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Discussion Starter #101 (Edited)
Long time no post (about my own dogs)! You won’t recognize Brae anymore. He’s 6.5 months now and around 48lbs. Some photos, a tug drive/training video, and a long summary are ahead.

As a reminder, here he is as an 8.5 week old:


Here he is now:









(Soro has not killed him yet)

In short, I love him to pieces! Things remain pretty similar. He still is not very challenging and still a joy to work with. The biggest developments have been in the freedoms I’ve allowed him and his ability to settle. He has graduated from crate/leash when out in the house, to exercise pen attached to crate in the house. He regularly settles in the pen or even puts himself into his crate to nap or chew on things. Very seldom he will get into crazy mode and flip around with a toy in there (think, that classic video with the Mal puppy used to deter people from high drive dogs). Really though, it’s seldom. And honestly, I’ve seen very few ‘zoomy’ moments. Believe me, they are there. But I think we just train so much and he just gets out so much that he is mostly… content.

He LOVES to swim now! Well, not like how some dogs will throw themselves in the water just to be in water. But if I throw something in the lake or river, he is going to get it. No matter the current or the distance. We’ve done a few paddleboarding trips and he has been awesome with it. His focus is still spot on and I am not rushing to teach him new things… I anticipate he will be able to learn anything I ever want to teach him in the future. In terms of behaviors he knows: sit, down, wait (ie, stay), stand, spin, twirl, bang (play dead), cop cop, walking between my legs, leg weaves, bringing things, toys in a box, paw, catching, balancing food on nose, tug, drop, target, sit pretty (no duration yet), skateboard, in, up, off, through, switch, circling something, mat, crate, nosework. I guess he knows quite a lot. Soro makes me biased!

To date he has still not destroyed a single inappropriate thing. Outside of medical reasons (UTI or urgent diarrhea) he has had no potty accidents in any indoor spaces. These days, I come home during my lunch break or have my partner let him out rather than bring him to work every day. He is holding it 8+ hrs overnight and 5-6 hrs during the day. He may be able to go longer, but I am in no rush to push his capacity and will continue to aim for easy success.

He is totally undraped in the car and at home now, and he is almost ready to be uncrated in the car. I’ve tested it a couple of times with great success; he just settled. But mostly, I just want to crate him as long as possible :D When I come home he is calm and does not make a peep. He lies calmly in his crate until I ask him if he is “Ready”. I’ve always made it a point to have entries be as boring as possible. In the mornings we do a quick potty break and he either goes in the crate or in the pen and he will self entertain or calmly wait while I slowly get ready, use the computer, eat breakfast… I think he’s really picking up the fact that nothing is going to happen if he whines or is excited. When he’s on, he’s ON. I can’t even release him to go take a break, unless there is a dog friend to play with. Otherwise, he is right in front of me waiting for me to do something with him. His focus is actually kind of unbelievable. I think a lot of it is him, but I also have rewarded eye contact thousands of times, probably dozens of times a day throughout the day, since day one. Still do.

No handling issues. I brush him and trim his nails every week. We are still going slow, but it has gone from socialization/exposure, to functional. He’s shedding now and his nails are growing more quickly, so I am glad that I worked on this in the crucial period. He’s environmentally stable, and fearless. I have not seen him shaken yet.

He is still social and appropriate with any person or dog that he greets. Super sweet, loves to cuddle. I have been training with positive reinforcement, negative punishment and a ton of management. I have used positive punishment at times (scolding, yanking, putting my hands on him) very, very rarely. I would call those abusive moments where I’ve lost my temper, rather than actual attempts at training. It bothers me to some degree that he ‘knows’ anger yields scary consequences, or that a certain tone of my voice is negative, as Soro knows, because of the punishment that has happened. But by and large, we have a wonderful relationship and I am always striving to be better.

The only difficulties I’ve had with him were my concerns with his ability to settle in the
first few months, whining (really, my misophonia), and his inherent nature to consume inedible things (leading to many bouts of diarrhea and vet bills). A lot of these things are more me than him. Like for settling, I needed to leave him room to mature. For whining, it was my problem. With eating things, I have to just accept that he can’t just have any toys, or be unattended outside while I socialize (he eats sticks).

