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!!