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Thursday, February 12, 2009

Tully - The Chocolate Lab

I've spent the last 10 days working with a WONDERFUL chocolate lab named Tully.  His owners were off to Hawaii and while they wanted a great place to board him, they also wanted a bit of training for this big boy as well.

Tully's owners got him a few months back from a family that decided they couldn't handle him. I'd suspect he had little prior training and unfortunately, was very over weight as well.  His current owners are wonderful people and this boy has an incredible home.  The owners are very smart, dog savvy, and live on an incredibly dog friendly environment - Tully is a lucky, lucky boy!

Tully's issues were that he jumped on people, pulled his owners while walking, barked very deeply & loudly when he didn't get his way or while very excited.  I should add that Tully is 1.5 years old so he's still young at heart.

The first order of business was to get Tully on a high quality food that would allow him to shed some of those extra pounds.  In all, I suspect Tully needs to loose about 35 lbs.

Next, we allowed Tully to become a part of our household so that his training occurred throughout the day.  Tully was immediately taught what the clicker meant and we shaped a sit to be his default behavior.  We required Tully to sit and wait until released before he could do any behavior such as eat, leave the x-pen, go out the door, come in the door, before we would pet him, before we would put a leash on/off him for walks, etc.  We kept the training sessions very short, 3-5 minutes and they started at 5:30 a.m. (feeding time) and continued until bed time.

Tully didn't train 24/7, I'm a big fan of letting dogs be dogs!  He had a TON of time to run around our acreage with our dogs and they played and played and played!  To see Tully run and jump over the logs as he chased Ru or Burton was really great fun to watch.  Tully also had daily naps and he is a dog that snores!  After running and playing, all of the dogs would lay on the carpet while I did paperwork on the laptop and get in a nice long afternoon siesta - I'll admit that one day I joined them in catching some zzzz's.

Tully took to clicker training very well and as we worked attention exercises (some call it doggy-zen) and recalls, he would get better and better each time.

When I returned Tully to his owners yesterday, he did each task exceptionally well.  There's always a concern that when they return to their home environment that the training they learned elsewhere if a distant memory.  Not for this handsome boy!

I'll be visiting with him and his Mom next week for some additional in-home, issue specific training (he brings back the neighbor's garbage ).  I'm really looking forward to it.

Tully is a wonderful dog and I'll admit, I'm going to miss him in our household!  However, I know he is well loved and taken care of in his current home and I'm lucky enough to be able to visit.  I'm also looking forward to watching his weight come down so we can see that beautiful structure of his!

See you next week Tully!!!!!

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