So I figured it would be fun—for me anyways, maybe not so much for the few people who may still read this blog—to try to document what training I am doing with Phin-puppy. Having a young, young puppy to train with the goal of agility is definitely uncharted territory for me. Part of me is overwhelmed, wondering if even at him being only 14 weeks if I ever will possibly get it all in and do it “right” (which yes I realize is impossible and/or irrelevant), then part of me is thinking that he wont even be able to jump full height, let alone compete, for a year at the very least—that seems like a millennium away!
As much as this darling puppy is a complete PitA (I just cleaned up a potty accident and shortly after kicked him off the couch for chewing his nylabone on top of the keyboard of my open laptop, eeeeeeekk!!!) I feel pretty blessed with him. I chose him mainly because of his even personality and his love to work. He is a drivey little shit who figures things out quickly and will keep working/playing until you shut him off. He loves to shape behaviors, loves to fetch and retrieve, loves to tug, loves food. And so far, he has proven he can work well with distractions present. All of these things make him a total joy to work with.
So, to lump together some of the things we have worked on at least once or twice over the last 3-4 weeks; “bring”-tug-“drop” the toy, running alongside of me and turning with him on the outside, the wobble board, running across the small plank, driving through a hoop with the jump bump, standing with front and back feet (seperately) on the little split balance balls, shaping to go around a bucket, running through the puppy tunnel (first by chasing ball, then following my movement and being rewarded with the toy appearing ahead as he pops out), and lots of rewarding ahead of me in hopes of creating drive forward. I did a bit of the Agility Right from the Start “Aim for It” work, I need to do more… And, then all the usual basic obedience stuff that he got started on at about 8 weeks.
I also am trying to make him do things on a reasonably frequent basis that he doesnt want to do, which at this point mainly revolves around being on the tie down. He is actually pretty good in the crate at this point (he was not when he first appeared in our universe), but the tie down pisses him off. He screams and carries on like nobody’s business, even when he knows I am 50′ away on the other side of our tiny house. He has the potential to be pretty stubborn and bull-headed I believe, so I am trying to get him used to, and eventually comfortable with, being confined/restrained. I sat in on a private lesson with two Pittie-type dogs last week that was very eye-opening for me. To keep it brief, one of the dogs the owners had had since it was a pup, and it was undeniably one of the most hyper, out-of-control dogs I had ever seen. It had ZERO tolerance for restraint and they admitted that since it was “good” as a puppy that they never really felt the need to leash it or tie it down. I saw elements of both Forest and Phineas in that dog and swore to myself to never let that happen. So I am officially the Mean Puppy-Mom, and my puppy will have to just deal sporadically with things that are not all-fun-all-the-time. Life sucks, but less so when you have coping mechanisms.
He and Forest have become fast friends, and I love that Forest can finally be a little goofy with another dog. Diego is not really the best playmate, but the puppy is wide open and begging for fun, and Forest is really lovely with him. I am looking forward to seeing how their relationship develops as Phin gets bigger and bigger. He must already weigh at least 5 pounds more than Forest. At this point I dont have a very good guesstimate for where he will be when he stops growing. I am hoping for capping out at 30# or so, but we shall see. Either way, he is a good fit for our fam. More effusive details to come.