Infini-tug Toy

The Infini-tug Toy is PetSafe’s replacement for the Tennis Tug. This is my favorite tug toy. 

  • It is soft on the hands for the humans
  • It is long so allows for a good distance between dog and handler
  • It can fly nicely so you can do a combo fetch/tug game
  • It goes in the wash machine and dryer
    • A little loud in the dryer, but pretty funny if your dryer has a window and the dog can watch it go round and round.

The down sides are short, but should be mentioned:

  • While the fleece is comfortable for the handler, it can be easily destroyed by the dog.
    • Take it out when it’s tug-time. Put it away when tug-time is over.
      • Don’t leave it alone with your dog – IT WILL BE SHREDDED !
  • The fringy end can be pulled by the dog leaving the toy a bit misshapen.
    • It’s a dog toy – who cares how it looks
    • Or, try to keep the dog pulling on the ball end.

Training with the Three P’s

Patience, Persistence and accepting that Perfect-is-not-all-it’s-cracked-up-to-be are fundamental to enjoyable and good positive reinforcement dog training.

Boo’s story in my book, A Dog Named Boo  is one of teaching…

…success in the face of struggle, unconditional acceptance of others, joy in all things, and that Patience, Persistence, and letting go of Perfect lies at the heart of all of these. Everyone who has potty-trained a puppy has used a type of ‘successive approximation’ like this.

Patience
– Cleaning up over and over until puppy begins to learn.
Persistence
– Getting the puppy out often enough so puppy can be rewarded for ever more successful behaviors.
Perfect is not all it’s cracked up to be –
– Sometimes we all make mistakes.

Boo was patient…

…when he taught me to give him the time he needed to learn things. Patience allows you take your time and let your dog show you who they are. Boo’s physical and cognitive limitations made it difficult for him to answer these questions quickly or at all sometimes.

Together we persisted…

…in his training for his Pet Partner’s evaluation because his working as a therapy dog was the only way he was going to have kids in his life. Each dog will need their humans to persist in training differently. Boo needed extra time to learn new skills and confront fears. When he was afraid in the truck I had shift from convention wisdom to ways that would accommodate Boo so he could learn how to love the truck at his own pace.

For Boo to achieve his goal of visiting kids, it was almost two years of outings that slowly worked on his basic skills and treat-taking abilities in public. I had to craft alternative cues that Boo could follow and understand, much like I advise clients whose dogs are visually or hearing impaired. They can and will learn their basics and maybe even more than one might imagine, but it will have a different shape and form from traditional cues and signals.

We both let go of perfect…

…when it came time for his therapy dog testing. I knew that in spite of his bumbling through the skills portion of the test, he would excel in the aptitude portion. Too often we get caught up in comparisons of one dog to another, yet one of the greatest gifts you can give your dog is to only compare them to where they started and how far they’ve come. Each dog will reach their fullest potential once we simply focus on each successive approximation as its own victory.

Boo never did things quite like any other dog, but it worked for him.

When I would ask Boo for the paw command he’d swipe his paw in the air as if he were searching for a light switch in the dark. It in no way compared to the perfect easy-going dogs who leisurely reaches out and gently places their paw in your hand.

But when Boo does it, you could see his effort and sense of accomplishment in his simple, wobbly gesture and it always brought a smile in spite of the imperfection and probably more so because of it—like everyone cheering for the little engine who could—or in this case the little dog who could.

Jacques Boosteau
The lessons of Boo can apply to so many elements of human and canine interactions…

…from dogs with special needs like him, to dogs who are reactive, stressed, need remedial socialization, and pretty much any dog who will be destined to work as a service or therapy dog.

We are the guardians and advocates for our dogs.

It is our job is to patiently observe what our dogs tell us then persistently and at their speed craft a training routine that suites them so they can become the best they can be given who they are.

Like Boo, all dogs have potential. Our job is to find it and nurture it.

Pax’e Learns the Gum Ball Machine

Pax’e learns the gum ball machine is a nice example of trick training using a clicker.

I like using clickers for very specific tricks or tasks.

We’ll see this again when we see more of the nail board

If you have read some of my other blogs, you will know I am not keen on perfect – just getting where we want to go as happily as possible.

You can almost see Pax’e’s brain cells firing away as she tries to understand how to make the gum ball machine work.

Let the puppy Play!!!

If puppies have plenty of proper toys to play with, it is easy to teach them to ‘leave-it’ and ‘drop-it’ and tell them “all done” when it comes to the items we don’t want them chewing.

Puppies need to play. Like our human children, their job during development is PLAY!
Pax`e head in toy box

Don’t limit their toys.

Pax`e sits among the toys

Instead, expand their horizons because they need to explore and chew in order to learn what is and is not appropriate.

Because of this, we can use this play to teach them how to leave their toys, drop them, ignore them, and hopefully not guard them. And, we can prevent them finding toys like boots, shoes, socks, etc.

If they have plenty of proper toys to play with, it is easy to teach them to ‘leave-it’ and ‘drop-it’ and tell them “all done” when it comes to the items we don’t want them chewing.

Pax’e is a nine week old AussieDoodle.

In teaching her to tug at my sock, she learns that commands can be fun. She learns socks are boring. And, while she may have wanted to tug with that sock instead of giving it up at first, the ‘drop-it’ command worked.

It’s never too early to start teaching, playing, having fun, and building your relationship with your pup.

Over the next several weeks/months Pax’e’s training exploits will be showcased. Sometimes with success and sometimes, maybe not.

Regardless of success, it will always be a learning process.