Yesterday, I decided to try something different for dog school. I fed Mugen a larger than usual breakfast and skipped his lunch meal entirely. Dinner happens after dog school is over. I thought I’d see how this worked for us.
I got out my hot dogs (hebrew national, 97% fat free! Thanks to Annette! I never would have thought to share MY hot dogs with the puppy if she hadn’t mentioned it!!) and started slicing them up and prepping them to go in the nuker and Mugen started salivating all over the place. So I had him do a few sits and downs for me and I gave him a couple bits of hot dog and then we got into the car and left.
I missed dog school last week. I was painting my bedroom and my hands were weak and I pulled a muscle in my shoulder while I was painting around the ceiling. So I walked in and talked to the trainer to get the update for what I’d missed the previous week and told Mugen to sit/wait while I was talking to the trainer and he sat and waited and she looked at him and smiled and said, “Guess what we’re doing tonight?”
I asked her what and she smiled again and pointed at Mugen and I looked at him for a second and then the light bulb came on.
I’ve been working on “wait” with Mugen for the last month or two. Ever since the holidays when I needed the dogs to “wait” at the door while I talked to the UPS Dude about picking up packages. For me, teaching this was like teaching any other command. Lucy and Mugen do have a HUGE command vocabulary, but I don’t have a list of the words I use or the things I need them to do. I just use them as I need them. For example, I’ve taught Mugen and Lucy “move” because they’re big dogs and sometimes they like to be RIGHT where I need to walk. Sometimes, you teach your dogs things out of necessity and Labs are an awesome breed to do this with because it doesn’t take a lot of stress to teach them something new. Show them a handful of times, and then they remember.
So for once, I felt like we were ahead of the game at dog school. But also this week, I walked into dog school with a heck of a lot more self-confidence and it’s thanks to the dog board. We had a thread that talked about dog training go on last week some time where I ended up realizing that I was taking too much crap off of Mugen because he’s a puppy. I realized that I do let him get away with things that Reilly would never have DREAMED of doing in my house. When I gave a command to Reilly, I gave it as though his life depended on his obedience to me, and more than once, this was true. I thought I was doing the same thing with Mugen I had myself convinced that I wasn’t the sort of dog owner that coddles her itty bitty babykins, but the truth is… that’s exactly what I was doing.
I’m sure that everyone knows this, but I LOVE my dogs. Mugen will forever be my Mr Puppy Man, even when he is old and gray and his bones are creaking, he will still be my puppy. Lucy and Mugen bring so much joy into my life and I am still very much missing Reilly… and I think that until I got involved in that thread, I was so caught up in my emotions that I wasn’t paying attention to the harm that they were causing my training.
So last night, I walked into dog school with a renewed sense of self and a renewed sense of purpose. Mugen noticed. The trainers noticed. Everyone noticed. Even the stuck up Standard Poodle noticed.
Everything that we did last night was SPOT on. Every time I gave a command, Mugen would drop his butt or his chest to the ground for me without hesitation. When I said “Left” he heeled on my left. When I said “Let’s go” he went with a bounce in his step and a wag in his tail and when we got to wait… well…
I put him in a sit/wait first. Then I pivoted around in front of him and then stepped back to his side and the only part of my amazing Puppy Man that moved… were his eyes.
So then we did the down/wait.
I hadn’t actually done this one with him before. I mostly use “wait” to have him stay in the kitchen while I turn around to close a door or go in the dining room to feed Lucy, but he did his down, and then his wait. I stepped back from him about a foot or so and he did not break his down. He waited for me to come back to his side and release him.
When I walked out of dog school with him last night and got into the car, I leaned over and gave him the biggest kiss and hugged him tight and told him that I thought he was the best dog on the planet.
I am SO proud of both of us. We worked hard and we did great. I had been worried that Mugen might fail his CGC test the first time through because he just wasn’t as responsive as I’d hoped… but now, I’m positive that we’ve got that sucker in the bag.
The whole time, it wasn’t him with the problems. It was me and now that I’ve got my crap together, it’s gonna be smooth sailing from here on out, I can feel it.