Glimmers of maturity!

All three dogs have been so mellow all day long, after their big swimming adventure this morning at Coot Lake (everyone chose to get in the lake on their own) so I decided to do some group training this evening for their dinners. First with Lil and Takoda, and then with Jake and Takoda. The reason I worked with 2 vs. 3 dogs is because with 2 dogs I have a reasonable chance of regaining control if it all falls apart vs. with 3 dogs, they take on a pack mentality and egg each other on which can turn into game of chase, which rarely ends well due to Takoda’s bumper not lining up with Jake and Lil’s bumpers, if you know what I mean.

Lil and Takoda’s session started with some dual heeling, one dog on each side. I’ve been doing that with Lil and Takoda for a while and they both seem to understand their jobs so I decided to up the ante and play the game where one dog stays while the other dog runs by the staying dog. I was shocked at how well Takoda did. I could see he was really listening and when I said LIL COME, he looked like he totally understood I was not talking to him and he held his stay with just a tiny flinch.  And when I said TAKODA COME, he immediately raced toward me, no hesitation at all. Of course I didn’t have a video running but it is the same game as I have been playing with Jake and Lil for years, and I do have a video of them:

Jake and Lil last summer

At one point I really challenged both dogs by asking them to DOWN with their front feet touching (facing each other at 45 degrees), yet both held their positions and only one dog got up and raced towards me when I called that dog’s name. I also did some challenging leap-frogging reps where the running dog flew right by the staying dog at full speed and both Lil and Takoda were rock solid.  Yahoo!

Then I switched to Jake and Takoda. They have a very different relationship than Lil and Takoda have. I think the boys actually like each other, whereas I’m not sure what Lil thinks about Takoda. I think her main objective is to maintain control over him.. which is not easy at times given his size and puppy antics… but that is a totally different topic which I’ll post about when I gain insight into what I think Lil thinks about Takoda (and why I think that).  🙂

An early example of Takoda recalling past Jake when he was a little over 2 months old. This is BEFORE his inner BC started awakening.  He would not have been able to run by Jake without engaging him  at 4 or 5 months old.

With Jake and Takoda, I started off with the same dual heeling I did with Lil and Takoda. It went well with the boys that I moved onto one dog staying while the other dog runs by and they both did surprisingly with this too.  Each dog broke his stay one time as the session progressed but in both cases still came running to me vs. drifting into a game of chase. I suspect the number of reps had something to do with the one OOPSIE by each dog, and also the fact that Jake does not have the high level of impulse control Lil has… and because Takoda is still a puppy, he doesn’t have an abundance of impulse control either.  Regardless, I was thrilled with the high success rates of both sessions. I love seeing more and more glimmers of who Takoda will be as an adult, which of course are currently mixed in with a bunch of silly puppy antics.  The most profound glimmers of maturity are apparent when he is working.  I can see his strong work ethic over-riding his silly puppy antics more often than it did even 2 weeks ago.  He still has a long way to go in terms of consistency re: impulse control around his biggest temptations which are #1 people and #2 dogs, but it is cool to see glimmers of Takoda looking like a serious working dog vs. looking like a total blithering idiot but cuter-than-cute puppy.

Now that I think about it, I might be under-appreciating other signs of maturity.  Takoda is  able to hang out and chill for hours on end when we are not working.  He is mostly quiet when I’m working Jake and Lil, and he waits for us to wake up before making a ruckus.  He really is a great dog to live with.  I feel very lucky!

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