Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Starting Your Puppy--The Art of BEING

Ok...not really...does that SERIOUSLY seem like me?
Because I am more of a" guidelines "type of gal. Rules are great, but lets me honest. My dogs have all proven to be an exception to one rule or another. It's the art of adaptation in dog training that makes it challenging.
People want A + B = C
Guess what folks...every dog has a different, A + B
And every dog has a different C as well.
So...what do I do with puppies?
Being that I am from a scientific background...I OBSERVE.
I observe a LOT.
Do I train 175,000 tricks? Nope. Does that mean they are bad? Nope.
But I choose to bond and observe in different ways. I take my puppies with me places, I spend quality time with them NOT WORKING THEM, just BEING...
Is that a hard thing for many of us to do? Just let them BE.
Let them BE weird, BE confident, BE curious, BE unsure...just BE.
I have watched many herding people, they let their puppies just BE...the puppies do their thing...explore, go through weird phases...and the people are there, to just make sure experiences are safe. Then the pups go to sheep...and that magical relationship happens...why? Because it's NATURAL...instinctive. It is in the dogs blood.
I have tended to go back to that mentality with my puppies. I see if they are independent, biddable, stubborn, happy go lucky, serious, whatever. I want to just hang with my puppy and observe what they are. RAW material...they are so raw at this age. And I find it really fun to just interact with them on their level...
I will admit, my puppies are pretty much hooligans for many, many months. They know basic things like RECALL, wait at the door (I have 6 dogs so I hate having to not get ran over) and kennel up. They play with toys...they learn to fetch...things like that. But I make sure my number one goal is to spend QUALITY time with them. Just playing with them like a puppy, snuggling them, letting them bite me maybe just a LITTLE too hard :)
I see how they learn from the other dogs, I see how they deal with new things, how they cope with stress. I let them take in the world at their own pace...and I don't make them "face their fears"...I just let them BE.
They go on hikes with my other dogs, they go a ton of places with me. They take naps on my lap, they are with me when I am doing things around the house. Sure we play, sure we are learning things as we go along...but it's more of a leisurely form of learning rather than a CRAM session so many people tend to make puppyhood. You know what I am talking about...putting so much information into the puppies brain because we have to get them trialing ASAP.
Maybe that seems lazy of me? But I have found with my dogs...less can actually be more.
Through the art of just being, I have found my dogs bond more with me when I am laying with them in the grass and we are playing bitey face (ok so they are, I am using my hands). Those moments when I am petting them quietly as they are sleeping...
When I see my puppy run up to me and play bow...and I have nothing on me to reward them with but ME. And my puppy thinks that is the best thing ever.
Lynn is a prime example of the art of "Being"...she was a very independent dog (still is on some things, but I am HER PERSON)...I spent tons of time with treats and toys and leashes and all that stuff rewarding her for being with me...
And it kind of worked...but something was missing...there was a connection between us...but I knew there was more that could be there.
So I observed...and you know what I found out. If she gets to sleep in bed with me, our connection blossoms. Just the act of being next to me, in enough for her to really want that relationship with me.
Another thing that really keeps Lynn connected to me, is, she for some reason, likes to lick my hands (which I will admit I don't particularly enjoy) but it is HER way of connecting with me. These are things she does during those quiet times when we are just together...being who we are.
Because lets me honest...there are more times that my dogs and I "just being together" than times we are training. And I am totally fine with that.
As I am sitting here typing this blog, Even is on one side of me---her paws on my leg, I reach over and pet her and kiss her on the forehead (something she adores!) and Lynn is on my other side, snuggled up to my side...sleeping away., she prefers to touch me if she can. Klink is under my feet and I will reach down and scratch her nose (one of her favorite things). Gator is on the other couch...and he likes it that way :) Zip is on her bed in the sun, I tell her I love her and she thumps her tail...and lets out a ROO ROO but doesn't move from her spot.
Being...all of us, together but comfortable with what we need or want.
If I want to work them, they are all instantly ready...but those moments are nothing in length compared to the times we are just sharing space...
I don't expect my dogs to fit into a I would HATE my life if that was the case. Expectations to me are just pressure, pressure, over time, can either build up or break down must be used wisely. I have seen too much pressure cause issues.
My dogs accept me for who I am, faults and all...and there are many.  In return I have really starting enjoying that process of finding out about my puppies...what makes them tick.
I don't want a perfect dog...I want to learn about and cherish the dog I have.
Food for Thought :)

Please read about what all the other bloggers have to say about this topic!!


hobnob7 said...

absolutely awesome post! thank you! Jan DeMello

Merinda said...


Katherine @ Crossbones said...

I think you nailed it. My youngest dog right now so enjoys just spending time near me. My "middle child" can be clingy at times and is always trying to get me to play-play-play... so I got in the habit of crating him or putting him in another room when I'm trying to get work done. But my youngster is SO much happier if he can just snooze at my feet while I work - he needs that connection with me. :)

Nancy said...

Wonderful thoughts on this subject, Loretta. I think most people are so busy they don't spend time observing their dogs to see what they like (and don't like). I see so many people doing things to their dogs that the dogs HATE when they are trying to reward them. :-)

Jan Vlasak said...

Beautiful post Loretta. Thanks.

Doranna said...

Sweet post! Makes me long for a day in the grass and sunshine.

Beth Blankenship said...

Thank you! Enjoying a new puppy now and had been a little insecure in my lack of 'training' him.