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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