an update

So I’m trying to be all chill and cruisy with this pup and take an ‘everything’s going to be ok, don’t worry’ kind of attitude… but who am I kidding, right? I don’t operate like that!

Loki and I have been doing lots of playing- we play inside, in the yard, on our walk this morning, at a soccer field with kids playing soccer nearby and a busy road, outside a supermarket. These places are all pretty good. Once Lu is around and has a toy though, forget about it. Boy, he loves her. He loves keep-away with her, he loves trying to get the toy off her while she just stands rock still holding on to it, he just thinks she’s fantastic. I’ve really kept their play to a minimum today – I don’t want her to be the awesome one, that’s my role! I don’t want to go on a hike and for him to follow her bad example because he loves her so much. I can get him to play when she’s just standing there being boring, but I don’t feel like we’re ‘in sync’ yet in our play. I feel like, if anything, he’s getting distracted easier now than he was when we first got him, and is less keen than he was. Uhggghhh – what am I doing wrong? I’m trying different ways of playing- when he has the toy in his mouth, moving it slower, or faster, with more shakes or less shakes, pushing him, or being more gentle, keeping it still like Lu does, or running around with him. Nothing necessarily seems to ‘hit the mark’. He seems to like being pushed back, but I’m not sure where to go from there. And he probably is thinking that I’m a real weirdo who doesn’t know how to play properly (even though I’m trying to copy what Lu does, cos obviously she’s pretty fun) and so he’d rather play with someone who speaks his language. I’m trying not to get all stressy  and put pressure on and just have a good time because maybe we’re just trying to find our groove, but given my problems with getting Lu to play, it’s hard not to.

So maybe for the next few weeks I need to not let them have many opportunities to play, until he’s a bit more bonded with me instead?

Still no luck with any kind of puppy retrieve – either with tugging and then me running off, or me throwing the toy and running off. He’s actually started to grab the toy and almost initiate a keep-away game. Not sure what to do about this. Very tired. Thinking of having a day off tomorrow… being grumpy at kids all day for having snotty noses and telling me stupid stories isn’t that fun so I might take a day to recharge and not yell at them for no reason.

Meanwhile, Lu is having a wonderful agility break and I don’t feel concerned about it at all. We’ve been doing some weaves every now and then but I don’t think she’s done any jumps in over a week, I haven’t done any RC in about 3 weeks, and… I don’t actually mind… That driving urgency to get her trained and perfect just isn’t there. I don’t know if this is a good thing or a bad thing. Probably good for her – less pressure, less training, more ‘time off’… But I’m considering whether to enter her in her first trial in April – just jumping – but I’m not sure. The girl can sequence, can do all obstacles except the cloth/chute tunnel… why not? It’ll only be 2 runs for the day, could be a nice introduction… But that means I should probably do a bit of training, or tunnel games or something.

Loki has his first all-day vet socialisation visit tomorrow, and then on Thursday he’s spending half the day at school with me, and the other half with a friend Liz, who will be looking after Mal, and has a little terrier called Piper. Should be a good few days.



16 thoughts on “an update

  1. Penny says:

    How long have you had him for ?? None of my dogs would ever play with me if Pan is around. I am no great dog trainer but so far it hasn’t ruined Badger. It just sounds really normal what is happening as his world expands. Play is meant to be play so whatever you enjoy together is A+++. he is only a likkle baby.

    • Em says:

      Ok but I don’t know like what’s normal! Should he play, should he not? Should I be #1 all the time or is it ok if Lu is fun too? Like and Deb said that when he was with her he’d much prefer to play with her than the dogs so then I think he mustn’t like playing with me. I’m trying to be all cool and do this ‘fun’ thing and mostly it is but sometimes my brain is working so hard to try and figure out how he likes to do it plus I’m tired and hormonal so that doesn’t help. He’s a good little baby, I love his spunk. I was cleaning a paintbrush in the sink and he climbed up on this rickety cat carrier- hauled his butt onto it, then sat and looked at me as if to say: can I have a drink please? Too cute.

      • Penny says:

        Hehehe, cute dude about the cat carrier! It’s funny but reading about your worries makes me want to write all the things people wrote on my blog! like ‘he’s just a baby’ and ‘it’ll just be a phase’ and ‘you’ll work this out together there is no rush’ and it is really really funny for me because I never understood why people kept writing things like that. Until now… 😉

      • Em says:

        Haha, must feel very nice to be on the other side. You know we never believe these things until proven (like everyone who says Lu will speed up with more confidence). Still I think I will have less Lu-Loki playtime for a couple of weeks anyway even if it means sad locked away dogs 😉 my resolve might only last a few days though, she is a fantastic baby sitter!

