Hermione has always been a happy, bouncy girl. She loves to hop about, especially when she is hunting bugs. So, she's been appropriately nicknamed, "Jumping bean," or "Bean" for short. Despite her breed's supposed couch potato status, Hermione has quite a bit of energy. However, a few training sessions,a good walk or a game of fetch in the flat and she usually has a good nap. Of course, she's still a puppy and gets into things she shouldn't, but the last couple of days I've seen a real improvement in her behavior.
*Knocks on wood*.
To be honest, she's a fairly easy puppy to deal with. The move from our old flat into this one put her a bit off balance though and it's taken her a while to settle in here. In that period of time, she's been much more excitable than normal, refusing to settle down when people come over to visit or just attempting to destroy things. It was a bit of a trial, but with some routine, training and those walks, she seems to be coming around. Yesterday we had two different groups of people over and she settled on the couch for most of the visits and relaxed. Sure, she had her little, "yay you're here!" hopping around, but she was more satisfied to sit on the couch and chew on a nylabone instead of running around and getting into everything. We've started a few new things in our training regiment and I think they've helped.
First of all, I've been asking her to "wait" at the tops of stairs and doorways and then giving her a "forward" when she is allowed to go through. It's an exercise in self control and she's caught on really quickly; no treats needed. She's happy to perform these tasks for praise and also for the reward of getting to go where we are headed to.
Yesterday we also started "off" and "on." I have done some basic "off" with her before if she puts her paws up on me when I'm eating or if she decides that climbing on to the kitchen table from the couch is a good idea. She's responded really well to it in an informal setting, so I thought that it was time to introduce it to formal training.
We walked over to a park close to our flat and we began to practice "off" and "on," using a park bench. There weren't a whole lot of people around as it was a rainy Monday morning and she did really well. I was impressed that she was even willing to perform the cues even though the bench was wet. She seemed to take a liking to "on," but I think it's because it put her up closer to me and the kibbles I was using as rewards. We practised the cues for less than ten minutes and then headed home. The rain had started to really come down and you get better results when training in shorter sessions anyway.
I've also been working with her in public spaces. She usually gets so excited it's hard to refocus her and she tries to do her crazy, "there's a spring in my butt" jump. There is a cafe just down the street that we love and they allow dogs. So, it has become our training grounds. I was really impressed with Hermione the other morning when a person sat down beside us and even though she went to hop over to him, a quick, firm "no" from me brought her back. I asked her to "sit" and her bum instantly went down; a very big change. Usually she needs food rewards to perform "sit" or "down," but it seems that "sit" has gone beyond that now. I was even more impressed when she sat quietly, just looking out the window (AKA puppy TV) while I ate breakfast. She didn't even try to go back over to the man, just feet from her.
It would appear that our little Jumping Bean is starting to grow up a bit. I don't ever want her enthusiasm for life to dissipate, but there is a time and a place for that and being able to get herself back under control when it is time to chill out is great. It's definitely a work in progress, but all training is. Learning should never stop whether you are human or a dog.