Baby Thor

Baby Thor

Training Thor

In January 2010, Thor, a 5-month-old weimaraner, came crashing into my life.

Here, I will outline the steps taken to train him to be a well-mannered dog,

to do agility, and to perform some service dog tasks.

At five months, he is pretty wild.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Agility Class #3

Interestingly, a new dog once again joined our class.  This was able to happen because the handler has previously trained another dog and had already started this one.  But it certainly is disruptive!  The handler, who I know from trials, is someone who does not supervise her dogs closely and does not put their best interests first.  I say this because she chooses to set up her dogs very close to the agility rings at a trial and then complains when her dogs bark!  Several people have spoken to her about this and at the last trial she finally parked further away.  So maybe she is learning.

At the beginning of class, I was sitting on the sidelines doing attention work with Thor.  The A-frame was set near the spectator area and could, of course, been taken from either side.  If I were choosing to do it, I'd have sent my dog so he was moving away from other dogs.  But this handler chose to put her dog over the A-frame coming right at Thor.  At the bottom, her dog was not 3 feet from us.  Naturally, the dogs reacted.  I just kept feeding Thor and got his attention back quickly.  Throughout the first half of class, I was trying to move around enough to keep Thor away from the oblivious handler.  That's really hard for me these days with my impaired mobility.

I've been using forearm crutches in most areas of my life.  I don't yet use them with Thor because I really need two hands to control him.  But it means that I spend part of each class sitting on the ground!  I don't mind that, but would it be asking to much to expect others to steer clear of us?  Linda, who is training GSD Vasso, has the dog that interests Thor the most.  Yet Linda is very knowledgeable and very aware of her dog and their surroundings.  She has done a great job helping me by keeping her distance and asking from time to time if she is in a good place.  My friend who has a sheltie, Lucy, is less aware but since Thor has little interest in Lucy that has not been a problem.  But this new handler and dog... tough stuff.

About halfway through class, we were working on ramp bottom behavior.  Dogwalk planks were placed across a low table with a target at the end.  Thor raced to the end but was more interested in Kathy who was standing there than the food on the target.  When Kathy stepped in to point out and reposition the food treat, Thor leapt into her face to greet her.  This happened several times and I was unable to stop it.  I was afraid that Kathy was getting hurt.  So I left, put Thor in his crate in the car, and sat in the car to give myself a break.

When Kathy came out, I shared my frustration with trying to control Thor and my frustration with the new handler not keeping better distance between her dog and the others.  We talked for a few minutes, and I sent Kathy back to class but not before she suggested I bring Thor in after class to play with him alone.  Good idea. 

Alone in the building, Thor was a different dog.  I was able to send him into tunnels from all angles and work rear crosses with two jumps.  Kathy commented on Thor's distance skills!  So, we ended on a good/positive note, thanks to Kathy.  I think Thor needs more exercise prior to class...

Monday, October 11, 2010

Agility Class # 2

There was a new dog in class (he'd been getting neutered the week before).  Junior is a Brittany who took an extreme interest in Thor.  Thor was equally interested, and the two kept trying to get closer to each other.  I sat out several exercises in order to work on attention on the sidelines with Thor.  He responded well to this, and I will plan to do it again. 

After we rejoined the class, Junior managed to get away from his (two) handlers and came right to Thor.  Junior growled, Thor play bowed.  It was a little bit scary because of the growl.  After Junior was corraled, Kathy used the opportunity to explain why a dog should never be corrected for growling.  Corrections may remove the growling and you are left with a dog who gives no warning.  This can be a very dangerous dog.  This is something I understand well.  No doubt my Vada was punished for growling.  Her attacks (of other dogs) came with no indication of how she was feeling.  Eventually, Vada became a home dog and I no longer took her places because of her unpredictability.  She was much happier after that.

I told Junior's owners that I saw nothing really alarming in his behavior and that Kathy was right.  However, they decided not to return to class.  They emailed Kathy and explained that they had moved and it was simply too far to come.  I suspect they were surprised at how much difficulty they had controlling Junior and that that played at least some part in their decision.  Anyway, I'm glad they won't be back.