We took our first official tracking class Saturday and on the way home I thought “You should really blog about some of her accomplishments and not just her fear.”  So here’s a little history of Liezel’s training.

Now I may be biased but…Liezel is a very smart girl.  It helps that she is very food driven.  She will do anything for food (conversely, she will eat anything – except her heart worm medication, but I digress).

Puppy class is mostly for socialization with some basic obedience: sit, down, stay* and puppy interaction time.  A+

*Stay: the idea of stay is not getting up until released.  However, at this point in training (puppy class) she is released within seconds.  Long distance stay is a process that includes rewarding step by step and second by second (move one foot away, wait for increasing amounts of time, move 5 feet away, wait increasing amounts of time, etc.).

Puppy manners is more focused on obedience than socialization but is still short little bursts of teaching since the attention span of a puppy is short.  Some of the lessons include no jumping on people*, heel, watch, shake and / or high-five, and reinforcing the lessons from puppy class including fading the lure (food rewards are given less often for behavior she already knows).  A+

*Jumping on people: Liezel was taught not to jump on people.  However, she has learned that if she does jump on someone they will back away.  For a fearful dog this is rewarding.  As she began displaying more and more signs of fear aggression, “jumping on people” was the least of our concerns.  1) we’re not letting anyone get close enough to be jumped on; and 2) we have bigger issues to worry about than her jumping!

My anxiety is rising as I think back to this time. With all of her undesirable behaviors, Kujo at the fence and front door / windows, freaking out in the car when she saw anyone – even someone in another car, hyper-vigilance everywhere, frantic behavior at any sound, I remember saying to my husband, “I don’t even know what normal dog behavior is anymore.  Do normal dogs act this way?”

Back to training (and bringing my anxiety down a notch!), after puppy manners you kind of decide what direction you want to go.  We took rally and agility courses.  She preferred agility as rally can be a bit boring for the dog, especially a puppy.

Then we took our hiatus from group class training to focus on her fear aggression.

Since we’ve been back to group training (as of September 2015) we’ve taken several advanced obedience classes and many, many private lessons.  I must give a lot of credit to our trainers, Nick and Michelle.  They have taught me so much!

I feel like this post is getting a little too long so I’ll sum it all up with some pictures and will post again on her recent (past 3 months) progress and amazing accomplishments.

P.S. tracking on Saturday was great.  Nick and Michelle both said “We might have found the thing for her…”  Both made mention of the Schutzhund BH and while that’s a long (years) way off, the fact that it was even mentioned brings a whole new excitement to all of this.  If Liezel earned the BH title my loftiest goal will have been reached.

Puppy Manners Graduation
Teaching Kayaking
Focus with Distraction
Focus with Distraction
Mini Rally Course
Sit / Stay (back row center) – the GSD is looking at the hound saying “Ooh you’re in trouble!”
Down / Stay (back row center)