Training Fern

Training sessions with Fern are going extremely well. She’s extremely quick to learn new behaviors. Last night we played the “cheese ball game” and it was as if she’d been doing it her whole life. The “cheese ball game” is intended to teach fast recalls straight to the handler. You throw a small piece of food (puffed cheese balls such as the ones made by Frito-Lay work well, but I use small bits of real cheese or cooked liver) out away from you and tell the dog to get it. As soon as the dog lowers his head for the food you recall him back and as he’s approaching you, throw the food (using two hands) between your legs and ideally the dog runs between your legs after the food. You then spin to face the dog and recall again. This is one of Gel’s favorite games and he protested greatly while I was playing it with Fern. At this point in time, Midge isn’t confident enough to go between my legs so I don’t play it with her yet.

Fern is twelve weeks old today. She did not go through a “fear period” that I understand most puppies go through. She hasn’t missed a beat since she was born. Monty went through a slight fear period right after he went to his new home. Pyro did not, in fact, she’s now going to fly ball practice with her caregivers and has no fear or noise sensitivity issues.

Unfortunately, I lost contact with the two puppies in Canada. I was not happy with the circumstances surrounding the placement of Scorch and letting my feelings be known caused a rift that will not be able to be repaired. Scorch was placed in what I assume is a good home, but for reasons unknown to me, their contact information is being kept from me. I made a lot of mistakes with this litter, hopefully I’ve learned from them and won’t repeat them. One thing I learned was not to discount myself and what I can do. I have very little self-confidence and easily get overwhelmed when doing things I am not familiar with, such as raising puppies. I should not have sent the two puppies to Canada under the circumstances which I did, but they are there now and I can’t change things. I only hope whomever has them appreciates what they have.

Unfortunately it seems I painted my teeter board for nothing. I bought a 12 foot long, two inch thick pressure-treated board. The teeter base I decided on (it is aluminum which will be a lot easier to move when necessary) won’t hold up to continued use with a board that heavy. Oh well, I can use the pressure-treated board for other things, such as, screw a piece of PVC pipe in the middle of it to make a tippy board or simply use it as a board on the ground to teach Midge and Fern to run as fast as they can across it. Luckily I kept the 12 foot long, one inch thick ramp made from pine board from an old dog walk which is painted, I just need to paint the contact on one end. Last summer, the goats broke the opposite end of the ramp to the dog walk so I replaced the up and down ramps with two inch thick, pressure-treated ramps.

We went from extreme hot to quite cold temperatures. This morning, it was in the low 30’s and there was frost on the grass. It’s hard to adapt to such a change. It’s also almost dark by the time I get home from work. I really need to hire an electrician to install additional flood lights around my house so I can easily work outside. When it gets dark so early, it’s hard to stay motivated to train after work, especially when it’s cold! I hope the type of weather we’ve had this year is not the way things are going to be in the future.