Friday, 20 September 2013

Train the dog, train the family

Ruby has already got the hang of 'sit' and will generally do it on command without a problem. There are times when her mind is elsewhere and it can be difficult to get her to pay attention, but she IS a little puppy and we HAVE only had her 6 days. 

I have started to tell Ruby to sit as we go from one room to another or at the doorway before we go outside. This allows me to go first and reinforce the 'pack hierarchy' thing.

One of the problems is trying to make sure all of us do the same things, consistently and regularly. It doesn't help when I'm working it out as I go along. For example, Ruby sometimes jumps up and barks as if she is trying to control us. Physically holding her and saying no doesn't seem to work. Instead I have decided to try keeping still, avoiding any eye contact and stopping ALL interaction until she goes quiet. Then giving her a toy and when she plays, praising her. It does seem to work better than reacting directly to the 'herding'. However, only time will tell if it has a lasting impact. Thing is, we ALL have to do it. And we all have to do it ALL the time. 

It's beginning to dawn on me that not only do I need to train Ruby, I need to train the rest of the family to do the same thing as I am doing. I can see it leading to a few disagreements. As I am trying to tell my daughter to try something that I have started, I have to then tell the others. I am conscious that it might sound as though I am 'harping' on about things. If I'm not careful, it will get to the stage where Sarah and the kids will get seriously ticked off by all the instructions and just think I am becoming obsessed. 

So I really need to think carefully about each new instruction and reaction to Ruby's behaviour. And then stick to it. If I keep changing things, it will not only confuse the dog it will leave me with a family that just 'switch off' and mentally (or actually) tell me to shut up.

Ruby LOVES her Kong

I never realised Border Collie ownership was so technical. Oh well, I am looking at it as a learning experience. In fact when Ruby is able to socialise with other dogs, I am going to give the local training club a call. They do puppy classes on a Monday evening. I will give them a try. The club has been around a very long time and is well established. I'm sure they will be able to point me in the right direction. At least then, when I'm bending my families ear about doing something a certain way I can just say "the dog trainer told me to do it".

Oh heck, I was trying my best to avoid mentioning poop, just for one night. But I must just say that Ruby went to sleep at 11pm last night and did not wake until I got up at 6.30am. I took her outside and she pooped outside. I didn't think a puppy could go that long. Furthermore, the medication seems to be working a treat. It looks like 'proper' poop now and she is clearly more comfortable in doing the business. Damn. I failed. Sorry, I will really try not to mention poop tomorrow.