What will this dog teach me – part 1

Getting to know a new dog individual, a new puppy, is one of the most exciting things in life. My dogs are so incredibly different and have all taught me things in different ways. When I wrote this it was just a month until Flippa’s first birthday and I was pretty sure I knew what it is she will teach me, most of all.

Flippa is amazing. She is everything I want in a dog! She has great confidence, she is smart, quick-thinking, always happy, easy to learn, heedful, she has speed, drive in hunt, a nice retrieve and is starting to become a champ in lining and handling. She is good at settling down with minimal help from me. She is steadily focused. And she makes me laugh efter day. 🙂

And. She easily makes noise. The first two weeks she spent in our home, I was a bit shocked at how much noise she would make. Quling and Tassla almost never made noise as pups, Tassla has obtained some whining over the years and may whine whilst waiting for her turn during hunts or bark at the shooters when they miss…(cough, cough) 😉 But she is not, in fact, a noisy dog.

Flippa made so much noise as a pup, I wondered if she was sick. She would whine before she peep, pooped, when she was simply standing around, when she ran around, and so forth. She also seemed completely unaware of her noise and it was not in association to frustration or directed at me. The everyday-puppy-noises did calm down with time and I studied her nervously if she would bring this with her into training. They have shown up a bit in training, but primarily in specific situations and I have been very thorough in analyzing when they show up and why – and learn how to deal with them. 

Flippa can be completely silent for an entire training-session. But in the next, she may start making noise before we have even started. I have now identified three situations in where noise MAY occur:

  • When there is a conflict within her. For example, if I want to send her on a blind, but have thrown a mark as a distraction to the left. And she REALLY wants to go get that mark.
  • When she has no task. She is basically always silent if I ask her to sit and stay, while I do something else, and this we have trained from the get-go. But simply standing and watching is difficult.
  • When it is messy around us. The first time we trained with my new training buddies, (we are only three people) the other dogs ran around, the environment was new, with new dogs who were barking, quite close, and she wanted to play with all of them, but she was on the leash. So, this was also a conflict for her.

I see all of these things as vastly trainable. I also work a great deal with not being predictable, but still very clear about what we are going to do. She may not mark and retrieve like an idiot, for example. It is, after all, very common with noise in correlation with anticipation, generally, and I have been very thorough in making sure she gets zero reward from it. She actually hasn’t had much anticipation-related noise, though I think the first point is associated with anticipation. When she thinks (anticipates) she is going to get to do something but I ask her for something else. However, she doesn’t make noise after a mark, and not if I don’t let her retrieve, and walk out to get it myself. I don’t think she is aware of the noise coming from her, but she is still in the wrong state of mind when she makes noise, so it is the state of mind (feeling) that needs to change.

In the next part of this text I will tell you more of how I handle these three points, and about dealing with them in the short and long term. To be continued!

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