Rue’s the best?

Time for a puppy update!  The little miss is 18wks old and continues to learn lots.  My main focus is on play and fun for her right now.  We play a lot of tug and retrieve games as well as chase/shadow handling games.  I do have some rules with these games, but I try really hard to blur the line between training and play.  Because of this Rue LOVES to train and learn.  She is already so far ahead of where Miles was at this age and I attribute most of that to my knowledge and previous experiences.  My timing has gotten better and I’ve learned to break down behaviours into smaller pieces for quicker learning and more confidence on the part of the dog.

I started using shaping games with Miles after he had his teeter meltdown.   These games have literally saved our team and have taught Miles that it’s fun to learn and okay to make “mistakes”.  For more info on shaping, check out stuff on the web about clicker training.

Most of the shaping games that I play with Rue are just silly things like shaping her to get on a stool, get into a laundry basket, put her back feet on a box, etc.  Most of these things are not leading to anything specific, but are just teaching her how to learn and that learning is fun and I can be trusted.  All of the tricks she knows have been shaped to include “shake”, “down”, “high five”, “gimme the other one”, “beg”, “stand”, and “spin”.  I feel that shaping works much better than luring for most but the simplest behaviours (ie. sit) as it engages the dog in the learning process.  When a dog is lured, it may appear that they’re learning quickly, but often times once the lure is removed you find that the dog doesn’t have much understanding of the task.  I did do a lot of luring with Miles in the beginning and he learning many tricks that way, however the ones that were taught using shaping are much stronger and tend to hold up to generalization much better.

One thing’s for sure, this little girl learns VERY fast.  Last night in about 10 tries, she was offering to back up across the garage!  She’s so cute too because everything she does and offers is done with such gusto and such heart.  I am just amazed with her each and every day.

Of course we’re still waaaay behind my role model Silvia Trkman’s puppy Bi.  Bi and Rue are almost exactly the same age and Silvia’s had Bi about a week longer than we’ve had Rue.  Here’s a video of little Bi at 12 weeks and all of the tricks she knows.  Holy moley…I have some work to do!!

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The Players Part 2 “Rue” (Gaylan’s Mad About Rue NA CGC)

Ah little Rue, what can I say about this baby girl.  What a joy she’s been to have in our lives for the past 7 weeks.  Born 6/22/08, she’s just 16wks old now and already showing just how much fun she’s going to be to train.  We did MUCH better on the breeder choice this time around and went with Gaylan’s a breeder of working Goldens in Cold Spring, NY.  I cannot say enough good things about Gayle Watkins.  The way she raises her litters and the love that she obviously has for all of her dogs and puppies is unbelievable.  More on choosing breeders to come later…

So Rue is benefiting greatly from the good and the bad we did with Miles.  We’re continuing with our crazy socialization to anything and everything, but it’s a bit less chaotic this time around.  I make sure to plan out each and every trip to maximize the exposure while protecting her from anything too scary.  Since I plan on doing agility (and obedience plus more) with her, she’s already been to several trials where she’s proven to be an absolute rock star.  I’ve also started a lot of foundation work with her trying to prioritize speed and drive with everything we do.  We do restrained recalls as often as possible both on the flat land and also through tunnels and chutes.  We’re working on stays both on the field (in front of a jump without a bar) and off working on duration but also trying to maintain drive while staying.  Rue has also been playing on the agility table, a buja board, and small teeter/rocker board.  So far she has shown no fear of movement and is happy to do tricks or tug while on the buja board.  This past weekend at Miles’ USDAA trial, I practiced measuring her with a measuring wicket…no problem.  This girl’s solid. 

I hope to be able to document her training regularly and hopefully video some of her tricks as time goes on.