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, January 9, 2012

Knightley and cupboards, loose leash, back to work

5 months 1 week 5 days old

So the pup still has a bad stomach, although it seems to be a little better. He is sure enjoying his rice and chicken meals.... they smell so good I wouldn't mind eating them!! I am using them for his training, and he will do just about anything to get his greedy maw on them, so that is useful.

We're doing more work on his cupboard closing skills. 

Paw there Mr Knightley!


Have some yummy chicken and rice
for being such a very good boy.
Big whack incoming!! This one closed
the door.

Our next challenge, which wasn't in the original levels, but is in the new books, is to teach Knightley to target my feet. This would be an especially useful first step if you had serious mobility problems and wanted to teach your dog to take off your socks in the future. So maybe later today we'll try doing the foot targeting. I don't anticipate much trouble, he has always enjoyed nose targeting on my hand and on wands and other objects. I actually enjoy teaching brand new things, now that he *gets* shaping watching him learn is just fascinating and really addictive. 

We've been doing more LLW practice, as is in the Training Level books by Sue Ailsby. Firstly I put him in a sit/down and then pulling gently on a flat/martingale collar until he moves into the pressure, then immediately c/t. Then the second exercise is slowly walking around with him on a leash inside, and change directions suddenly so that there is some pressure on the leash. When he moves into the pressure and the tightness stops, I quickly c/t and give him lots of praise. If I am giving him lots of leash space, then when I give the treat I drop it at my feet to encourage him to hang around me despite the relative freedom. He is a long way away from staying loose on his flat/martingale collar. 

Doing Loose Leash Walking (LLW) practice, so that if Knightley
feels any pressure on the leash he is to slow down  and turn
 into me.  Dogs, and indeed all animals, have the instinct to push 
   *into* the pressure in order to escape, which is why they tend
 to pull so much. To reverse that  instinct every time the dog actually
    moves *towards*  the pressure you must make it a pleasurable
experience, so that the dog will start doing it every time it feels the
 leash pressure. It does take a long time, but it is very much worth it.
We need to do a lot more practice with this, although he is pretty good at it inside. Take the treats away, go outside where there are lots of big parrots and exciting people and dogs, and what he has learnt flies out the window. So lots more practice inside until it's completely perfect, including keeping it lose around treats on the floor, then practice in the backyard, then back and forward in the street.... THEN we will start venturing afield. They say keeping a loose leash is perhaps the hardest thing to teach. I would have to agree. Teaching Knightley to close the kitchen cupboard door was so simple compared to keeping his leash loose on a flat collar. He's pretty good on his front buckle harness, but sigh. We'll get there!
We also do heel training inside the house, without the leash. This is a more formal heel, with his spine aligned at right angles to the direction I am facing. I keep up the clicking when he is in good alignment, and do things like put him in a wait, turn at right angles, and then ask him to heel and watch him turn the corner so he will sit at my left again. We also practice finishes, although it is 'just' the traditional behind finish, where the dog goes from in front of you, walks to your right side, still facing you, then goes behind you, heading for your left side.... and ends up in a sit at your left side. 

We haven't done much work on the swing finish (only a little pivot work), which is much more difficult. The dogs front paws move just a little to where they will be in their final position by your side, then the dog swings on the spot - the front paws almost glued to the spot and the back legs doing all the walking around for 180 degrees until the dog has turned all the way around, and then the dog sits. As I said, much harder!

My husband and I both go back to work this week. Hubby already went back this morning, I am not back until Thursday. He wasn't looking forward to it after our couple of weeks off over Christmas, could have done with a couple more weeks off I think. However, I am looking forward to it a lot. I am finally starting my paid position there in a couple of weeks. I have been a volunteer up until now, just working on getting my stamina for paid work up, and finally I am at that point where a small amount of paid work is possible for me. It has been more than three years since I have been well enough to commit to paid work, so this is a big step for me. They seem to like me so much there that they have chosen me for a paid contract position for a project that has come up with some government funding. I will stay as a volunteer for events and some extra hours that they may need me for, but it will be great to be actually working again. I look forward to a future where having a canine companion may help me do longer hours at places further out of the way. Not to mention the independence to actually shop on my own! Which I haven't done for over three years. 

I think those small things are what I miss the most. I truly hope Knightley brings me some of that independence I long for so very much. He is turning out to be such a lovely dog, and a smart one as well! Just thinking of him always brings a smile to my face. I think he has a good chance of making it as an assistance dog. But you never know how dogs will change over their lifetimes. Keep it slow and try not to expect too much, Lyssa!

No comments:

Post a Comment