Dog, The Future is Happening
It’s been a whirlwind of activity around Circus Chickendog World Headquarters. I’ve been free shaping the puppies, started free shaping a horse, built two carts for dog transportation that don’t work quite right (YET!), have been working on a movie set, providing a couple of cameos,
and my backdrop is going to be a featured part of the movie. And I’m now contemplating taking the most comprehensive training course I have been able to find.
Regarding the dog training, I’d like to take this opportunity to mention that I am racking up several consecutive “accident free” days. Finally. I had both puppies out in the living room yesterday, watching them carefully (I’ve learned that it doesn’t matter that they were outside for 20 minutes-they’re too busy playing with the wind to take time for proper business) when Squirrel made it around the corner. I was like, “I can’t see him now. He could literally be doing ANYTHING.” And you know what that means. I
rushed around the corner and he was already all the way down the hall. While retrieving him, of course, Coyote was out of sight, and could be doing ANYTHING. PANIC! Everything was ok-but I put them right in their kennels with bones to chew on.
In order to keep the training schedule on track I’ve been taking Moose to Austin Canine Central where we go through obedience and Rally classes. We go four nights a week, sometimes taking two classes in the night. It’s a lot of effort, but I didn’t get these dogs to not play with!
I’m not really going to the classes for Moose’s benefit, though I do like that she’s sharpening her basic skills which makes her more confident in her demeanor. No, my real motivation is to get the puppies in the training
room and keep their socialization up while letting them see what they’ll soon be doing themselves. These are the first dogs I’ve ever had that didn’t go uncontrollably crazy upon seeing other dogs before being trained properly. They’re just used to being around lots of dogs, having been with a breeder for the first few months of their lives.
The classes are a great experience for testing out our training-they aren’t designed so much for teaching as to replicate the stresses of a competition setting. As I’ve mentioned before I am constantly relearning aspects of training that I know “intellectually.” Because of these two things-a lack of new material to work on and
wanting to really internalize the things I know, I’ve been thinking about taking some on-line courses, the best of which seems to be the Karen Pryor Academy.
I’ve resisted classes for a long time. At first it was because I knew that I had the worst-trained dogs in show business. I was embarrassed at how I’d never taught them to sit or even heel properly. I mean, sure, they have a full show’s worth of great tricks that are made better by the associated stories but it’s the preciseness that we need now. I have this vision of how much better the show could be; not just that but a glimpse of what is possible if I can get the dogs to really work with precision. As I’ve learned with the jokes I go through with Lauren Macaw, it’s the set up, the waiting to do the trick, that really sells the story. And it’s a rare story that can be enjoyed if the punchline comes too soon.
I am really excited about the possibility of an even better show, but even more by even better dogs. Wish us luck! If you’d like to help-sure, it’d be hard to turn down donations, but even better: Bring some friends to see our show!