All play and no work?

The title is kinda the opposite of how life is around here in our two dog house.. but it also is not the more popular statement of “All work and no play.”   I try and incorporate fun into training, as well as adding training into fun for our 4-leggers.

Take for example my outing to pick wineberries, I took the dogs as I used to run Luna pretty often at this location and figured they would like to hang out with me.

And they did seem to enjoy being out. Sure it was a little warm, and a lot humid, but it beats being bored in the house right?  Luna enjoys standing and watching life around her (and hunting for critters and bugs), Wyatt gets a little fussy sitting still sometimes but this is something he needs to work through anyway, so it’s no reason to leave him out.  I had planned this picture out before I even got to the park to pick, and so when my dogs had chilled out some, I decided to work on Luna and her “fetch/hold” command.  To be honest she has never been into retrieving as a whole and being a hunting dog who I plan to compete with further… I have been trying to broaden her fetching of different items in hopes of it becoming more fun for her, and less of a task.  This bucket was my training moment for the day.  Wyatt was not originally going to be in the photo, but it seems that every time I ask Luna to sit he tends to sit (Luna does the same when I ask it of other dogs or in the house of Wyatt) so I figured I may as well include him.  And since sit/stay is such a huge part of having a hunting lab, in reference to later training I figured it’s a good thing for him to continue to work on in a more stimulating environment.

And when it was time to offer them some water in our awesome new bowl I won through a great blog called According to Gus (AKA you should check them out) I worked on the “wait”, so that they each could have uninterrupted time at the bowl.  Okay this is mainly because wyatt is a water hog and is not dainty about how he drinks and I feel Luna ends up getting jipped then. Anyway it’s just another way to teach focus and self control, and in the end everyone got as much as they wanted.

I also threw some extended down stays in when we reached an area that was more public in the park.  I wanted to keep picking but didn’t want to have to worry about them so I put them in a down stay and picked away.   I ended up working about 50 feet away (I am horrible at judging distance,it could have been more or less than this, but I would have a hard time throwing a rock as far) and I wouldn’t be surprised if it was for upwards of 20-30 minutes.  Wyatt broke 4 times but I never had to fully go back to him to get him to return to his down.  And I’m proud to say Luna did not break a single time (CGC here we come?)  We have worked downs with wyatt, but never to this length so I was quite happy with how he did, especially in this location.  I know the main reason for him breaking was because he wanted to be closer to me, or see me better.  He is like that.

Case in point, he does this when I’m in the kitchen.  He has finally chilled about coming any further than the bowls when I am in the kitchen.  Yep, my dogs are not supposed to be in the kitchen when I’m working in there.  It’s mainly a safety thing, as our kitchen is small and often busy.  But you see how he feels the need to keep an eye on me?  He is more of a shadow than my Vizsla is, and they’re nicknamed “velcro-dogs.”  Hopefully he will grow out of it, as it does not agree with my personality, no matter how endearing.

Placing Luna, or rather asking her to “jump up” on so many objects is yet another way to incorporate training into our outings.  She has to trust me about what I’m asking her to do, and because I have done this since she was a puppy it has paid off in her confidence of her agility/body awareness.  What you can’t see in this picture is Wyatt sitting on the ground beside the log.  He is a dog that does not like to climb on, jump over, or be posed anywhere besides the ground.  And honestly I don’t know if he ever will be, just like I don’t know if he ever will have the desire to learn more tricks.  It’s just who he is, and I don’t want to require him to be anything that is just not his nature for my own photographic gains.  So he gets rewarded for “trying” and offering me a sit without prompting.

And the impromptu photo sessions in the yard are training too.  We work on sit, stand, wait, and sometimes watch.  I admit these are mostly for my own gain, but they do get payouts too.

Kinda silly head shot of Luna, but oh well, I liked the light.

And when it comes to working multiple dogs at once, well that’s a work in progress when you go above 2 (well especially when the 3rd is not your own)… but as Kate over at twenty-six-to-life says it comes down to one-on-one training.  And I have to say that has been a huge factor in how well wyatt listens despite being around a pack of 7 other dogs on a daily basis. It was the foundation we set as a puppy that really pays off now that he is just over 1 year old.

What are your typical training moments/sessions like?  Do you have a multiple dog home, how has this effected your methods?  Training does not have to be formal, it’s all about finding ways to incorporate it into everyday life so that everyone sticks with it.  And in the case of these smart bird dogs, sometimes it’s important to also make it not seem like they are working/learning so they are more into it.

I hope everyone has a great week. Stay tuned for a new feeding method we tried.


