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, March 21, 2012

Lots of loose leash, zen, and eye contact

7 months 3 weeks 1 day old

So the hubby got off to England as planned, and made it safely many many many hours later. It has been very quiet since then, and I've done a lot of resting which was very much necessary. I'm still overly tired, just not my normal self.

However, with no hubby to distract me, I've been getting some more training done. We're concentrating on loose leash. A couple of weeks ago I wrote an article (link above near the title banner) about head halters and how I was feeling about using one on Knightley. I had done a lot of counter conditioning to try to get him to accept it, but he just really doesn't like halters. In high distraction areas he doesn't notice it too much, but in lower ones it really changes his behaviour for the worse. He becomes less enthusiastic, almost sullen, and not the normal happy Knightley. I think it is likely due to the quite widely known psychological effect of putting something across the muzzle, which for a dog puts them in a submissive position.... and if they can't get it off, it can be quite disturbing. Some dogs are ok, some are not. Knightley is not. So getting a really solid loose leash is becoming a high priority. The Freedom Harness is getting too tight - Knightley's chest size has really expanded in the last couple of months.... and he can't wear a no pull harness at the same time as wearing his training vest. He needs the loose leash anyway, I don't believe you can call a dog trained unless it is able to walk loosely by your side on a flat collar. So we are doing lots of work, especially at night when the distractions are less. I wish my physical limitations didn't impact the training, but they do - a lot. I asked for advice on one of the lists I participate in and have some ideas to make it easier but it isn't going to be simple.

We continue to work on door zen, but I am going to have to up the ante somehow - to teach him to never ever go out an open door without being released. Throwing sticks might be a good way, Knightley looooves his sticks. Ideally I would work with people, first from a fair distance and then slowly coming closer to the door...... but I don't exactly have any volunteers.

We're also doing a fair bit of eye contact work, getting him to keep eye contact with me for long periods of time outside, and keeping eye contact with me when I'm not watching his eyes both inside and outside. Outside is hard for him in the last one, he finds it harder to do what is asked without me 'joining in' the eye game.

We're starting to get back into some basic retrieve training too, just working on getting him to hold objects. He does it really well outside - it seems to make sense for him there - so I think I'll do more on that outside to solidify it. Getting a really good hold is the first step in teaching an assistance retrieve. I started teaching it a couple of months ago, but stopped in order to concentrate on finishing Level 2. His holds are pretty varied, some are weak and last for a second, some are strong and last for 6 seconds (this is inside). Before I stopped before we had got up to 10-15 seconds, but I am not going to push it. Door zen and eye contact are my priorities for now, as they are the beginning of Level 3 and *this* time I'm doing the level in order!

Knightley has been sleeping on my bed since hubby left, and he is a wonderful comfort. He's a heavy boy though, when he decides to lie only on my feet.

Raw feeding is going really well. He had a bunch of liver today, as well as a quarter of a quicken and two lamb hearts. Some dogs really don't like raw liver, but Knightley doesn't have a problem with it at all! It's usually the first thing to disappear actually. He's a much healthier dog on raw, and I'm about to order some more interesting items at my local butcher as he needs some organ variety now he's had the opportunity to get used to eating raw.

Anyway, it's really late here, so time to sleep!

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