  2. Penny says:

    Isn’t it great that you can be on this end of the stick, where you have to restrict their play together! Only a couple of weeks ago it was worrying that they wouldn’t work it out together! Soo good. So happy for you.

    I think whatever you work out to do will be great! How lame is that for an answer. But it is true. I really do. I am not even saying that to keep your happy. I honestly trust your interpretation and judgement of the situation for stuff like this.

    • Em says:

      It is very great – I do love seeing them play together and at the same time I know Lu is going to be a very good mentor in dog manners (she very politely and gently told him off for hanging off her neck fur when we were out for a walk yesterday… not that he got the hint, but at least she won’t be like Mal and put up with all that crap!)
      Can’t wait till they can all go romping together!
      He’s such a little champ, he’s determined to climb up on this couch to get a toy, so I lift him up and put him there, and he’s super high cos there’s cushions stacked on cushions, and it’s wobbly as, and off he goes, just trundling around, slides off the cushion onto the cushionless part of the couch, tries to navigate a slippery board of wood that’s like a very steep ramp… No fear, it’s amazing.

  3. I recommend the three toy game to help clients build a retrieve with their dogs. Works GREAT with puppies.

    Key ingredients are: three SAME toys… and you don’t play with them unless you’re playing this game.
    In a room, alone… until your dog is super keen on it.
    short short sessions.

    Here’s a video to show what it looks like.

    Let me know if you have questions about it. (and yes, you start with 2 toys, not three… three comes later)

    • Em says:

      Ok cool! I’ve seen variations of this but not joined together. Eg. a dead/alive toy game, and also a 2-toy retrieving game, but I like how you’ve joined it. I’m guessing you’d do a few games with just dead/alive before adding in the thrown one? I think his problem is going to be actually bringing the toy back. He’s so keen to get back to me in the games we’ve played so far to see how he goes that he ditches the toy. I’ll try the dead/alive toy a few times and then see how he goes…:)

      • Right, there’s no need at ALL in the beginning stages for him to return the toy. Very soon, they will just have it remain in their mouths before grabbing the other toy. But yes, and first don’t toss the toy AT ALL until you get a puppy who is switching very quickly between the dead and active toy.

  4. If Loki is “guarding” his toys – have two to play with. When he runs off with one, have a ball by yourself with the other. Eventually he’ll give up on the other toy and play with you and the toy you have. When he does, jackpot, big reward so that he gets that playing is with you. This has worked with Jaxon for me (even though he’s not a pup).

    • Em says:

      Oooo, yes! I tell the people I train this one all the time but somehow had forgotten about it myself. Hahahaha. So many things I’m trying to keep in my head right now! 😉

  5. iffebim says:

    I heard of several people having this “issue” with a pup – other dogs are so much fun and always available for play that the pup loves playing with them a little too much.
    One of the people that talked to me about it really strictly limited their play time together.
    SG once wrote a blog post saying she does not even allow her dogs to tug together.
    I think that unless one is an extremely hyper-great trainer and play partner like Silvia, it might be hard to compete with all the fun another dog can give.
    So, yes, I would probably limit play time with Lu – or at least make sure the pup has played with me first before he can play with her?
    But that is my inexperienced advice – I have one old dog who never plays so it was easy to be center of the play world with my BC…

  6. Ahh, I guess I gotta say something on the play thing. Em, seriously, DELETE my comment if you wanna ok?

    Years ago I went to a seminar taught by a BIG WIG in the training world (not agility per se, but all dog training) and he worked with a woman with a terv and the dog wasn’t having any fun and was zoning out and generally not focused. When she put the dog away she put him/her in a pen with another Terv and the guys says “AH Ha!… You have two dogs! No wonder your dog doesn’t want to play with you… he’s already GOT a playmate, etc, etc” and he went on and on.

    Now, I was there for learning how to motivate my shy/low drive dog… I did NOT have another dog at the time. And I called bullshit. Even then, even before I was a “trainer” and working with dogs of all different types. And I called bullshit because although the Terv looked more relaxed in the pen with the other dog, they CERTAINLY WEREN”T PLAYING! they were just chilling out. And because my dog didn’t have another playmate, just me, there was no way that “ah ha!” moment explained any of the issues I was having with my dog. When I watched that woman work with her dog, I saw fear and anxiety to some degree. I saw a handler (older) who didn’t play with her dog. I saw someone asking the dog to do things in a new place with a high degree of environmental stresses and I saw an instructor who was Drop Dead sexist and said more than 3 times how “women don’t make good dog trainers because they’re too nice, etc.”

