Thank you guys! The responses have been great. Please keep them coming.
When Ruger was young, he had his CGC at 8 months and his first rally leg at 9 months. Looking back, I think it was too much too soon. He learned to dislike obedience. Bad training.
When I got Cues, I learned from my mistakes and did the complete opposite. I only worked with loose leash walking and basic commands. Always working on focus. I did a lot of the things that were in the Michael Ellis Training with food and tug DVDs. No pressure. I wanted her to think training =play. I did heavy socialization. I took her somewhere every day I was off work to meet different people and get out into every environment I could think of.
I finally took her to the Schutzhund club for her 1 yr birthday. She came out of the car happy and ready to work. She took to it like she had been doing it her whole life.
What Cues is now is a super happy dog in her work. She continues to improve all the time. All she wants to do is train, and she lives to please.
If I had to do it all over again, I do the exact same thing.
I think I also rushed her a bit too much when she was younger, so now I've backed off to doing just the basics, and LOTS of play. We just do sit, down, stay, and out while in play. We've progressed to down in motion, but sit in motion is still choppy. She defaults into down.
Loose leash is a must since it's near impossible to walk with a strong dog pulling you left and right.
I think the next thing I want to teach is fetch, since this is still mostly play. She has great prey drive, and will run after the ball, it's the bringing back that is problematic.
I agree. The socialization has to be the single most important thing. It's the difference between a dangerous/obnoxious/uncontrollable/annoying dog and a well mannered dog that everyone loves to be around.
An older dog can learn obediance as well (or better) than a pup. But if you've got an older dog who can't deal with people, places, or things, you've got trouble.
We've probably put 5x more effort into socialization than formal obedience so far.
I also want to increase socialization. I've done lots when she was a puppy, but didn't really do much these past few months. There are SO MANY DOGS in Kingston, and it's hard to be out and about if I don't want her to react.
But I'm thinking we really need to work on her greeting skills. She gets so excited when she thinks she gets to greet people that her entire body wiggles.