**Warning** - Long random, rambling post about puppy training so (hopefully) I can remember what we were doing at 7 months. :)
Borrowed from a facebook update a few weeks ago....
LOST: 6 month old spotty puppy brain. Male. Has been spotted on occasion, but disappears before it can be captured. Was in very good condition, Will likely require time and an abundance of patience to locate. REWARD. :)
I was kidding (mostly), but lately Derby's motto does seem to be "brain today, gone tomorrow". A simple behavior request is often met with a blank stare (cue silence & birds chirping in the background). Patience, patience, patience, Kim.
To be fair, there have been lots of brilliant moments mixed in with the brainless ones. He really *is* a good puppy...I just think he's at that age where an extra dose (or three) of patience is required on my part. :)
I'm really pretty happy about where we are training-wise. I've been taking it slow with lots of foundation work, but I'm starting to get a little more structured with my goals and plans, as opposed to working on whatever I feel like working on at any given moment. I think that taking classes helps in that department a lot since I usually come away with good feedback and new ideas/things to work on. He finished his basic obedience class in February and received his S.T.A.R. puppy designation (as if I needed to donate another $10 to AKC). Then we took a performance puppy class taught by a friend (all foundation stuff), and we just started a new beginner/foundation agility class last weekend.
We've also dropped into a few intermediate obedience classes where he totally exceeded my expectations (thank you for showing up, puppy brain!). His heeling is coming along nicely and his stays and recalls were brilliant. Near the end of the last class, we worked a figure 8 pattern and I don't think his eyes left mine...we received several nice complements on that. Good spotty pup! I had forgotten how much I enjoy training obedience type work.
He really is a fun (and so far, relatively easy) dog to train. He's both food and toy motivated, which is great, and at this point I'm just trying to find a nice balance between the two. For the most part, I use food when I want him to think and tugging when I want enthusiasm. Because he tends to be a little too thoughtful and polite (IMO) at times, I'm using toys a little more than food at the moment. Thankfully he's got a pretty good on switch/off switch.
It's funny, but one of the bigger challenges we're having at the moment is his little awkward puppy body. He has *no* idea where his legs are and how they work at speed. I can't tell you how many times he's accidently run into me...during recalls at our agility class last weekend our instructor said he looked like Bambi on ice. :) I know it's temporary (at least I hope it is!), but I'm thinking about getting knee pads until he finds his brakes.
As much as I enjoy working with him, I have to say that I love his temperament more than anything. He's just so darn easy to have around! At the last agility trial I had him out around the rings quite a bit and despite everything that was going on around him, he was happy to plop down and stretch out in the dirt and watch. As much as I love Peyton, it's such a nice change to not have to micromanage all the time.
In other puppy news, at 7 months (and a few days), Derby is about the same height as Indy (20"-21"ish) and was around 50# when I last weighed him (a week or so ago, I think?). I don't really think he's going to get much taller, but we'll see. Everyone seems to think he looks big in pictures, but he's still a shrimp standing next to Peyton. :)
I have some pictures and video to share if I can ever manage to find a few more hours in the day. In the meantime, here's one of him looking very grownup-ish.