Molly’s First Month at Home.

By Jason Herbert

Wow I forgot how much work puppies were! Although I am exhausted, Molly’s first month in our home has been a fun one! At times she’s the most attentive, smart, well trained puppy around. But more often, she’s distracted, silly, hyper and downright naughty. We’re mostly working on basic commands like sit, stay, recall (coming to her name), and potty training. Sometimes I’ll get her attention enough for a few quick retrieves, or some heel work on her training collar. These seemingly magical sessions are too few and far between to call them a success. Most of Molly’s waking time is spent having fun in the yard or around the farm, playing with our golden retriever, or chasing the kids. She has also put on a lot of miles hiking through the woods with me looking for mushrooms and shed antlers. We did find one dead buck, several deer legs and rib bones, and lots of fresh deer poop. We have also been finding a lot of mushrooms.

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I’ve learned a lot in these last few weeks about dog training. I had a great talk with Jeremy at Dog Bone Hunter and have realized that much of successful dog training relates to my teaching career and dealing with children. I think the most important thing is to build a healthy relationship with Molly, so that she will work hard for us. I’ve seen people who train and control their dogs out of fear, and I’ve worked for unsuccessful bosses who were fear mongers. I know I always perform better for secure bosses, who cared about me as a person, and motivated me to be my best.

I’m continuing to introduce the concept of fetching to her. So far she is having fun doing a few short retrieves with me each morning before I go to work. We’re also going to continue to work on heel training, and of course, going to the bathroom outdoors. For some reason, after playing outside almost the whole day, Molly feels it appropriate to come into the house to pee! Which leads me to my next and final point for today. My goal is to raise a happy, lifelong well behaved pet. I know Rome wasn’t built in a day, and a good dog can’t be created overnight. When it comes to dog training, with Molly at least, less is more, we always focus on the positives, and every step forward toward our training goals is progress that we need to celebrate.

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As far as antler training, Molly has several antler chew toys that she loves! I try to make sure she’s got an antler everywhere that she can chew on at any time. I consider these “sacrificial” knowing they they’ll get gnawed on pretty good. Some people try to fight puppy chewing, but I’ve given that up. Now I try to control what she is chewing on.

We’re also having all sorts of fun hunting mushrooms. When we find some, mostly me stumbling on them, I try to get her interested. Molly will come check them out, and then she usually tries to eat them. At that point, I back her out, praise her, and give her a reward. I want her to think that whenever she finds a mushroom, she gets praised. Sometimes she’s led me right to the morels, and sometimes she walks right by. I don’t think training a dog to find mushrooms has to be all that difficult, I know they a distinct odor that dogs find curious. I simply think I need to condition Molly to realize that she will get rewarded when she finds the mushrooms. I’m starting to realize that a dog’s potential is only limited by their owners imagination.

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That’s it for now. Until next time, Molly and I are going to continue to have fun, and celebrate the little victories, like using the bathroom outside, and walking past a fresh pile of deer poop, instead of trying to eat it.