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Sunday, October 2, 2011

Progress with Knightley's basic training

9 weeks 3 days old

Well, I've found something that Knightley will work for - cooked chicken. He's almost keen for it! In the last couple of days I have been making some good progress with it. I'm trying to make sure I get his feeding right, as he was a bit pudgy when he came to us, and I want to feed him on a slow growth plan to maximise the chance his hips will grow well, without any signs of dysplasia. So, I am quite sure I am not feeding him too much. I am also doing my training sessions before his meals, to ensure that he is at least relatively hungry. It is quite amazing how little interested he is in the vast majority of foods. However, like I was just saying, chicken is somewhat of an exception. I can keep his attention with chicken for a reasonable time, maybe up to 10 minutes with a high level of reinforcement.

Being a bit sleepy and adorable.
Yesterday we worked on sit, which is coming along well, both with hand signal, and with cue. We also continued work on hand targeting, which is probably at about 6/10 at the moment. I have a feeling he doesn't quite *get it* yet, even though he often does the right thing. I don't know how he can do the right thing without understanding quite what is wanted, but I am sure he was frustrated. He barks at my hand sometimes when he clearly wants the chicken but forgets how to get it. We were also on our second day of working on down. I lured it at first, and then used a hand signal similar to the lure action. It was quite hit and miss yesterday. We've also started 'zen' (ie leave it cue) but despite him seeming to get it quickly at first we have a lot more work to do there. The only behaviour left from this level to train is the come, and I've been doing what I can solo. It's the weekend now, so I hope my husband and I can give the 'come game' a go. These behaviours are all from Sue Ailsby's Training Levels, Level 1 (Old Levels). We have a good way to go before we pass them and can go onto the much more interesting Level 2.

Asleep by my feet. Continuing his theme of being
cute whilst unconscious.
Today down was going much better, although he is not offering it how I would like him to, he pretty much needs the hand signal. Perhaps I will have to start some capturing. His sit is pretty good in certain rooms so I am starting to move it around. Hand target still frustrates him occasionally, he has gaps where he can't seem to remember what to do, and he loses interest in the 'chicken game'. Zen he isn't getting, he'll do it right on one session and then next he won't have a clue. He just fundamentally doesn't understand it. Still, he is doing a LOT better than how my previous dog was when he was 9 weeks old.

Showing his fluffy loveliness. I have a
feeling he is going to have an enormous
coat! I am putting some work into
getting him to accept being brushed happily
although he does quite like eating the
brushes at the moment!!
House training is going pretty well. His only occasional accidents continue to be our fault. There are a few stairs for me to go down to get out, so I sometimes put off going out, which can be my undoing! Stairs are not my friend!!! He is doing well with his sleeping, no whining when he goes into his little sleeping crate, but he doesn't much like his big crate in our living area when he really wants ATTENTION. Then the whines/howls come out. He really is a full on, demanding puppy. I am thrilled at his love of tug, and how he happily carries objects for a good 15 seconds. But it's going to be another couple of full on months before I stop being zombiefied at the end of each day. Cross fingers Knightley will make up for it in later years.

Today he had his first bath. It has been raining quite a bit in the last couple of days and he had got himself quite mucky. I fed him quite a bit of chicken so he would see the bath as a GOOD THING, but he stopped taking chicken half way through and was quite miserable (in doggy nerd speak, he was over threshold). I had wanted to get him used to his bath slowly, step by step, just wetting him paws one session, a bit of water on his back the next.... but he got too mucky! On the other hand, I used a wonderful smelling Australian Made shampoo called Champet (http://champet.com.au) - the Aromatics line. I shampooed and conditioned him and he both smells and feels so lovely. I ended up completely soaked and completely exhausted. But worth it for such a scrumptious smelling dog!

Those photos are all quite recent ones of Knightley - the last two or so days. He is definitely growing! He is nearly the size of my previous dog, Clipsy, who was a rather large Cavalier. I am looking forward to him being a little more grown up. I do love some of these puppy moments, and I do treasure them, but he would try the patience of a saint sometimes. I see him get more focus and simply become more trainable every day, and it's a lovely process to watch.


  1. Hello Lyssa
    Knightly is such an adorable looking pup. I love the photo 'being
    cute whilst unconscious'.
    You may remember that I have an Australian Terrier. She is 4 months tomorrow and I am doing similar things with her as you are doing with Knightly. She is very good at Zen but now completely mixes up 'sit' and 'down'. Lucy absolutely loves roast chicken and roast beef, the yare really high value treats at the moment.
    Are you familiar with the DVD called 'Really Reliable Recall'?

  2. Hi Ivana,
    Sorry I didn't get back til now! No, I don't know that video. Knightley's recall is pretty poor, but that is completely my fault for not practicing it enough. If she is mixing up sit and down then you need to remove the cues and just use hand signals until she has them the right way around, only then reintroduce cues. Continuing with it mixed up will make it worse! Knightley definitely loves chicken, raw or cooked... but we have discovered he quite likes dried liver and cabanossi.