I told myself before I returned to Hawai'i that I would finish Myrl's training once I got here and had settled in, and so it has begun. Already he is catching on, and best of all, enjoying it. I'm so proud of him!
Before I left, I didn't have enough time to finish obediance training with him, even though we had had him for a year and a month. It was completely up to me to raise both Levi and Myrl, and train them, which turned out to be challenging. Far more challenging than I ever would have imagined. They were so close that I could not seperate them. One would throw a tantrum. And together, they were distractions, even if I had one on leash and the other restrained. They had to be in sight or they were distracted, but when they saw eachother, they were distracted.
Training either one at a park was out of the question, as they need a distraction-free environment initially. I could not find one. So I did my best under the circumstances, and for awhile had pups with manners, if not actual obediance.
Then, dominance issues arose and Levi began to go out of control. Neutering did nothing, and my training accomplished next to nothing as I could not get everyone in the house to agree to my rules for my dog. We ended up with four different people with four different sets of rules, and a very dominant ACD pup growing up, dealing with hormones, and realizing that he could get away with certain things, especially with certain people. It got to the point where Levi even snapped at me, something he'd never done since he was a pup, and teaching bite inhibition had stopped the puppish nipping and snapping many months before. I am unsure of whether he missed because I was quick (I do have good reflexes) or because he just wanted to warn me. That was just about the last straw, since my parents were already pressuring me to give him up. I gave it one last go, and realized I could not break his habits nor teach him anything as long as he was in this house. Eventually, I admitted defeat. He went back to his breeder, since I was moving soon and my parents did not, under any circumstances, want to deal with him while I was looking for a place that would allow me to keep him.
Only after Levi left did Myrl finally become trainable, and by then I had things to take care of before my move.
Last week, I began training Myrl again. After one session, he began to catch on. And now, while he by no means is trained to heel, he's getting it. He understands what I'm asking of him. And he seems to enjoy it! I would say about 75% of the time when I stop walking, he sits down automatically. He walks calmly beside me, on my left, whenever I give the command. If I speed up, so does he. If I slow down, so does he. He has learned to watch me closely. About half of his time is spent looking where we are going, and the other half is spent watching me. Some training sessions, he spends much more time watching me for cues. And he does this all with a great big smile on his face!
I have also started to teach him "stay," a command we had huge problems getting across to him in the past. He caught on to that faster than I would have hoped. With less than a week of working on the "stay" command, I can give the command, drop the leash, walk across our big backyard, turn to look at him, wait up to approximately 30 seconds, and then slowly walk back. It was hardest teaching him to wait for me to return. He always wants to get up and run to meet me half way. But now that he's realized he has to wait, he's got it down solid. He'll "stay" whether I tell him to sit and stay or lie down and stay. I am slowly testing his patience more and more, making him wait longer for me to return. Eventually, I will walk out of sight and peek to see if he stays while I am gone. That could get interesting.
I'm so pleased with him!
He is such a good boy.
I have also started on two new tricks, which he loves to do. (Oddball!
) He now rolls over properly
(rather than half-way,) and we've begun work on teaching him to hold a biscuit on his nose and then snatch it only when I say "OK." There are some problems with his rolling over, I'm afraid. My family always tells him to do the same old tricks in the same EXACT order, so rather than doing whatever command is given, he has this long list of tricks he does the moment you pull out a treat. Urgh! If you tell him to lie down, he rolls over immediately thereafter, because they always tell him to, "Sit," "Down," "Roll-over." ALWAYS. I have to break this chain of events. It's getting to the point where I grab a treat, he sits, then lays down, rolls over, then sits up, "begs," and sits back down, giving me that "give me my dang treat!" look...and I haven't even yet given him a command! So, we REALLY need to work on this, but I don't want to overwhelm him quite yet.
I only just discovered this problem, too. He also unlearned two tricks (dancing and shaking paws) while I was gone, though I'm not real concerned about that.
I don't think he'll ever get the biscuit-on-nose trick down solid, to tell you the truth. My family, knowing I'm teaching him this, is now trying to get him to do that trick. They're using different words and terms to get him to do the trick, so it's like three of us are teaching him three seperate tricks, and it's setting my work back.
Other problems I'm encountering is that my family thinks it's a good idea to shout out the window, "Good boy, Myrl!" whenever I'm working with him on "heel" and he does well. This messes the training session up and then I have a hard time calming him back down so he'll pay attention to ME. My father also thinks it's amusing to yell out the "come" command while I'm working on heel. Since dad is "alpha," Myrl blows me off the moment he hears my dad's voice. My dad just laughs.
I swear, I don't think anyone takes training seriously. It's no wonder Myrl learned all these bad habits, and more, while I was gone.
Tomorrow, if the weather holds, I'll go back to working on "heel" with him in the backyard. I'm excited about his training. We're both having loads of fun. I could not ask for it to be going better. OK, maybe I could.
Whew! Sorry this turned out to be so long!