Adolescence, also known as Your Puppy’s Brilliant Brain Is Out Of Order, has been starting: at five months and one week, Hadley’s energy level and stamina have increased, his recall is occasionally failing, on the first hundred meters of our walks, all leash manners are forgotten, his relaxed crate behavior is diminishing, and he has been experimenting a little with attention barking. Oh, isn’t it nice: our little boy is growing up!
So puppy innocence and the time I tried hard to protect him from things that are too much is officially over. Let the games begin!
On December 1st, we started Performance Fundamentals over at the FDSA, and in week 1 alone, Hadley and I had a ton of fun (all filmed inside because it was a mostly rainy week):
This week, we’re working on shaping a go-to mat behavior and offered focus. The go to mat is great fun for the boy – he’s flinging himself right back onto it whenever released.
I’ve also started to take him on regular longer walks so he gets his zoomies out, and I’m currently reading Denise Fenzi’s Play! book and working on tug games – Hadley’s gotten his very first special tug toy that only comes out when I play with him. I want to build play as a powerful reinforcer that can be used in training in addition to food. Unlike with Phoebe, who is a natural player, Hadley has to be taught that playing with humans and toys is fun.
With Tom’s permission to also do The Fun Stuff with Hadley, not just work on his basic manners and behavioral construction sites, I didn’t only bring him into his first FDSA class, but will also be taking him to Schneeberg for Phoebe’s and my next dummy training on November 28th! 🙂 So he’s getting a hobby, finally! I also really want to do some agility foundations, but will yet have to decide whether to work on it myself via online instruction or with the help of a local trainer. Also, I’ve yet to ask Tom whether he’d let me play agility with Hadley, or whether that’s something he wants to do himself, or doesn’t want Hadley to do at all. In either case, I think the boy and I would have a lot of fun with body awareness and obstacles.
Yesterday, we went shopping and I took this opportunity to take Hadley to the pet supply store. He did very well at Megazoo, a big pet supply store in Vienna. He enjoyed checking out all the smells, picked out a deer antler for himself, got a new harness (neon green reflecting Hurtta, as befits a young man of world!), and we played LAT with a French Bulldog.
Afterwards, I took him to an off-leash dog area for the first time with Phoebe and Fanta. (It’s not a traditional dog park, since it isn’t fenced, and we went in the morning – a time where most people are at work and don’t walk their dogs. So it was the perfect time to test out whether my off-leash dog encounter training has paid off. Hadley did GREAT. He met several dogs, communicated his good intentions extremely well and clearly, and got to play with three of the dogs. I’m really proud of him – off-leash doggy encounters are starting to be fun!
As for on-leash encounters, I’m planning to set aside a little training time specifically for this every few days from now on. Yes, we’re playing LAT and curving, which works well for Hadley, but the distance he requires to be okay with strange dogs is still comparatively big. I would like to graduate to peaceful encounters on the same side of the street sooner rather than later.