Great drives for food and toys. Very moderate personality. I can’t even put into concise words yet what I mean by that. But I am biased, always, by Soro. Soro has a presence. He is bold, assertive, self assured, expressive. Every person who meets him remembers Soro for the dog that he is, not how he looks. Soro helped a child overcome a panic attack the other day, without me there, just by approaching the kid in that space. Soro makes people feel like they are loved. Brae is sweet, determined, super-duper-stable, watchful, endearing, eager, hardy, sensitive. People remember Brae because no one’s ever seen a Dutch shepherd before. But it’s just… a different aura I guess! I know he still has so much growing to do and I am so curious what he will be like as an adult. But I am thrilled with him. I am enjoying him so much and he is everything I wanted him to be. The future is bright.

Here is a video with some sloppy training and a lot of tug. That is his greatest joy in life!
 

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Discussion Starter #102
DISCLAIMER: I am not saying he is an 'easy' dog. At every turn, I am 100000% grateful that I have been as strict as I've been and managed as much as I have. I'm not some crazy exceptional trainer or anything. But for the 'average' dog owner who just casually trains and allows puppies to have a lot of freedoms... It would have been an absolute nightmare. Because deep down he is impulsive, bitey, clingy, in your face, and easily aroused. I can write a novel about all the microscopic details I took into consideration in my actions and his training.
 

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You're right. He really, actually, does sound like Kiran (though Kiran has plenty of zoomy moments, and I enjoy them enormously), especially the 'moderate personality I can't put into words' and that disclaimer. I STILL can't really define what I mean except in saying really, really, balanced, and really, really, a nice fit for me and pleasant to work with and be out and about with. He's not EASY, per-se, but he's so precisely what I expected and what I wanted that it feels easy, maybe. I don't know, but they're good boys and Brae is beautiful.
 

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DISCLAIMER: I am not saying he is an 'easy' dog. At every turn, I am 100000% grateful that I have been as strict as I've been and managed as much as I have. I'm not some crazy exceptional trainer or anything. But for the 'average' dog owner who just casually trains and allows puppies to have a lot of freedoms... It would have been an absolute nightmare. Because deep down he is impulsive, bitey, clingy, in your face, and easily aroused. I can write a novel about all the microscopic details I took into consideration in my actions and his training.
that is the main thing,,, you get the breed, and love them for it, love working with who they are and what they naturally give.

i love drivey type breeds, love their behaviors and responses to the world they live in and with working with them... to someone else it would drive them crazy... i love the CO's but it's a snooze parade.. endearing breed, but gosh '''' "HELLO" still waiting... hey where you going..... lol...

Love hearing about your pup and so happy your having a wonderful time...
 

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He sounds great! I think you're a better trainer than you give yourself credit for!

He is an amazing looking dog. How are they different from Malinois, besides being brindle? Someone told me once that they are essentially the same, but I'm not sure that person knew as much as she was putting out there.
 

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Discussion Starter #106 (Edited)
They are the same or different depending on who you talk to. I've heard they can both come out of the same litter, brindle being Dutchies and fawn being Mals.
Aesthetically, I've seen more stocky/burly Dutchies (through photos) compared to more gracile Mals. I've heard some people say Dutchies are harder and more stubborn. But I think it largely depends on lines and I think breed elitists on both ends all tend to say big things.

Mals are better known in the states in general though, and I think a lot more popular. I wouldn't be surprised if there was a larger concentration of mals leaning away from their true working drives/temperaments compared to dutchies.

I'm a good trainer, objectively speaking. I just wish I was a better person with a better temper sometimes :D
 

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Discussion Starter #107
7 months old this weekend!


Happy as a clam


Soro still dislikes him and he is still cautious of Soro. This is what happens when I try to pose them next to each other

Brae: "Hi mom!!!!"
Sor: "I don't want to do anything near him."


Sor: *sulkkkkk*
Brae: *lip lick* about to lie down away from Sor. Look at both dogs shift their weight away from each other like they think the other dog is gross!


But watch what happens when I pull out some mats/beds and do some 'place' training


Really cool, playing around with dogs' perceptions of space. Both boys immediately relaxed into this familiar training exercise.
 

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He is gorgeous - and he looks like a dog!
 

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Discussion Starter #110
He is beautiful! That's an interesting series of pictures with the two of them.
Thanks! Yeah, having Brae has shown me how sensitive Soro can be. Even right now is a good example. Brae is usually in his pen. Soro took a while to adjust to having pup in the house in a crate, then adjusted to having pup in pen. I'm about to go to work and Brae is having some out of pen time loose in the house. Soro is sulking next to me :p

He is gorgeous - and he looks like a dog!
I know!!! I keep looking at his puppy photos. The first year of a dog's life is unbelievable!
 

