Last night Lynda (my friend and one our very capable Say Yes instructors) and I were on our way to a trial in Memphis, Tn. While driving, we had a discussion that made me think about a few tales I have been told recently (I don’t mean tales as in lies but as in stories that actually occurred).

You see Lynda is getting a new puppy soon so as she was driving she was going over the things she wanted to make sure she taught her new little guy first.  Recalls, retrieves, reinforcement zone and tricks where at the top of her list. Of course it goes without saying all of those would be after Crate Games and impulse control games like ItsYerChoice.

As Lynda was telling me about her plans I realized she didn’t once mention things like tunnels, nose touches or seesaw games. Lynda was still only a student when I got DeCaff but she has been around as a good friend and employee to see me raise both Encore and Feature.

Feature at her breeder's home in England with her dam looking on.

Feature at her breeder’s home in England with her dam looking on.

Obviously she was paying attention! Yes here we go again with Susan preaching about the merrits of raising your puppy to be a great family pet first and foremost. I get inspired to bring it up whenever I talk to people with their 9 month old puppies running full courses (including contacts and weave poles).

Here is the thing, just because a Border Collie allows you to . . .  doesn’t make it right for you to do it. It is a test, don’t fall for it!

Can you resist the temptation of throwing your puppy into the deep end of the pool thinking he can swim?

Time after time at my handling workshops I see dogs that have little to no recall under distractions, no retrieve and little value to follow their handler. It is all about the obstacles for those dogs as that is how they have been raised.

Trust me this doesn’t make for a “faster” or “better” agility dog plus you still have frustrations with your family pet that will not listen!  This can change for anyone. Start with my recall article (a free download), Crate Games and Ruff Love. Then you are away to creating a very responsive dog who will be a pleasure for you not just in the agility ring but at home as well.

For those of you that have mixed feelings about Ruff Love, once you have read all of my blog posts, re-read Ruff Love knowing a bit more about where I come from in my feelings for dogs. The book has been given a bad rap in some circles, perhaps I left too much up to common sense when I wrote it. The only thing that you might do differently is to take start with the Head Halter suggestions from the Appendix in Shaping Success and do that rather than the 3 days with the head halter on for 24 hours of the day.  The rest is golden and describes in great detail some of the games I play with my puppies as well as how I raise them.

Today I am grateful for a uneventful trip down here to Memphis!