Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Training animals - training myself

I've never been very good at training animals.  I usually do the basic stuff like "sit" and "come" and other stuff that makes my life easier, then I let them get away with the stuff that takes too much work.  My donkeys have been a challenge for me because I was kind of afraid of their size and being kicked.  I've come a long way with them though.  Wilson (aka Shiloh) will now let me put a halter on him and can be bribed by treats to walk on a lead for me.  Chy is getting better about the halter but still seems very nervous about being led.  I'm hoping to have them both walking beside me on a lead by next week.  I feel so much more confident training them now that I know regular work with them pays off.  I'm pretty excited about my accomplishments with them.  I need to keep it up.

Our boxers, Rosie and Lex, come when called and are pretty well behaved dogs now but it hasn't always been that way.  There are too many stories to tell so I'll just say they've improved with age.   They're 10 now and I have no plans to try and change them.  Keri, on the other hand, is a clean slate.  At less than 4 months old I feel like I can shape and mold her into the dog I think she should be.  Of course, I know there are some things I'll have to live with because of her breed and instincts.  She's a Great Pyrenees and their job is to protect their home so they bark when they think there's a reason to warn us.  I won't be able to change that even though I'm not fond of barky dogs.

She's quite nippy and that's annoying but in so many other ways I'm very pleased with how fast she learns things.  She knows she's not allowed inside (except for the basement) so she doesn't try to follow us into the house.  She's learned not to catch chickens.  She likes the goats, donkeys and pigs and doesn't pester them and they seem to have accepted her too.  She doesn't try to follow our car when we leave the driveway.  We can leave her outside while we go to town for hours at a time and she just hangs out by the house - at least we think she does.  She's always there when we get home anyway.  Also, she's house broken.

I don't usually teach dogs tricks but Keri learns so fast it's been kind of fun trying new things.  James videoed us today but I left out a few tricks like begging (which is a silly trick to teach, in my opinion).  She can do it though.  She's also figuring out "roll over", another useless trick, but fun to teach.  Here's today's session.

I realize that success in training has more to do with a disciplined trainer than how smart the animal is.  I need to train myself to be more disciplined in my training, that's for sure.


  1. What good results you have to show for your hard work! I personally think "Stay" is the most important command. Glad to see it working so well. Congrats!

  2. We fixed nippy with our boy by loudly saying "ouch!" when he nipped, and then walking away from him. The ouch would get his attention, and he learned that if he bit, we stopped playing. Worked great. Now, even when I'm roughhousing with him, he won't let his teeth so much as graze me. :)

  3. I agree Laura, stay and probably come are the 2 most important commands.

    Rae, I'm doing something like that now and it works for the moment but she'll do it again later. She is getting better.