This is a for-fun post since I'm deviating from my normal download of training information. If you're looking for something interesting to shake up your Monday, this ought to do it!
I have a feeling that if scientists ever took a picture of my brain while "crafting", it'd look like all those giant pictures of the sun in science books - constant eruptions (solar flares and plasma for all of you with kids in school) and BRIGHT spots every where. Of course, I think that's what it would like while parenting or training puppies . . . they'd probably return my brain to me and say, "We're sorry, Mrs. Kelley, it's broken and we can't fix it!"
Crafting is my overall term in the Kelley house for all things creative that I attempt and teach myself to do. To fully understand the depth of meaning in that term, you'd have to speak to my husband about the state of my supplies. "Waste not, want not" made it to my generation and I have bins full of just about anything you can imagine and yes, I literally have a huge burlap sack of prime sheep wool, hot off the ram, so to speak.
I also . . . have an ever-growing bin of dog hair.
For those of you with Goldens in the house, you know what I mean. Those piles of fur you sweep up when they're blowing their coat make it look like you've murdered some poor fur-fairy and spread the fluff all over your floor.
Did you know you're sweeping up chiengora? It's a word primarily used to describe yarn spun from dog hair, but has also been more broadly used to describe things created from dog fur. To a self-taught knitter of 20 years, this was a whole new world for me!
Did you also know that dog fur is up to 80% WARMER than wool? That folks have mittens made from dog fur and request to have wool added just to cool it down? Mind blown. (To my dear mother-in-law with the constantly frozen fingers . . . beware, you may be wearing the hair of the dog this Christmas!)
I have worked with baby alpaca fiber, prime sheep wool, and yes, the cheap acrylic yarn from Wal-Mart that's indestructible in its cheapness, but I had never worked with dog fur before. It is unbelievably soft. No wonder Golden Retrievers look amazing when they're all blown dry and combed out.
My latest hunt for something new to learn accidentally dropped me into the world of needle felting. Needle felting literally consists of poking a lump of wool with a barbed needle. I had no idea they did this with dog fur . . . I had no idea they did this period!
Did you see Rhonda's Facebook post not too long ago in June? That was my first attempt at both needle felting and working with dog fur. I bought some barbed needles (already stabbed my fingers a few times - they need a disclaimer "points are sharper than they appear"), studied quite a few photos online, and groomed Goose. Unique and unforgettable birthday gift - check.
Wow. So. Much. Fun. and incredibly life-like. Plus, it does not stink. It's like any other luxury fiber when washed. Lovely.
I started my first 3D needle felting sculpture this past week. Would you like to see? I haven't added the actual dog hair yet and it's still in the sculpting stage, so no judgement. ;) I'm rather fond of this little guy already though. It will be challenging and exciting to give him his Golden coat!
There's your fun and interesting new fact for the day: that fur you're sweeping off your floor is actually worth something. It's actually a prized fiber. So next time someone says to you that dogs shed too much, whip this fact out and tell them, if you wanted, you could sell that "shedding" to a fiber artist. :)
Who knew? Who knew.
In case you missed it, we just opened up our Fall 2018 and Winter 2018 puppy reservations. Check out what we have available here on Our Puppies page. We also have some exciting things coming up, so stay tuned with our newsletter.
Thanks for reading.
I've been thinking on this lately and wanted to share with our reading families just how much training you can do without actually doing anything special or out of the ordinary and . . . without treats.
I heard from one of our families this week about how they felt their Golden had grown a bit spoiled. He's two and they wanted to brush up on his skills to get his Canine Good Citizenship. But, he isn't overly food motivated, so it was proving challenging for them to train with him. How do you train when you can't use the traditional treat method? What else is there?
Real Life Rewards.
Real Life Rewards (RLR) is a phrase made popular by Suzanne Clothier, a well respected trainer whose work is world renowned. (Incidentally, my bucket list includes meeting her and her Hawks Hunt German Shepherds! :) Some of you have already been using RLR with your training at home because a) you've made enough mistakes that, like Thomas Edison, you've found that many ways not to train or b) you're just smart. :)
Real life rewards are...real life rewards. These are things your dog values but cannot do for themselves. Everyone jokingly refers to my home as the "Gated Community", which I guess it is true enough! I have gates for babies and puppies all over the place (I'm told normal people have doors).
