When you are walking along with 2 border collie puppies, people take notice :) When they find out you have 4 others, well..after the look of "dear lord you are INSANE" wears off...I get the same questions.....
People are always asking me what I am doing with the puppies, crate games, baby jumps, jump bumps, shadow handling etc?....how I raise them...
I have to admit, with Zip I taught her all sorts of tricks and controlled a lot of her life, what she played with, who she socialized with etc etc etc......raised her according to the "nothing in life is free" idea etc etc.
And I thought I had it all figured out...until I attended my first clinic with Jack and Kathy Knox...and before I sent Zip on her first outrun at the clinic, I laid her down..rather...MADE her lie down and Kathy pointed out that it was causing tension in her...Zip was ready to fight before we even started the outrun. Kathy told me to let her get up and position herself where she wanted to be....Zip relaxed, and she softened and did an amazing outrun...
I watched Jack and Kathy with her dogs, they were off leash, got along with everyone, loved working sheep, but knew their limits...they had great recalls and didn't spend all day herding other dogs etc. These dogs didn't have crate games, obedience etc etc etc put on them from the get go---they were allowed to be dogs and be relaxed--with some basic rules. And the older dogs taught them the rules. It was a turning point for me and a great day for Zip, because I stopped wanting that CONTROL. I wanted the partnership...the trust...which I got with Zip after that weekend :)
However the control freak in me still remained...it came back again to bite me, this need for control, with Klink, she was a hard dog to start, VERY hard, correction meant nothing to her on stock, JUST HAD TO WORK. I wanted her to obey, I wanted that control. And instead of relaxing and looking for, what Ray Hunt would say is the "smallest change and the slightest try" I wanted EVERYTHING. Again I had great people to point out to me that the control I wanted would never come until I LET GO. And it happened, Klink became an amazing dog, but she always was, it was my need to control things...all me.
And then came Gator...and I had learned from Zip and Klink to RELAX and LET GO. I didn't really start him on stock until he was 15 months old, he wasn't ready, and the control freak in me was OK with it?? What?? NO WAY...yes :) I didn't do anything in agility with him---ANYTHING, until he was 10 months old...he still debuted at 18 months in USDAA and was a Grand Prix semi-finalist at the USDAA Nationals at not even 2 years old! I didn't push him, I just trained him and things came along :) What a MUCH nicer way to train a dog...relaxing, letting things happen--letting go of all the control. Letting them be a puppy, a teenager, get gangly legs, LONG tails, lose teeth etc etc. They are adults for so much longer :)
So...do my puppies know 37 tricks and all that jazz??
NOPE---they know sit, down, their recall command, lining up at heel and side and LOTS of tugging and bonding. LOTS.
They like their crates, x-pens etc...and are quiet most of the time :)
They are learning how to with the rest of the pack, how to submit to the elders and how to play NICELY with their bigger brother and little brother (aka don't kill the Jack Russell!). They go on daily hikes with all the adult dogs--running and playing and doing what puppies do! And yes, Even and Lynn go together on these hikes! YIKES!!!! :)
They will recall in a group of dogs, recall off each other, tug like crazy everywhere I take them, and are getting socialized. I am not taking them to a MILLION places. I take them here and there, let them soak it all up and just RELAX...
And they learn to relax, and have an off switch...as I type this both puppies are asleep on their beds in their x-pens :)
I think controlling and shaping every single behavior in a puppy is not something I am interested in. Fine if you are, just not my cup of tea. They are just dogs 95% of the time, and trial animals the other part...they are puppies for such a short period of time....I want them to be puppies. I want them to make decisions, and be wrong (and LEARN wrong is not the end of the world) I want them to know that a recall has NO option other than to come to me...and there are lots of positive things in life.
But there are also rules--they have to learn about correction, that is life, working stock requires us to correct the wrong and reward the right (by giving the dog his/her sheep). And I think a correction in agility is not the end of the world either.
Not to say that obedience is not needed, and my dogs do learn crate games, obedience, impulse control etc etc......but just not as soon as I get them home...but even at 6 months they may not know crate games! And that is ok :)
My puppy being able to do a perfect heel at 10 weeks is the least of my concerns. There are so many things that are more important to me than that. Do I care if they sit in their kennel until released at this point in their lives? Nope...call me crazy, but no, I really don't care.
I want them to be independent, and a bit head strong--there is plenty of time to work on impulse control and obedience. I am raising a herding dog first and foremost afterall! I want something that WANTS to run 600 yards away from me to find sheep and if the going gets rough, be able to think for itself and handle the situation!
They do spend a lot of time with me, I want that relationship and I want them to be bonded to me, which both puppies are:) Given the opportunity to play with me versus each other, I win! WOO HOO!
But I am relaxed about it, I have let go of my need to control every reinforcement, every interaction, every command...and just sit and soak up every silly, loud, dirty, crazy moment of puppyhood.
So when you see my puppies at trials, they will be jumping on you, licking your face and being obnoxious...and yes, that is OK with me :)