School Opens on Monday

Lara’s formal training will begin on Monday. I feel now that we are finally in a position to begin some very basic training with Lara. Here is how our week has gone.

Lara has been living in our guest house for the last week.  Now bear in mind that she spends several hours each day with us out and about so her life is not one of isolation. Here at The DogSmith Training Center we have people coming and going all day, plus, Rick and I are constantly out and about working on the property with all the dogs just feet from us.

For the last few days I have spent as much time as possible with Lara to help strengthen our bond. I have worked over in the guest house on my computer, spent time with her just stroking her, hand feeding her and teaching her how to play with toys. We did however have a couple of setbacks. One afternoon Lara scratched at the door and another day she chewed up some blinds. ‘Great dog, shame about the trainer’. She should not have been left unsupervised to roam around the house and when the weather got warm I lowered the blinds to maintain the cool internal temperature and forgot that this was something new in Lara’s life. So we are back to the crate which is still not a favorite of Lara’s. I did however determine that the damage was done on the two occasions that I was outside with my dogs (Lara was left inside as we had our main gate open to bring in supplies) and when she gets excited she chews and grabs at things. We have seen this demonstrated in the guest house yard when she is in the garden there and we are in the larger fenced in garden, Lara grabs and chews on the grape vine wrapped around the fence.

Lara is much more relaxed with Rick, he has been letting her out every morning and she now gives him  body wags from inside the crate. She will not get within 5 feet of him when we are all outside but she no longer darts off.  As we move about during the day Lara is “one of the pack”. She will follow us everywhere when the other dogs are around. When we are outside I can now get her to approach me by crouching down and holding my hand out.  She will dart in for a quick stroke.

Our training tomorrow will focus on

  1. Leash skills - Lara no longer “freaks out” when a loose line is dragging behind her so I want to start some leash training.
  2. Eye contact - I have been doing some eye contact exercises with Lara when I hand feed her. We are going to start to formalize this and put it on a cue.
  3. Name recognition - I am going to work on name recognition as this is the first of four parts of training a really reliable recall.
  4. Crate Training - we have got to nail the crate training. My definition of a dog who is crate trained is one who will go happily and eagerly to their crate from 6 feet when given the ‘crate’ cue.