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                                                            Training Routines

There are many moments during a pup’s day where routines may become a format for learning. Taking advantage of these teaching instances is simply being “pro-active”. The list of situations where useful conditioned responses can be enhanced include 1) entering/exiting crates (house or transportation), 2) feeding, 3) airing and 4) “free time”. The broader description is “Teaching in Context”. The premise is being consistent 24/7.

This approach was solidified recently by a desire to have Gigi reach a consistent, comfortable desire to hold. It seemed like doing a couple of specific training sessions every day was revealing a mediocre desire to simply just carry a bumper. It is so very necessary….for me….not her. The ideal is “This is what I do because it is all I know how to do.” The fact is a puppy does what it has been taught or allowed to do (good…and not so good).

Then one morning began at 5 am with just another “up to air” moment for Gigi when she requested (in a quiet way) “It is time!” This is normal….she is a smart pup. In another “train of thought”, I often have momentary idea flashes (brain is “empty”) when first waking. This morning’s “flash” was to place a bumper in the doorway and as we exited (on a lead), I said  “fetch” and kept walking. I did (walk) and she did both. Needless to say, I was impressed with her calm, focused hold. She was actually NOT focused on hold.....going somewhere was more important. The hold was simply momentary reaction which became sustained. She wanted to.....there was no "must do". 

Gigi (at heel with bumper squarely and "quietly" in her mouth) went out the bedroom door, thru the hallway, down two flights of stairs (tri-level), thru the “rec room”, out the patio door on to the pool room deck where she sat to go out the main door into the airing yard after surrendering the bumper on a not delayed “out” command. She was very preoccupied with the end result (no pun intended). Wow, that was so cool....."easy peasy". It should be noted the routine for airing has been solidly practiced for several months (since she came home). The only "new thing" was carrying a bumper (not a quantum leap as we have been working on in her OB sessions). It would be significant to note that in this instance the "atmosphere of work" was missing and duly noted. 

When Gigi “finished” her yard "visit", the bumper was on the floor just inside the door. Feeding time was soon and "here" becomes more magical. I said “fetch” when she came in. The leash loop was positioned to slip on when entering. It did and we retraced our steps back up to the bedroom where Gigi sat and delivered before kenneling. Fairly soon after that a shorter trip was made to
the living room crate (repeating the bumper holding routine) and she was fed.  At 3 PM this afternoon, Gigi did another round trip "hold session" to and from the airing yard.

There are many, simple, daily puppy routines (24/7) which can easily be modified for imprinting, practicing and establishing significant conditioned responses. Behavior modification is not a ten minute drill......once or twice a day.  Puppies thrive on predictable, rewarding, seamless structure.

I would be remiss to not point out how many times Gigi has walked at heel and sat beside me every day for the last three months in situations that are not entered in the training journal as "official" training sessions. Also, it is significant to note......that I am retired.

 Roscoe Retention Pond DTA