Now Keen has lived with me a couple of months and he has adapted very well to his new pack. There are both advantages and disadvantages to taking over an adult dog / young dog compared to getting a puppy, but with Keen the benefits have really been greater than the concerns. It has become even better than I dared to hope for.
Before I got Seeker I wrote a list of what training I do with a puppy, this post can be found here: Puppy Frenzy. When I read it I see that it really is exactly the same things that I have done with Keen in recent months. Though he had quite a few foundations already, the training has mostly been about getting to know each other and him learning my cues. Here’s Keens list:
- Get to know the family – me, my husband, our daughter, Diesel and the cats of course. But also, our extended family: Lena with dogs, my husband’s siblings and parents and their dogs and my parents and their cats. He is very nice with our daughter and has now dropped from about 107 kisses a day, which was a bit too much, to maybe 10-20 kisses. 😉
- Explore the world at his own pace – because he is no longer a puppy, he already knows a lot about the world, but he still needs to explore his new world with me and learn how our world works. That he is a little older also makes it a little easier – he does not get as overwhelmed by new impressions although it is places and things he has not experienced before. For example, we have been on a rubber duck race, been walking with the push chair, been at nose work camp, stayed in hotels / hostels and more.
- Learn to be calm and relax – he was already very good at it. What we worked a little on is to be quiet at night, that is, sleep in his bed next to mine and not wander around. The first nights he slept behind a small gate just next to my bed, then the barrage was not needed anymore. He also wanted to lie just below our daughter when she ate food, but I thought that was impractical because she thought it was more fun to feed him than herself. 😉 Now he is lying in his bed when we eat and helps clean the floor when we are done.
- Recall – something that has been very nice is that he had a really nice recall, both on his name / voice cue and on the whistle. However, I chose to switch his whistle cue, so I worked with the recall with the new whistle, but it went very smoothly.
- Loose leash walking – he was also quite good at walking with a loose leash. When he is energetic, I sometimes need to remind him that he must walk properly anyway (by not letting him move forward when he pulls). In addition, he has learned to walk beside the push chair and not switch sides all the time. Something I also want my dogs to do is to automatically walk on my side of lampposts and trees so that they do not get tangled in and that he learned very quickly. In the leash training I also add two things that I think are important: to put on his collar / leash when I hold it in front of him (the dog inserts its head into the collar / loop instead of leaning in the other direction or running away) and stay with me when I remove the leash, that is, do not run away until I say “go on”. It took two short training sessions, so he had learned to put on the leash. Not running away when I remove the leash, he found to be little harder, so I have to remind him of that sometimes but for the most part it works well. Two leashes and a lot of rewards for staying with me before I say “go on” will solve that soon.
When it comes to the training, the focus has of course been on getting to know how much he already knows and move on from there. Here too my puppy training list is great:
- Play – as a foundation for mostly everything. I have used play primarily to teach him reversed luring – that he can hold something in his mouth when there are treats nearby. A very difficult task if you ask Keen. 😉 I have also used play to teach him to let release the toy on my cue “thank you”. He still thinks it is a bit difficult sometimes when he, for example, carries toys around and wants to have them himself.
- Hand target – I’ve also trained a lot with him to make him really come to me to deliver the objects so that I don’t have to reach for him.
- Delivery to hand – he already had a nice delivery to hand thought, but I have had to train a bit to get us in sync with the deliveries. This means, for example, that he should come to my hands without me having to reach for the object, that he should wait until I say “thank you” before releasing the object and that he should sit straight in front of me instead of crooked to the left of me in the delivery (when I want him to sit and present, usually I accept him standing up to deliver the object to me).
- Steadiness – he was very steady, so I just kept encouraging and rewarding him for that. He is used to his name being a release cue to start working and I use the name as an alert cue and then give the cue to start working. That is why I have been working on getting him to wait a bit when he hears his name and not run off immediately (except on marked retrieves, where I still cast him with his name, but not to his food bowl, out of the car, through the gate etc.).
- Heelwork – he had a steady heelwork, but I wanted to get him much closer to me (he preferred to walk half a meter in front of me;)).I have also worked on him sitting straight by my side (instead of at an angle) and sit when I stop.
- Hunting – He has an amazing nose that finds everything. I have been working to teach him my hunt whistle and to be able to break through with a stop whistle or a recall when he’s busy hunting. During the first week he also learned the eucalyptus scent so that only a few weeks later he could keep up with a nose work camp and do a great job!
Since he is not a puppy, but has a lot of other good things with him, I have moved on to some other things:
- Stop whistle – he had a pretty good stop whistle when he arrived. But I wanted him to sit on the stop whistle and to use my whistle, so I have been re-working the stop whistle and now it’s become quite good. We’re still working on it meaning the same thing at longer distances and when he is busy for example hunting for something.
- Marked retrieves – he is very good at that, he makes great single marked retrieves in different terrain and we have also tried a few double marked retrieves. We will continue to train even more in varying terrain and with varying distances.
- Blind retrieves – we work a lot with memory retrieves to build confidence in running a straight line. I have also started with the right / left / push back cues.
- Hunting – as I said he is very good at that, he always has his nose on. I will work a little with controlling how far away he should work (different hand signals for different distances).
We have been on a couple of hunts (duck, partridge, pheasant, hare and more) and he has worked great! Calm, focused, quiet and steady. He has a good heelwork, nice marking ability and a great hunting ability. The stop whistle, the casting and the “take the first one” game (that is, do not switch objects) is working in progress. In everyday life he is mischievous and happy, but when it came time for hunting, he took on his serious suit and became extremely focused. 🙂
I am so incredibly happy that everyday life with Keen works so well. That our biggest challenges are about details in different parts of the training, feels luxurious and exciting. It will be lots of fun to continue to work together with this guy. 🙂