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, December 15, 2011

Great training sessions, some barking help, finding dog teeth everywhere!

Giving me a "Watch me" cue, one of the behaviours we are doing
as part of Sue Ailsby's Training Levels. I like to reinforce eye
contact even when I am not asking for a formal Watch me, so I
often give him treats during the day for it.
4 months 2 weeks 3 days old

Knightley is really getting into his training these days. There was a time I was really worried he wasn't "in the game" as they say, but that time is truly long gone. We've had some absolutely terrific sessions lately, where everything has been spot on, and he improves and learns effortlessly.

We continue to work on his "Shake", as like most dogs, he's a bit foot touchy, so I try to take the foot holding part of the behaviour slowly. He is happy to touch my hand with his foot, but when I start holding it, he isn't happy. He will also touch his paw to my hand in nearly any position, even jumping into a "beg" position in order to reach my hand with his paw. So cute.

His mat got wet a while back and has been outside, then got even wetter in the storms we had, and I was too slack and tired to clean it until now. But it's back in the house, and it has been at least four weeks since we worked on mat behaviours, and I never really moved it around the house, testing out whether he really knew what "Go to mat" meant. Well, I can tell you that dogs have really excellent memories. He basically did it perfectly, and was really getting into it, tail wagging madly. I moved it into three separate rooms, and he was throwing himself eagerly on the mat every time. This was only using kibble as a treat too! So much for the puppy who wasn't food motivated!!

Here's a list of the things my 4.5 month old Knightley can do now, most are Training Level behaviours:

  • Sit
  • Down (working on getting down quicker, at the moment it's quite slow)
  • Stand
  • Wait
  • Stay (sit stay, and down stay, not done much work on stand stay)
  • Watch
  • Touch (hand, wand and surface target with nose)
  • On your mat
  • Paw (hand and object target with paw)
  • Come (not as solid as I would like)
  • Through (run between my legs, very recent trick, so quickly learnt!)
  • Shake hands
  • Hi-five
  • Speak (very happy to do this one!!)
  • Quiet (not so good at this one, does it, but it doesn't last as long as I would like when he wants to bark)
  • Off (get off furniture, get your front paws off something, stop jumping up)
  • Up (jump onto something, front paws up eg to give me things when I'm sitting)
  • Give (release objects he has in his mouth to my hand, not completely solid)
  • Bang! (basically my relax cue, has him lying on his side with his head relaxed on the floor, no tension in his body)
  • Crate (go into your crate, recently taught)
  • Zen (leave it, with food and other items, not default how I would like it to be but working on it)
  • "Looloo" and "Go toilet" for doing number 1 and number 2 respectively
  • LLW skills
Plus he is.....
  • House (potty) trained
  • Quiet and relaxed in the car
Wow, writing it out like that makes me realise how much he knows!! Not bad for a pup who is somewhere between baby and adolescent. Bratty child is probably the best description for now!

A couple of days ago I asked for help on the Training Levels yahoo list re: Knightley's barking issues. One of the replies, from Sue Ailsby herself seems to have done some good. She suggested using the Speak cue/Quiet cue pair, but in a slightly different way, a way apparently Karen Pryor has talked about. Instead of just starting the dog off barking and then trying to get quiet and then click/treating and eventually teaching the cue, Sue/Karen say to instead have the dog bark until he really really wants to stop, keeping on giving the bark cue until he wants to stop because he knows when he stops he will get lots of treats. Knightley seems to really get something out of his barking, but the first time I did this it really did seem to do something good. It hasn't been quite as effective since then, but perhaps that is my fault. I will certainly persist.

Knightley is certainly loosing more teeth. At least two in two days, possibly three. I need to be careful when I play with him because he loves tug, and a couple of times I have played with him, the toys have ended up with quite a bit of blood on them, and I have felt terribly guilty. Apparently Golden Retrievers have extremely high pain tolerances, but I think we'll take tug easy until all his teeth are out - much to his disgust I am sure, he will still dump sodden toys in my lap expecting me to take the other end for his amusement! Poor pup will probably get quite annoyed at my refusal!

We are having lots of Christmas parties of various sorts at the moment, for both my husband's work and mine. This weekend his work is having a Christmas party that includes the children of people who work for his company, and we have been sort of invited to bring along Knightley, as a couple of the people there have been wanting to meet him since he was a baby puppy. There is going to be face painting and a bouncing castle and everything - very chaotic, and I certainly wouldn't have taken him pre-16 weeks to something like that in the fear of him being seriously spooked and traumatised.... but he turns 20 weeks today, so I think he is ready for something like this. As I said in my previous post, he coped with the bustle of our town centre without so much as blinking, so I think he'll be fine. He looooves children too, I just hope they don't run too much around him, or at least listen to me if I tell them to stop, because he does get a little spooked by that sometimes.

He really is a good puppy, despite the barking. I really do adore him so very much. I do think I chose the right dog. His eagerness to train these days makes me feel so happy at the end of every training session. I can almost envisage going out in public with him, having him help me, saving me energy, reducing my pain levels and need for medication. I so so so hope it all works out. He and I are certainly making a good start of it. He was sleeping on the couch, curled up against me, with his chin on my lap yesterday, and I couldn't stop watching him. He is turning into a very handsome dog, and I love him dearly!


  1. Very interesting topic here in your site. Keep on posting this kind of topics. Very useful indeed.

    1. Cheers! Glad you liked it. Hope you'll be back, and will try to post more similar things to this rather old post.