Chic is turning out to be just what I wanted. She is stunningly beautiful, very cheeky and keen to learn.
Initially I wondered if she was 'legally blonde' as sometimes she doesn't seem to take things in. Then I applied one of my own tips about training regarding timing. There are times when it's easier to learn i.e. with no distractions such as being hungry, some dogs learn in 30 seconds and other take 30 seconds to warm up to the idea and some times girls just want to have fun. I have enjoyed taking time to really know Chic and work out how and when she wants to learn and boy, when she's in the mood she would work forever if I let her. However, if its not on her agenda for that day then we just have to have a growing up day.
One of the first games I play with my puppies is getting in a cardboard box. From that game there is getting on a cardboard box, cutting an entrance and then finding a way into a higher box etc etc. I had collected many sizes of boxes for the fun of these games and with Xmas on the way I was sure to get more.
Chic took one look at the first box and did a perfect roll over but in no way was she interested in getting in it. The roll over was cute so that has stayed and the box was put away until today. This is the first time since that day that I have asked her to get in a box and I am glad I waited.
Having eight dogs means you have to plan your time carefully, so armed with the knowledge that Chic can learn things easily at the right time means I can take my time and teach her things when she is ready and not waste time if she's not.
Talking of ready, another game I love is the 'ready' game. This is where I have an active game of tug and then go totally still whilst saying the word ready. Usually my pups have dropped the very dead toy and as soon as they do that I say go and make the toy exciting. Chic's version was when then toy went dead she would fly at my upper arm to bite me. Although this was hilarious it also hurt so I tried to temper down the way I said the word and ask for a bit of control. I also left that game alone for a while. When I came back to it this is her new version.
or needing the toilet.
Again it is a question of timing with her and I know not to try to introduce her to anything in those circumstances. In fact I left her first puppy class early as she had been confident and bold and then went a bit quiet. Reading the signs I excused her. She is now able to stay all evening without any worry.
Rhyme as a puppy was concerned about a lot of things and I took him to a lot of different places and he met lots of different people. I encouraged people to give him treats so they were not scary. I think he did benefit from that and now when he 'spook barks' I can often see a reason why and it's usually something out of place - a non-agility person at a show for example or a dog in a yellow 'give me space' coat. Chic 'spook barks' if something has changed in her world - the first time we put a tunnel out in our field this year you would have thought we'd unleashed a fearless puppy eating beast. Luckily we have the space for me just to walk past it and ignore it and so she did too. I don't think it would be of help to her if I tried to entice her near it at that time. Given the choice to run was good for her and her curiosity got the better of her five minutes later.
I will not be able to introduce her to every scenario that she may encounter and wonder if sometimes people are encouraged to do too much when they are still small and tire easily. As I mentioned, she behaves quite differently when tired so I will leave some things until she is older to ensure I'm not asking too much too soon from her. The main thing for me is that she trusts me and that she will then be willing to work in any place at any time.
To ease her into being able to cope with change I put her food bowl down in a few different places, move her toy box and leave toys in unusual places round the field to surprise her with. When I remember I also get her to walk over different surfaces e.g matting, over hula hoops on the ground etc. The key for her is building her confidence and our relationship by introducing strange things in a familiar environment first. I'm lucky to have the space and facilities at home and I am happy she will develop into a confident dog out and about at shows this year too where I'll let her play some of her favourite games so if you see me carrying a cardboard box ..........
Just one more glimpse into her loveable and quirky character