For any of our Gold Select™ pups to gain access to the living room, the basement, the stairway, the upstairs (which is hallowed ground for any Golden here)...they have to...you guessed it. Earn privileged entry through my GATES. Every gate is an opportunity to practice RLR training. Each of the pups is intrinsically motivated (motivated from within) to get somewhere in my home because it's not something they can do for themselves (and of course, the grass is always greener on the other side!). I have to do it for them. They need me.
You want to go potty?
You want to go to the basement with me?
You want to go outside?
You want breakfast?
You want this toy?
One of the keys to success in this is consistency. For example: for Evie to earn her RLR (for this example, it's access to my living room and the kids), when I give her the command to "Down" once without a physical cue (hand signal to down), she has three seconds to give me a solid, snappy looking down. If she half-heartedly slides into a lazy looking down, I'll quietly tell her it was a nice job, but no living room. We'll come back to that "gate" again maybe 2-3 minutes later.
The other key to success is understanding the ability level of your dog. I know what Evie's abilities and limitations are. Right now, she's working to anticipate what my command will be. The faster I do this, Mom, the sooner I get to go past the gate, right? Wrong. The faster you listen to what I'm saying and do it well, you get to go past the gate! Evie knows her commands, but like any smart doggo, wants to out-think me. :) If down worked for this gate, it should work for that gate. Nope! Good guess, but no reward.
Switch up your commands and make sure your dog isn't simply out-guessing you. This form of training really asks our Goldens to THINK. The next time Evie wants to get through the gate to the living room, I might ask her to sit and wait while I walk through the open gate and around the corner..."Come, Evie!" Oh what a beautiful thing - she's proud of herself, she's enjoying the reward for her work, and I'm a happy trainer. :)
Pictured below: Heidi (former Gold Select™ Young Adult, Spring 2018) enjoying some quality kid and living room time. :)
Remember when I said this phrase was made popular by Suzanne Clothier? She put out an eBook in December of 2016 called Attentive Cooperation, which I highly recommend. Actually, I recommend just about anything of Clothier's that you can take the time to read. Many of you may already be using RLR without realizing it - but to recognize it and use it intentionally, it is a powerful tool.
Here's an article about treats and rewards to add to your reading too: All Interesting and Stuff. I love how descriptive and creative Suzanne is. When I'm feeling out of ideas, I'll remind myself to think outside the box and tune into the Golden I'm working with. What does she find interesting? Our dogs aren't robots and neither are they BORING! The relationship we have with them is a two way street, so if we're struggling to understand what they're saying to us...maybe we need to get back to the basics of just connecting. :)
If you're interested in learning more about adopting a Gold Select™ Puppy or Young Adult, head on over to our Gold Select page. The focus in our training is the relationship - teaching our Goldens the merits of RLR, the joy in connecting with us, and giving them to the tools and skills to live in a way that is a service to others.
Thanks for reading!
We also hung out by the local Co-op on the benches...practicing quiet lying down can be tough for go-getter Evie, but she did it like a champ today. She was allowed to greet some people walking by and asked to sit still without being pet with others. To those of you who had to walk by, I'm sorry. Catch us next time! To the giggly girls who stopped by and helped me give Evie a real workout on self-control, THANK YOU! :)
With only a limited number of puppies that can go through our Gold Select training program at a time, don't hesitate to let us know if you'd like to have your puppy trained before they go home with you. We'll work together to find the right puppy to match with your family and the right amount of time until the training torch is passed on to you. :)
Below are the upcoming litters - please contact us to get on the waiting list for a Summer 2018 puppy. :)
Silas x Charlie
Connor x Bonnie Sue
Thanks for reading!
Happy Barking everybody...
Nothing is more frustrating then when your pup is pulling you down the sidewalk and you're apologetically glancing at the people around you...on the flip side, nothing is cuter than a puppy walking quietly along the sidewalk on a LOOSE LEAD! Enter - sidewalk manners.
