I am having much fun training my new Crispin. I must admit, that for the past 4 weeks I’ve really struggled to pay much attention to her. I’ve been mourning the loss of my sweet Autumn and in some ways it felt disloyal to her to focus too much on the puppy. Not totally rational, I know, but feeling are feelings and there you have it.

However, we attended our first Competition Puppy class at Companion Dog Training this week. This is not the first time I’ve taken this class – and it sure won’t be my last. Cider, Rowan, Decoy and Ranger have all gone through it and I think it is the most solid foundation a puppy can have. Marie Sawford has such a good handle on the basics of obedience training that I feel very privileged to learn from a master. Lucky me. And it would be unfair to Crispin and to Marie to be anything but fully engaged in the program, so here I am sucking it up and moving forward.

For Crispin, that means daily training. I don’t know how many times I’ve heard that someone doesn’t have the time to train daily. I don’t think people give enough credit to regular day-to-day tasks that are really training opportunities. Something as simple as snapping the leash off a collar. My dogs are required to look at me when their leash comes off. In the obedience ring, it’s a way of us connecting before we head off to start our routine. In day-to-day life, it’s a safety thing. You must have the “all clear” before you get to run around and play. When you emphasize something on a daily basis, I consider that training.

There are 13 exercises on my lesson sheet for this week (that Marie, she’s a slave driver!). I don’t have the attention span to work on 13 things in a session…and neither does my puppy. So we work in 5 minute increments. And I can do 3 things in 5 minute increments. So today it’s tuck sits, lie down and stand. Marie advises to work something you don’t love before something you do (so that you don’t create holes in your dog’s training because you don’t like to train some things). I’m not in love with training tuck sits. I know they’re important and I love the finished product, but I think it’s boring. So I do that first when I’m fresh and as a reward I get to teach 2 other things. Lie down is the most important command in our house. When you live with 6 dogs, the need to have dogs drop and lie still on command is as essential as breathing. Door bell rings…dogs must drop. Something hot falls from the stove…dogs must drop. Dogs block the TV…dogs much drop. You get the picture. And for some reason I love to teach a kick back stand. Well, I know perfectly well why I love to teach it…it’s because it was a really hard skill for me to master. I never did manage to teach it to Autumn or Cider and it bit me in the butt every time I did a utility moving stand exercise with those dogs. I did manage to finally master it for Rowan – and his moving stand is awesome. It also came in very handy for him in the conformation ring.

So those are our skills for today. Skills that certainly will be important when we’re working on our CD, CDX and UD titles, but also in Crispin’s daily life as she grows up to be a good canine citizen.