To beat the autumn blues we make sure to keep busy eight days a week! Yesterday evening we took Wilder and Titan to the dog club for some indoor rally training. As it turns out, our dogs are not the only Malamutes at the club; yesterday a sweet 7-year-old girl called Nala joined the class too. Fun! Our own training didn’t go super yesterday, the focus wasn’t there and the execution was more than just a bit sloppy. As we continue training we need to increase the reward criteria gradually and wean our dogs off the treats. But for now the main thing is that we’re having fun and that they feel confident in their work. For a 4-year-old dog that has never done any type of formal training (apart from the obedience training we integrate in our harness work) Titan did well and his tail was wagging non-stop!
Good boy Titan!
As you can see, I’m holding the leash in my left hand. This is not ideal for rally training but a bad habit that I have. By taking photos during training I notice my mistakes and can correct them. Here, for example, I should have started out with my left leg, not the right, as I wanted Titan to follow me.
Titan surprised us by nailing the station “Down and walk around your dog” at his first attempt.
The weave cones were harder, probably because he is a large dog and my handling was pretty poor.
An important part of training is learning how to wait patiently while the other dogs are having fun.
Wilder kept a constant eye on me during the “Down, and walk around” exercise.
He’s making good progress at the static exercises (sit, down and stand) but struggles with his heelwork. In fact, I think all our dogs struggle with heelwork and since Rally-O is all about moving smoothly on a loose leash, this is something that we really have to work on.
Oh no, the leash is in the left hand again!
Wilder at the start of the class…
…and after two hours 😉 Nothing beats Rally Obedience in making a Mal tired!
Every time I struggle with training I return to Ruth Kellogg’s excellent work “Happy Dogs with Benevolent Leaders” published in 2012. This CD-book is made up of 900 pages jam-packed with detailed and practical advice on everything from daily Malamute care and pack management, to building the foundations for formal training. In the three accompanying DVDs, Ruth and her Inharmony Malamutes (ages ranging from young puppies to adult dogs) demonstrate in videos how to introduce and train all the foundation skills needed for sports like rally, obedience and agility. I find her work very inspiring, not the least because she is a Malamute trainer and most other authors of dog training books are not. Before we re-start our heel training, I’m going to re-read the chapter about Precision Heeling and watch the accompanying video on Disc #2. I’m certain it will put me right back on track!