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!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Knightley's love of water, LLW, warmer weather and allergies (mine, that is!)

Knightley going crazy pawing the water in the tub - I'm
having to hold onto it, otherwise he likes to tip the water
out. What a crazy pup I have.
16 weeks 2 days old

So, with the onset of a rather warm late spring I decided to get a tub from the laundry and see if Knightley was interested in dipping his paws in it. He had often been a bit naughty and stuck his paws in his water bowl and tracked water all over the kitchen, so I had suspicions he was going to like it, but I was blown away about how much. He pawed at the water with both front paws as if it was his last act on earth, emptying the tub eventually. The first time he did it, I laughed until I nearly cried - I just hadn't expected it. So after every walk, I'd cool him down by putting some water in the tub and letting him go at it. Dogs get most cool (other than from panting, and some heat exchange through the pads of their feet and their nose leather) from cooling down the bottom of their chest, and the way Knightley splashed the water with his paws drenched his chest, so it was a great way for him to cool down after a hot walk.

He loved it so much that my husband and I went out and bought him a much bigger paddling pool, which I had wanted to get for him for summer anyway. We also bought some plastic netting so that later I finally was able to stop Knightley going places in our yard I didn't want him to go, but he of course really wanted to go! Anyway, the padding pool was a complete hit. Whenever he is let out the back, he goes straight for the pool, even if it a rather cool morning. We have it put on top of an area with pebbles, near the taps, and to encourage him to explore the depths of the water I eventually found myself throwing in the biggest dark coloured pebbles I could find. It was very impressive what he did next, and really showed his problem solving and intelligence better than any other demonstration I have seen.

Knightley learning to put his head under the water and
blow bubbles through his nose. Now he just does
it for fun. I definitely have a water dog on my hands!
I can't wait for his first swimming opportunity.
The pool had ledges in the corners, so the water wasn't as deep there, was barely there at all. Knightley pawed the pebble to the corner, then up the wall of the pool, and onto the ledge, where he could easily pick up the pebble without having to put his face under water. I had seen quite a few videos of dogs fetching from bowls of water, or touching objects at the bottom of bowls of water, and knew they had to blow water through their noses to be able to do it, and that it was a bit of a learned skill. So the next day I put just a bit more water in so that it just covered the ledge by a couple of centimeters. Enough that he had to put his nose under the water in order to pick up the pebble once he had pawed it onto there. After doing that a couple of times, suddenly he didn't bother with pawing it onto the ledge, and just put half his head under the water to pick up the pebbles instead. He would pick up one, dump it out of the pool, pick up the next, dump it out, then the next and so on. I would toss them back in again and again. I have taken some great photos with my new dslr camera of bubbles coming from Knightley's nose as he trawls around on the bottom of the pool. Sometimes he seems to do it just for fun, not to pick up anything in particular. I tell you, I have a water dog on my hands! Not to mention a very very fast learner!

Despite lots of good stuff going on with Knightley, we are having some trouble with excessive vocalisation - ie, barking. I have moderately successfully taught a 'quiet' command, but it unfortunately doesn't last long yet. His barking seems to be caused by one main theme - frustration. If he wants to get to a dog but can't, he'll bark, if he is in his pen while we are eating but wants to be with us, he'll bark, if I'm making his food (thought I had dealt with this one but it has come back) he'll bark on and off to tell me to hurry up and feed him. I hope I can get a handle soon on his vocalness, because sometimes assistance dogs wash out from simply being too vocal. The funny thing is, he seems to have separation anxiety *when* I am still in the room but he can't get to me, like his pen or crate... but if I crate him and leave he is just fine. I have heard of this so I'll have to read up on it. It is odd though.

Loose/lazy leash walking (LLW) is beginning to come along quite well. He isn't exactly walking beside me, but he isn't pulling much anymore, and that is pretty good for a 16 week old puppy I think. Despite that I think I'll still get a no pull harness for public occasions because excitement causes him to forget all our work, and he nearly pulls me over. Birds often cause that forgetfulness too, but we continue to work on it - both on his collar and on harness. I tell you what, I am glad we don't have little critters like squirrels here in Australia - I can see how tempting they must be for dogs with strong prey drives!

The warmer weather hasn't been good for my walks with Knightley, partly because it just isn't good to be out in that heat for dogs (or me!), and partly because it has been causing just awful hayfever for me. I hope this summer isn't going to be a hot one if I am going to be particularly affected by my walks with the dog. Having Knightley in my life has changed my routines so much, in mostly a very positive way, and our walks together are one big change.

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