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, February 11, 2012

A week alone, another migraine, Manners Minder and Loose leash breakthroughs

6 months 2 weeks old

Knightley being a good boy and keeping me company
in our bedroom. He definitely enjoys sleeping on a bed!!
But it was only for while the hubby was away, so I hope he
doesn't get unhappy  sleeping away from me now.
I am sorry to those who come back to read my blog from time to time and have found it empty for a while now. My husband went away for the whole week on a work trip, and left just me and Knightley to get on with things - and then I got a migraine. We had a really close time actually, I gave into temptation and gave him the chance of sleeping on our bed with me - although if he hadn't settled quickly it would have been straight out to his pen with him. He was actually extremely well behaved, and slept very nicely - no trying to lick my face or anything, and it meant I knew when I had to get up to take him out, and when I could sleep in until. It meant I wasn't anywhere near as lonely as I could have been, to have a warm furry puppy happy to cuddle up with me during the night. On the second night he was in a hyper mood, so I did some 'relax' with massage until he was calm. I have tried to establish the bed as a calm only place. He has done well, I am proud of him.

Being calm and gentle while I feel sick. Such a good puppy.
The house is still not completely clean and in order from my brother moving out (I hate the chaos moving creates!), so I took the hubby being away as an opportunity for getting some of it done. Unfortunately I think I may have over extended myself a touch. I went to work on Thursday, feeling like 'normal' and about 25 minutes later it felt like someone was trying to  hammer a nail into my left eye brow ridge. I went and lay down in a dark room for an hour, but it wasn't helping, so ended up going home (in extremely hard rain!). Then my skin rash started flaring up, which biopsies have suggested is a rather rare form of a lupus rash (Tumid lupus erythematosus) - I get it mostly on my chest as well as my face but only when things are just rock bottom with my body. So I guess my body is not in a good happy way at the moment. Although my skin is not looking as bad today, it still isn't right. It actually changes texture when I am struggling and becomes dry, thin, fragile and kind of crinkly, so I know when I need to really start to take things more easily. The day previously I had got several injections into my more troublesome hip, which had left me very sore.... so overall my body is just NOT thrilled with life lol. Thankfully Knightley was sweet and quite well behaved through the particularly bad day, and that always always helps when I'm in pain, especially as I had no one to look after me.

I had another frustration this week - we ordered a custom couch about 5 weeks ago, and last week it arrived in the warehouse. I arranged for delivery for this Monday, but it didn't come. Then I was promised it on Tuesday, and then Wednesday.... and by then I was getting very cranky indeed. I was spending far too much time on the phone with furniture people who told me my delivery was marked as 'complete' HAH! Anyway, finally it is set to arrive in a matter of hours, only 6 days late. Will seriously think before buying from these people again, problem is their prices are too good. I guess that's why their staff has no clue and their computers apparently cause all these problems. Aaaanyway, with a brand new couch, there is a new rule - puppies are allowed up only upon invitation, and never with anything in their mouth. Since my brother moved out we've had a small two seater couch we managed to get for free - as he took a good deal of the furniture with him. Before the hubby left for the week, he moved the small couch into another room to make room for the imminent (or not so imminent...) delivery. The couple of days previously the pup and I had worked on the new rules. He would start to jump up and I would give a quick "ah-ah" (yes, I know this is not pure positive training, but I am not using it as punishment, just as a quick light 'don't do this' noise aversion technique) followed by lots of praise and treats when he retreated. He'd try maybe 5 times to get up and then figured it just wasn't worth the hassle. The cue for jumping up is the normal jump cue - "hup!" He is good at this one everywhere except where it would actually be quite useful.... the car. Need to work on that somehow.

Knightley at my brother's new place. He loves exploring new
places. It's quite amazing watching their noses go, as they
check out every nook and cranny. I wonder what it's like to
be able to smell like that. Like living in a whole different world
I bet.                                                                                        
Last weekend we had a trip to my brother's new place, and Knightley had a ball exploring. He started digging a bit in the leaf litter under the cover of some thick bushes, so we decided to put him on his leash. He actually settled down really really nicely. I was very pleased with him. Usually he gets quite restless in a situation like that, lots of people around and he can't get to them, an environment begging to be smelt all over and he can't get to it.... in the past I wouldn't have been surprised if he had barked. But he was a good boy and eventually just lay down and had a snooze. This is what I would like as his 'I'm doing nothing' default, and I have started training that if I am sitting or standing with him on his leash for any period of time he should just lie down and settle. This was a good test and he did well.