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Discussion Starter #111 (Edited)


I'm convinced, as a dog owner and trainer, that training tires dogs out more than an equivalent amount of exercise. The trend has been if I take Brae out for a nice long outing, like a 2 hour hike or playing fetch quite mindlessly, he will come home and shake a toy around in his pen for the next half our to an hour before settling down for a bit. If I train for 45-60 minutes, he puts himself in his crate and falls asleep.

"I'm trying to stay awake because you're staring at me and that means something might happen so....."


*nope*


Don't get me wrong - this dog gets plenty of exercise. Not an insane amount though. I live in a mountain town where extreme sports and hyper active lifestyles (for people and dogs) are common. We don't do ultramarathons and he doesn't run double digit miles next to my bike (yet). In fact, the air quality is so bad right now due to fires that it is downright "hazardous" for people to spend prolonged amounts of time outside at all. I live in a ~800sq ft house of which Brae only has access to like a third of it. But training is what puts him to bed and night and keeps him sane. Before getting him, I was wondering what my lifestyle might need to look like to keep a high drive, high energy dog from working lines. Turns out, it doesn't require an obscene amount of physical activity at all.

ETA: Of course, very intense calorie burning exercise tires out a dog too. The other day we spent around an hour playing fetch and he was repeatedly going into the river and bringing sticks back against the current... And he slept well after that. But who's got time for that every day?! :D
 

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I remember having a very similar revelation with Molly and I am still sometimes amazed by how little exercise she needs. She could actually use more for purpose of conditioning but it's not what she actually wants and needs most of the time - fun, but very not necessary for her. Of course, she's also a very different dog/breed in her way and also THREE, not < 1 year. What she craves most isn't even *training*, it's simply the act of being usefully engaged with me, in some kind of activity that has some meaning and structure to her. Some of that's physical stuff (ie: Disc or agility) and some of it's actual training, but some of it's stuff like helping me do laundry (she moves clothes from the hamper to the washer and pulls things out of the dryer for me to fold).

Kiran's a very different animal. If I tried to train Kiran for an hour - or even 15 minutes - without heavy use of play breaks his brain would leak out of his ear, and he'd either over stimulate and bite everything, or stress out and go flat and disengage. He might, sometimes, get a total hour of training out of 24, but that comes down to a lot of 5-10 minute sessions (with at least one break even within a 5 minute session). He DOES however definitely NEED some pretty serious physical movement before he's able to use his brain. I am going to miss swimming like crazy when it gets cold. It's just so convenient.

...and come to that Molly also, when presented with difficult/new activities in training also has got to blow off steam and do play breaks probably every 10 minutes. Not for long but burning off energy built up from self-control's necessary to keep her truly in the game, even if it's only one ball toss or ten seconds of hard tug. Doesn't really 'need' exercise in general at all, though.

But like I said, very different and they're both pretty soft dogs. Not the same way Kylie is (Kylie doesn't DO being told she's wrong even via just resetting and trying again only easier), but to... pressure/expectation. No problem with being wrong/trying again, but they tend to... build stress and frustration VERY quickly and then melt. Molly goes OCD/repeats something on loop with increasing franticness, Kiran barks and bites or starts throwing displacement behavior. Frequent playbreaks prevent that.

(I'm sorry, you totally needed me talking at length about my dogs, didn't you? BUT BRAE IS GORGEOUS. I love the intensity in his even sleepy expression.)
 

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He's still young, yet ... and it's not winter and brisk with snow on the ground ;-) But, you still have lots that you can teach him. I'm also hoping that Brae will help to rejuvenate Soro.

Another nice thing about training is that although he gets better, he won't build up endurance so that he 'needs' more.
 

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Another nice thing about training is that although he gets better, he won't build up endurance so that he 'needs' more.
No, but he might build expectation and turn into a nag (Molly) :p Fortunately the enforced downtime that's part of his life probably means there's not much risk of that.
 

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Discussion Starter #115
I've been impressed with his attention span for training right from the get go. I feel like I've been able to do 30-60 minute training sessions since I got him. Though of course, up till 16 weeks of age I prioritized other things. For me training and play typically go hand in hand anyways. I think Brae doesn't need to take breaks, traditionally speaking, because we move onto a different task so quickly or the toy reward part is his break from mental work. Either way, I love it!

Last night in our hourish session we worked on: nosework (hiding odor around the house), bow, wave, reverse around me, leg weaves, nose targeting, closing drawers/doors, paw targeting, distinguishing one paw from the other, wave, balancing treats, air snapping, catching treats, heelwork, cleaning up toys, holds, spin/twirl, play dead, position changes (sit/down/stand), side stepping
 

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I definitely do toy play as rewards, especially with Molly, but when I say 'play break' I mean 'take your toy and go run a lap'. Then she comes back ready to keep going. Similar with Kiran, though his breaks are longer and we stop all around sooner and just plain play. I kick a large ball, or throw the tug, or throw a tennis ball and sit (which indicates 'rules for automatic return with it are off).

