Friday, August 26, 2011

Training Calendar, Schmaining Calendar

Kristine over at Rescued Insanity recently posted about not hitting her goals for this summer and it got me thinking 'bout where Hurley and I are with training.

A few weeks after we got Hurley, I made a training calendar for the next 3 months.  It was quite impressive, let me tell you.  I listed each week's training tasks and when I wanted certain behaviors and commands to be at their 80% rate (Hurley will do ____ for me 8 out of 10 times).  It was color-coded.  'Cause that's how I roll.

I can plan the crap out of anything.  My favorite part is always the planning.  Doing is also pretty awesome but I fully relish the joys of anticipation that planning brings.

I followed the training calendar for exactly 2 weeks and, though it's posted right on the refrigerator, have barely glanced at it since.

What a shame, right?  Well, I don't know about that.  If I were to really look at the calendar and compare where we are today with where I wanted us to be, I'm sure we're not that far off.  Yeah, I really need to work more on his recall.  He pulls on the leash, for which I'm getting a front-clip harness to help.  But we're working really hard on his impulse control with lots of stays, leave its, offs, etc.  Does he still think anything and everything belongs in his mouth?  Yup.  But we're so far ahead on all the fun tricks - Like Shake, Other Paw, High Five, Other Paw, Wave (I'll get the Other Paw Wave soon!).  Maybe I'm not on the exact training path that we started out on, but you gotta roll with the punches.  It became obvious early on that Hurley needed tons of impulse control work.  This also happens to be the most frustrating type of training for me so I needed to work on the fun stuff to keep training sessions fun for both of us.  Yes, he needs to have a better recall and stat!, but I think we're on a good path.

What's my point?  (I do occasionally have one!)  I don't know if I would have gotten started as well on Hurley's training if I didn't sit down and plan it out.  Knowing what 10 commands and behaviors I wanted to get down in the first couple months always gave me something to work on, whether ahead or behind of schedule.  Having that structure also strangely gave me the freedom to adjust as we went along and re-prioritize.  Not sure why - maybe because knowing what I was skipping allowed me to remember to come back to it.  One of the most valuable lessons Hurley is teaching me is that it's not only about him learning to be a good dog.  It's also about me having fun throughout this process.  And we do have lots of fun.  Today, he did a 30 second sit-stay and down-stay for the first time and his Leave It with treats in front of him is now at about 10-15 seconds.  He got Other Paw High Five so quickly it's not even funny.  He is such a smart little guy and I'm super proud of how well he's doing.  I still stand by my original statement that Hurley's future as a Canine Good Citizen and possibly Therapy Dog is more about my abilities 'cause he's totally got what it takes.  So without further ado, here's my Hurley-man showing off:


  1. Voce é muito fofo.
    Venha me ver no meu blog.
    Pode ser SEGUIDOR também, será uma alegria colocar sua fotinha junto com meus amiguinhos.
    Sou do Brasil.
    Te espero com grande alegria.
    Aus 1000 com amor..


  2. I think you make an excellent point. I tend to make list, since I am not good at keeping a schedule, and find myself working on it without even realizing it. I tend not to set goals, but let the dogs lead me where they want to go, what they want to learn and how much.

    I think it is great that you've found what works for you and your dogs and all that matters is that there is progress somewhere along the way.

    Hurley is adorable! And looks like he's got the moves. :)

    I think sometimes it is the fun things that help build that foundation so we can learn how to turn the more serious things into fun as well. I've had many things that have been put off, because either me or the dogs weren't ready for it and I've tried my best to learn from that. :)

    Great post!

  3. @24 Paws of Love

    Thanks, 24 Paws! You are spot on on the foundation - I didn't think of it that way but I'm certainly getting better at making the serious behaviors he needs to learn into fun training sessions, which is key to getting him to learn. That and treats. :)