Oz Working Dogs - Assistance & Working Dog Equipment

For assistance/service dog equipment, as well as guide, therapy, detection, search & rescue, police and dogs in training equipment check out my website http://www.ozworkingdogs.com.au - I make and sell vests, capes, belly bands, harnesses, handles and more... and will post to the world!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Knightley's final puppy shots, LLW and learning new skills and tricks

15 weeks old

So this week Knightley had his last puppy shots, which should now make him safe from parvo. While I have been socialising him that has been the big one I have been scared of, but now this shot is done, and give it a few more days to work completely.... then I can relax about it. A friends dog was very close to dying from parvo when he was a pup, I was pretty scared that it would happy to Knightley. The memories of my previous dog, Clipsy, are still surprisingly fresh. He died in 2000 from a long and protracted battle with a progressive heart murmur like so many poor Cavalier King Charles Spaniels. By the end of his life he was taking almost as much medication as I do!! So I guess I am just scared of having a very sick dog on my hands again.

Knightley's coat, having lost the majority of his cute puppy
fluff, now has a stripe of coarser fur down his back which is
the beginning of his adult Golden Retriever coat. Golden's
have a double coat, his existing puppy coat will be the
undercoat, and this new coarser fur coming in will be the
protective overcoat.
Parvo is one of those illnesses in dogs that scares me. As does the prevalence of cancer in Golden Retrievers, but it does tend to be less in the English type of Golden Retrievers than the American type. Here in Australia we generally have the English type - they tend to be a bit larger, heavier set, often of lighter coat. The American type looks like it comes greatly from 'field lines' by and large - often quite slight in build, a great deal of energy and drive, less feathering (coat), and the coat is often darker... even red in colour. Knightley is definitely starting to get his adult coat, so far it isn't going any darker (usually it darkens a bit to match the colour of the dogs ears), but I guess we'll just see. You can see here in the photo to the right that most of his 'puppy fluff' has gone, and he has this stripe of coarser fur down his back, that is the beginning of his adult coat. I was open to him being a more golden coloured golden, but I would be rather pleased if he stayed cream too! Anyway, it is a great relief to have Knightley fully vaccinated. One thing to worry about less. I am such a champion worrier.

Knightley's paws compared to my palm. They are so huge,
and even bigger when he is standing on them, then they truly
are the same size as my palm. Doing paw targeting with such
big paws on still what is only just a medium sized dog is kind
of odd!
So after a bit of a hiatus in learning new skills, apart from a bit of paw targeting, we are learning a few new things. We also have a bit of fixing to do... I've mucked up some behaviours just a bit by accidentally creating some unwanted behaviour chains and expectations. For instance, Knightley is getting good at paw targeting - but because he seemed better at doing it in a down position, I let him do it from a down about 2/3 of the time. Now as soon as the lid I use for him to tap with his paw comes out, he automatically goes into a down. To get him to paw target it in anything but a down, I have to keep him moving back and forth with nose targeting (touch), then paw, then nose, paw etc. Otherwise he just lies down and uses his paw that way. Speaking of paws, his are pretty massive - in the photo here you can see they are nearly as big as my palm, especially when he's standing up on it, not lying down as he is here. Another problem I had but have mostly fixed, is for a while I was practicing a lot of 'puppy pushups' where you ask for a sit, down, sit, down, sit, down and so on. He got so used to it he used to pre-empt the cue. Grrrr. So I started being as random as I could be, sit, touch, zen, down, touch, sit, down, sit, touch, down, zen etc. That seems to have *mostly* fixed it, although Knightley seems to slide into a down if I leave him in a sit for a short while. Sit stays are not going to come easily!!

I have started to teach the "bang you're dead" trick, where when you say "bang!" with the fake 'gun' hand movement, and the dog flops into a down on its side with its head on the ground. Knightley is getting the on the side bit, but only sometimes manages to put him head right down. Also the speed isn't quite what I would expect from something getting shot.... more like a stoned turtle....... Still it's a start, and it's very cute when he gets it right. I throw a party and he gets a treat jackpot.

We are doing lots of Loose/Lazy Leash Walking (LLW) training, but damn it is going slowly. Barely perceptively moving, one might say. Instead of taking Knightley out the back to do his business, I take him out the front on a leash, so that he doesn't get as excited by going out the front anyone. I'm also handfeeding him his meals occasionally out the front, and making them extra yummy so that he can't resist. So he is definitely taking food better in close proximity to the house, and there has been some improvement on walks too I think, which will help with the ability to train outdoors and eventually master LLW.

This is the Freedom Harness, by
Wiggles. Wags and Whiskers. It is
considered the best harness in terms
of letting the shoulder move freely.
The vet and vet nurse expressed concern the other day that Knightley may pull me over with an excited lunge, as he is now getting to that size and strength. They also referred me to a trainer who does sessions on Saturdays, who gave me a call as soon as I got home from the vet. Both vet AND trainer tried to push a halti on me. I think they were a bit surprised at the vehemence of my reaction, and a bit baffled when I explained it by saying that how it sat on the muzzle had psychological effects on the dog. I have looked into getting the Freedom Harness by Wiggles Wags and Whiskers, but will have to pay an obscene cost in postage from the US it seems. It is a no pull harness that doesn't constrict the shoulder joint, as unfortunately many no pull harnesses do. The plan would be to use that for a month or two as a tool to *train* Knightley, in conjuction with further clicker training, and training on the flat collar. It would just help make me be safe on our walks.

Anyway, I had a great chat to the trainer about all sorts of dog trainer type stuff. She had done the dog training course I am interested in, so that was good for some insights. She says that I should feel free to 'use and abuse her' for the training of Knightley, eg if he needs some distraction training that week, come and use her class as the distraction. Or if I just want him to have some socialisation, I can bring him along for that. Her class is being held in a field, so I don't think I would find walking around in it, doing heel work etc all that easy or good for me, but she said I could sit that out. Apparently they let the dogs off to just run around, so that sounds great for Knightley. I am volunteering today, so won't be able to go to this session - but maybe next weekend. I look forward to it. From my rather lengthy chat to the trainer, we are on the same page on quite a few things - although not haltis - and it was good to talk to someone who knew her stuff. The previous guy at puppy class was just a little clueless and stuck in his ways.

I went a bit nuts and took a huge series of photos with my new camera yesterday, so here is one of the best of them after tiring him out playing with the flirt pole. My Knightley a touch over 15 weeks, 13.5kg (29.7lbs) and a full 43cm (17 inches) at the withers. He has also lost several teeth now, possibly helped by the amount of tug he loves to play!

Knightley, chewing on the ball attached to the flirt pole. His accuracy
in chasing and speed has improved hugely over the last couple of weeks.
Gone is that baby puppy clumsiness, he is on his way to becoming an
adolescent dog.

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