Training | Day 2

I have been enjoying my Koehler Method book.  I am particularly taken with the subtlety of the long line exercise.  It is a method that I used with both of my rescued Setters upon bringing them home--but in name only. It wasn't an exercise so much as a physical tether to me.  Using a long line ensured that they could get some freedom and exercise along with getting acclimated.  These dogs can cover alot of ground, and when there is no 'relationship' with a rescued dog, there is no emotional tether.  Accordingly, physical tethering is a necessity and must suffice in absence of secure fencing.

I started with a 50 ft lead which I've been using to give him an "offline" feel but under my control.  For our exercise, I shortened that up by 1/2.  But I will shorten it yet again to 15 ft recommended in the book. The subtlety is that, with the dog on the line, the dog is never sure of where the end of the line is.  (As Koehler puts it:  "Even Einstein could not calculate where the end of the line is.")

The 'end of the line' is never pleasant 1; and after a few experiences with the end of the line, the dog learns that the center of his/her universal comfort is you--not the temptation(s) at the end of the line or what might be beyond it (or through the gate, over the river or through the dell.) As the objective is 100% certainty of obedience (focus on master and following master's commands) among a wide array of distractions, distractions, then, of all manner are a welcomed and necessary part of the training (kudos to my feline assistant, Wyatt).

In fact, these distractions give the dog confidence that s/he merely needs to look to you for needed guidance in such situations.  Koehler challenges the trainer to continually look for all manner of distractions even when it appears that the dog is steady amid currently offered distractions. For me, it is an imperative to have this level of confidence for Dexter as well as for myself.  Just our two days of 'training' have already imprinted on him. Even when not asked, he follows me, and I'm gaining confidence that his tether (both real during training and perceived during off-training dragging) will help him learn efficiently and humanely that he is connected to us, and we are committed to his emotional and physical care and wellbeing. (In addition to valuing our hands, legs and feet and keeping them free from his puppy assaults).

I am also mindful that I'm not an experienced trainer by any means.  I want to avoid over-correcting as much as under-correcting.  Our Daisey was 'ruined' by some rough handler  English Setters can be permanently broken by rough training.  She was such a dog, and it likely resulted her being tossed and found at the Melfa dump in the Eastern Shore.  Dexter is no soft dog. Nor was Macy (Am Bulldog mix).  And if anything Macy suffered from under correction--and that was not a benefit to either her nor us in some of the behaviors she indulged in and that we did not appropriately train or correct.    We were not experienced with such a dog as she.  Though we ensured that she was well socialized and she possessed a friendly, gentle disposition, she was home centered, and she charged the door, etc.  The fault is entirely ours.  A fault that I don't plan to repeat.

We will remain low-key post surgery.  The only reason that we have been able to 'get away' (and I say that loosely) in the past with being non-trainers is that we had a strong, natural bond forged which each of our dogs--and the need for being able to walk a dog on a lead etc (other than to the vet, and that was never a problem), sit, stay down etc, never seemed to be a 'necessity' when it fact it was.  I know empirically the strength of that bond, and I don't require any training for that.  But with that bond, I must impose some structured behavioral 'asks'.

 I want to nurture that bond with Dexter over the next month now that he is settled, and he seems to be over the constant stress of being abandoned.  We will continue our line work each day and invest in developing that bond and setting forth our understandings clearly and fairly. And when I'm about to (or gasp have) lost my cool, I'm walking away.

I found some great articles at DogPACT.  I have a link to each article under the "pages" sections.  I hope to add to these articles and links in the menu as I find stuff that helps me. What was helpful in the articles was the "simple but not easy" aspect of what I wanted to do and learn. 

1 Dexter's 'unpleasantness' is far less uncomfortable with the Sprenger collar than gasping at the end of his normal collar-his worst reaction?  a shake of his head.



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