About Anna

I am a native of Virginia but recently relocated to Maryland I often feel I am simply a visitor... here to take note of little things people often pass by... I enjoy photography, family, the outdoors, reading, my vizsla... etc etc
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9 Responses to All play and no work?

  1. didiwright says:

    Your dogs are so good, well behaved and well trained. Stay for 30 minutes? That is impressive. No way George would manage that, he wants to be with us too much. It’s true, we haven’t tried to train him for that, as we haven’t felt the need to. He’s got brilliant recall, has a pretty good ‘sit’ and is a naturally well behaved dog …He knows what he is and what he is not allowed to do, what his place is and what we expect of him. We have absolutely no trouble with him at all (and no intention to enter him in obedience-type competitions), so we haven’t felt the need to take his training much further. He’s not even 3 yet and is already sensible and a couch potato most of the time. The little quirks of his personality are something we treasure and would not like to train out of him.
    I do, however, admire the level of training you (and other of our blogging friends) are doing with your dogs. I think it’s amazing what dogs can do when the right amount of work is put into them.

  2. 2browndawgs says:

    Our dogs are a lot like Wyatt, they don’t really like to learn tricks, (maybe a retriever thing?). They like to work and they like to train for a purpose. They will happily train for hunt tests and use what they have learned hunting, but they are reluctant to learn random tricks. Of course with Chessies, obedience training is on going and all of the time. “Wait” is huge in our house….lol.

    I really like that portrait of Wyatt (third from the bottom). He is all grown up!

  3. I love the doggie portraits you got. I think training is best when it’s fun. When it’s fun for you (the human) you’re more likely to work with your dogs more often, and when it’s fun for the dogs they want to learn what you’re trying to teach them. Keeping it fun also strengthens the bond with your dog so much. Most of our training sessions aren’t very long, but they really work!

  4. Aleksandra says:

    How funny that you wrote about this– I tried to write about what we do to incorporate training(ish) into our every day as well. Your dogs are so much more advanced than our fosters ever get while with us . . . and more advanced than Chick, too. He knows very few tricks, but the one thing we are really proud of is how well we taught him impulse control. He would never dream of eating food off a coffee table, no matter how delicious the food and how alone he is. He would also never dream of jumping up on the sofa or the human bed before getting permission from us. But teaching him to bark on command or retrieve a bucket to cutely hold in his mouth for a photo? No way!

  5. Hi Y’all!

    Just found your blog thanks to 2browndawgs. Great post.

    The trick I find is having a two track mind. The older I get, the harder it is to pay attention to two things at once…like picking and making sure dogs hold down stay. Chessies are quick to know your mind is momentarily elsewhere and quietly take advantage.

    Love the photos.

    Y’all come by now,
    Hawk aka BrownDog

    • Anna says:

      Welcome, I agree a two track mind is pretty important… My vizsla is very aware of when my mind might be elsewhere as well. But I think she is finally getting too old to bother. Thanks for stopping by!

  6. I just found your blog, really interesting! Luna and Wyatt and lovely. I was a Labrador person (and trialler) for many years and have only just lost Carlin, my Black Labrador, so for the 1st time in over 30 years I am without a Gundog. I like your training methodology.
    But Clancy and Connor the Whippets are very much here and now!
    We train and play all mixed up together, they both come everywhere with me, bit hard not to when we live in a motor home! and sometimes I train them together and sometimes 1 is tethered whilst one works, then swap over…but both play with me afterwards. Most of the games we play are recall focussed (well they are Whippets!) also being as they are serious running dogs we play in shorter sessions and the moment I sense ‘turn off time’ is imminent it’s back on leash ‘game over’!
    Works for us!

    • Anna says:

      Thanks for stopping by Annie. Wow so you went from Labs to Whippets? I bet that was a switch. I have to incorporated play in for my Vizsla Luna. This was key in the conformation training we have done, she almost rather play with the food than eat it (well that’s really a close call, but she loves to play). And with agility it’s also going to be key to make it fun and play for her or I can see her choosing to do her own thing instead. I do a decent amount of tricks with her too, and she seems to have fun with those. Play should have been something I mentioned in here, seems I do that without even thinking sometimes. I agree it’s also important to do training together as that’s a more advanced step/level for the dog but if you have them together you need to transition them through it in a controlled environment before you “need” it in public. I find Wyatt tends to interrupt Luna’s training when i am trick training, and causes her to think less as she is being competitive, so I often will tie or crate him during that. It’s all about knowing what works for your dog.
      Thanks for stopping by, hope you’ll be back

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