Harper and Evie were out working hard this week practicing on the streets of Waukon and Decorah. On one hand, Harper practiced on wobbly playground stairs, met kids walking on paths, and hit the more rural sidewalks of Waukon. She is beautifully sweet on the lead! This week, she'll be leaving the quiet Snitker house where's she has been with Rhonda and trading it in for the hustle and bustle of the Kelley home.
Training Tip: Always reward your pup when they yield to tension on the lead (e.g. when they reach the end of the lead, feel the tension, and yield to it). Mark it and praise!
Evie hit the happening city sidewalks of Decorah this week. She has super eye contact and when you have her attention, you have all of it. She loved the energy in the city and did a great job on the lead. She actually got TIRED this last trip.
We stopped and had kids practice approaching while she sat and waited patiently. Evie loves meeting new people and she did a fabulous job of using her manners. :)
Training Tip: Your pup should learn that an approaching human is not an invitation to greet! Instead, have them practice self-control and wait patiently regardless of whether or not they are greeted.
Today, Evie leaves to trade places with Harper. She'll be practicing life in a quiet home while Harper will get a hefty dose of activity here in the Kelley home. :)
Did you know that simply gazing into your dog's eyes can make you healthier?
Did you know that by simply stroking your dog you could live longer?
It's true! A study done in Japan found that spending time gazing into your dog's eyes and stroking them will spike your oxytocin levels by 300% and your dog's by 130%!
More oxytocin = less stress = better health and longer life.
Dr. Miho Nagasawa and a research team in Japan set out to test what they called the "oxytocin-mediated positive loop" between dogs and humans. (Science, 2015) What they found was that the parent-child bond that is formed by the release of oxytocin in humans could be mirrored by dogs and their owners! “These results suggest that humans may feel affection for their companion dogs similar to that felt toward human family members,” Dr Miho Nagasawa, from the department of animal science at Azabu University in Sagamihara, Japan confirmed. (Almo Nature)
Mind blown. Going to go stroke Evie now and work on eye contact.
Read the full study from Dr. Miho Nagasawa and his team here.
Puppies will be due later this summer! To learn more about what we have coming up, please visit Our Puppies. Harper and Evie are going through our Gold Select training program and will be working towards their AKC S.T.A.R. Puppy distinction as well as their Canine Good Citizenship title.
DOB: January 20, 2018
We blinked and all of the sudden...our little girl is ready for class!
Harper is a sweet, sweet soul, though it's no surprise because her mother is one too. :) We're lengthening the sit-stay and down-stay now and will be working towards her AKC S.T.A.R. Puppy distinction just like pups in the Gold Select program.
Puppy Class officially starts in a few weeks, so we'll be taking her (and Evie, an Oakley/Silas daughter) on the road for some great training experiences with our favorite folks at the Good Dog Center.
TRAINING TIP: Tackle time or distance at first for your stays. Not both at the same time!
Thank goodness for warmer weather. We've been out on the almost-green grass this week training with "distractions". What a tough lesson. It's hard to focus when there are so many fun kids laughing in the sandbox nearby or cats sunbathing on the porch. :)
Harper and her siblings are hitting the end of the critical learning period soon, so we're wrapping up the baby stage and heading into the teens. One of the books I've been reading through lately is "Genetics and the Social Behavior of the Dog. A Classic Study". It's a real mouthful, but it's full of great information.
Part of what Drs Fuller and Scott discovered is that the Juvenile Period (teenage period) is marked, not by new patterns of learning like the Socialization Period, but instead by building on what was learned during that time. (p. 108) Their learning is fully developed at this point...but like anyone at this age, they also have "poor motor skills", "short attention spans" and "emotional excitability". (p. 109)
Yep. They got that part right! We call this the gangly stage for our pups because they're all legs and feet.
Scott and Fuller also write,
So really - a puppy's brain is playing Tetras and fitting all the pieces together. :)
The scary part is that around 12 weeks of age, the imprinting window starts closing - rapidly - so your puppy is going to respond in the future to their environment by how and where those building blocks are being placed now.
No pressure, right? (Rubbing forehead and sighing)
Snitker Goldens - Where Imprinting Matters