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!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

A slight design change, stomach problems, a much admired puppy

5 months 1 week 4 days old

So as you might see, I have changed the colour scheme somewhat on this blog. I have been involved in web design and other computer design on and off for ten years or more, and I find it hard to resist fiddling every now and again. When I was much younger, I had a job working on the national Tax Office's website, and that was fun to see your own work up on such an important website. Mortifying when you got bits wrong. Now I just have a lowly blog to mess around with, but such is life. So expect changes in colour and images semi regularly. I think it's a rather restful combination of colours.

My poor Knightley starting to look a bit thin after repeated
bouts of diarrhea in the last couple of weeks. I keep him lean
but not so lean that he can't afford to lose a little bit without
getting dangerously underweight. Still, my poor pup. In
between the bouts he is fine, so I am inclined to think that it
isn't his food, but other things he is getting into. 
Anyway, my poor Knightley has had nasty diarrhea for the last day or so, after having had a  settled tummy for a while. It was so bad that the poor pup couldn't help himself and he had an accident inside. Poor darling. I don't blame him at all for that. Hubby and I were out shops briefly today, and got a bunch of chicken, so I am going to put him on a plain chicken and rice diet for several days before slowly re-introducing his kibble.

Our trip to the shops today was rather pleasant, except poor Knightley had diarrhea at the semi-outdoor freshfood markets. It made me think about the fact that when a fully qualified assistance dog has an upset stomach like that, it couldn't work at all, because you obviously couldn't risk that happening inside somewhere... and also it wouldn't be fair to ask them to concentrate on working if they weren't feeling great and were desperately trying to hold on.  I wonder how often in a year on average assistance dogs need the 'day off', and not just from upset stomaches. Of course, luckily today it was outside, but still it was somewhere where a lot of people walk and was extremely watery, so it took a lot of cleaning up. After that he seemed ok, it was his last diarrhea for the day, and that will be all - cross fingers. I wonder if he ate something nasty or if those treats I gave him last night messed with his stomach.

Whilst we were at the markets, I had a nice chat with one of the waitresses in the cafe we always have coffee at. She is a doggy person, and I ran Knightley through his tricks and sit/down/bang/touch etc to impress her. I was happy to see him obeying, despite a huge number of distractions there.... although he seemed a little lethargic - maybe the tummy upset. But she was very impressed with how educated Knightley is at 5 months, and I told her about Knightley closing the cupboard door last night. It's a very dog friendly cafe, a bunch of the waitresses always come out to say hello to Knightley, and they often have treats there for him and any other regular canine visitor. Knightley is having a bit of a jumping up issue though, and I really do have to try to do something about that. He jumps up on us at home, as well as trying to jump up on people out in public. I do reward him a lot for sitting, but he seems to simply enjoy jumping up, so in that sense it is self rewarding. I could try noise aversion if pure positive reinforcement isn't working? Any suggestions out there in internet land??  Other than the jumping problem, a lot of people at the markets pointed at, and patted our lovely pup. I swear it's like having a rockstar with you.

Knightley has left my left side, is in the process of going
around the tripod, and then will return to me. I then have him
do a formal finish to end up by my left hand side again in a
sitting position.
Training is going excellently. It's like suddenly he has gone from medium intelligence to everything I could have wished for. I was reading ahead in the Training Level books and some of the necessary shaping at Level 4 (the final level) Sue comments something along the lines of "you should really be capable of this shaping at this level, if you not need more practice". I thought to myself, wow, Knightley would find that Level 4 shaping easy these days. There is a lot to learn in simply in quantity in the Levels, or with his maturing brain we would race through at the speed of light! I was reading some of Level 3, and found that we have inadvertently been doing some of it by just taking exercises a little further in distance and time just because Knightley can. Such as the 'distance' exercise as I have in the photo here above. The dog starts out at your left side, then upon cue and hand signal, leaves your side, goes around the object and returns to you. I've been getting Knightley to go around my tripod (my preferred 'pole' for this behaviour, although I have used several, such as boxes, a stick vacuum etc) from quite a distance! Although I didn't know I was doing a Level 3 distance until now.

I am continuing to be a naughty girl and am still training the retrieve hold.... Knightley is doing it extremely well now. I really don't know whether to stop it, because it is entirely a Level 3 behaviour, and all the people on the traininglevels yahoo group told me to STOP training it until I have completely passed Level 2 and am half way through Level 3, where the retrieve training actually resides. Yet....... he enjoys it, and the sooner he can pick up a few things like that, the better. I don't expect a full retrieve when he is like 7 months old, but 11, 13 months or something like that for a formal assistance retrieve would be nice. However, if  it wasn't working easily, then of course I would wait. For his other 'work', that I don't expect until 18-24 months. I tell you what, the last two days I wished he could do some of that work, my hips have been horribly sore. Anyway, still yet to make up my mind about the hold. This demonstrates the conflict between being client and trainer at the same time. It can certainly be a very good thing, but not always, when you may make decisions based on what you want, not what is best for you and your dog as a team.

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