Before I got the migraine and the other symptoms started flaring, we were doing well with the little bits of Level 3 we are having a go at. I am getting him used to door zen at ALL doors. Wherever he is, he needs to pause at a door before receiving a go ahead. It is a long way in the future that we can use it at the front door and he won't try to frantically welcome a mail delivery man or something, but I am trying to install an absolutely iron clad respect of doors. It is actually extremely handy if you are carrying something and can't see your feet and going through something like a baby/pet gate which is so narrow. I know that Knightley will be patiently waiting for me to go through, and if he is allowed through (rare!), he will be given the go ahead (OK!).

We're doing watch (eye contact) at varying distances, up to about a metre and a half (5 foot or so), and he is great at it. We're working on the part where I start looking away and still have him looking at me. So he learns to maintain the eye contact whether I am giving him attention or not. This is extremely valuable for simply getting him used to being with me in mind at all times. watching eagerly for my next wish. It can also teach a beautiful formal heel, the dog looking right up at you as he trots along, as you look straight ahead. I know we need to do more proofing of our watch outside, we have done limited work of it outside and that is where it will come into its own. Once I recover some more, I will make that a priority.

Doing a nice sit stay for the camera at my brother's place. The
Manner's Minder is going to be so fantastic for increasing stay
times and distances because I don't have to return to the dog
treat him, but can keep the object clear it its mind and still give
treats to encourage him to keep on going and going. Just a
great gadget. Too bad it's made by Premier, because many
positive trainers are boycotting them now due to their takeover
and the changes that are unfortunately happening. I am happy
to boycott them for everything BUT the Manner's Minder!
My Manners Minder arrived earlier in the week, and I got VERY excited at first. Then I got less excited as I realised that it needed batteries. Amazingly I had the 4 D batteries that I needed, but I didn't have the 23AE battery for the remote - I'd never even heard of one. The local shops didn't have one, so I've been waiting all week for the hubby to get home so that we can go somewhere that is likely to have it, cross fingers (this is why I need an assistance dog - independence!!). I should have just ordered one online, sigh. I can completely understand not supplying the D batteries, but not supplying the 23AE for the remote......?! Very very very annoying considering that it is rare. I am quite annoyed as I can even turn it on and everything, but it just sits there useless without the remote. Grrrr. The hubby got back this evening, so hopefully this weekend I will obtain the battery I need. It is going to be so useful, I just can't wait to start using it. We are likely to stop making much headway on Level 3, but it will definitely help us get a solid 1 minute stay in any position we wish, as well as teach a lot of new stuff I have planned that aren't Levels related but are good manners.

We are really getting somewhere with our loose leash. We do a lot of heeling work inside the house, so he gets used to the cue and the position at my left. I make it tricky, varying my speed, quick sudden turns where he has to backtrack in order to get into heel position, and sometimes even walk backwards. We do our normal walks with both his Freedom Harness and a leash to his collar at the moment, so that he gets used to walking completely loose with a leash on his collar. I tell you what, it is a very nice walk too - until he sees a major distraction, when I start backing up. When he is loose at has walked to my left side, I c/t or yes!/treat and walk forward and try again with the distraction. I'll give it as many tries as I can so that Knightley can learn. If he starts going loose as we go past the distraction I go absolutely nuts with the c/ting, just shoving food into his mouth and praising him verbally like a crazy woman. I am sure my neighbours think I am absolutely mad. I am also doing a lot of c/ting for sitting or standing at my side with a leash loose with distractions around. Hopefully it will sink in - although I think the halter I plan on getting (the Comfort Trainer as suggested to me in my last post) will help with that.

I have also been letting the leash on the harness trail on the ground and just using the leash on the collar as the only one to hold onto. This has been nicely effective. He can feel that slight drag and that reminds him that he has the harness on, and yet if he pulls he feels only the collar pressure, and I do the step backwards thing to get him in place before c/ting and walking forward. I try to anticipate him and start walking backwards - tempting him with noises - *before* the leash is actually fully tight. If the leash gets tight without the presence of a very serious distraction, then you are not paying enough attention. Be proactive and don't ever let the leash get tight. Do what needs to be done to lure your dog back to your side with noises and even a hand target, then immediately reward it with your c/t and proceed again. If he walks nicely beside you for even a second or two (face it, there is almost always at least a half second of nice walking before they decide you are boring again, so no excuses), shower it with treats! You walk with me, you get treats. You start trying to forge ahead, I urge you gently back to my side where you get rewarded for doing so, and then I shower you with treats for walking with me again. It is pretty persuasive, especially for a hungry growing puppy.

Anyway, I think you are all caught up with the most important developments here downunder!


  1. Check your packaging again. The remote battery used to come taped inside a nook in the styrofoam! I threw a couple out by mistake!

    1. I found it!!!! I wish I had posted this a day earlier and had got your reply then, as hubby and I drove all over the town centre today trying places until we found what was a similarly named battery that looked right. It worked which was great... but now I have two. The battery that came with it was completely out of sight, there's no way I would have seen it unless I'd just been lucky. I was about to throw out the packaging, thanks so much!

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