I’ve said it a lot. Diving into the world of dog training in general, and in exploring my working relationship with Z in particular, has taught me a lot about personal boundaries.
What I haven’t really elaborated on is what I mean by that.
Training a puppy is a frustrating experience.
Training a SIGHTHOUND puppy is frustratingly exhausting.
Training a sighthound BITCH puppy is maddeningly, frustratingly exhausting.
Especially when you don’t have any prior experience or practice.
I remember so many times when Z’s will would lock horns against my own, and I would grow frustrated by the strength of her will, and, in shadow, how weak mine often felt in comparison. I began to learn to feel that feeling in my body instead of in my brain.
And as I did that, I began to learn the signs that preceded it.
And perhaps the most important thing I learned, was that, while it was important for me to acknowledge and feel my own frustration for what it was, it was destructive to the process to expend it on Z. To do so would be to lock us into an escalation match where no one could win.
At the end of last term training, I realized how I wished I had kept more detailed notes about Vera and Zar’s progress in dog training. Z especially, but Vera too, have made so much progress (and so have I as a handler), and it’s a pity to not recognize our giant strides forward. So I wanted to just take an informal minute and note where the two of them are, and me, too!
Poor Vera. She’s been such a champ while we’ve be hard at work training Zar in basic manners and obedience as well as conformation training. It’s funny the difference between these dogs — both love doing things but for entirely different reasons. For Vera it’s all about the opportunity to be and do something with me, while for Zar it’s all about her needing to be doing something.
At some point or another, Zaria will enter the wild world of lure coursing. Easter weekend, I took her to watch a lure coursing event put on by the Northwest Rhodesian Ridgeback Club. We experienced some sighthound over-stimulation, but she did seem interested enough in the lure. While I’m excited to start working coursing with her, she’s not yet a year old, which is the minimum age requirement for all lure coursing events, and besides that, I don’t really want to engage her in competition until she’s 18-24 months old, though I have gotten on a few mailing lists for practice runs between then and now to get both of us used to the sport. Continue reading