It’s not speed dating

It’s not speed dating

Over the years I have had the absolute pleasure of getting to know Shayne and Rio as learners, as individuals, and as creatures navigating the world and I credit part of this to the way I have chosen to train my pups.

This is more than just learning their likes and dislikes or their temperament. It’s corny and really cliche but it’s this amazing journey of getting to know one another at a really deep level. I must say that it is one of the most humbling feelings to be able to get to know animals in such a deep level. I wish more people could value this type of journey with their dogs because I think they would be amazed at just how well they can get to know their dogs by just observing and allowing their dogs an opportunity to be themselves.

I know that Shayne is a ridiculously serious dog. Even the fun times in life for her are work–playing disc is work, tugging is work, nose games are work (the one exception is her joy of rolling in the grass). Her focus is absolutely incredible. When running around at the farm, she’s working to hunt out critters or just stoically taking in the views. Everything she does, she does with absolute gusto and a serious purpose. She wouldn’t be caught dead doing something goofy or ridiculous intentionally. She is easily frustrated when shaping totally new behaviors, sometimes she can work through it but other times her level of frustration (even when my criteria is low/broad) is too much to make her work through. She is very quick to figure it out with help of a lure or some other aid. She is a dog who needs time to percolate with the things she learns–if I work on a behavior and leave it alone for a few days (or longer even), the next time I come back to it, there is a really good chance that the behavior is even better than it was the last time. If Shayne decides she likes you, she constantly challenges the law of physics that says two objects cannot occupy the same space at the same time by snuggling in as close as possible all the time. For all of her challenges with dogs, she is incredibly tolerant and forgiving.

Rio is the complete opposite of Shayne in many many respects. He is an absolute goofball. I am not sure he takes ANYTHING seriously (except maybe chasing critters/lure and when he does meet and greets with people). His work is all play–agility is a fun game, training is play, and his play is play. His world revolves around being silly–he sleeps in funny positions, is a total wise-guy, is sneaky-sneaky, and thinks everything in life is a game. He does some of the most ridiculous things every day–climbing through the tube on the cat tower, climbing trees, being Mr. Humpy-pants JUST to get Shayne to drop a toy, and his “Fine! I’ll play by myself” attitude when I won’t throw toys for him in the yard so he throws them himself. Rio loves to shape behaviors and can be incredibly creative about what he offers (touching something with his nose is always offered and so is a hip target). Although we can use lures (and hand target as lures), he finds this a bit too high pressure for him at times–capturing and shaping are much more his style. Rio also challenges the idea that no two objects can occupy the same place at the same time except he wants nothing to do with cuddling just wants to stand on a lap or just very literally occupy the same space (but please don’t cuddle!).

It’s such an awesome feeling to realize just how well I know my dogs and it’s a great feeling to just reflect on them as beings.

So, tell me about YOUR dogs. What have you learned about them in your time together?

  1. Delta and Shayne are so similar. She’s such a serious dog and is always working. We will be going through therapy workshop soon, and while I definitely think there will be places that will be perfect for her to go (conventions when I am working to promote the crisis response team we’re on) she definitely isn’t a love love love you pet me please type of dog like Doc. She still thinks she is working so eyes are always on me. She’s quick to get frustrated or ‘over stimulated’ with frustration when shaping. Taking frequent breaks with shaping is a must for her. I don’t ever think I’ve seen that joyful expression on her face like I do Doc’s. Always so serious. Even when lure coursing. It’s about getting that bag… and when she has it. Okay, on to the next thing.

    Doc is similar to Rio, however I feel he’s still more serious than Rio. Doc loves rolling outside and running circles by himself in the backyard with a sloppy grin on his face while he does it. Acting super happy and lovey can get him to do most anything. He works rather well for praise, while that is something Delta is learning how to do. A smile makes Doc smile. He definitely has his serious moments, but he’s still so silly and playful. Shaping is a lot of fun for him, he generally stays calm and level headed and can work for longer periods of time with shaping. Luring can be a bit intimidating for him at times, and I’ll see him shy away if I’m pushing him too much. Delta works well under pressure, if I seem a bit flustered by something they do, Delta will still listen to what I’m saying so I don’t get ‘madder’ type of deal, while Doc will just curl up by me and not do anything in hopes to appease me. My mom takes this as him not listening well because if you tell them to do something in even the bit harshest of tones, Doc stares at you like ‘please don’t be mad’ while Delta will listen. I just know it’s who he is, and he has a hard time working through when he even has a small inkling that mom is mad at him

    • Shayne and Delta really are alike in so many ways (except that lure coursing things… Shayne has NO idea why other dogs chase a stupid plastic bag). Doc and Rio really are such big softies! Rio is just a bit more ridiculous… Doc has a great level of silliness but is grounded nicely!

      I love how you describe them!

  2. Awwww, I love this post! I wish I had the time to do your question justice!

    Shiva is more like Rio than Shayne. She comes by her “doofus” nickname naturally. She is a true hedonist, everything is about having a good time. However, she can also be incredibly impatient. She doesn’t like waiting, in fact, this is one of the central causes of her anxiety. While she is brimming with drive she doesn’t always have patience to apply this in a way that gets her what she wants. She is all rush and no planning. But for all that she has an awesome sense of humour and doesn’t care what anyone thinks. She doesn’t let fear get in the way of having a good time. In my opinion, she is the bravest dog in the world.

    • I think you’ve done a fabulous job thinking about and describing Shiva. In all the blogs of yours that I’ve read, I don’t think I ever realized just how impatient she was… impulsive, yes, impatient, I didn’t realize. She seems like such an awesome character!

  3. This is such a great post, Tena … your posts always are, but it’s great to hear you talk about Shayne and Rio just as Shayne and Rio … they are amazing dogs and I love hearing about them!

  4. Risa is a lot like Rio. But you already knew that. 🙂

    She is a thinker and I think she really gets a kick out of problem-solving. While she does occasionally get frustrated during shaping sessions, she still works through it. Even if it means she needs to walk away for a minute and come back and try again.

    Risa is also creative and funny. Despite her fears, she is actually rather curious and really enjoys investigating things. I encourage this as much as I can because of her history.

    While she can be serious, I don’t think she often is. Life is a game and it’s about having a good time. She also has great self-control (except when it comes to lure coursing) and is still a go-go-go dog even at her age. Though she might be a bit sore afterward these days, it doesn’t stop her from going at it full throttle.

    Risa is definitely not a cuddler but she does enjoy body contact more than ever before. I can snuggle with her in bed and for brief periods on the couch. But, otherwise, she’d rather be off on her own. She’ll get up to follow me if I leave 9 times out of 10. But she doesn’t need to be right there on top of me.

    She’s also incredibly forgiving. I made a lot of mistakes with her in the past and she certainly had a rough start. But she’s bounced back pretty well and very few people would recognize her now if they knew her back then.

    • I also want to add she’s incredibly sensitive. This is not a good thing most of the time because she easily picks up on me being a bit frustrated with her. Even if it’s not incredibly overt, she still picks up on it and shuts down a bit. So it’s something I have to be really cognizant of and I often avoid training with her if I’m even the least bit grumpy.

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