As you all know, the long term goal for Monte is to be a guide dog, but some days it feels like that is a pipe dream. I am already preparing myself for the day that the leaders of OccuPaws pick him up and take him away. Some days I want to call them and request it myself. His obedience is very good, not perfect by any means, but how will we ever get this nervous, sensitive canine to relax.
How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.
To lower our frustration, we have been setting short-term and intermediate goals for Monte. Our first training session this week was at the Dog Den and they are helping us with a short term goal to eliminate his nervous whining. The classes are also an initial step toward our intermediate goal of passing the Canine Good Citizen test and ultimately reducing his canine distraction.
To that end we invited our protege puppy, Abbey, for a training visit on Wednesday. Little did she know that she was merely a pawn for Monte's second training session. Her job was to act like a puppy and Monte was supposed to behave. An active puppy in his territory was too exciting and he broke a few STAYs. He ate dinner and went to bed, so we could focus on our visitor. We heard a few whines from our jealous house dog. After resting, he was more relaxed, until we brought some toys out to check for possessiveness. High energy, but no issues. For his first at home test, his behavior was acceptable, but definitely needs improvement. Practice makes perfect.
Our secondary objective was to see how Abbey was doing. Being a tad over three months old, she has few expectations. Other than some submission exercises and a training collar, there wasn't much that we needed to do to help her. Our biggest job was to reassure her new puppy raisers that they are doing a good job and they need to enjoy this early stage. Expectations rise exponentially after the fourth month.
Having been in their shoes four years ago, we were armed with years of experience "housing" pet dogs and we wanted to be the perfect raisers. We failed miserably. We had no experience training puppies. I soon learned that there was no perfect training method - every trainer had an arsenal of approaches and techniques. We ended up confused which ultimately lead to inconsistency. This along with our biggest fault, not understanding the need or techniques to discipline our puppy, resulted in a misbehaving puppy who was "in control". With plenty of assistance, we eventually became the pack leaders.
Puppy raisers need to develop their own style and be able to adapt to the needs of each puppy. What worked for one, may not work for another. Experience is the key because puppy raising involves trial and (lots of) error. At least that's been my experience.