10 Weeks- Training Levels

Sep 16, 2004 | Stitch's Story

Cost of puppy: One return flight from Saskatchewan to Detroit $527. One puppy $XXXX. One hiking boot – $135. One living room mat $79. Toys $28. Puppy food $19. Vaccinations $XXX (I get billed later). Flea shampoo and spray $11. Vitamin C for puppy vaginitis $4. New collar and lead $13. Puppy airline carrier $53. All the stuff I already own that I would have had to buy like crates and dog beds and clippers $700. Puppy head on shoulder, PRICELESS.

Cost of puppy: three late nights and early risers. Gates and closed doors all over the house. 13 flea bites (where the heck did THAT come from?). 17 pee cleanups. Three gags from thinking about mouldy cat poop. 5 scabs from sharp teeth. 412 trips to the back door. 1 hour per day training. 1 hour per day thinking about training. 2 months shut in, can’t associate with other dogs. Puppy looking into eyes, PRICELESS.

Best puppy quote so far: Husband muttering in bed: “Too bad dogs can’t talk.” Good grief, why? “Because if they COULD, Scuba would already have told that puppy to SHUT UP.”

Yes, she’s really a PWD. I gave her a piece of black fake fur in her crate to sleep on. This morning she wants to sleep near me, so she drags her fur out of her crate, into the living room, near my chair, then curls up on it and goes to sleep. Dear little Tat.

Well, that’s exciting. Usually I feed them with their dishes close to each other. Scuba wouldn’t think of trying for another dog’s food, and she’s being very polite about teaching Stitch this as well. Table manners. This morning Scuba can only find one dish – the other one must be out in the yard – so I feed Scuba first. Stitch really wants some breakfast, thinks of going for Scuba’s, changes her mind – what to do, what to do – then spins, stares at me and plunks her butt down on the floor. Good plan, puppy! I give her some from my hand while waiting for Scuba to finish.

Since Stitch is doing such a good job of sitting for food, when I feed her, I explain Stay. When I move the dish toward the floor, she gets up, I move the dish back up. She sits. I move the dish toward the floor, she gets up, I move the dish back up. She sits. I move the dish up 6 times. The 7th time I start to put it down, she looks away from it, then stares right into my eyes as I put it down. I don’t make her stay with it on the ground but tell her to get it. We’ll save that for another day. This is a big deal idea for her and I want to reward it immediately.

She just pulled a magazine off a shelf. She’s got her front feet on it and she’s skating around the tile floor on it, pushing with her back feet and growling like a mad fool. Might be time to teach her to use Scuba’s skateboard…

And speaking of Scuba, today we’re officially a family. I don’t know whether the puppy is acting more like a polite adult (doubtful!) or whether Scuba’s finally gotten used to the little twerp, but this morning Scuba offers her one end of the tug toy. They play for nearly half an hour, running, growling, tugging, rolling, chasing. Stitch should sleep well tonight!

I need a little more focus. In spite of knowing where I’m going, I’m starting to feel disjointed, so tonight I dig out my Training Levels. These worked so well on Song and Scuba. They’re simply a list of many things a dog needs to learn in order to end up being a dog that knows what she needs to know. My visualization of training starts with Basic Training – sit, down, come, be handled, ride in a car, stay in a crate, table or mat training, retrieving, learning to be shaped. From there, any dogsport or job is a tangent off the main body of training. For instance, if I want to teach this dog agility, she’d already be able to get in the car, go to a trial, relax in her crate, walk on a loose lead, come when called, be comfortable around other dogs and people, pay attention to me, want to work with me. All I’d need to teach her would be the actual skills of agility. I’m going to start going through them. *NOTE: These are the original Training Levels, which are posted here. Syn works on the new, improved and updated Levels available in the Training Levels books available here.