Poet Update

Poet the Whippet is four months old this week! He has entered the awkward phase of puppyhood to be certain, but his beauty is still obvious. His head shows so much promise of being beautiful and elegant, while also masculine, and with dramatic underjaw. He’s curvy, classic in type, and sound coming and going. His brindle is striking and beautiful, and it’s usually the first thing anyone comments on when I have him out socializing.

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Poet has also got classic Whippet temperament. He’s cuddly and snuggly and sweet with us, aloof but politely friendly with strangers, always seeking creature comforts, playful and wild and hot on the lure, all while being a typical laid back Whippet dude over all. Amazingly, he doesn’t have a even a hint of the typical Whippet separation anxiety that so affects much of the breed. Other than a bit of normal puppy whining (and a definite preference for sleeping in the bed with humans!) he’s been no trouble at all. He was an absolute breeze to leash train, and he also picked up basic obedience incredibly quickly. I’m not sure I have owned a Whippet with quite so much drive and quickness to learn obedience. He reminds me much more of training one of my shepherds or retrievers, in some ways. We are extremely interested in pursuing obedience with him as a result. Additionally, of course, we plan to do running sports and conformation with him. If all goes as planned, he may eventually be bred. In the mean time, we will keep enjoying raising and training him, and see where it all leads.

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Willow Obedience Practice at 8 Months Old

Very proud of my girl! We hope to go for our CD title this spring/summer. The issue now is that I think she may come in season soon, and bitches in season cannot compete. AKC obedience trials are all pre-entry by several weeks, meaning I’d lose my entry fee if she came in season after I entered, but before the trail. This is hugely disappointing to me, but I know we will get our chance soon. Here is today’s practice session. We have been training three or four times every day, and she has done amazingly well!

The Magic of Positive Training

No, I’m not one of those people who bickers about dog training constantly, nor do I object to tools like head halter collars, prong collars, choke chains, or even shock collars. Of course, I might complain or roll my eyes if the handler is not using the tool properly. Far greater damage is done to an animal with poor timing and general lack of skill and knowledge of dogs and their body language than by using any particular training method.

That said, there are simply some things that I cannot imagine accomplishing with any method other than shaping and marking (clicker or not). Among them would be the accomplishment that is this seemingly silly image:

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Willow, a mere eight months old in this photo, is performing five different commands at once. First, I asked her to put her paws up on a log she’d never seen before. I rewarded that and gave her a stay command. Then I dressed her up (no command there, just socialization and handling to this and many other things). The third command I gave her was take (the wand), then the fourth was to hold the and. Finally I backed away and then asked her to put her head down on her paws. This angle showed off her fairy wings best. She didn’t drop the wand, break her stay, or try to shake off her crown.

Not only does she do these things, and many more, she does them with a grin and a wagging tail (including in this very photo).

Most of this is just good fun, but these commands could also save her life some day, as well as making her an awesome working dog, fun pet, and great subject to take photos of.

Magic? Nope, pure science, like most things that appear magical. Happy training