When this month’s theme of “Training Goals” was discussed with my co-hosts in January, I felt like a deer in the headlights. I hadn’t set any training goals for this year! However, no one could argue that this wasn’t the obvious theme for our first hop of the year, so of course I agreed. Then I kind of put it out of my mind, since I’ve been preoccupied with just getting through this crazy winter, job-hunting and now learning a new job, and other annoying nonsense. 😊
As often happens when planning a blog post, the answers will suddenly come to me, usually as I’m lying in bed first thing in the morning, waking up with a cup of coffee next to me, catching up on my iPhone notifications, and snuggling with Luke. Thank goodness for my “notes” app on my phone, where I can start jotting ideas down.
Sometimes I get frustrated with a lack of progress with Luke’s reactivity. Going into this new year, however, we’ve been having success with using his crate as a safe space when people come over. We’ve been continuing to practice and make progress and that is something I want to continue to work on. We just had a good experience recently, with Luke settling down in the crate after some initial barking and growling at my old neighbor who is also a bookkeeping client; he tends to talk a lot and talk with his hands as well. However, by the time he left, Luke was lying down calmly in his crate.
I’ve had other good opportunities to work with Luke on that lately, especially when I know people are coming over, so I can get him settled in the crate before they drive in. If they drive in and he sees them, it is then virtually impossible to get him into the crate, even with bribery. We had already worked on this using his mat, so I know now our next step will be getting him to go in the crate on command (which we pretty much have down already), and then progressing that to doing so when there is a distraction.
Goal #1 planned! I like to do a variety of training, not just ones that are necessary for Luke’s own good, but some that are just for fun as well such as canine sports and tricks. I came up with a list that has some of each on it, and that gives us a good place to start the year:
- Needed: The continued crate training, where we’ll start with sending him to the crate at random times, rewarding him, and then closing him in for a few minutes. I want him to know that being in the crate doesn’t always mean someone scary is coming over, so he won’t start to think it’s a bad place.
- For fun: Both Luke and Cricket have done quite well with nose works; but I’d like to try something different, even though we could go onto the next level of that sport (which we do only for fun, not competition). We first learned about nose works from our friends at MyGBGVLife, and they also do tracking over there. In tracking, dogs follow a scent trail to find an article such as a glove; it is the foundation for canine search and rescue work. That is something I think both dogs could do very well at, with their impressive noses, so this spring I want to take the online class in that at Fenzi Dog Sports Academy.
- Needed: I had TTouch on my radar as something that could help Luke relax. Tellington TTouch is a holistic training method that can promote calmness and confidence in your dog (learn more here). I signed up for a “Taster” course (online) at Canine Confidence just to see what it’s all about. They teach you one of the simple touches in this course, and I wanted to see how Luke reacted to it before deciding if we wanted to progress to taking the full course. At first, he didn’t do well. When I tried the touch on him, he got nervous and jumped away (which was my fear because that’s how he typically reacts to any handling that is not just normal petting or hugging). I almost gave up, but I just kept trying it here and there at random times when I was sitting with him relaxing. If he reacted, I stopped. But he has finally gotten to the point where he no longer reacts! Next up, we’ll try one of the wraps they do and see how that goes. If it goes well, I’d like to take the full course at some point.
- For fun: I’ve been trying to decide what the next trick I could teach Luke to do would be. There are certain ones I avoid because they could involve putting stress on his bad knees (such as “sit pretty”). I had thought about “crawl” but had put it aside because I didn’t think he would do it (if you ever give him a treat, he will sit to get the treat, but for some reason has to stand when he eats it!). However, one night we were having a snack at our coffee table, and when someone dropped a crumb I watched him crawl under the table to get it! I since tried putting a ball under there as well and he went for it. So I think we’ll at least give this one a try.
- Needed: More paw handling for nail trims, etc. I can’t ever stop trying to handle Luke’s paws in the hopes one day he’ll let me trim his nails again. Taking him to the vet and having him drugged up to do that is horrible, but right now it’s our only option (though I may have to also try giving him the relaxing drugs at home and see if that goes better, because his nails are getting way too long now). There was a time I could trim his nails but then he decided he wasn’t going to let me anymore. This is something I know I need to start working on every day if we’re ever going to get there. Just a few tries daily won’t take much time at all.
I’ve been distracted with all the stuff I mentioned in the first paragraph, but those things should hopefully all settle down soon, and I want to get started on some of this. I think the nails and crate can be something we can do almost daily that won’t take a lot of time, and then I think we can start working on something fun soon. It will probably be the trick since tracking will be easier to start in spring or summer. I hope by the end of the year I’ll be able to report more success in at least a few of these. That is one reason I love being a part of this blog hop, it helps to motivate me and gives me a chance to share some progress reports along the way.
What are some of your training goals for the year? Please share in the comments below, we’d love to hear them!
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I absolutely love that you have an equal mix of the practical/behavioral and fun!! I can’t wait to see how tracking goes with Luke. I’ve read the MyGBGV posts and have always been so intrigued.
You inspired me to research TTouch more. Cooper is actually very responsive to touch when he’s fired up, at least by me anyway! That might be another great tool for our toolbox. Thanks for sharing your experience and sparking the idea!!
Luke has such an amazing nose – it really rivals his beagle sister’s! So choosing activities that use his nose seems like such a great way to go, and he is fun to watch when he’s doing nose works. So I think tracking is going to be a lot of fun for both of us.
I hope the TTouch works out for you and Cooper, it sounds like he might get a lot of benefit from it.
