Dog agility action day is here again. We are all talking puppies! This time around most of us are talking about starting your puppy off right. To see more blogs access the Agility Bloggers page.
I adore puppies. Who doesn't. They are little, cute, pliable, endearing, huggable......etc. For agility folks, we bring home our puppies with such promise in our minds. I know I do. We use verbs to describe them: Fast, quick, intelligent, naughty, and good. In our heart we hope we got a good one!
In the past few years there has been a tremendous focus on "foundation" work for our puppies. This is a good thing. It is important for any dog to have stimulus control, come when called, have a relationship with the owner, and understand that there are many rewards that will be given for trying hard.
But lately, I have met more people that are stressed about this foundation thing. They feel they are behind if they haven't done it. Coming to class they worry about whether their dog is falling behind.
There is a secret. I'm hoping your mentors and trainers have told you that secret. If they haven't, I am about to tell you.
The secret is that simple. Let go of the stress about trying to be on the world team. Let go of the stress that your dog is behind the other dogs. Let go. Focus on having fun with your dog. Play every day. Clicker train tricks everyday as much as you can. Laugh, wrestle, giggle.
Structure? Absolutely. Your pup will love you for it. Having a dog that doesn't understand their role in a household is stressful to the dog and the owner. Make sure you set up a schedule for your dog and work on the basics like potty training and recalls. .
Relationship. It isn't important that your dog interact with every person or dog alive. Some interactions are important and often helpful and fun. But most important is that you are the center of their world. You are more interesting then anyone else.
Exercise. You and your puppy need exercise. Do stuff you both enjoy. Try new places and when you do work on your recalls and have fun doing tricks (I work my sit stays by asking my pups to sit on things and take photos). Let your dog run off leash when you know it is safe. Games like chase me and get the toy build better relationships than games like chuck it. I'm not saying to never play chuck it, just that interactive exercise helps that relationship part.
If you are in an area that doesn't have foundation classes, look on line and connect with people in areas that do. There are tons of stuff on line and in books. That is good. But most importantly, get off the computer and have fun with your pup.