I would like to pick your schutzund brains for a moment, if that is ok. First, I'll tell you about my dog. I have a 10 week old GSD puppy. She has no IPO background and it not from a known working line. She has good drive, chases everything that moves and so far, has absolutely LOVED learning new things. I have had dogs for over 30 years, raised and trained several pups into adulthood but there is something "different" about Genali. Her confidence level amazes me, she backs down from nothing, wary at times but never fearful. Even though her background is not top-notch, I'd love to give her an opportunity to show her stuff, and hopefully get some titles along the way.
I have introduced myself to a local IPO trainer, and we agreed that I would bring Genali in for a introductory session once she is 16 weeks and has completed all of her shots. This trainer is part of a local schutzund club that I have hopes of joining, if Genali passes "muster". If she doesn't mesh well with IPO, we will find something else, because this girl needs a job. She is too much dog to have just laying around, both of us would go crazy.
So, the questions for those of you who know more than me (which would be all of you):
1. What sort of training should I focus on between now and this initial assessment? How can I work now to set her up for success later?
I don't want to do anything to mess her up. She is sitting on command, knows to sit when I put on/take off her lead, sits on her own when I reach to open the crate. She is doing well at house breaking. SHe knows "drop it" and "leave it". She knows "No", but doesn't always respect the command yet. SHe is doing well at "come". She knows "look".....I have her look me in the eye before receiving any treat.
2. What can I do to set myself up for success at this initial session? What should I bring, other than the dog? Do I ask about the club or wait for an invitation?
3. Genali loves to play tug. I know that this is an important precursor to bitework. Right now, she has a long semi-stuff raccoon that she and I will tug with. When playing tug, I rub my hands on her head, neck and body and praise her when she gets a full bite on the coon toy. I do tease her a little with it, encouraging her to chase it a little before she gets her mouth on it. Is this OK? Should I stop this game until she is being trained? Or should I continue to do it? Are there other methods/training that I can use to help build her drive?
4. Any other suggestions or tips would be most appreciated. I'd really like for us to be able to do this! I do understand that the lack of a working background will work against Genali, and I am prepared to help her overcome that.