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!

Monday, December 26, 2011

A great Christmas Day for Knightley, barking beginning to stop!

4 months 4 weeks old

Well, I have to say I am glad that the Christmas season is over for this year. It has been a pretty busy lead up, going places, doing things, with barely time to catch breath. I have only been just treading water health/exhaustion wise. I even found myself falling asleep at my desk at my volunteer job (which I will soon be paid for) last week. Not good!

Another thing that is going on, is my brother, who I have lived with for quite a few years, and who was living with me when my husband moved in, is buying his own house and will be moving out mid-ish January. A fair chunk of the furniture in the house is his, so we are having to do all those rather time consuming (and money consuming!) buying type things to get ready for him moving out.

Knightley in his life jacket. I got the size up from what he
currently needs, and he only just fits into it, but it should
fit him for a good while. It was a hot day and he was happy
to lie on these tiles.... that is, until people started getting
in the pool.............
Anyway, despite the big lead up to Christmas and my brother moving out, it was a good Christmas Day, and what's more, Knightley had a GREAT time. I think I mentioned in my last blog that we were going to give him a try swimming in my parents pool on Christmas Day as it was meant to be a hot day. Well, it was a hot day: 31 degrees Celsius I think (or was that Christmas Eve? hmmm I forget...), so I took along Knightley's new life jacket which I bought to give him a good start in his swimming 'career'. I had been careful to give him a good introduction to water, as you would know if you read my blog often. Firstly it was that big blue tub, then the orange paddling pool in our backyard which he plays in often. Then I let him wade around in the water drains right near here when they were full and clean after rains, and that comes up to his stomach or so.... and then he got to go into our nearby lake once, but only his legs since I didn't have anything to dry him with me. So I had made it fun, played with him often in the paddling pool, and bought a Kong Wubba (meant for pools, rivers, lakes, beaches etc) which he liked retrieving from the little pool. I had got him used to the life jacket previously, so I knew he would be fine with it.

Knightley did a bit of this before he jumped in, and after he
got out every time, he peered at us / his Wubba before
making the big leap into the water. Dear clever fearless
So my dad and brother got in the pool first, and Knightley was already standing right on the edge, but I couldn't believe he would jump in. I was getting ready to get in the pool myself and ***SPLASH!!!*** He launched himself directly off the side of the pool right into the water!!!! I couldn't believe it, and scrambled into the pool as quickly as I could! Amazing dog. He sure likes the water!!! We steered him towards the steps to show him the way out (the first thing you should ever do with a dog in an unfamiliar pool), but he was swimming strongly, and cleanly, not panicking - although apparently having the life jacket helps a lot with that. Dogs swim in such a way that their front half is well out of the water, but their back
section is well below water, basically on an angle.

Knightley taking the plunge. What an awesome photo,
thanks to my Mum. The only one not swimming, thanks
to her aversion to water that isn't of tropical temperature.
When dogs are starting to learn how to swim they can feel like they are sinking and panic, which makes them thrash around a bit, which means they don't swim cleanly and don't really get anywhere, which makes them more panicked. A life jacket makes their first swimming experiences positive ones, which basically sets them up for life! I'd like to take him swimming again soon, either to the pool or a lake or river. It is important to cement these experiences. As the swimming went on, Knightley seemed to get more hesitant to get in the water, and spent more time just running around the outside of the pool - which he still seemed to enjoy.... but I don't want him to get a superstition about jumping in! So that's another big reason why I need to get him swimming again soon.

Grabbing his Wubba and getting out of the pool for a good
shake and a run around. For extra bonus points he might
even shake on his grand-dog-mother (my mum).
I was quite pleased however, by the fact he was able to focus on the Wubba whilst still being fascinated by the water. What he does isn't exactly a retrieve, but he LOVES having things in his mouth. I think it may be a small part due to his teething, but it definitely mostly his retriever breeding. He just adores carrying things. Sometimes on our walks he'll pick up a stick or a piece of bark and carry it for a full 5 minutes or so, quite happily. Now, if I could just harness that calm holding capacity!!! He gets so excited during his current retrieve training..... I tell you what though, Knightley is a Golden Retriever through and through. Loves loves loves water, those paws are absolute flippers.... and absolutely adores carrying objects - ANYTHING! - for long distances. Not so sure about having a soft mouth!!! (Goldens are meant to have a gentle mouth so as to not destroy and mangle the birds they retrieve whilst their owners are shooting).

A happily swimming dog.
Anyway, the result of his swimming adventures was a nicely tired Knightley and a very very proud dog mummy (me!). The poor pup got a good wash down to get the salt and chlorine off him, as Goldens are very prone to hotspots, and he didn't like the wash very much. However, he's nice and clean now and was rather due for one anyway.

He spent a good chunk of the rest of the afternoon and evening off and on in his portable fabric crate, and was actually very well behaved. I was very happy with him. We took him out regularly, and he went for a short walk after we ate Christmas Dinner, but mostly he was content to sleep the day away.  I think the swim rather tired him out!! Not surprising really. Not only is it great exercise for dogs, and growing puppies especially (no harm to their joints), but new experiences are exhausting also.

Finally getting too tired to jump in and out. Lying on the
sidelines, wishing their was an easier way to get in, I
think. He didn't like that big commitment!!
I did give him a Kangaroo tail, and a pigs trotter at different times, and that helped too. It's all about setting your dog up for success! If you think they are likely to pine, try to lessen the likelihood of that happening in any way possible. The more the dog pines, the more it will pine in the future. I have decided to specifically work upon 'independence training' with Knightley. Our experience at my husband's picnic with Knightley going nuts when we both walked away from him told me he is getting very very attached to being *with* us. And since I think a lot of that has been causing his barking problems, if I can make him better with being by himself, it may help.

My husband and I wearing our VERY AWESOME
Christmas pressies from my parents-in-law. How
cool are they?! I don't know if the hubby will wear
his though hehehe. But I have no shame and I'm
proud of my little cutie!
To that end, and to also help with things like our retrieve training and the like, we have started Karen Overall's Relaxation Protocol. We are working on Day 1 only for the moment, until Knightley does it perfectly. It involves basically staying in a sit for about 5 odd minutes (on and odd, but mostly in the sit), and Knightley does slide down into a down quite a few times still. He gets bored and figures it is time to lie down and rest. I mean on one side it is working at relaxing him - but not quite what I want!! So we shall continue to do that.

On the previous subject of barking, we have seen a good deal of progress there. For a couple of nights, soon after Knightley starting barking he was taken to the fabric crate in another room. I think that, and a small amount of rather gentle but carefully chosen noise aversion therapy techniques have produced our - so far, knock on wood - good results. Knightley also got quite a few Christmas presents - even a few all the way from England! He actually loves one of the English ones the best - a kind of rope Santa, with a beard, red hat and all. It has a ball on it too. I can't see the delicate parts of it lasting long. We bought him a toy turkey, with squeakers in the wings, and rope in between the body parts. Very cute. He's such a spoilt dog! He even got Christmas cards!!!

I hope everyone reading this had a good Christmas. I got some nice presents, but more importantly, spent a good day with the family and watched Knightley have the time of his life! He fills my life with joy. I know he was a birthday present from my parents, but he's the present that keeps on giving. So really, he's a Christmas present as well!

No comments:

Post a Comment