So, as you already know I moved to Dorset at 7 weeks old, That’s me in the photo.
I suppose that’s one reason I had a bit of trouble being too far away from hey right at the beginning, I remember him letting me out into the garden, he had to lift me down the step cos I was tiny and the step was HUUUUGE. even if he was standing by the door which was only 10 feet from where I was, I used to worry he was going to leave me, things were about to change though.
First steps to our communication:
Hey was and still is a tough Alpha, he doesn’t let me get away with anything and he expects me to do as he wishes when he wishes, this is actually just fine with me, I know exactly where I stand and when he is around I can relax knowing that he has everything under control, he will look after me and the pack.
The first few nights in my new den he had to teach me that my place was downstairs, he has never let me go to the forbidden high zone he calls “upstairs” and I learned very quickly that I must not even put my paw on the first stair unless I needed him to let me out while he was in his bed or something was wrong.
Hey’s teaching technique was simple, he would play with me!
He used to make his hands go limp and soft so I could play fight with him, and then…….
he would be a little bit rough and hold me down with a stiff strong grip, he never hurt me but it made me stop what I was doing immediately and look at him, in that same instant he would
I would look at him for a few seconds trying to understand what was happening, he would relax and we would play again, he repeated the holding down and the whispering until he saw that I was playing with him but at the same time had my eye on him waiting for the…..
This next time he whispered “stop” he didn’t hold me down but I still stopped, I looked at him to see if I had done it right and he stroked the whole side of my face with his massive hand which was lovely.
I had learnt my first word.
The second word he taught me was
For this one he let me nip his fingers while we played and as soon as I bit too hard he would tense his hand like he had a cramp and whisper…..
The second I relaxed the pressure he gave me a big gentle face stroke and closed his eyes, now I also realised he made facial expressions AND noises so I would have look at him all the time to learn as many signals as possible.
This was his plan!
He had taught me to keep looking at him and to listen really carefully at the same time because he was
Night Night Sleep Tight
I was still very young and while Hey and the rest of the pack were in their beds I was put in my place under the stairs for the night. Hey used to get up at around 4 am for the first few weeks so I wasn’t alone for too long.
He used this time to teach me words and facial expressions using the playing game. he introduced a small ball after the first week which I loved to follow, this made it easy to teach me to go under and over, Hey would bend his knee while sitting on the floor and make me follow the ball “under” his leg and do the same going “over” his leg. he taught me to walk “backwards” and to jump onto things whispering “hup”, I learned to drop the ball when he asked and not to touch it if he was holding it. Looking back I can see that he was actually laying the foundations of good behaviour and setting my first boundaries.
Around the middle of the second week he strated putting a lead on the floor next to where we played and every now and then told me to
when I stopped he would put the lead on me, count to 10 looking straight into my eyes, and take it off, I soon realised that what he wanted me to learn was that when I wear the lead there is NO playing, We don’t use a lead at all anymore I’ll tell you how we decided to stop using it in a future post.
Eye contact is really important to me as a collie, we use our stare to dominate the rams on the farm and unlike some other breeds don’t consider staring a challenge or threat of any kind but instead use it as a form of communication.
After 2 weeks Hey stopped coming downstairs at 4am and would call “quiet” from upstairs if I called him, I understood immediately what this meant from all our other training and from that day on I didn’t mind being under the stairs at all, as long as I could hear him when I called him I was fine. he still came down early occasionally but not nearly as often, we fell into a nice routine until one night Hey took the door away from my place under the stairs so I had a bit more room, he was starting to trust me and I felt happy.
We hadn’t yet gone outside for walks or anything because I was having my initial vaccinations and the insurance wouldn’t be valid until I was all up to date with them, this gave me the time to learn some really important words that I would need to know when we eventually did start going out. To be continued…….