This post is part of our 2012 Training Challenge and this month's challenge includes participating in Something Wagging's 2012 Train Your Dog Challenge for January. We chose to work on Back Up so I would have a command to get Hurley's noggin out of mine when needed.
And with minutes (literally) to spare before the deadline, here are the results of Something Wagging's Train Your Dog Challenge! If I were one to make my dogs compete against each other, Maggie would win for Cutest Wiggly Butt, Sadie for Best Effort and Hurley for Best in Show. Also known as giving my other 2 dogs a bone since Hurley clearly smoked his sisters when it came to learning Back up.
Since we've gotten Hurley, we've been working on the same basic training that we had done with Maggie & Sadie. Up to this point, I've never tackled teaching all 3 of them something relatively new. And so I never realized how completely different they learn. Maggie & Sadie are high energy learners....as in, they will perform a tornado of activity, every trick they think they may know, just to earn one single treat. They're hopping, twirling & wagging their tails a mile a minute. It's chaotic and difficult for me to get my timing right with the clicker. Hurley on the other hand is extremely calm when learning. If he's not sure what I want, he will lay down and look adorable. Smart dude knows calm behavior, a down stay and puppy eyes will get him that treat 99 times out of 100.
More than them learning Back Up, which really only Hurley knows on command, this experience showed me how much I'm slacking when it comes to training Maggie & Sadie. Just because they are relatively well-behaved dogs who pay attention to Mom's tone of voice well enough that tons of specific commands aren't necessarily needed, doesn't mean that they don't benefit from training sessions. If for nothing else than it makes them so darn happy to earn a few treats. And so I embark on the remainder of 2012 determined that this won't be the Year of Hurley the Wonder Dog. Rather, it will be a year of training & bonding with all 3. Yes, my expectations of Hurley will always be greater because he's out and about with the public on a daily basis. Yes, he will likely always smoke the girls when it comes to his ability to learn new stuff. But I had more fun trying to corral the craziness of Maggie & Sadie than I had expected. Even when they're all over the place, this Momma can't get frustrated because their enthusiasm is too contagious.
(Yes I cheated and used the same video for Hurley from mid-January)
January is over and then some. Hurley has Back Up down - we are now including it in strings of behaviors and he can back up 4-5 times in between click & treats now. Sadie struggled at first but once I did some one on one training and incorporated jackpotting treats when she backed up without hopping, she really started to understand the movement I was asking for. She doesn't have it "on command" yet but is close. Maggie totally understands the movement but IS JUST SO DARN EXCITED FOR A TREAT that she can't help but hop backwards most of the time. Her level of enthusiasm has always been an issue as she just can't contain herself. While she did demonstrate that she understood the movement I was asking for, she didn't progress any farther along than Sadie by the end of the month. Needless to say, we still have lots of work to do on back up but that's not gonna keep us from moving on.
Stay tuned for tomorrow's post when February's Training Goal is revealed!