The Education of Mr. Sweet Cheeks, aka Calvin – part 3

Calvin had his first outing with me in my car today. He wasn’t to thrilled with getting in the car, and I could tell that he doesn’t have much car experience, as he sat in back and didn’t budge or make a peep. With all of the ridiculously great dog smells I have in there, he should have been in over drive exploring, so he let me know in his own quiet way, that this was a bit over his skill level.

We decided to work over at my facility today. Me, Calvin, and ‘The Cars’ for music, a great afternoon all the way around. The video and photos are from today. Please note that Calvin is around seven months old, and we were working and playing for 1.5 hours and he never lost interest. Again, the boy as grit, and wants to learn, and wants to work. But in saying this, I also noticed that he does not have great confidence in work.

Strategies for building working confidence – Play should always have a purpose, and play should be part of training, always. Too much social pressure and he folds, so a little work, some play, a little work, some play, and then just play for play sake with him having fun in a purposeful way. He loves food rewards, but also loves to kiss, be pet, and to snuggle in. So it is the whole combo. He just wants to know that his choices are good ones.

Because training is so new to him he has some uncertainties. With more time, more exposure, and more work, his confidence in how he uses his body, and what someone is asking of him will grow.

Strategies for building confidence – Exposing Calvin to new and different in a kind way will help with confidence. He wants to work but is uncertain. So taking him on a walk and asking him to put paws up on a bench, or log, or rock, and playing with that for a bit would be way more productive than just a walk. Using boxes to step in and step out of would also be good to get him to try new and different. Visiting stores down town that allow dogs and walking on new surfaces. Little pieces of new and different often.

Just as we were leaving, Linda and Banjo pulled up to say hi. Calvin was lovely when Linda came over to say hello, and so excited to meet another new person. When Linda went to get Banjo, Calvin was clearly OVERLY excited and it was hard for him to control himself. This is generally what we see in our young adolescent dogs, so normal for sure. But, his arousal did not come down and he stayed completely engaged and aroused the whole time they played.

This photo illustrates the amount of arousal he had in play today. When ever there is penis crowning, and it is sustained during social interactions, it is showing you that it is a stimulating activity and/or environment. Adding more dogs, more stimulation, or more anything, would cause this to be a disaster. One on One is the way to go.


Strategies for play – Calvin would not be a dog I would take on leash where there are other off leash dogs, this would be too arousing, over stimulating, and cause him great conflict. I would set up play times with one other dog and meet in a spacious fenced area where they could run and romp. I would vary his one on one friends so he learns how to negotiate many different levels of play. He is a BIG player and likes BIG play, like most young adolescent dogs. So I would match him with dogs that appreciate this style of play. Older dogs and delicate players will not appreciate him at all!

I tried him out with a KONG today, and then a KONG stuffed with kibble and Easy Cheese (bacon cheddar!). He has no resource guarding and will allow me in his space, around him, and petting him while working on something valuable. And he came off of the KONG twice to check in with me.

I poured water on our patio and he was able to walk in it today without avoiding it.

Over all a great day. The video is twelve minutes or so, but a nice capture of today. Lots of fun photos too.




For the photos, just click on the first one and then follow the arrows.

Sometimes I wish I had the energy of an adolescent dog, my days would be so much brighter! ~ Nancy


6 Comments Add yours

  1. C McCullough says:

    here is such a handsome boy. And when not sure what to do, he sits down instead of displaying an-over-the-top-I -gotta-bark-and-lose-my-mind-because-I-am-frustarted behavior. Love it !

    1. Nancy Tanner says:

      His ability and WANT are pretty cool. It is just creating the environment so he can. He is one of those young dogs that is trying so hard to be right, and when you work with him you can feel it.

  2. mtwaggin says:

    His desire is there and that tail!!! Never stopped wagging. He sure looks to have the build of a ridgeback so he’s going to be one powerful boy. I just adore his smile and go Banjo!

    1. Nancy Tanner says:

      It does make you smile doesn’t it!

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