Thursday, March 6, 2014

Action Day Rewind: Starting Your Puppy

Only one day late to this game!

I have yet to have a puppy, since The Murr is my first dog and we didn't get him as a puppers.  But we will be getting a puppy.  Sometime.  In a few years.  Details.

And that puppy will be doing foundations like it's their job.  And that puppy and The Murr will never be compared to one another.  If you catch me doing otherwise, put me in my time out crate (seriously).

What I know about agility is a drop in the bucket compared to the average competitor, but in watching many trials over the past eight months, I love watching the dogs with good foundation training.  Yes, it takes a lot longer until they are exposed to equipment, but if I've learned anything from training Murray, it's that equipment gets picked up pretty easily.  It's everything between the equipment that's hard.

I would like to start with the philosophy that everything is a game.  We started with that philosophy a little too late with The Murr, but every training game we've done (splat!, bark on command, etc) has been way more fun than the luring or the "it's training homework."  No homework, all play (or homework disguised as play).

I will stay patient.  We're hoping to get The Murr's companion in a couple of years, when he's about 6.  Which means that he will be a more seasoned competitor, but will (hopefully) still have a lot of agility in his little body.  So I can still train him and run courses with him without a nagging feeling to push the little one too far so that I have a dog to run courses with.  At the same time, we will only get the next dog when we have enough time to commit to training both.  Just because AKC says that you can start trialing at 15 months does not mean you have to.  I will work with my trainer and trust her to help me determine when the pup is ready to show.

A-Frames are one of the things we retrained from a foundation of jumps and a box.  It's his favorite contact!
(photo credit for both, Scott Klar)
One thing I'm happy I did with The Murr was that we went to a lot of Show 'N Gos.  And we'd go to more, honestly, now, except there's been a recent dearth of them in the area.  But when this future puppy of mine is sequencing and all, we will start attending Show 'N Gos.  Yes, even if that means that The Murr can't compete that weekend.

I say that I will never compare the two dogs because in two years from now I may forget about some of Murray's "baby dog shenanigans."  Like his meltdown.  And Murray's had a fair amount of "trial and error" even though we found the right trainer for us fairly early in the game.  And I had to learn handling for the first time, too!  By comparing the two, I could unintentionally put too much pressure on each dog, sucking a ton of fun out of the game.

I'm excited about a future puppy.  I think Murray will have a lot of fun too... and hopefully the dog will bond really well with J (since I still feel like The Murr is more "my dog" even though we got him together).  But keeping training fun and happy and moving at a pace that's best for the dog is the closest thing to a guarantee that we'll have fun in agility for the long haul.

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