3.15.2014

#SOL14 - Puppy Love

First: Happy Ides of March! This will be my first time in a few years to not post about the Ides on the 15th, but something has come up that is a little more important than my love of the Ides!

One week ago yesterday, I was running around work like a complete crazy woman, attempting to finish up all the last minute details that needed attending before Spring Break was in full swing.

The Husband was road tripping to Oklahoma to meet up with the amazing people that are responsible for bringing our newest little love into our lives.

At the end of the school day, I made my normal rounds through the computer labs and library to turn off all the computers. My principal and a couple teachers were in talking with me, everyone excited to be headed off for a week of relaxation. The library door opened and in walked The Husband. In his arms was my sweet, big new boy -- Grimm! After many puppy snuggles, I loaded him up in my car and drove him the rest of the way home. He slept the whole way, all curled up like a roly-poly.

My gorgeous guys!
Grimm took no time at all making himself at home. He is headstrong, brave, smart, and always on the go. He is learning how to wait at the door before coming in or out, wait to be told "okay" before eating his meals, and is learning to walk beside me without a leash. It definitely helps that he loves his treats.

He also loves to sleep. In odd positions.
Last night I had my first training "aha" moment with him. A few days ago I started working on shaping with Grimm. I had read that shaping (as opposed to luring or other training methods) is a great way to let your dog think their way through problems, so I figured -- why not? I want to build a strong bond with Grimm, and I think this will be a fun way for us to grow a relationship.

We have three cinderblocks stacked side by side to make a small platform on the porch that we used when we were teaching Lily to stay. I walked over to it and when Grimm followed, I clicked (and treated) that behavior. I repeated this a few times and then the next time we went over to the platform again, I just waited. He put a paw on the blocks, so I "clicked" on that. Then two paws, then four, then he sat - each time I "clicked" on the new behavior. Then I walked around and kept returning to the blocks and each time he followed me around and got up there and sat right away!

Grimm on the run with Lily close at his heels!
I'm not going to lie, I was pretty much thinking -- "Wow, so this shaping thing actually works??" Then he got too smart and when I walked away he didn't follow me, he just stayed right there watching me and waiting for me to come back to him, because obviously I had shown him that if he sat there long enough I would bring him a treat. Smart dog! I should have realized that with each time I left the platform, he stayed there a little longer -- guess he was also working on shaping my behavior!

At this point I realized that I could either click for him staying there and shape our way to a long stay (maybe??) or reset and get him back to hopping up onto the blocks. I clicked and rewarded for how long he stayed, then said okay and he hopped down and trotted over to me. I learned SO many things from this 10 minute session playing this game with him! Number one: time to buy a book on shaping - I know a little, but I need to know so much more! This little guy is going to easily outsmart me at every turn.

So I definitely have a lot to learn, but it's easy to enjoy the process when I'm staring into this precious face.


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