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Accepting small wins in training

With our last post, we gave you a series of shorts that, to my mind, never really fully developed. From the feedback in the comments, I’ve been assured that everyday insights can be just as valuable as stories of our epic adventures. With this in mind, I have no epic adventures to share today either. Just a status that is likely too long for Facebook (as I tend to get, let’s just say, descriptive and ramble on).

As many of you know Casper has a “sister” that we adopted not too terribly long ago. She’s still a pup and just to the phase where she asks to go outside when she needs to and can hold her own until she does. Being that she is a Staffordshire Terrier mix there is a difference in energy levels and personality (because I don’t think dog-ialty is a thing). Casper is done playing in about ten minutes, where Wednesday will play all day and not take the hint that an animal or human may have lost interest long ago (Ahh the joys of puppy-dom). She is also out-going where Casper is more laid back.

For this reason, we have installed several gates throughout our home to divide it into three sections. The bedrooms and 2 baths at the back. The kitchen in the middle, and the second living area that has become our office space. The office, as we call it, has a door to the back-yard, and another to the laundry room, half-bath and garage.

Most of the day I typically have the puppy in the office with me and Casper hangs out in the back of the house with the cats, who have not grown fond of Wednesday yet. It seems that a play bow translates to a sharp cat. Of course, there is an exception to every rule. His name is Crookshanks, he’s a daddy’s boy and sleeps under my desk most of the day. He’s right here by my feet as I write this. Close to me and the food bowls in the laundry. (Several times a day I have to stop to open the door to the food.)

The other reason I have the puppy with me more often is she gets too feisty for the kids, but tends to nap more with me. I just have to let her out to romp in the yard a few times a day. (She is very good at coming in to cool down.) I tend to have a bond with most, if not all of our animals, that is different from the rest of the family. Wednesday is calmer with me than the kids, so it’s easier for me to work if I don’t hear screaming over puppy nibbles and pawing all day.

Casper is also okay with this arrangement, as he gets to sleep on my bed all day. This is as long as I remember to give him attention too. This usually comes in the form of snuggles after work, and lap-sits after the puppy goes to sleep for the night in her crate. I have promised that we will go out to train once we can both be outside without the chance of heat stroke.

Today I felt I needed to single-hand 2 dogs. I’ve done this a couple times, and it usually goes like this.

Put the puppy on a lead and let Casper through a gate as he runs for the door to avoid being jumped on and nibbled. The door gets flung open and Casper runs out to his yard. I then hold back a diving pup from the closing door.

Today was a little different since the pup is weeks older and has somewhat better manners. I still put the puppy on short lead (via a harness), but this time I asked Casper to work.

I ask the puppy to sit. I open the gate and immediately ask Casper ‘with me’. This let him know to clear the gate and circle back. I had the puppy in my left hand (which is his hand/side). So I grabbed Casper with my right, while I traded lead hands and simultaneously asked Casper to “come-around” and “stay”. I asked Wednesday to sit, while Casper braced for me to keep my balance. They both know “walk-on”, so Wednesday followed my request to Casper. We made it to the door, Casper exited safely. Wednesday sat again as I closed the door and unclipped her lead. She got a cookie, and pets and went back to her mat when I asked her to go lay down.

This may be a small victory, but a victory none the less. To have these two that close together just days ago would have landed me on my back, with a play session over top of me. This leaves me with hope, that with time and training we can all occupy one uninterrupted space. Being teamed with a Secret Service Dog leaves me with high expectations, but this girl is smart and is learning fast!

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7 thoughts on “Accepting small wins in training

  1. blu August 12, 2016 at 5:31 pm Reply

    And dear Casper knows and understands that he is still your number one. I understand you are training Wednesday BUT will she be involved as a family pet also or is she to be with you and Casper on a regular basis i

    • Casper August 12, 2016 at 6:11 pm Reply

      Wednesday came to us with the idea that she would be a family pet. We saw that she is very smart and needs a lot to do. (that sounds a lot like someone we know…) At the same time, a family member has been diagnosed with Anxiety, Depression on a disability level. So maybe, just maybe, we can teach her a trade. There are no promises, no guarantees, and we will work with outside trainers who have certified service dogs in the past to ensure she passes muster. There is no faking or sliding by allowed here! She starts her out offsite obedience classes soon.

  2. Liz August 12, 2016 at 8:28 am Reply

    Excellent – although Wednesday won’t be your service dog, Staffies are super smart, eager to please and fast learners. Casper will be teaching her too with his calm demeanor.

    • Casper August 12, 2016 at 8:43 am Reply

      No, she won’t be a stability dog for sure! There is a possibility she may be able to work as a PTS/Anxiety dog. It’s super early, but we joke that she has a Dane smart bump. If she doesn’t work she will be a well-trained pet. Either way, we have a lot of work ahead.

  3. Sharon kbtz-AZ August 11, 2016 at 11:26 pm Reply

    Hmmmm, sounds like the little girl is perhaps growing up a bit and observing, Casper is showing her what a well trained Very Special Service Dog can do, and dad is a very effective trainer. I love it when a good plan comes together. Hugs to all…

    • Casper August 12, 2016 at 8:46 am Reply

      We’re hoping something rubs off. She already wants to go places with Casper when we head out. She just has a lot of puppy left and not much calm. It’s a breed difference, but I’m impressed with her so far….

  4. Hilda August 11, 2016 at 7:51 pm Reply

    Awesome Casper and Wednesday….and, a good job to daddy, too.

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