Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Anything but Routine

We had a small class on Monday night. Several of the dogs are being evaluated, some folks had a bug of some sort and wished to keep it to themselves (many blessings upon you!) and so we had lots of opportunity to raise questions. The discussion that hit home for Belle and I was centered around "going out".

Since I've been home and had the Invisible Fence installed, I have felt more comfortable with allowing Belle the freedom of the yard. I haven't been giving her this freedom on my terms, however. I let her out when she goes to the door. Some days that is as often as three times an hour. Bev F. got the discussion going because she pointed out that the dogs should "go out" only three times a day unless there are tummy or bladder concerns to consider. She mentioned that her dogs are on about an 8 hour schedule - they go out in the morning, around 4 PM, and then finally, right before Bev retires at 11 PM.

Bev's schedule makes sense to me. Most of our dogs will be going to work as part of their duties as working dogs. If Belle is taught a consistent routine now, it will be much easier for her to adapt to the office schedule of whomever she's placed with.

The most important lesson I took from the discussion is the value we all receive from training our dogs in a group setting. We get excellent guidance in both formal and informal cues from Eileen and Cathy, but Bev's input was invaluable because it re-emphasized that our focus in training should always be on preparing the dog for the work they will do - and it's more than just teaching them cues to perform certain behaviors. For a newbie like me, the focus reminder repetition is crucial. In that sense, I guess I am a lot like Belle.

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