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, January 14, 2012

A trip to the dog park, a tired puppy

Knightley soon after we came into the
enclosure. He was so excited to see that
many dogs to talk to, he was literally
jumping over the small ones. The red and
white cocker is the one that didn't want to
play with him!
5 months 2 weeks 3 days old

Well, today we went to the dog park for the second time. However, the first time we went was timed carefully on a weekday so that there would be next to no one there (only two other dogs!) so as to introduce him to it, and to adult dogs a bit. Today's visit was on a Saturday, although we tried to go at a time when it wouldn't be too chaotic. Still, there were probably about 15-18 dogs at one time. Knightley was a very happy boy, didn't know whether to talk to the dogs or the people!

Visiting dog parks can be controversial for assistance dog prospects, and even active assistance dogs. This is because one traumatic incident (a fight, I mean) can wash out a dog from training or active duty. It can sap their confidence and lead to problems with other dogs, even with people. However, I have been to this dog park before with a friend and it has always been a very positive experience. Knightley is amazingly confident and bounces back in the face of any slight scare (if he went into a fear period or something of the like, naturally we would completely avoid the place). Most of all however, I think the gains in this situation are worth the very small risk taking into account what I just said:

  • We don't really know any dogs of our friends, so it's not like we have better prospects for Knightley to associate with. He needs the socialisation.
  • Knightley really needs to learn some dog manners. He's pretty rude sometimes, just a bundle of puppy insistence and energy. Adult dogs will teach him some.
  • It is fantastic for draining some of his rather boundless energy! 
  • It is great exercise for him, he runs around like a mad thing. 
  • We do a lot of training, it is important he has a release where I have little expectations.
So despite the small risk, I think it important we continue semi-regular visits there. Thankfully it is very close, so we are lucky to have such a great dog park so close to us.

As soon as we got into the main park section, Knightley started trying to play with two cocker spaniels (photo above). One of them was happy to play, despite its small size, but the other one was very stand offish. Knightley had obviously just turned off his brain though and wasn't reading dog. I was happy to see a dog telling him 'no, I don't want to play with you, you rude puppy' by a quick snarl and lunge, but the owner was quite annoyed with her dog. I did tell her several times that I didn't mind at all, and that is why we were there mostly, to help Knightley learn the language of 'dog' better. The cocker would have sent several messages already to say 'stay away I am not interested in playing', but Knightley ignored it repeatedly. It took about three snarls before Knightley started leaving the cocker alone, although you could tell he soooo wanted to play with him - forbidden fruit I suppose!

Knightley running around, as happy as can
be. He got rolled several times in all that
dust by a big strong Blue Heeler whilst they
were chasing each other and probably
 needs a bath still. It's just lucky he's
kind of dust coloured!
We practiced some recalls while we were there, using up some of his upset tummy boiled chicken food every time he came in. He did pretty well. I would call his name and only use the word 'come' when he was actually moving towards us. The amusing thing is he responded when other people called their dogs in! Oh well, more attention and exercise for him I suppose. I did wonder when I was getting ready whether the other dogs would dance attendance upon me for having chicken and some kibble in my treat pouch, but it seems all the dogs were too busy smelling other things, except for one very 'nosy' chocolate lab, who is in the photo on the right with Knightley. He just looked at me with a doggy grin, and a few times reached out with his nose towards my treat pouch. Oh, he sure knew what was going on.

By the time we left Knightley's gallop and trot had turned into a slow walk, and he was completely done for. We had another couple of small walks later in the day to practice loose leash while he was nicely tired - a great way to do it!

We went via our local shops whilst on our walk, my husband was with me that time, so while he went inside the shops, Knightley and I stayed outside practicing some basic commands, including 'up' (paws up on a high surface, or if possible, whole dog up!) which isn't a Training Levels behaviour, 'relax' which was great to do with distractions, and his normal sit, down, stand, touch, shake, hi-five, heel etc. He did very nicely. He got rather excited when meeting a young child, probably less than two years old even. We need to work on kid zen, as they do get him excited as a rule, and I don't want him jumping up on a young kid and knocking them over. I plan to institute a new meeting people plan, which we could hopefully have him do for young kids too - but more about that in the future.

Anyway, it was a great day for the pup. He was completely and thoroughly exhausted by the end of the day. I have an interesting non edible treat lined up for him tomorrow which arrived in the mail today. I bought it online as a get well present for him... so we'll see what he thinks....

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