First family hiking excursion!
  2. Keep honing basic commands until they’re solid.
  3. Take some runs together.
  4. Try swimming (in a river or creek?) for the first time.
  5. Work consistently on recall abilities; test with a long line in a field.
  6. Add to trick repertoire.
  7. Practice working with a Frisbee.

I’m sure I’ll look back at this and laugh at all that I thought I could achieve. But it’s a start! Any thing you would add? Do you think I’m being too ambitious? Or do you think there are important goals that I’ve neglected? Do share! As always, I’m eager to learn from you.