But I also do a lot of 'start button' type work with both, wherein they determine if they want to work or not, and the breaks provide them with the option of re-engaging with me or not. If they're working it's because they choose to work. They more they mature, the more they show me what they're ready for and want to do. But disengaging from me completely is something I prompt EVERY training session, no matter how short or long, or how many things I might work on (I never drill anything). If they want more, they need to show me they want it or I walk, things are put away and we go back inside. Not to crates or anything just. Play/training time is over.

It's... different but no regrets. That particular Fenzi Class (worked up!) really changed how I train and into, what I acknowledge, is weird for a lot of people. It's been life changing with Molly in particular. Molly got overtrained, big time and it was really horrible for her. My big goal with Kiran was not to repeat that mistake. (I'm not saying you're doing that with Brae. He is a very different dog).
 

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Discussion Starter #117
I agree! I give him the release cue dozens of times, probably every minute or two. He just sits and stares at me waiting for more. Outside I do the same thing and sometimes Brae will sniff for 5 seconds then come back to me. But I definitely think that letting the dog decide how much they want to work is very important.
 

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Yeah. The real problem with Molly and what I mean by overtraining is that until she was specifically taught to disengage and say 'I can't', she wouldn't. Even at 8, 10, 12 weeks old if the opportunity to work was there, she'd take it. Which was great! Until it wasn't. "How to tell me no" is one of the weirdest things I've ever had to teach a dog but with her? It had to be taught, very specifically, as a skill and has to be ...prompted, still.

Because, yeah, the dog standing and staring at me to do more was great. Until that same dog will stand there staring or barking for work while having a complete mental and emotional breakdown from stress (some of it self-inflected from the inability to take a break, sometimes environmental, sometimes frustration at increasing difficulty) and is just wildly DOING and wanting to continue to DO but has no brain - or ability to decompress themselves or indicate a problem before they're a frantic, mindless puddle.

Basically her work ethic is fantastic, but she has NO ability to release pressure. Kind of like the same way she'll run after a ball if it involves going off a cliff or won't limp while chasing a ball and I look at her later and she's got broken nails and no paw pads. only with mental things. The only self-preservation she has is me.

It's. More annoying than I expected it to be, to be honest.
 

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Discussion Starter #119
Oh I gotcha! Yeah, that was a thing I worried about when diving into this breed. Thankfully, Brae has just the right amount of self preservation to fearlessness. I would count Soro as stable but not fearless and Brae is a step above him. But still cautious enough to not sail off a cliff... Though in high drive mode he might...

A few weeks ago I threw a toy in some harmless current leading into rapids (I knew/could easily reach the entire river bank) and he sailed down stream after it. But he did eventually stop and realize he was getting too far from me, and he gave up on the toy and came back. He DID go quite a ways though and paddled right into the rapids with no hesitation. I sort of wanted to test him :D

I think Brae's desire to be with ME overrides a lot of other things and I am fine with that. Soro's totally different. If I cross a river he's not comfortable with he wouldn't do it.
 

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Discussion Starter #120
Shots and pics from this morning's training session:

I regret not taking more videos of things in progress with Soro when he was younger. Brae is working on a lot of stuff! He LOVES training.

Other developments since my last big post... He now rides loose in the passenger area of the car. He is perfect (knocks on wood), very calm in the back and lies down. Doesn't bother with windows and no fuss if I leave him in there, though I haven't tried long departures. I worked VERY hard to make this happen. It involved things like waiting in the parking lot of a hiking trail and just standing next to my car until he lied down in the crate, in which I'd open the door, leash up and let him out. If he got up before my cue, I'd close the car door and wait again. All the crate and calm training in the crate did transfer once I removed the crate, which is nice. And I will continue to reinforce it... And I hope it holds!

Also, no photos of this since I was pretty much holding my breath the entire time.... A couple days ago Soro and Brae were on the spring pole at the same time. It was a pretty intense situation since they both had different toys in their mouth and were both tugging their hardest in different directions. It was a pretty stupid thing for me to let happen (Soro didn't wait his turn), and I'm not sure what would've happened if Brae tried to re-grip and accidentally nipped Soro or something. BUT, they had a great time and both dropped immediately when I told them to. I have two very good boys.
 
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