Murph in Training: Part XII

murph
Murph in training

As Murph nears six months of age, it’s time to take stock of what we have accomplished together. Right now he can do the following with very good (very good does not mean perfect) consistency:

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Murph Training XI: Murph’s Getting Steady

Murph Steady

Murph sitting steady while the author tosses dummies and tennis balls around him.

photo by Tim Bronson

A couple of weeks ago I talked about Murph and putting his steadiness to sit and heel together on a single blind retrieve. Over the course of the last few days, I’ve been continually working Murph on his steadiness in every possible situation, but I want him to begin to understand what he’s here for. As I said before, at this point I don’t want to give him a bunch of retrieves for two reasons. One, his teeth are changing over, and two, I don’t want to get him hyped up on retrieving like I did with Pickett.

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Enter the “What’s your dog’s name and Why?” Contest!

Orvis Cover Dog Contest - Jack
Jack takes it easy

Photo by Jennifer, Mansfield

Win a FREE Orvis Dog Bed with your dog’s help! We thought we’d have some fun with today’s Dog of the Day post with a contest. In the comments section below, leave your dog’s name and the reason for that name. Other visitors can can then “like” your comment by clicking the “thumbs up” next to it. The most thumbs up by 4 PM Friday, April 15, wins a FREE Orvis Dog Bed. Encourage your friends to vote for your dog! Have fun.

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Murph Training X: Murph Finds the Water

It’s cold up here, although spring is finally starting to show up. There is still ice in most of the ponds, and I’ve still got snow in the yard. I had no intention of even trying to introduce Murph to the water until it had warmed up significantly and the water temps weren’t just above freezing. I certainly didn’t want to give him an. . .

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Murph Training IX: Murph’s First Blind Retrieve

murph with dummy

Murph sizes up his dummy 

photo by Tim Bronson

This weekend, I took Murph with me when I took my son to play in a hockey tournament in Connecticut. Four games and four practices in a three-day period gave me a lot of time in the hockey rink parking lot to work with Murph on a number of things.

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Training Murph, Part VIII: Murph’s Excursion to the Country Store

murph and pal
Murph and his new pal at the country store
Photo by Mimi Fersen

The snow is melting slowly but surely here in Vermont. The sun is out every once in a while, and Murph, Pickett, and I have been taking longer and longer walks. The concept of heel seems to be firmly ingrained in Murph now, and I am using it every chance I get to make sure it stays that way. I used to just make Murph sit calmly for his dinner, but now that he understands heel, I call both him and Pickett to heel before every meal. I make them sit and wait while I place both bowls, then I release them separately by name. One act, three lessons: heel, patience, and name recognition.

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Take a Walk to Help Fight Canine Cancer

K9 Cancer Walk
A Recent K9 Cancer Walk

This May 7th marks the 3rd annual Morris Animal Foundation K9 Cancer Walk in Elk Grove, Calif. Many dogs succumb to cancer each year. Last March, Buddy, an 8-year-old chocolate lab mix, lost his human best friend to leukemia and his canine friend Raja to cancer too. On Saturday, May 7, help Buddy celebrate their memory, and raise money and awareness for canine cancer. All proceeds will benefit Morris Animal Foundation’s Canine Cancer Campaign, a national effort to help dogs live longer, healthier, cancer-free lives.

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Murph Training, Week VII: Murph Goes to the Mall

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Murph at the mall
Photo by Mimi Fersen, taken with iPhone

This weekend we took my son to the airport for an early-morning flight. Of course, Murph went along. Since we were in the big city for the morning we decided to visit the mall. We got there an hour before the stores opened, but the mall was open and full of “mall walkers” doing their fitness thing. It occurred to me what a great time it was to work on Murph’s training and steadiness in a new environment. I went back to the car and got him.

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Gibson’s First Herding Lesson

Gibson just can’t sit still in a car. He’s well behaved enough, but the entire ride to anywhere he will stand, pace, stare out the window, bark at motorcycles and paw the dashboard. He has this bit where he puts both front paws on the dash and uses the passenger seat for his back feet, suspending himself in mid-air above the truck’s bench, using it as leverage to make his teenage body as long as possible. Sometimes he moves over to me and sits aside me, my arm around him, and I feel like a character in a Norman Rockwell oils. But usually he just scatters about. He summons enough static electricity to shock me when his nose touches my cheek. His body is literally a live wire, excited to be let out for the next adventure.

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Murph Training, VI: Murph Heels

Now we’re getting down to business. This is at once the most boring time, but the most critical time for solidifying Murph’s foundation that will be the basis for everything he accomplishes in his life.

Because it is so much fun to see your young dog do and achieve new things, the tendency is to push them by adding new commands on top of the ones you’ve recently taught. The danger to this is not locking in the foundation; or “building your house on sand,” to turn a biblical phrase. Unless the foundation is rock solid, the resulting structure will be flawed. Okay enough with the metaphors.

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