Who is training who? I’d like to think that we are training Gracie, but in fact, she may have equal billing right now.

Gracie in Art's lap
Gracie the “lap dog”

We started puppy training classes- we are going into week 4 now. Art joined me last week for the first time and now is on board with the lingo. Our trainer is very skilled and good with both dogs and horses. She seems to really enjoy Gracie but does acknowledge that Gracie is a dog that will greatly benefit from this training. Gracie is very receptive to the food reward training regime. I feel like a crazy person with my training bag strapped around my waist filled with carefully prepared chicken cubes, but hey, a person has to do what a person has to do!

Reward treats
Chicken used as a reward for training Gracie
Petsafe training pouch
The training pouch we use

We are learning to use the clicker as a signal to good behavior. It works like this- behavior, click, treat. Gracie is very patient as I rifle through the training bag, or my pocket to find her treat – but patience has its reward in the end- that lesson she seems to be quite skilled at.

Tools for training
The clicker we use and the “squeaky ball”

Gracie has just turned 5 months old so she is still very much in the learning phase of her life so far. Our goal, of course, is that she will come when called. In time we can let her be off leash in safe situations.

Every dog owner has these as goals but not every owner achieves them. I stumbled upon this blog post while I was searching for the toy maker of a favorite toy of hers. This toy seems to be indestructible- a plus for a Lab owner! If you have time, give it a read. It’s short but gives an interesting history of the Labs roots and why they are the dog they are today. Happy go lucky and a dog who needs plenty of exercise.

Right now Gracie happily watches the wild turkeys, on leash, in our yard. She seems to be fascinated with them and has only tried to chase one once. They are quite large- particularly in the winter months as they “fluff up” their feathers to stay warm. I am glad that she sees them as just another thing in the yard and not as a challenge so far. Squirrels are about the same too so maybe there will be hope for calmer walks as she grows older.

Wild turkeys
Wild turkeys in our yard

Walking in the city is much different with the cars, people and other distractions. I wish that I had brought her in sooner to experience these things so they wouldn’t seem like something to lunge at. Here is where the true work will pay off. We did a quick trial over the weekend. My fingers were frozen reaching into my pouch for the chicken! It went well for our first time.

We are- and when I say we I mean me- tasked to take her on field trips to town and introduce her to these different scenarios. I am in Portland often- usually twice a week. I need to get walking on leash under control so that it is a pleasure and not a hazard walking her near all of the distractions. Phew!

Chicken in pouch- dry biscuits in pocket ,we will journey out into the world and see if we can master the fine art of “being a good, well trained dog”. I don’t remember all of this work in the ownership of my past 4 dogs, 2 Labs, 1 boxer and 1 Mastiff mix. I guess you only tend to remember the best and not the worst of situations.

Wish us luck- share any and all of your tricks and I will keep you posted with our progress.

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