Sunday, January 24, 2016


I have taken my first foray into online dog classes recently by registering for a tricks class that my agility instructor teaches.  The class involves six lessons spread out over 16 weeks.  Knowing that I have a tendency to over commit myself and adding the schedule tweaking of a new puppy to the mix I was a little hesitant, but I figured this would be a fun way to try this style of class out.  And I am sooooooo glad that I did!!

Each lesson involves multiple tricks with a purpose.  Whether that purpose is to build over all strength and body awareness or to start working on skills that can later be applied to a wide variety of dog sports, they all have a greater goal.  The method for training each trick is really up to each individual handler, however, shaping is strongly encouraged and only positive methods are to be used.  Since the class has only been under way for one week, we've only had the first lesson.  Once I've got the individual tricks trained up to their final goal with each dog I'll share my video clips of the training process.  Some of the tricks right now are ones that I've trained Heffner and Bess to do and I'm excited to also do a comparison of how I've progressed with the four different. dogs.  That's right, Dominic is totally participating in this class!

My experience so far with the class has been completely positive and I am having a total blast!  The online format negates the travel time involved in going to an in person class, which means that I can work on my class video submissions at my pace and convenience.  I don't have to worry about week night conflicts or trying to work juggling two dogs and drive time into my week night schedule.  Which also means more time for training!  Having other people in the class with a variety of other breeds submitting videos that everyone gets to watch and read the feed back from the instructor as well as the comments and narrative from the individuals has been even more helpful than I thought it would be.  There is no timeline for when each trick needs to be "completed" by.  We're all free to work on the various tricks in whatever order we each choose.  So before you start working on one of the tricks, you may see someone else submit a video for where they're at with their dog, see how they're going about training it as well as what bumps in the road they've hit.  I've already benefited from seeing how another handler went about training one of the tricks and where her treat placement ended up being to further encourage the behavior.

And the class is just fun!  I'm remembering how much fun I had with Heffner and Bess when I was training them to do random tricks.  Watching that excitement on their faces when it's training time and the sense of accomplishment when a trick is fully trained, is addictive!  Strengthening that connection that you have with your dog, figuring out how they think and process what you're doing, teaching them to problem solve and accomplishing things that maybe you didn't think you could.  It's such a great feeling when you get those ah-ha moments!  And watching the videos and getting to share your proud moments with YOUR dog(s) are really reinforcing.

Dominic is definitely the puppy that I have gotten the most involved in training from the get go.  Heffner was my first real dog of my own and I didn't really get into anything beyond the basics until he was older than six months old.  I had managed to sort of burn myself out on competing before Miley came along, so I spent a lot of her early puppihood just enjoying having a puppy in the house again.  That's not to say that I didn't do anything with her, I just definitely didn't do as much with her as I'm doing with Dom now.  This tricks class came at a perfect time for getting Dominic involved.  I already have outlets for him, but this is giving me the umph to really teach him how to think and start problem solving and to help me create a better overall foundation for the future sports that I hope he and I will be involved in.  I've had such a hang up for a while about not wanting to break or ruin a happy puppy that I haven't really given my dogs the early foundation that is so beneficial.  I'm finally getting past that and I'm ready to see what this little ball of black puppy craziness can do!

With all of that being said, I don't have the tricks polished to a point where I'm quite ready to share video clips of them.  I do, however, have videos of the dogs doing some other things during some of our training sessions that I wanted to share. :) The first video is of Dominic on the large core disc.  The first half shows him at 8 weeks, the day after I brought him home and his first time on the disc.  The second half of the video is of him at 10 weeks.

This is not an exercise that I work with him on every single day.  I change things up so that he gets some variety and gets comfortable with a variety of equipment and textures.  Even though there's only a two week time span, you can already see the difference.  He's gotten more confident, gained more body awareness and gotten stronger.  He's also gotten bigger.  Weird how that happens. ;)

The second video is of I think the second training session that I had with Miley after bringing Dominic home.  She was still adjusting to having him around, so I did a fair amount of playing with her at the beginning, which she obviously loves.  Then I worked on some things that I knew she was already pretty confident and comfortable with, to reinforce the focus that I was getting and need to build back up around Dominic.  You can also hear that Dominic is a pretty good puppy in his crate while I'm working with Miley.  

Both dogs are a ton of fun!  Exhausting at times, but totally worth it. :)

1 comment:

Laura and The Corgi, Toller, & Duck said...

I'm glad you're having fun and motivated! I love the online classes I've taken and love teaching online too.