Puppy Something...into the light...sort of
Time has marched on since we last updated our puppy chronicle. Koa was 10 months and things were looking up. How are things now do you ask? Before I answer, let's detail what has happened in the last 6-8 months.
Koa sailed through puppy kindergarten and general obedience classes. It was a wonderful start for him but we had issues that really needed working on like heeling. Walking with my dog is one of my favourite activities. A walk for your dog is stimulation and excercise but it's also excellent bonding time. However, if your dog pulls and is generally unmanageable, that bonding time can turn into one big stressful experience.
Luckily Koa's breeder is also a trainer, so we decided to sign up for his classes and make the hour and a half journey (each way!) to work with him. The class was all GSDs. Not necessarily a prerequisite for a successful environment, but it was nice to work with other GSD owners and know that you weren't alone in some of the issues that specific breed owners face. Sometimes in regular class it wasn't easy to look over at the sweet, soft Golden Doodle puppy working beside you and not feel a little envy at how obedient they were next to your slightly stubborn and resistant Shepherd pup. Plus there was always the look of sympathy on some of the other owner's faces that was a bit difficult to endure...but I digress!
Koa's trainer works with a clicker and that little piece of plastic was a boon to us. Koa responded to clicker training immediately! A clicker basically marks behaviour. So every time the pup gives you what you ask for you click to mark it and treat. I won't lie sometimes it's mechanically tough in that holding a clicker and getting a treat ready and making sure your timing is impeccable can take practice. But once I got the timing down Koa responded very well. Now Koa heels like a champ. (well except when he sees a squirrel, but hey it's a journey!)
Koa is now 16 months! He is grown physically, but his brain....well let's just say there is a ways to go yet. I always thought the baby puppy stage would be the hardest to get through, but honestly right now is one of the toughest. He is basically a moody, rebellious and defiant teenager that takes every OUNCE of our patience. He will literally grab something and start destroying it in front of us just to show us that we are not the boss of him. In response we work. We remind him through training of what we expect of him. We use the nothing in life is free method where he has to work for everything. Sometimes it helps and others, well those are the days you take a deep breath and remain calm!
I know we will get through this and in another 4-6 months he will be fully mature and over this "I'm not doing ANYTHING you ask stage"....I hope!
However, because I like to focus on the positive, I have to list some of his amazing qualities.
1. You can take a bone out of his mouth mid chew and he could care less
2. He loves other dogs
3. He loves all people big and small
4. He has learned to settle at night when Mom and Dad are tired and just want to binge out on Grey's Anatomy.
And on that note I will leave you again and we shall see what the future holds......