Wednesday, September 8, 2010



Morganne asked if I am raising Cricket differently from the other dogs. It is funny because if I had another puppy right now I would do things differently even though Cricket is not a year yet, but luckily I do keep learning more.

Breeze will turn 4 this month and Liz is 4, so it was not that long ago that they were the puppies. I got those dogs when I was taking classes mainly at a place that does agility that is not that competitive so I was never exposed to a lot of the skills I wish I had had for foundation with Liz and Breeze.

Liz and Breeze were my first border collies and I had been really freaked out by reading all the cautions about border collies and how difficult they were and not for everyone. I was not sure I would measure up to owning a border collie I was a bit intimidated. I think I worried a lot more about heading off problems because I had heard so many horror stories about BC behaviors. I was rushing around to lots of classes, which were not always the best classes for my dogs-some just are too slow a pace and very boring for an energetic little puppy. Do not get me wrong, I had a blast with Liz and Breeze but I did worry more...sort of like having your first kid where you worry more about everything-you enjoy but you worry more then you need to.


The other big difference was that I had two BC puppies about six months apart. What was I thinking with that??? Liz s a super challenging dog, LOL, and I really saw that I needed to get a handle on some of Breeze who was really a perfect dog got pushed to the side more then I would have liked. She is a good dog because she was a good dog. I really see today some of my lack of foundation, which because she is so good has not been that much of an issue...but I really see what I would have liked to do differently and I am lucky she just had such a good nature.

So fast forward to Cricket. I think I have a mix of way more strict rules and guidelines-but I am way more playful, and I finally know how to add more play into training---I want to learn a lot more about that but I think I have come a long way from where I was. I have a lot more rules but they are just part of life, not any rules that I really even think about, they are just a natural part of life now. I think I reward only for average or better performance/ behavior now and I do not feel as compelled to try to make Cricket be right all the time (meaning I do a lot of shaping and try not to do any luring)-- with easy things I let her figure out things more or be wrong sometimes which I think helps her handle stressful things a lot better-hopefully she will not be upset by making wrong choices sometimes-I learned that from mistakes I made with Lizzie! I still try to break things down so the dog can understand and start with little things, but I just don't jump in as quickly.

I do a lot of tricks with Cricket but way less fun trick that are fun to show.. and I have focused a lot more on the things I really want to see in a couple of years. We do a lot more foundation behaviors that might look like nothing and might be pretty boring for others to watch.

I quit worrying so much by the time Cricket came around-I think I just feel more confident, so that just adds even more to how much I have enjoyed her. I have only done one class with Cricket and that was a four session recall class. Everyone at our training club seems very freaked out that we are not doing classes.. but I take her around other agility classes and trials, but most of the classes go to slow for me to keep a puppy really engaged and use too much luring for what I want to do with Cricket. Cricket is just one of those once in a life time dogs I think that is very easy to train, and has so much drive to all those things have made being with her sooo much fun. The great thing is that all this new foundation work I have done for Cricket is that it has helped me fill in the holes that I had in my older girls foundation training.



Sagira said...

I don't think we will ever stop learning as we raise dogs and compete in agility.

I am however becoming a bit nervous about having an Aussie. People are freaking me out telling me how hyper they are. EEK. I love my nice calm house...

Sara said...

We never stop learning.

I love Liz's face!!!!! She would definitely be getting lots of treats from me, just for looking cute. I'm a complete pushover.

Your three dogs are so cute together.

Diana said...

All the dogs are sooooo cute. At least you remember what you taught. I cant even remember how I taught Miley agility. LOL Man, I must be getting old. Diana

Live Wire'd Agility said...


You nailed this one on the head! I'm going through a lot of the same things you are with Viper. He just turned 8 months old and he's never stepped foot in a class!

I was a lot like you, worrying about how quirky/energetic a BC could be when I got my first and now I just see them as eh' that's So and So and they HAPPEN to be a BC.

Good luck with Miss Cricket! Love reading all your new adventures with all three of the girls!

At Sagira, I wouldn't be nervous about getting an Aussie! I have an Aussie and 2 BC's and although they have differnt tendencies just be sure to do your research on potential breeders/dogs. There are so many differnt types of temperments out there for BOTH breeds I'm sure you'll find a dog that fits perfectly into your lifestyle!

Ricky the Sheltie said...

The things you did with Breeze and Liz sound a lot like what mom did with me. I was her first dog and boy did she inadvertently make me a worrier! But of course we learn as we go and mom has learned so much since she got me that she will definitely try to raise her next puppy (some day) differently.

Love the photos of the 3 musketeers! Liz, Breeze and Cricket are so cute together!

Sam said...

I was just talking with my trainer last night about how important foundations are. Marge, for example, is definitely limited by her lack of foundation - if she was exposed to a puppy wobble board she probably wouldn't be as afraid of the teeter as she is, and things like noise phobais, people phobias, etc, wouldn't be a problem. I did get lucky in terms of agility aside from the teeter, but I do wonder how much better she would have been if I had all those puppy months to work on stuff with her in.

You've done a great job with all three dogs, but I can definitely see how you've incorporated so many games and play in to Cricket's foundation. I think that makes for one happy dog!

Priscilla said...

No, learning is a life long process and there are so many new things for us to learn, especially when it comes to our beloved furkids!!!!

They are really really cute!

Jules said...

Nice post. It is wonderful that we have the opportunity to continue to grow and learn with our dogs and drop what doesn't work so our future pup gets the best we have to offer.

I have to admit I have a fairly lengthy mental list of what I will and won't be doing in the future with a pup!

Kathy said...

I think Sagiras family is going to do fine with an Aussie, even my Lizzie as a puppy would bounce off the walls if things were going on....and no one believed I could live with her but most of the time when we were hanging out at home she was doing what most dogs do...laying around. With the activities you do and the frisbee stuff and the other will probably shake up your house because it is a puppy, but you will have a blast. Most Aussies i know are active and bark a lot but they usually do have off switches ;-).

Morganne said...

Great post! I enjoyed reading about your journey. Isn't it wonderful how much each dog teaches us different lessons. I have focused on different things with each of my dogs because of the unique needs each had. Sage was all about communicating with body language, Summit - impulse control, and Soleil... so far its all about building tug drive and play. Soleil is my first Sheltie and I'm afraid to let any of that drive go extinct ;-)

Marie said...

I certainly don't regret the education that I've received from each of my dogs, but sometimes I do wish I could go back to the blissful ignorance with which I enjoyed things at times. I kind of miss no worrying about how every little thing might affect with future training goals. LOL