Teaching/Learning/Lesson Dogs?

meepitsmeagan

Meagan & The Cattle Dog Crew
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#1
I can't decide what I want the title to be. Basically, did you/do you have a dog or dogs that you are insanely grateful for in the sense that they taught you valuable lessons that helped with your next dog?

I totally do, Rider mainly. I got Rider with the intent of having him kind of wade me into the herder pool. Everybody on forums said that ACD/BC hybrids were the best dogs for beginners. Harlow never made me deal with prey drive or biting or anything of the sort. I knew I wanted working cattle dogs, but I had a huge fear of going off the deep end and really being in over my head. I even chickened out again and got a dog out of mixed, but heavily conformation lines. Oh my God, I do not regret that decision one bit. Rider taught me so many things about how these dogs think and act so much differently than Harlow. He taught me about confidence building, building drive, how important good genetics and socialization are.

I honestly think, had I not started with him, that Tulsa would not be the dog she is today. I would have had no idea how to truly embrace yet repress the over stimulation biting and really integrate impulse control (yet I still have a lot to learn before I get an even more driven dog).

Harlow helped me to learn how to protect your dog and learn to read body language a lot better. She helped a lot with my timing in training, but more than anything the reactivity was actually super beneficial. Tulsa doesn't really like dogs that rush her, but because of Harlow I know how to use LAT and have really headed off what would most likely turn into reactivity if left untouched.

Even though Harlow and Rider aren't what I love in a dog, I really appreciate the lessons I've learned through them and have shaped me into the trainer I am today.
 
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#2
Maisy for sure. In a lot of ways she is not my idea kind of dog - too soft, shuts down easily, can be difficult to engage/motivate. But man oh man has she taught me more about dogs and training than any dog I've ever known.

Because of her and some great advice from great people, I got pointed in the direction of a whole new understanding of dog behavior and training, read so many fantastic things and learned so so much, and all my subsequent dogs have and will benefit from that.
 

Elrohwen

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#3
Watson is the first dog I've tried to train beyond basic pet manners, so I was going to learn a lot from him no matter what. He ended up being challenging in quite a few ways and I'm learning a lot from him about motivation, pressure, and training techniques across the board (from shaping to ecollars). I'm lucky that he's been super sweet and an easy dog to live with, so we haven't had to struggle with any real behavioral issues.
 

Beanie

Clicker Cult Coordinator
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#4
*glares at Payton*
I'll let you know how this story turns out.

Not Auggie. Auggie is perfect. I don't really feel like he challenged me in any way except how to approach the same problem from multiple angles until you solve it, but I already had that skill. Just never applied it to dogs before.
 
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#5
My current dog is this for me. He's growing into a dog I really click with, but his growing pains were just about the worst I'd personally dealt with in some ways. He is trainable and driven but more hard-headed than the curs I grew up with (BMC and Mt. Cur mixes mainly) which I was arguably not prepared for, and far more hard-headed than the herders and Dobermans I'd grown up with. He is energetic and sharp and has the odd combination of being physically hard but quick to shut down if overcorrected even slightly. He learns quite quickly but has been unusually challenging to teach some pretty basic concepts like LLW and not jumping on people, etc. He is good at escaping when he wants to. He is a goober and loves to play with other animals but has poor manners, won't back down if they get aggressive, and can be defensive.

At least in my current living situation he's at the upper edge of what I can handle in a dog. A few times I thought I might not ultimately be able to handle him at all, but I'm suprising myself and he's surprising me and we are settling in to one another beautifully.

He's also the first dog that I'm truly serious about training. I grew up in a very dog-centric family and trick-trained the (many) dogs we had for fun, but this guy I would like to really do something with. As a result I think I stress more about him because the (imaginary) stakes feel higher to me.

Long story short, working with him has improved my abilities in the following areas:

Creative exercise outlets.
Dogproofing a house.
Dealing with overstimulation and reactivity in dogs. (He had a loud, tantrum-y spate of dog reactivity from 6-10 months that is now under control.)
Learning to keep training interesting for an easily bored dog.
Learning to draw the attention of an independent dog.
Balancing praise with correction.
Reading canine body language.
Training recall.
Training LLW.

Basically, he's the dog that made me improve, because I couldn't take my ability to teach him basic pet obedience and manners for granted even if I could teach him to find my hat for me. I'm really grateful to him for that and frankly, proud of myself for having some so far in living up to what he needs from an owner. I still have a lot of learning left to do, though.
 

Sekah

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#6
Cohen, being my first dog, has taught me all I know. Her and the internet, I guess.
 

Red.Apricot

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#7
I've thought many times that it's so unfair to Elsie that she has to be my first dog. She has taught me so much about being patient and kind. I'm so grateful to her.
 
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#8
I think every dog that's come through my house has taught me something important. They've all left me a little wiser than they found me.
 

*blackrose

"I'm kupo for kupo nuts!"
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#9
I think every dog that's come through my house has taught me something important. They've all left me a little wiser than they found me.
This. A lot of this. Granted, I haven't had very many dogs.

Blackie taught me that dogs are FUN. At a young age I was fascinated with dogs and that you could teach them how to do things. I was less impressed that the way my Dad's training DVD said you should train was via force and weird rules. I was a young girl, I couldn't do that with or to my dog. So I did reaearch. I started reading books. And the door of positive reinforcement and dog behavior was opened for me. I will be forever, eternally grateful to him for that. He was the perfect learning dog. So forgiving and patient and willing to do what I needed from while.

Rose helped me learn that not all dogs are so forgiving and patient, and getting frustrated or heavy handed accomplishes nothing productive.

Chloe helped cement dog body language (I'd get bit otherwise), how to diffuse a stressful situation, how to get a dog to do something or move somewhere without pressuring, and how, no matter how much you do "right", you're dog can still not turn out perfectly. Without my experiences with Chloe, I don't think I'd have done as good of a job with Abrams. I realized the importance of making things FUN, of working through reactions or uncertainties before they turn in to full blown trigger.

Abrams has taught me, and is teaching me, so much about using the environment as a reward. And impulse control. Oooh, the impulse control. And using what the dog is reacting towards as the ultimate reward for waiting and holding still.
 

teacuptiger

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#10
I think every dog that's come through my house has taught me something important. They've all left me a little wiser than they found me.
This :) Granted, I'm only on my second dog, but I've learned SO much from both Buddy and Roxie.

Buddy taught me a lot about how to deal with aggression and resource guarding. Without that, I don't think I'd be able to handle Roxie's dislike of other dogs anywhere near as well as I have. I feel bad that Buddy was my first dog, because at 10 years old, I really had no idea what I was doing (plus my parents wouldn't let me take classes with Buddy). Everything we went through was together, me stumbling along and doing my best.

I could never be as good an owner to Roxie if Buddy hadn't come first for me to make mistakes with. She was a good dog, and deserved a lot better than 10 year old me. I'm grateful that she was in my life, though. She also taught me how to lose a dog to really traumatic cancer.

Roxie has taught me so very much, I can't possibly list it all. I think, overall, the most important thing Roxie has taught me so far is that things get better. And when things still suck, you're never alone. There is always a silver lining.

Not to mention- it is perfectly okay if your dog does not like other dogs. Roxie doesn't like most other dogs, but she's still one heck of an awesome dog who is absolutely perfect for me. Not liking other dogs doesn't make her any less special.
 

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