Raising A Creative Canine

The introduction of a new puppy into a reactive multi-dog household

All Dogs Need Jobs!

Education for a Lifetime No Comments »

It is my view that dogs need two things to live an enriching and successful life: structure and education. They need to know each day when they will be able to eliminate, eat, and drink. But they also need to be able to participate in challenging activities of some kind. Training your dog is a way for you to be able to communicate effectively with your dog.

Think of what it would like to be a dog: you have to wait until someone takes you out to relieve yourself and you can only eat when your “person” decides that it is time. You cannot watch television. You cannot use a computer. You cannot read. You are also unable to communicate with the people that you live with. Life could be extremely boring without adequate mental and physical stimulation. Dogs rely on us humans to give them these things, and if we don’t, dogs can become extremely stressed, even depressed maybe! These are the dogs that bark all day, that amuse themselves with obsessive-compulsive behaviors like biting incessantly at a front or a back leg, and/or eat all kinds of inappropriate objects like rugs, couches, pillows and anything else that might be readily available.

As you know I have four dogs, and each will tell me which sport that they would like to participate, and hopefully compete in. I let my dogs “decide” based on who they are and how they like to move. Are they quick? Do they like to jump? Or are they quiet and thoughtful?

Lizzie-Taylor, for example, is a serious dog. She excels at minute precise behavior. I can ask her to “Get It In” and she knows that she needs to tuck in her left foot (which had been previously hanging out) to fold herself into a perfectly straight sit. Obedience training was the perfect fit for her. As Lizzie matured, I realized that she also likes to run and jump so we do agility as well.

This video is of Lizzie-Taylor performing in a Show and Go at Masterpeace Dog Training in Franklin, MA. This is the second level of obedience competition. This sport is known for its precision work. The sound is a bit off but you get the idea.

Kayden-Blue, on the other hand, is my crazy man! He is a super high energy, zany character! Because he has the reactivity issues, he will participate only in a sport where we can perform in a ring by ourselves. Originally I was thinking Rally or CDSP Obedience, but recently I am leaning toward Freestyle. Freestyle is a sport where the dog and handler dance to music. In this venue, I can showcase all of his gorgeous movements and let him experiment with creative behaviors that I can string into a routine.

Austyn-Roque is still developing into the dog that he will eventually be. As a puppy, I will be watching to see what activities make him the happiest. Presently he loves all of the behaviors that I am teaching him. He is thrilled with his agility class just as much as he enjoys practicing his obedience work: hind end movement, fold back downs, and pop up sits.

Below is a video of Austyn doing his first “bent” tunnel with his dad! This beautifully run puppy agility class is at Riverside Canine Center in Nashua, NH.

Dogs can do all kinds of jobs. I am a dog trainer so I like to compete with my dogs. But dogs can do other things like retrieve a ball for a child or a senior citizen, or maybe they can help with the arrival of a new baby by lying quietly while the baby is being fed. They can also be taught a multitude of tricks to share with the neighborhood children.

Whatever job you decide to give your dog, think of dog training as the language that you will use to communicate with him. For your dog to fit well into your family, he needs to be adequately educated. And that education needs to start young and continue well into his senior years. In my next blog post, I will share how to pick a really great class.