Ok well....through no fault of my dog's I am a little late to this blogging thing.
Welcome to the new world order Colleen.
In the end of February Nugget will be 2 years old.
We have been working with Peggy since Nugs was approximately 5 months old.
We adopted Nugget from the humane society as an adorable 8 week old pup.
Her and 4 littermates were brought to IL from a high kill shelter down south. I was eager to have the opportunity to raise a pup from "scratch".
We were looking for a cattle dog or cattle dog mix. I have always owned herding dogs. I like the way they work with me, they are smart, they want to be right by your side, they will throw themselves on a grenade to protect you because they love you that much.
Nugget was listed as cattle dog and Australian shepherd. Turns out, she is much more likely cattle dog and border collie. (I will never sleep in again.)
I like to think I understand a little about dog behavior.
We did the puppy temperament tests. Everything was coming up roses.
To say Nugget was a feisty puppy would be an understatement. However, it was all expected and mentally prepared- for- puppy shenanigans. We tried to provide boundaries and love, and patiently dream of the day when she was 15 and we looked back on this all with misty sentimentality.
She did gain a nickname at this time in her life—“Evil Monkey in a dog suit”
She was really, really independent. I joked in secret fear that if she could drive a car, she would not need me for anything.
There were a few instances of her grumbling and growling at us to get something she wanted.
We started to have this feeling that there was some sort of disconnect.
We were not feeling like partners. I felt more like I was on a blind date, and my potential date, (in this case Nugget), had secretly made arrangements with one of her puppy friends to call her, so she could fake some serious family emergency and just get the heck out!! She would regularly give me the equivalent of the doggy middle finger. For anyone that has experienced this, you know when it is being given to you.
It was not for a lack of trying on our part.
We were giving her everything we thought a pup needed and then some!
We just tried to be patient and wait for that spark to catch fire. We got her vetted and vaccinated, we went for lots of walks, and played, and worked on gently socializing her without overwhelming her.
She would rarely make eye contact with me.
She would NEVER take food from me, but I was amazed to see her agreeably take food from the hands of other people!
I was ok with an independent pup, but was honestly starting to get a little nervous.
It was at this point in our life together that I realized we were going to need the help of a really good and a really experienced trainer before things got out of control.
I would never work with a trainer that used physical punishment or fear or “dominance” under any circumstances.
I checked around and *thank God *we found Peggy Moran and Dog improvement.
I liked her philosophy, I respected her experience and her incredible references from students past and present. We started right away attending the June Sunday puppy play group and we also attended Peggy's weekly 101 training class.
The play group was essential in giving Nugget some courage to interact with other dogs. We realized she was a little more fearful than first thought.
She hid under the bench for at least the first 4 weeks, but she started to join in the reindeer games. She slowly got to learn how dogs are supposed to act around other dogs. She got to learn respect for her dog elders, self- control, how to share, how to wrestle, and mostly, how to just be a dog without any interference from me. This all happened in a very safe and closely controlled environment.
Then my husband and I began to get properly trained. We followed Peggy’s 101 program. To the best of my shotty short term recollection in a nutshell~
(don’t get me wrong we still practice all this stuff I just might have it out of order)
Don’t speak to bad behavior. Don’t say knock it off or get down or QUIET!. This was really hard at first, we had to break old habits.
Tethering in the house.
The penny bottle –(admittedly used incorrectly as first)—it only works if they do not realize you are the one controlling it.
The mark ~good!
Only say the command once –*DO NOT SAY* ……
Sit—Siiiitttt- Sit Nugget—Nugget SSSSSIIIIIITTTTTT! ~ big eye opener there!
The TEST. Nugs was good at this, and this is not a ~you got a good grade~ kind of test- for those who are new here.
We made progress is the point. We slowly started to feel like a ~WE.
We started to feel like Nugget actually enjoyed our company, that she figured out we were in it for the long haul. Her behavior started to change, gradually at first but things progressed nicely. She started LOOKING at me when I talked to her. Sounds small on paper, it was HUGE in reality.
The day she started to accept treats from my hand was a great day!
It was like Nugget said – “OK – you are finally making sense and have started to earn my trust.” For some owners this stage comes easy. For us it took a little longer, but it made it all the sweeter.
I can absolutely, with 100% confidence, say this would not be the outcome today had we not had Peggy’s program and her guidance.
She does not expect you to be perfect, she just expects you to listen-to be open minded-to be willing to let old bad habits fall by the wayside--and to do your best to follow the plan she lays out that best suits your personal relationship with your dog. Yes- it takes work, but it is also a lot of fun and there are lots of laughs, and possibly a small amount of tears too. I do not want to forget to mention her under-study Claire and her daughter/trainer Monica are also both incredibly knowledgeable and helpful. Her students and family are a wonderful group of people and an amazing group of dogs, many of whom I watch with admiration at the skills both they and their dogs possess. Nugget looks to Peggy as her personal scaffold. She gets confidence from her guidance. She feels secure with her direction.
I only hope that through continued study in the 201 classes, and continued relationship building that I can always provide my dog with a true sense of partnership and love. This is really not supposed to be the purpose of this blog, but hey- I am 2 years late- so look at this as a personal reflection of Dog improvement and our goals for our future 201 classes. Going forward I will follow directions ~
See everybody for Saturday 201 class……and sincere thanks to everyone involved for getting us this far…….looking forward to 2014!
Colleen Kuhn and Nugget