Those are some excellent goals! And boy, does Luke’s crate look posh! Way better than Leo’s “cage,” which we call the Bug Hut. (Because he’s Leo Bug, of course.) He’s also challenging with nail trims. Good thing they’re so handsome, am I right?
Yes, you are absolutely right about that! 🙂
Luke does have a pretty nice crate….we try to make it the best space we can for him (because it took us a long time to get him to go in it, and we want to make sure he stays liking it!).
Tenacious Little Terrier says
Have you looked at training a nail scratch board for Luke? You could shape it and then maybe he would have to be sedated less. Tracking sounds like fun! That’s one sport we haven’t really explored yet. I’m taking Fenzi’s TEAM class this winter.
Yes, we use a scratch board! I did use shaping and he did very well with it. Our issue now is getting him to come head on to it. He sometimes scratches it kind of sideways and his nails file down weirdly. But I’m still trying to figure out how to get him to do his back paws, and then the dewclaws are always going to be an issue too.
Have fun with your class and your TEAM goals! I really can’t wait to start the tracking.
Sand spring Chesapeakes says
Some great goals, have fun teaching them and watching like learn them.
Even if we don’t achieve all of our goals, it keeps us busy and we have fun in the process!
It might be interesting to do a comparison of now vs. then for Luke. I think it would illustrate just how much good training can accomplish. i know most dog owners aren’t interested – might think it’s not worth the effort … but when you see Luke enjoying so much of his life … I can’t imagine a better feeling.
You are right about that! I wish I had started a journal to track it. I should do that now, who knows where we might be a few years down the road?
Good goals! Sometimes I Make goals and the family, job, an day-to-day grind get in the way. The thing about goals is staying the track, even if it isn’t as fast as we’d like. Take care of yourself too; you count!
Thank you! Life does always seem to interfere, doesn’t it? What I struggle most with is getting into routines, and then getting back to them if they get disrupted. Right now things are kind of unsettled, since my hubby and I both lost our jobs last fall. Trying to figure out how new jobs, etc., fit into the schedule has been difficult, to say the least.
M. K. Clinton says
We take the boys to the vet for their nail trims. Even the groomers can’t cut Pierre’s. We have a lot to work on this year and we hope to get to them once things settle down. Our new adventure starts Feb. 24th barring anything happening. I’m so ready to be done with this move!
I think you’re going to have plenty of challenges while going through your move; and that is probably going to be more than enough! It takes a while to settle in too, so give yourself a break…the things you need to work on will still be there when everyone is ready. ♥
Sounds like a great balance of fun and necessary goals. Hope the year is good for both of you.
I’m taking an online course on nail care which I’ll be writing about soon. Maybe it would help you and Luke as well.
I look forward to reading about that! I feel like I may need a new approach, but I have no idea what that would be at this point, so any new ideas could help.
Brian Frum says
It sounds like you have a darn good plan indeed!
I hear you with the nails. I have no idea what Callie’s nails were like from 6 years in the puppy mill, but when we picked her up from the rescue she had been to the groomers and the groomer had cut Callie’s nails SO short that on some of them I could see a hole up.
It’s taken us more than a year to get her to let us touch her paws for any reason other than helping her get something stuck out of them. For the first time EVER, I cut her nails by myself the other day. But our usual method has been to have one person with massive quantities of treats and another clipping nails. Slowly it got better. Same with touching her paws, except less treats. Although I am sure you know and do/have tried all of the above.
I am really interested in TTouch. I think both my dogs could use it for different reasons. I am glad you reminded me.
And training crawl! So good for those bad knees and Charlie definitely needs to strengthen his legs.
Yeah, we’ve pretty much tried it all with the nail trims. The most frustrating thing was finding something that worked….peanut butter on a plate….and that worked for a while, but then, boom…he decided he was done with that.
Let me know if you ever get to doing anything with the TTouch too!
I’m so fascinated by TTouch, but Barley hated it when our trainer had us try it out during our early reactivity training–and she’s my dog that LOVES being touched. She had even more negative reactions to the Thundershirt, so I think she’s just not a pressure touch kind of dog. Rye hardly lets me pet her, so I don’t know how I’d even get her to sit still long enough to start trying it with her! I feel your pain on the nail trims. Barley and I worked really hard to get her comfortable with the dremmel, but Rye runs from the room if she even sees it and I’ve never used it on her, so she has to go to the vet, too, and that is not fun for anyone. It desperately needs to happen soon, though.
Luke’s initial negative reaction to the TTouch was exactly what I expected, so it’s surprising to me he’s tolerating it more now. I hope for good things with the wraps and such, since he does like wearing his coats and sweaters. We didn’t get much for results with the Thundershirt early on, but I think it might be time to give it a try again.
Luke pretty much has me at my wit’s end with the nail thing, but I guess I just have to keep trying. I feel like I need a new approach; time to do some more research I guess!
One of my sister’s beagles literally screams when they try to trim her nails at the vet. My poor sister…she’s mortified when everyone in the office can hear her. I need to check with her and see if she’s had more success at home now.
We all allow our nails to be done, Bailie and I with the Dremel, Madison the clipper. She refused to let Mom do them until a few months ago. We had to take her to the groomer every time which was frustrating. I think you all will enjoy tracking. It is the top favorite sport for my sisters. They hope to get some more titles in it this year if they can get a test spot. Tracking is tough to practice in a suburban setting, but you guys have the perfect spot to train.
We really do have a great place for it with all our land, and I can’t wait to get started! I think the dogs are going to love it too.
it’s a super idea to have plan furst… and I’m sure you will reach your goals Luke :O)
Hopefully his goals are the same as mine. His only goal may be seeing how many different ways he can earn some treats! 🙂