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!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

More days of socialisation, planning the show trip and the antibiotics continue

6 months 3 weeks 4 days old

So yesterday Knightley and I went into our town centre. Canberra is a city which was very deliberately designed from the very beginning, and is made up of five main 'satellite' cities - each a smaller city in its own right. There is a main CBD area, but we have yet to take Knightley down there. Instead, yesterday Knightley and I went into the centre of the satellite city that we live in, which is fairly busy and built up but not overly so like the CBD. There is a lot of traffic and lots of people to practice not jumping up on.

We had a really successful time, about two hours, we'd walk around, then we'd relax, then walk around again. There's a park near where we were that we could have some peaceful time in, time for him to smell, do his doggy business and have a lie down. He really did very well. At first he was trying to pull, but about half way through he started to get that pulling meant going backwards and not getting to where he wants to go. Things went well after then. We spent quite a bit of time around the major shopping centre as there were lots of people there, and also random rubbish and occasional food on the ground to practice not eating. Knightley's behaviour was good, I was very happy with him. The only real thing I would change is Knightley's behaviour when he's getting attention. He doesn't try to jump up on people anymore - neither on people patting him nor passers by - but the thing left that is somewhat annoying but rather cute, is he very often rolls over onto his back to get a belly rub and partly because he's a reasonably submissive dog. I have started to teach a behaviour called 'visit' to try to combat this, and to keep him calm when my mum or dad come over. For 'visit' he sits and gets patted, possibly ears pulled, possibly feet picked up, fingers stuck into mouth..... all the things a small child may accidently do in a second being corrected. So I get him in a sit and every time I do something a little unpleasant to him I give him a really great treat and make a big fuss of him. Visit is starting to become a really good thing, but it will be a while before he can hold the position in a high distraction environment and before it will cancel out the urge for submission and tummy rubs!

There was quite a bit of garbage and food on the ground, the most of tempting of which was half an uneaten banana, which was a great opportunity to work on our default 'leave it'. It took about 15 passes by that banana until Knightley didn't go for it, and then he got a big handful of treats! There were lots of other things that Knightley ignored, and some things he went for and then listened to my 'leave it' cue and stopped mid grab, and some things he did unfortunately grab the tempting item. The vast majority of the grabbed items he happily gave up for a treat, although with a very few of them he was more stubborn.
Knightley at our local shops today. I have patches on his
harness that read "In training: Please pat me" because I've
wanted him at this young age to get lots and lots of contact
with people of all shapes and sizes. However, he is about to
'graduate' to a "Don't pat me" patch, as I want him to start
learning to concentrate on me some more, and less on trying
to get pats. He's still a long way from being an official
Assistance Dog trainee, but I can slowly start to train some
of the basic public manners.
Today we had two visits to our local shops for more socialisation and getting used to as much bustle as the local shops have to offer in preparation for our weekend escapade to the big agricultural/food/amusement rides/entertainment etc show. I've been reading about how to introduce Knightley to the show when we get there. As soon as we reach the main centre of the show we should start trying to find a nice quiet place for him to unwind, away from the noise and people so that he can start processing what he has just seen so that he doesn't get overloaded with new sights, sounds and smells and start going over threshold to where I couldn't reach him. Then periodically throughout the time we are there, we should return to the same spot for 15-20 minutes to let him unwind away from the crowds. I might do some massage, and also take some toys. If a dog can play happily, especially if they get really into it, then they aren't all that stressed. So, play would be good to see. I plan on not feeding him the night before, or the morning of the show (we are likely going on Sunday as we think it will be less busy, although Sunday looks like worse weather) so that I can use food to shape him to explore things that may spook him.

More of Knightley up at the shops. Wanted to point out that
he is panting, even though it was not a very hot day. It was
quite humid however, and a day can be quite cool but only has
to be humid for a dog to get really very hot. Humidity effects
dogs more than purely heat, but both together is a killer -
literally in some cases.
Another issue for the weekend will be the heat. The forecast puts it at 30 C (86 F) for Saturday and 28 C (82 F) for Sunday. While it won't be too bad for us humans, for a dog that is quite hot, especially if that dog is going to be walking around in the sun. Dogs really don't cope with heat well, as they can only lose heat through their mouth/tongue, nose leather and foot pads. They do of course lose some heat just through their body and wetting or applying other cooling packs to the dogs abdomen can be quite effective in cooling a dog down. It isn't the dog's back or neck that you should be concentrating - many of those dog cooling products are largely gimmicks that don't work much at all. Really the only place that works for cooling a dog down nicely is to apply cooling to its stomach and chest, also getting their underarm region. When we've had particularly hot days this summer, although it has largely been a cold wet summer, I've used a little spray bottle to spray Knightley's chest and stomach to cool him down. This gives a surprising amount of relief, he always perks up after a good spraying. I think I will take the spray bottle with me. The other thing that is essential is that Knightley stays very well hydrated. A dog's main cooling system relies on them having a nice wet mouth, so I have to make sure he keeps drinking throughout our time there. I have considered what to do in order to pump as much liquid into Knightley as possible and think I will boil a chicken carcass the day before, then boil it down some more to get a more concentrated stock. Then I can take a small bottle of it with me and all I need to do is add a tablespoon of the stock to Knightley's water in his portable water bowl and he'll be keen to lap it all up. It's important you don't go crazy with giving too much water on a hot day, but considering all the distractions that will be around I think the stock is a good idea for getting him interested in drinking when he might be a bit more interested in what is happening over there.... or over there.... or there...!

We continue with the antibiotics for Knightley's lump and I *think* .... maybe....... it is a bit smaller. It certainly isn't bigger. Please please please be an infection , that would be nice and simple. The antibiotics are a five day course, and after that period I was to call the vet if the lump hadn't gone or seriously shrunk..... so that's Saturday. Cross your fingers for us.

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