In last week’s post, I introduced you to Libby. Libby has been brought onto the Say Yes team as our new “Junior Puppy Peaks Reporter.”  She is a young and talented trainer, who is passionate about obedience and dog agility, and more importantly, is passionate about improving the lives of every dog she meets.  It was this passion that helped us to realizing getting insight into Puppy Peaks from her point-of-view would be great for our readers.  Libby has been documenting her training as she works through Puppy Peaks, and we will be posting her monthly column where she highlights some of what she is learning here on my blog for you to read.

My hope is that a fresh perspective into the program from a young handler’s point-of-view will help everyone, myself included, as we tackle our own challenges in dog training!

Check out Libby’s second post about Month 2 of Puppy Peaks below. 

Puppy Peaks:  Month 2
by Libby 

IMG_8840Last week I was asked to train a dog, Riley; he had a few behavioral problems and was not receptive to certain things.    Riley had been trained by his puppy raiser for a year to be a service dog, but did not pass his test to receive further training – basically he flunked out.  He hated both his head halter and the vest that he was required to wear.  This past week, I have been using Susan Garrett’s games to help Riley begin to overcome his fear of the vest and head halter, as well as teach him necessary commands and behaviors.

I started first with head halter games; he had received some head halter training in the past, but I decided to start from the beginning using Susan’s methods. Within the first day or two he began to love putting his nose in the head halter.  Then I tightened the nosepiece as he tried to get his cookies, and he responded very well to this – he continued to eat the cookies without a problem.

I then tried to apply Susan’s head halter methods to the vest in order to teach Riley to love having the vest on.  We were told that when Riley was a puppy he had no problem with his vest, but one day when he was older he started to freak out when it was put on.  He ran around, trying to get the vest off, then would stand still and refuse to move.  I began by shaping him to look at the vest, and gradually had him offer different behaviors that had to do with the vest.  He caught on very quickly and had no problem with it.  We then got to the point where he put his head through it, and got lots of tasty cookies.

Next, we worked on putting the vest on his back.  He doesn’t freak out when it is put on, only when he has to move when he is wearing it.  So, I have been resting it on his back and delivering LOTS of cookies, as long as it doesn’t fall off.  When it falls off, the cookies stop – just like the head halter game. He is doing well with this – he is beginning to associate the vest with the cookies and seems to sometimes want the vest back on once it falls off.  We are trying to work up to him being able to walk around with it resting on his back; as of now, he will take a few steps, but it is very awkward and it’s obvious that he doesn’t like it on.  The head halter games taught me how to teach a dog to love something that they normally would not.

Recallers – its just fantastic!  I have been working with both my dog, Elliott, and Riley and they love all the Recallers games!  Elliott’s favorite is “Smoke Ya!” and Riley’s is “Cookies in the Corner.”  I have seen amazing improvement in Riley’s recall.  He was never taught a recall, so when I brought him home seven days ago, I tried calling him and he looked at me, then walked away.  We are still only practicing with minor distractions, but I can call him and he will actually turn and run to me!  I would not have thought that these quick games would have been so effective in such a short amount of time. These games are Riley’s favorite thing to do during training, and afterwards he is elated!

Lastly, a very major thing I learned this month was the importance of play.  I hadn’t realized it, but I have not been playing with my dogs while training obedience nearly as much as I should.  When I realized this and started playing with Riley more, I saw a difference in him; he learned better because was much happier throughout the session.

Below is a video of Riley and I “playing” together!”

Thanks Libby, great “peek” at training. Today I am grateful for Libby, so much talent, so much enthusiasm how cool is THAT?