Yes, I have goals for my dogs. More specifically, I have goals for my dogs and I to work towards together. I have always had ideas on what I wanted to do with my dogs and it’s a little different for each one. For me a job for a dog doesn’t mean solely the typical working dog jobs, it means working towards something together. Building a relationship with your dog. Knowing that if you ask something of them, they will do it. I believe that having these goals and expecting things from your dog gives them a purpose and helps fulfill their needs. Dogs (like all animals) are smart, inquisitive, thought filled creatures and treating them like stuffed animals who happen to eat and drink does not do them any justice.
This blog is to help me reach the goals I have for my dogs, to stop thinking about it and start really working towards it! To help me learn everything I can about canine psychology, positive reinforcement training and to both document our journey and share this knowledge to anyone else interested in trick training, canine model/acting, or just building more of a relationship with their dog.
For Johnny, essentially I want to give him more life to his life. He is very fearful and unsure and can be reactive to strangers and other dogs. He was our first dog as adults and I know some of his behaviors are a direct result in how we first tried to train him. The last few years we thought the best thing was to just manage him which meant not taking him places if we thought it would be crowded, putting him away when company comes, and while I do think an important part of being a responsible dog owner is knowing your dogs issues or faults it has turned in to an excuse not to do anything with Johnny. My friends say that he has been forgotten ever since we got the Frenchies and I hate to admit but there is some truth to that. I love Johnny but I don’t have much of a relationship with him besides throwing his toy once in awhile, and cuddling when it’s time for bed. He deserves so much more and both my Fiance and I are recommitting to him. I’m going to push not only him but my own patience, training ability and ‘put my money where my mouth is’ to see what we can accomplish together using positive reinforcement training to give him confidence, give him self control and ultimately rehabilitate him.
For Thor I have a couple specific goals. I want him to be the first Frenchie to earn a Champion Trick Dog title. He has about 25 tricks/behaviors right now but I dont want to just quickly learn tricks to pass his title, I want to perfect them. We need work on consistency, distance, work ethic, and of course learning to perform together in front of crowds with the countless distractions that go with them. He does have re-activity issues with other dogs and children and so addressing this is our first priority. He wont be able to be the star to the world that he is to me (and that he thinks he is!) if he cant behave no matter who or what is around. He does have some congenital health issues so while I’m not sure about putting him back in agility I think I want to work towards becoming a therapy dog or competing in obedience.
Although we are just starting this journey in earnest, in many ways Raylee is my easy dog. We started socialization and training as soon as we got her and now at just under 2 years old she has already done several photo shoots and 2 video shoots! She is social, learns incredibly fast, has some problem solving skills, and truly thinks if any other dog can do it, then she can too. The foundation is laid out but in the last 6 months or so we haven’t done much training of any kind. She craves it, needs it, and honestly I need it too. I think she would love agility so as soon as she is home (she’s currently raising a baby of her own, isn’t he perfect!?!)
I plan on enrolling her in classes. We’ll also earn her trick titles, and hopefully earn more acting jobs along the way. The areas we need to work on with her are building her confidence in new situations, calming her during jobs, and independence from me so that she can focus on the human actor/actresses during jobs.
If you have any suggestions for books or blogs regarding positive training, canine behavior or canine psychology please list them in the comments below!