We’re just going to have fun. No big goals. No tough challenges. For our Train the Dog Month Challenge, Honey and I are going to have a good time doing tricks for treats.
But sometimes the dog changes the plan.
Or some human changes the plan and blames it on the dog.
Honey Goes Sailing
If you’ve been wagging with us for a while, you may know that in my mid-40s I decided to learn to sail for the first time. I
dragged my husband along enticed my husband to join the adventure and now I’m working on Honey.
Big news! We’re chartering a sailboat for a week in May. This is the first time we’ve sailed for so long without another captain on board.
And even bigger news—the charter company is allowing us to bring Honey!
Let the training begin.
Our Training Goals
To become better sailors, I’ve set goals for myself. Some of them have to do with technical skills, like anchoring, docking, and sail management. But most of them have to do with character.
Our human training goals include
- remaining calm in scary moments
- communicating clearly with our partner even when we’re under stress
- having a can-do attitude when things break
Honey has only sailed once. And never for more than a few hours. So she has training goals too. She must
- be confident moving onto and off of a moving boat or dinghy (when you’re not confident, you fall in the water)
- know when to stay out from underfoot
- remain calm when wind and weather make the boat noisy and uncomfortable
So our fun month of training has become the first of a several month workout to increase Honey’s confidence, impulse control, and agility.
We just got the good news Wednesday. So I haven’t had time to work up a plan. Heck. When do I ever plan?
But I’m making a mental list of things we’ll be doing with Honey to meet our training goals.
Increasing a Dog’s Confidence, Impulse Control, and Agility
Once Honey starts smelling treats, her reluctance to do new things fades. But ramps, grates, and things that move underfoot still cause her concern.
The wobble board is coming back out. I’ll put the ramp against the steps to give Honey practice. And we’ll be seeking out strange surfaces on our walks. Every new experience Honey deals with successfully makes her more confident.
At times, Honey has excellent impulse control.
I’ve taught her to stay on her bed in the kitchen while I’m cooking or preparing her food. She’s very good at it.(Did you see our Honest Kitchen video review where she stayed on her pillow the whole time I was talking and preparing her food?)
But it doesn’t mean Honey controls herself at other excitable moments. Like when she’s greeting someone in the house. We definitely need to work on this.
I need to be sure that if I tell Honey to “go to bed” and “stay” she’ll do it. Especially if bad weather comes up and we need to concentrate on boat handling.
Honey will find it challenging as I press her to stay calm when exciting things happen. But I have a feeling our house guests (at least the ones who won’t like having 50 pounds of golden fur in their laps) will appreciate the results.
So far I’ve assumed we’d have to install a ramp in a boat to get Honey down the companionway. In many smaller sailboats, you go below by ladder.
But what if I could teach Honey to walk up and down a ladder? I know dogs do. This is definitely an advanced skill for Honey. I’ve seen nothing to show me she’s inclined to learn to climb. But it can’t hurt to try.
And even if we fail, we can still improve her agility in the process.
Training for Life, Not for a Month
I love Train Your Dog month. Especially since the Association of Pet Dog Trainers, who started the whole thing, emphasize training as a way to build your relationship and not just an attempt to “fix” the annoying things your dog does.
I’ve focused on training this month. But it’s a lifetime process. Sometimes we do more. Sometimes we do less. But I’m always looking for ways to improve my relationship with Honey. And training is a fun and interesting way to build our bond.
Did I convince you?
Join the Train Your Dog Month Challenge along with my co-hosts at Rescued Insanity and Alfie’s Blog. Set a small goal to work on with your dog. Stop back here at the end of the month to tell us about it in the comments. Or if you write a blog yourself, you can link to your post so we can all see it.
Every eligible person who enters by sharing their challenge in the comments on our January 31, 2014 post or the link list will get a chance to win a donation to their favorite animal charity and a special treat for themselves and their dogs.
But the best treat you’ll get is the fun of spending time training with your dog. And what’s better than that?
Your Turn: Are you working on any special training goals with your dogs? Any tips for meeting my training goals with Honey? And can anyone recommend a comfortable and buoyant life jacket for Honey? Her current one is too small.