We brought our pup home today, she's a pretty little tricolor, five months old today-ish. I went out to visit the breeder for a few hours, separated and crated her, then on the way home stopped to do our first foundational work. There's a quiet, fenced-in park near our house, with a (second) fenced-in baseball diamond inside, so that was a perfect stop. My trainer recommended I wait thirty days to start "formal" training, so in the meantime we're doing simple, fun foundational work… mostly just in the way of "naming" objects and behaviors.
She hasn't had any real leash work to speak of, so I did a simple tie-out exercise about an hour before we left the breeder to get her acclimated to the idea of a line restraint without fighting with me about it. She squirmed for about ten seconds then settled right down and went to work combing the ground with her teentsy snout ;0). I watched her for another ten or fifteen minutes, but she never did struggle with the collar again, so I figured that was that, went and released her, gave her a good scruffle, a release command, and she followed me back up to the house. I crated her while visiting with her breeder, then we went home with a stop in the park.
She was hesitant to come out of the crate and car, so I named the "wait" behavior when she checked her forward motion, and "look" ("mira") when she checked things out (alerted ears, sniffing). When she decided to come out, I named "let's go" as she started forward. She hopped out, I picked her up, and carried her out to the middle of the baseball diamond.
I had her wearing a soft martingale and dragging a very light line. I set her down and dropped the line, petted her, then just stood back and let her check out the open world. I walked about ten feet away and let her take a good, long look, then when she turned and looked for me, patted my leg, gave her a cheerful "let's go" and started walking away. I had a moment of quiet panic, and then she launched herself at me. I named "here" and caught her with a "jackpot" reward of happy petting, and then we set off to explore the baseball diamond.
She was wonderful! About a third of the time she was in immaculate heel position, so I named and rewarded that. Named and rewarded good following. There were a few perfect distractions, enough to catch her eye, but not so near or tempting that she really went for them. Whenever something caught her attention I named "mira", let her take a good look, then ran off in the other direction, naming/rewarding her for following. She really stuck right up close to me, so much so that I only got one chance to name a recall. We wandered around the baseball diamond for about fifteen minutes, then I picked her up and carried her back out to the car.
Has anyone messed with this stuff before? I dabbled in it with my first dog, but this is the first time I'll be practicing it in an organized way. It was fun! She seemed delighted with the whole experience and all I did was name the things she was doing enthusiastically, and reward her with petting and play.
We'll keep doing this in fenced areas for about a month. I'll start teaching her the formal bridge/target stuff about then and may introduce her to running rabbits maybe July or August. I think she is going to be a world of fun to handle. She seems like a thinker. She is my first Basenji (first primitive type dog, too). I ....know.... this perfect responsiveness may not even last until tomorrow, but I could not have asked for a more ideal first outing!!!