Every dog is a puzzle, and sometimes it takes a while to see how it all fits together. But that’s part of the fun of dogs, though it can be rough sometimes along the way. Continuing to puzzle through Fig, we’ve done some more experiments the last few days.
First we’ve been working on training with toys. This is a slower process than treats, as your reward ratio is drastically less frequent, and especially with a dog like Fig, much less thinking on her part. So we’ve just been introducing real simple things, like spin, lie down and her name. In typical BC fashion, it takes a while for the request to even process when toys are around, but she can do it with some extra prompting and a lot of time. Still, it’s something.
Back in the world of food I’ve tried several other new foods and have mostly gotten total disinterest. She did like little cheap ass cat treats for one session, so that was fun. Now she just spits them out. She still gets kibble in her kennel, which sometimes she munches on, sometimes she eats most of it and sometimes she doesn’t touch it – but that doesn’t seem related to what kind it is. I have no idea how much she’s actually eating per day at this point, but her weight is good – and she’s growing a lot right now. Could not get her to eat anything I had when we hiking again over the weekend, which makes it REAL hard to work on recalls, that’s for sure.
However, we have made some tentative training progress by just attempting to train or feed any other animal in the household, then suddenly she’s throwing behaviors and trying to steal the food. So, fine, can’t train Fig by herself, she needs cats barging in and dogs smacking her in the head in order for her to train. Today we started back up, which we didn’t make much progress, but that was mostly because she spent so much time chewing each piece of kibble that I couldn’t do the rapid fire treats underneath her that I normally do – but she was engaged and having a good time. Then was working with my dogs on multi-dog platform position work which devolved into teaching Figgy to balance on a fitbone – which she did! With lots of jumping all over the other dogs at the same time.
I have every faith that she’ll figure it out, I think that’s the key to so many dogs, letting them decide when they’re ready to train. And maybe it won’t be for MONTHS, but there is no point in forcing it, will only turn them off. In the meantime, management and tiny steps. It’s funny what dogs pick up even when you’re not attempting to train them – because training happens all the time.
We’ve had a ridiculous stretch of 95+ degree weather for what seems like forever at this point. Ended up cancelling almost all my classes this week, which made for a very odd week. But I did get to spend more quality time with Fig, she’s starting to mature these days. The good news, while she can still be annoying to the dogs, she’s really mellowed and is actually listening and responding these days. Navarre actually LIKES her, you know, sometimes. So they’ve been playing, which is just way too cute – so it’s nice she has a friend now. Bright continues to give her the business, and Haku continues to pretend she doesn’t exist while Fig just adores him above all others. I do find it interesting that with Aja Bright LOVED that puppy – but Navarre didn’t. Now we have Fig that Navarre likes, but Bright doesn’t. And neither one of them truly disliked Aja or Fig, but funny they had such different reactions.
Fig is getting more and more independent, we went hiking in the Gorge with Carol’s dogs and Heidi over the weekend and I barely saw that puppy – she was forging ahead with the big dogs, such an adventurous puppy. Who REALLY needs a recall. Work in progress. Then when we’re out running at the park or the field puppy still does some ambushing, but she’s often right out there running with the big dogs, WAY far away. Confident little thing.
Fig even made a friend! 6 month old corgi, a little shy, but her and Figgy hit it off and had such a great time together. Maybe Fig won’t be a total monster after all! Certainly she continues to be quite the social butterfly with people, she loves everyone.
Trying an experiment with her informal recall, when playing with toys I do a lot of toy switching, inviting her to come play with the new toy with her name. In general as soon as she hears her name she come driving over to see what I have. However, in some instances she has done the, “I hear you, but I think I’ll just stay here,” move. So in that case I go and put her away and take the toys up. A couple times after that she’s been happily driving back to me every time, so far, at least. Been working some at having her weave through my legs in preparation to use that as a recall, but, well, slow going training with toys.
Oh, and we officially have a car chasing issue. I saw little glimpses of it when she was younger when a car would go by, but tonight she actually hit the end of the leash a few times when a car would pass us. Now, if she would take food I would have tried to work on positively working on this behavior, but as it scares the shit out of me, she got corrected as this is not something I want to screw around with. Today, at least, she decided she could leave the cars alone – but I expect this will need work. Ah, border collies.