Puppies are now a full three months old and becoming going concerns. I am starting to notice a shift in their focus as they are becoming increasingly confident in their environment. Suddenly the sun and moon no longer rise and set around me when we are out and about! Naturally I have been lazy and not built on my recalls while pups were super keen to be with me. Time to get moving on that one!
I have a long list of things I need to be working on with the puppies, and I am finding it a challenge to work with two. I can easily keep them exercised and occupied by letting them follow me around during chores or on hikes with big dogs, which is all good and healthy. But I also need to be developing their brains through playing shaping games, teaching basic manners, and creating bomb proof recalls.
Here’s a short list of what I am trying to teach them:
- Hand touch / target to the hand
- Sit with distraction (doors or crates opening etc.)
- Advanced It’s Yer Choice (IYC)
- Perch work
- Bed games & bed games squared (driving from one bed/box to the other, and back again)
- Lie down
I was visiting Snap yesterday and was amazed to see his body awareness skills as he happily balanced on a Bosu ball placed rocker side down! They can learn so much at this tender age. Indeed, I find they have no problem doing a training session as long as that of the adult dogs, and are keen for more!
Their ability to retain and extrapolate is impressive as well. Last week I took Rave to the feed store with me. There was a set of steps up to the building made from iron grid. You know, the kind where you can see through to the ground. Raven was very reluctant to walk on the grid but did slowly follow me up the stairs. Leaving was a whole different story. To her it looked like having to step down onto thin air from four feet off the ground. She fussed and whined and sat and paced and finally went down one step. And after a bunch more fussing, she made it down one more. Five more minutes of sitting and contemplating, and she finally took the last two steps. The whole time I just sat and waited for her. I was encouraging but didn’t help; this was her problem to solve.
One week later we went back to the same store. I took Rave in with me and watched her bound up those stairs without a thought. Leaving, I waited to see what would happen. Well, didn’t she just run down them like she’d been doing it her whole life! Whatever she learned from the previous week she had obviously contemplated in the interim and had concluded that stairs made from grid were just stairs. I have to admit, I was impressed.
Both Rave and Griff are also starting to turn onto stock. Ravey more intensely so than Griffon. She is keen enough now that I don’t let her out around the poultry anymore as she is starting to get fixated on the ducks. Griff is still pretty relaxed (he is laid back about everything – which continues to amaze me given how intense and busy he was as a baby!) and lopes around after the ducks with mild interest and just enough body language to tell me he’s actually working and not simply walking in the same direction.
Griff actually reminds me an awful lot of photos and videos I have seen of his granddad, Killibrae Laddie, in both movement and posture (and ears). It makes me wonder if he’s going to take after him in work. Wouldn’t that be nice! Rave is much more like her mother, stylish and intense, fast and pushy. Part of me wonders if I have chosen to keep the wrong puppy! Raven looks to be the more challenging of the two to train. Indeed, tonight Griff helped me round up the goats and was a perfect gentleman about it. If Griffon doesn’t find another home and ends up staying here, well, that might not be a bad thing at all.
Every day I try to give the pups one new experience. It can be something super simple like a new food or letting them explore a new part of the house or area of the farm. Or something more intense such as a trip to a big box hardware store or a new shaping challenge.
Today we experienced our first swim! It was hot and the pond is a good 20 minute hike from the house through tall grass. Longer when we take many sniff breaks and detours. So by the time we arrived at the pond, all were ready to cool off. The big dogs jumped in right away, waiting for me to throw a stick. Puppies, however, were not so sure…
It took only a couple of stick tosses for them to dive in after their mother and Aunt Holly.
Now I suspect there now will be no turning back!
Given that the pond is now mostly mud, this is one experience I may not be repeating anytime soon…