Can you believe it – Blaze is now 7 months old! Gee time flies fast when you have a Malinois puppy 🙂
As Blaze has gotten older, the foundation training I put into her from 8 weeks has really started to strengthen and shine through.
She has a good neutral value to distractions like other dogs and people, aside from Steve of course who she thinks is the best fun ever!
This is really evident when I take her out and about. She is happy to chill out and look at things but isn’t interested in engaging with them.
Here’s a clip of Blaze from about a month ago. Loose leash walking may not look as fun as heel work, but it is one of the most valuable skills you can train your dog.
Why is it so important?
Loose leash walking isn’t just about training a dog not to pull on the leash, but teaching them to be calm and relaxed around distractions like people and other dogs.
In this short clip you can see Blaze has a solid understanding of how to behave when we go out, her ears are relaxed, her tail is not erect, she is relaxed and happy and she isn’t looking for drive satisfaction. Another dog barked and lunged at her and she showed absolutely no interest in engaging back with it.
I love taking Blaze to places like the farmers market, because it is a tough environment with lots of distraction and it is a great opportunity to proof her training further. Plus, she loves to go out and have a fun morning chilling out and hanging with me.
Leash walking is a really important life skill to train any dog, but it is particularly important to train to high drive dogs like our working line Malinois because it is very easy for them to go into drive and become overstimulated by things in the environment.
Read my previous blog post on what life is like living with Malinois here to better understand why things like loose leash walking are so important.
One thing raising Blaze has reminded me is that socialisation alone isn’t enough if you aren’t using each time you take your puppy out as a chance to layer the behaviour you want them to display.
If all I did when I took Blaze out was expose her to the environment, she would fast start to experiment with behaviour I don’t want her to display (barking, leash pulling, jumping on people etc).
This is why we train pups from a young age to understand loose leash walking, and we put it on a command. Steve’s program aims to teach the puppy with a clicker how to return to the handler under leash pressure, not “dig in” and pull towards the distraction.
Then when we take pups out to socialise them, every socialisation opportunity is a chance for us to layer this training rather than letting them experiment with behaviour and create bad habits (like leash pulling).
Layering means to run many applications of the same message in different locations making the behaviour a default.
Blaze hasn’t developed any bad habits like leash pulling, so her understanding of the behaviour is extremely strong. This makes having a pup much more fun and social, because Blaze is so well behaved when I take her out, she gets to come out to lots of different places with me all of the time.
I have tried to do things with Blaze that I have watched Steve do with Venom, such as Loose Leash Walking so that like Steve, I can take my dog everywhere and she will only be an asset to me, not a liability.
We see so many people that don’t take their dogs places because they say their dog behaves badly. In actual fact many of the dogs have never been taught “how to behave” according to the owners wishes.
This is a very important distinction – your puppy only knows what you teach it, whether that is on purpose (loose leash walking) or inadvertently (leash pulling).
Aside from loose leash walking, I have removed the puppy pen from my house and Blaze is learning place training. She is extremely well crate trained and will happily relax in her crate, or in the large run I have in my yard.
Of course, when raising puppies with Steve’s training program we also spend a lot of time focusing on developing food and prey drive. My number one goal for Blaze was to have a pup that by six months would go into drive for food and prey in any environment under and level of distraction, and Blaze has well and truly nailed this.
Once we have a pup who loves to engage with us, has good food and prey drive and understands the training in drive communication system Steve developed, it is extremely easy to teach them new commands and behaviours.
Here’s a clip of Blaze practicing a front and flip finish for obedience, nothing is boring when you train in drive!
You can see she has great engagement and is super keen to work whether it is for food or prey. This work ethic is something we instill in our pups from very early on.
So while Blaze doesn’t have an extensive list of known commands, at 7 months of age she is starting to develop really nice life skills and some of the important foundations I’ve developed over the last few months means she:
– Has great loose leash walking, on command, in any environment.
– She is well neutralised to other people and dogs, so they are not a distraction she is interested in investing in.
– She is very well crate trained, and will happily relax in a crate or in a run and is happy to spend time on her own.
– Her food and prey drive are really well developed and she will trigger into drive for food or prey in any environment, under any level of distraction.
– Blaze has a really SUPER and clean ‘out’ on prey items, from balls to tugs to sleeves and she also has an awesome grip on prey.
– She is very confident and smart, she learns extremely quickly, which is both awesome and challenging as a handler 😉
– We have a great relationship so far, Blaze loves to play and work with me above all else, what more could you ask for in a puppy? 🙂
This week we have confirmed that Wisdom is again in whelp to Arracks Home Idefix, if you have been following our updates on Blaze and the other B Litter pups and would be interested in owning your own Herzhund Malinois, shoot an email to firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on what is sure to be another awesome litter of super puppies.