8 months 4 weeks 2 days old
Firstly, just a quick note - the 7th Assistance Dog Blog Carnival submission date has been extended due to lack of entries (mine was the only one!). So, if you have a service/assistance dog, if you raise puppies for programs, if you have a partner with a service/assistance dog, or if you're an interested member of the public with something to say about assistance dogs.... As long as you have access to a blog, and reply to the topic (it has changed a bit with the extension), you are very welcome to participate in the Blog Carnival. If you're interested (you should be!), go to http://playswithpuppies.blogspot.com.au/2012/04/adbc-call-for-submissions-take-2.html
I'm working on training a 'new' down with Knightley. The cue is flat!, which is nicely different from boring down. I am trying to resist luring it (using a piece of food to urge to dog into a down position) as that will make for a weaker behaviour. I did a fair bit of luring around the first time, I have to say, but I was still a clicker novice and Knightley and I weren't very good at shaping together. So now he kinda gets clicking a fair bit more, I'm going all the way back to Level 1, and getting myself a brand new shiny down with shaping. I'm also going to try (and I mean try - with his level of distraction outside), to shape it outdoors as well. This will lead to a super strong behaviour.
I did something similar with his cue to go into his crate. Once again, I had lured quite a bit and slowly as I stopped luring and started treating only, then even faded the treats..... eventually the behaviour fell apart. I mean, the cue still worked about 70% of the time, but I had to repeat myself an unacceptable number of times. So I retrained the behaviour with mostly shaping, and a new cue (instead of crate! the new behaviour was box!). He is much more reliable now, and is faster going in too. So far his flat is a much faster, more prompt behaviour than his old down, although if I need him in that position at the moment I am asking for a down until flat is completely trained.
A couple of days ago some cord loops arrived for my crutches, so that in order to lift them off the ground so that I can then get them (if they fall, or if I am forced to put them on the ground somewhere) Knightley can grab the loops. I have put some work into trying to get him to grasp the crutches themselves, but for whatever reason he has a bit of a phobia. Perhaps I have accidentally side swiped him with one before and now he's a bit leery of them? Or he just doesn't like holding cold metal in his mouth? Either way, these loops will work if all I want is him to lift them up for me. So far he is nicely happy to hold the loops, but we are taking it slowly. He has never really held anything of any weight in his mouth during our sessions - although you should see the size of the branches he likes to carry on our walks!!
I'm recovering from a migraine I got two nights ago. Pretty sure I've beaten it but it wasn't what I needed! I really hoped that Knightley would alert to my migraines naturally, as often I have little warning before they hit - sometimes quite savagely. However, so far I have seen no sign of a natural alerting ability. He certainly reacts to me and my moods when I am especially sick, but doesn't give any warning, unfortunately. I do wonder whether migraine alerting can be trained. I certainly know dogs can be trained to alert for conditions like diabetes and other blood sugar related conditions. I've heard about it for heart conditions too. I haven't actually heard about it for epilepsy though, and that is a migraine sufferers nearest comparison. These days they say migraines are indeed related to seizures. Oh well, in the future I shall look into it.
Last night I took Knightley up to (and inside, as we have permission) the local shops briefly and we really worked hard on getting a nice loose leash and keeping a solid 'service dog walk'. At first I was by myself, but then hubby joined me. It was really quite easy getting him to focus and be nice and loose without hubby there, but when hubby arrived things did go out the window a bit. He often walks a bit ahead of me (I am veeerrry slow) and so Knightley thinks he should be keeping up with his Daddy, not dawdling on with his slowpoke of a Mummy. He got rather frustrated when everytime he tried to rush forward to Daddy, he ended up further away because I would walk backwards. He did get the message though, and he settled down walking beside me, nice and solid, plod plod plod. His sniffing was at a minimum, and he was in general just very polite in his behaviour. I was very happy with him. I have been thinking about teaching a no-sniff cue... but I may talk about that later.
For the next bunch of posts I'm going to spend a bit of time answering some of the regular Google queries that I get. Some of them I already answer a bit in my posts, but I'll do some short posts answering them explicitly because there are obviously people looking for information they are struggling to find - which I can answer. So when I leave my normal format, don't be surprised.
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!