Wednesday, June 10, 2009


Maggie, Denzil, and Ziggy are very much alike, yet at the same time very different.  These differences are certainly apparent when they are working (training and competing).  The most challenging dog at the moment is Ziggy.  I’ll get to him in a moment, but first here’s what I’m comparing him to:

Maggie is my first Cardigan, and the dog that got me hooked on the breed.  She’s a very hard worker, and she’s focused on her task -- she’s not the sort to get into the ring and frap, or shut down and not try.  She has a job, and she’s there to do it.  She’s not perfect, but I never have a doubt that she’s doing her best.
Maggie’s also a fun dog to train because she learns quickly and is willing to give me the benefit of the doubt – continuing to try in the face of uncertainty (which, with me as a handler, I’m sure there’s a lot of.)  Maggie’s main motivation is food – if there’s a biscuit involved, she’s in! 
I realize that I’m a bit spoiled with Maggie because she’s a very “honest” dog who’s easy to motivate and train.

Denzil is my second Cardigan.  Denzil has always been an enthusiast, but early in his life, this made him quite a challenge to train.  His “distract-o-matic” was set on high until he was about 2.5 years old, and the fun happening around him was often more interesting than me. Finally his attention kicked in, and now he has a great deal of focus most of the time.  I’ve had people I trained with early in Denzil’s life actually ask me if he’s the same dog!
Denz is filled with enthusiasm and is motivated first and foremost by wanting to GO and DO.  The dog wants a job and is keen when he’s doing the job.  He also likes food rewards (he is a Cardi, after all), but those are secondary for Denzil. 
Denzil and I have figured out how to work well together.  My main challenge now is finding challenging activities that he’s physically able to participate in.
 and now for the youngest pack member:
 Ziggy is my 3rd Cardigan – and right now he’s an enigma.   
 My challenge is to figure out the best way to train this boy – what exactly is going to build the “want” in this dog?  (Ziggy is very laid back most of the time.)
He likes food – but not like Maggie likes food.  He likes to work sometimes – but not like his brother Denzil.  He has great attention and focus sometimes.  At other times he’d just rather sit around.  He’s also a bit stubborn so doing something like taking him back to the place where he broke a stay is often met with an impassive look and feet that are firmly glued to the floor.
 So this is my quest – how do I build with Ziggy a strong working relationship like I have with Maggie and Denzil?  I’m quite confident that Ziggy will make me a better dog trainer and handler.  I’m also confident that it’s going to be a very long and interesting journey…. 

1 comment:

  1. Interesting. Huxley and Ziggy sound quite similar. Hux is quite a laid-back dog and wants nothing so much as to sleep under my feet (or on the bed or even on my lap - oof!). But as far as working, he is neither food- nor toy-motivated.


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