Ben at 10 months

Ben, enjoying some winter sunshine

If you have been following doglifetraining’s Facebook page you will have been seeing what Ben and I get up to on a day-to-day basis. Ben has now hit adolescence. Let the fun begin!

Ben is now over 30kg of young Irish Setter and all of the training I have been doing with him is paying off. His recall is reliable, and he gets along with all dogs. I am still using the confinement area (now the laundry with a baby gate and dog door to the back yard) regularly because he is definitely not trust worthy in the home without supervision.

Just a couple of weeks ago Ben chewed a nice bit of fluff off my Ugg boot, you can see a picture of this (as well as comments) on our Facebook page. I am anticipating, that given Ben’s zest for life, I will not be able to give him free range of the house for a number of years. That’s OK though, access to the whole house is something that is earned, it is a privilege.

I am walking Ben every day for a couple of hours, on and off lead. I regularly drive to different places to walk, and take him on the school pick up each day. He loves children, sometimes a little too much. I cue Ben to sit and ‘watch me’ sometimes when he becomes a little excited around the children.

I have found that if Ben is becoming a little hyper at home a short lead walk calms him down well. Sometimes taking your dog for a highly stimulating off lead run can razz them up even more rather than tire them out. Ben walks nicely on lead, and a meander through our streets on lead is perfect for calming him down. Some days, a long on lead walk is all he gets.

Ben and I have been playing together since the day I brought him home. Now he is just as driven by his tug toy as he is for his food. This has worked out great, as it has given me even more tools to work with. I can keep Ben interested in me because he never knows what he will get as a reward. Sometimes, if you have been using the same thing to reinforce your dog they can become bored, and the reward looses its value, this is called satiation. Encouraging interest in different objects will overcome this.

Play, play, play. This is Ben’s favorite reward, he is in bliss when I am running around chasing him at the park and playing tug. Yes, I must look a little loony at times, but I have Ben’s full attention. When I play with him nothing can distract him from me. During play, Ben is learning about recall, heel and sit and watch me, but, he would be completely unaware of the fact that he is learning. All he knows is that he is having the time of his life.

As I mentioned earlier, I still use Ben’s confinement area a lot. From this area Ben can still see and interact with us. It is important that your dogs’ confinement area still allows them to feel close to you.

When we travel I take Ben’s soft crate with us, this means I can confine him anywhere. I know that without a confinement area many of my belongings would have been destroyed by now. Ben would have also had the opportunity to learn many bad habits that would have been difficult to change.

If one thing is going to get you through the first few years with your new dog it will be a good confinement area. Whenever I need a break from Ben I can stand up and say ‘I’ve got a confinement area, and I’m not afraid to use it’.


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