    So yeah, in his own way, this asshat inspired me to find out MORE about dog training and how to motivate dogs no matter what their distractions are.

    So what does this have to do with Lu and Loki? Dogs are DOGS and they live together 24/7. Even if you did agility EACH weekend, 5 runs each day Saturday-Sunday, you’d STILL only being really doing agility, on course, 10 full minutes a weekend!! Ever think of that? Sure, you practice and play around, but agility TRUE competition is the tiniest bit of your dog’s life. TINY!

    The rest of the time, they’re dogs, in your house, in the yard, under your feet, etc. And you want them to enjoy being dogs, yes? If Lu and Loki enjoy eachother, how can you deny them that? If they were fighting or didn’t like eachother at all, I could see doing the gated off house thing, etc.

    When Tammy got Hi-Fi, Rumble was only 6 months old. So they’re really only 4+ months apart in age. Quite a few people (who don’t know me well) warned us not to let them play together because they would BOND “too much” and it would take the focus off of us as handlers. Part of me was worried about that, but the bigger part was only HOPING the two of them would be good friends and enjoy eachother for the rest of their very long life. LONG LIFE (I hope). Other than a 2 month period when they were arguing a lot and couldn’t work it out on their own, they’ve always had full access to eachother. But they’re trained separately, they get a LOT of time with their main trainer and they do agility at different times and place (not because we’re keeping them apart, but because T and I choose to love different types of agility).

    Neither of these dogs has a problem working with us, ever. BOTH of these dogs do have really good dog manners and get along great with strange dogs, old dogs, puppies, etc. Hi-Fi is intact, so we watch him carefully around other intact males. Other than that… easy.

    Most people who love agility have a LOT of dogs. There’s no way they can keep their dogs apart all the time, nor would they want to. I realize I’m stepping ALL OVER the way SG keeps and trains her puppies. And maybe that’s what makes SG a world team member and me from getting my dogs past Advanced in USDAA, but I doubt it. What SG gets from her dogs is what she puts in. Same for me, or for you. I don’t think separating them gives you ANY advantage at all.

    Think of it this way:

    Who feeds Loki?
    Who walks him?
    Who shapes him to get his little feet in a box?
    Who buys the toys?
    Who tucks him in at night?
    Who lets him out for potty?
    Who takes him to the vet?

    What does Lumen do for him? Play… Sure.

    You can play too. PLUS,… you can play with the BEST toys!! and put them up when it’s not you playing with them.

    So, I might have just made you feel even worse, but my hope is to show you many ways of thinking on this issue that doesn’t make it a “problem” that you can’t overcome. I know you “enjoy” freaking out about this stuff…;) But maybe pick something else to worry over. Be happy your dogs like eachother, and hope it stays that way. And BE FUN!!! you can’t really honestly BE FUN if you’re worried about who your puppy prefers to play with.

    gah, I wrote a book!


    • Em says:

      No I don’t think you made me feel worse at all. (By the way, completely unrelated but a woman (who I don’t know at all) with a vizsla whose blog I read wrote a post this morning saying how she’s enlisted the help of a great trainer Rosie Stein, I was like: woah! That’s cool)
      I do love that they’re playing together now. I love that Lu has a little friend and that when he’s not so little they’ll have wrestly times and try and outrun each other on the beach. I DON’T want to deny that, but you’re right, I do like to see problems – or things that could become problems. I know they’re never going to be running agility at the same time (can’t be in 2 places at once) and even if they are I’d like to think that by that point in time I’d have instilled such a love of the game/being with me/having fun with me that Lu wouldn’t exist in that situation anyway.
      And you’re right about this, of course: ” And BE FUN!!! you can’t really honestly BE FUN if you’re worried about who your puppy prefers to play with.”, but my brain has a very hard time of this once it starts worrying (which is probably where some of my Lu-play issues came from, too, I know). But this morning we did our shaping, we had a play before and after and I just let it be fun.

      And he seemed to enjoy it a lot. 🙂

      • Of course he did… he’s adorable and your heart is REALLY in the right place. Enjoy it. They’re little for just a small, small bit of time. Really unfair when you think about it!

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