To train a dog is to education them. It is very similar to teaching children; although we give our children much more information. For our dogs it's more specific and fine tuned as they do not need to know about all the details and long drawn out explanations. There is general training, the things that all dogs should know. Come, sit, down, stay, leave it and boundary training. From these few basics the sky is the limit. But there is also specific training; training done for a specific purpose of problem. Some specific training is geared around an activity, sport or function; and then there is the precise type of training to address one particular behavior.
I am going to start training or educating Elsa on a specific behavior and that is impulse control. I remember teaching this behavior to Tilley and wondering if I would ever succeed. Although Tilley and Elsa have the same behavioral issue it has presented itself in different forms. The problem stems from a strong drive; and that drive is to chase. Tilley had a difficult time watching Luke go after a frisbee and not barreling into him for it. I taught her to wait her turn; to sit nicely beside me until told otherwise. It was amazing to watch, she would sit like a statue; watching Luke have his turn until she was given the okay to spring into action.
Elsa has the same drive, not quite as hard core as Tilley but she's most definitely got drive. Her problem is that she acts the fool; flying at complete strangers trying to get their ball. Her quest for the ball is unrelenting and she has no impulse control. She has over her 1.5 years learned to control herself somewhat, but much of it comes with maturity and training. When it comes to a tennis ball she loses it. So we are going to work on control under very high stimulus. This means that I will be training her that she cannot just do what she wants when her drive is triggered.
This is not done in a day and can take a very long time to achieve but it can be done. When you do conquer impulse control; it is pretty amazing. Baby steps are the way to success. You must take your time and be very patient to perfect the control. By starting with low stimulus you work your way up to the big triggers. I have no doubt that Elsa will be as great as Tilley at controlling herself but it will take time. She has already conquered many aspects of control with a ball and is quiet impressive if I do say so myself but this is going to be tough for her. Anyone with a ball in their hand is fair game as far as she is concerned. But we will get on it this weekend, I will start in the yard with the simple things and build.
There is nothing more impressive than a highly driven dog under control. It is most definitely worth the effort.