Another Lesson Learned...

These past weeks seems to be the weeks of things learned around the farm.  Three the dogs learned a new trick and I learned a lesson too, and I’m sure I got the biggest surprise of them all.
I have more than one pet and in fact I have eight Border Collies and sometimes, things get lost in all the confusion.  What I am talking about is there is not always time, space and concentration to make everything jell together because of the activity that always goes on and there is just not enough hours in the day.  
Two weeks ago, we were playing ball near the water.  Keely, a guest dog wants to play and jump in, but she always had some hesitation in jumping off the dock.  Now, not all of mine will do this either, in fact only four of them will but hopefully, that will change from what I learned.  I decided to work with Keely, one on one, so early one morning after shutting all the other dogs up in the kennel we walked to the lake and was going to work on jumping.  
Keely's first jump
Usually I keep a Jolly Ball and several tennis balls on the dock just in case I need to make a quick throw.  I picked up a tennis ball and she wagged her tail and I decided to throw it in the water in front of her and to my surprise, off she went after the ball and after all the hesitation for months she did it.  After swimming back to shore and bring it back to me, we did it again and again and I honestly think it’s because there was no competition or stress because of the other dogs.

Katelyn was staying with us for a week and she is a little over 3 months, she is Annie’s pup and was so much fun to watch.  While we were playing in the water, she would never make the lunge or get in.  We gently  sat her in the water, about 10 feet from shore and she swam to the side, we make no big deal of it and she seemed to like it.
Her first swim from the boat
The next day we did the same thing but once in, she didn't swim to the shore, she swam to another dog to play.  She is now a water dog.
Went to see Wilson
Early last week, after I was telling the owner of our Kacie about Keely, they ask “could we work with Kacie on jumping off the dock?”  After thinking about Keely and knowing that no other dogs were around to distract her, we did the same thing with Kacie.  
Kacie, from Annie and Doc
Her favorite toy is a Frisbee and they brought one to play with and after putting all the dogs up, off to the lake we went.  She was a little cautious but curious.  She would run up to the edge of the dock and back again.  At one point, she got between my legs and watched and as we put the Frisbee in the water just a few feet off the dock but right in front of her, I was getting ready to gently nudge her in but off she went by herself, grabbed the Frisbee and came back to us to do again.  Not wanting to push it, we moved the activity to the next day where great improvement was made.  By the third day, she is a champ and that is where I learned “my” lesson.
I will tell you, it is natural for them to get into the water but its how it’s done and if it’s fearful to them and the introduction is not gentle, it can have devastating effects.  I know some dogs where the owner have worked years and the effects are the same.
As all of this was going on, I remembered back to giving Doc his medication and while I had his full attention, I taught him to shake hands in just three attempts and now when I tell him to “shake”, up comes his hand ready for more.   Like children, each dog is different and need different things and attention.  I learned this and have started to give each one of them my undivided attention with their favorite toy and let them be themselves for a period of time.  This usually includes running and playing and focusing on one thing without any distractions from any others.  While it’s good to socialize them, they also need our undivided attention and we all will see a different dog.
Not often, but at least once a week Dutchess will adamantly want in the house for no reason, but “just because”.  Not taking “NO” for an answer she will jump, bark and reach for the door handle.  When I let her in the utility door, she will leap toward the swinging door, throwing it open and hurry her way through.  I have learned that she really doesn't want anything but just to be inside and have attention and usually curl her 50 pound body in my lap and we're both in heaven but she wants individual attention which she gets.

I have learned that I want to do this and have this time just for “us” and not only do I share feelings about the dog, the dog shares with me and we both see a different kind of relationship.   If you have more than dog, make time for each, you might be surprised…While dogs are pack animals, they do want their own attention…trust me…Ken

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