Ode to joy…Kenai got his squeaky bone, 16mo old
Holy Cow, Monday was brutal. The trainer, Lisa, was here at 9 am for yet another two hour session. Rain kept us inside, unfortunately, because I really wanted her to help me with him outside. Was hoping to make more progress with the name games in the great outdoors.
Kenai was up first, and we played a “come” game, which he caught onto the second time. Lisa would tease him with tempting yummies, then I would call his name. The idea was to return to me, and then click/reward. The first 2 times, spot on puppy. After that, it was partway to me then back to Lisa. Hum. Pigs fly puppy.
Sunday Mom and I brought in the monster crate, the one sized for grizzlies and rhinos. It doesn’t have any bedding yet, but it will of course. So part of the training time was encouraging him to go in on his own and begin to associate good things with it.
The only time he’ll be in it is when I’m not taking him with me, so it’s likely he’ll hate the thing unless I make it a good place. I’d like to swim this summer without worrying if he’s running around the pool or taking off after something while I’m in the pool. Stuff like that.
Anyway, we used treats and bones to lure him in, click/reward any movement into it on his own while Lisa and I were talking (I capture about half good), and he discovered he has plenty of room to turn around. Like I said, it’s sized for 6 mo old woolly mammoth calfs. I’ll continue the crate training once the bedding is in it, and make it part of our daily practices.
BB naturally was BB, a big friendly crazy flubber puppy when it was his turn, and it took a solid 5 minutes to get him relatively able to focus. Both Mom and Lisa were getting nowhere, so I walked to the fridge, Kenai having a fit in the living room (gotta get that crate bed…), and pull out the prepackaged doggie lamb meat.
He caught a whiff and pounced on his bed, eyes completely fixed on the patty–umum, yummie. One or two cycles of deliberate “go wild” then down and he was ready to work. They played a leave it/okay game with a soda pop can, worked on the name games, and played a bit of fetch. Anytime he heard or saw me, though, he broke his concentration. I’m still the toughest of his distractions.
Then Lisa decided it was time to see just how strong Kenai’s chase drive was. He demolished the living room trying to get that mechanical mouse. He rolled up the carpet digging for it, slid the couch to the other side of the room, dragged Lisa all over creation with that leash…
I wanted to say “told ya!” The game’s intention was to let him get all excited by the moving mouse, then call his name and have him come. If he didn’t come, then he didn’t get to play–time out doggie style. No party without permission.
Right. Leash or no leash, there was no breaking his fixation. Pigs fly puppy. Told ya! Once he gets on a chase, once he even anticipates a chase, nothing else exists in his boy brain. Methinks we have to get alot more proficient in the name games before disengaging is a reflex for him.
I’m hoping that a few weeks of intensive “loading the name” (Pigs Fly book) interspersed in the Control Unleashed “name/click/release” exercises will give me at least a good foundation. We’ll have to do it everywhere and anywhere with anything, of course. I’ll need Lisa’s help with that.
Then I’m hoping to do the name games with other dogs if Lisa will provide some, once we’ve mastered the critterless name games. With any luck and hard work the ability to disengage from other dogs will generalize to other animals. OMG there’s so much work ahead, and I’m so worn down. Uhg.
Tuesday was errand day, the only dry day for 2 weeks according to the weather man. So after failing to get Mom up (I won’t let him pounce on her), Kenai and I headed out about 9 am. The car wouldn’t start. Back in to wake Mom up no matter what.
First up was the repair shop for a new battery, and we had a few minutes of “load the name” and Control Unleashed name games there in the parking lot while the shop figured out if the alternator was okay. It only took about 5 minutes. He was a bit jumpy when the pnuematic drill started up, and one man made him spooky. Other than that, it was fun. His tail was up most of the time.
Mom and I had breakfast while the new battery was put in, and Kenai waited in the car for us. We divided up the errand list, and were off on our own to-do’s. Kenai and I went first to the puppy store for his kibble. He was hot, so he wasn’t too rambunctious.
He doesn’t know it yet, but we got new treats he’s never had. And since he was hot, I decided to wait on Walmart. We did get a quickie run by the vet for his weigh in, 132.4 pounds. Still down but he gained a little.
Then all I had planned was the bank for a deposit, and expected to go right home. Across the highway, I happened to see Mom’s car turning into Walgreens. On a whim I decided we needed to go keep her company. So zip over in my zippy little car, strap on the vest, and in we marched.
He was all over the place on the sidewalk, so I put his gentle leader on. The Meniere’s was badly affecting my balance, and my legs were shaking. That means he has to glue to my hip and stay there. Believe it or not, he did too!
We found Mom, finished shopping with her, and Kenai had not one single solitary moment of nervous. Guess he was too hot and tired to give a hoot? Maybe summer is going to be my friend? But he hung out in line with us, and I leaned on him some. Me and Brown came home after that.
The legs wouldn’t go anymore, and it was time to fix his lunch anyway. Two hard driving days in a row are plenty!
BB in mid-gallopoll, 16 mo old.
Who wouldn’t get a laugh out of this pic? BB’s as much fun as a sack of monkeys, and almost as uncontainable! I get such a kick out of him, and to be very honest, I wish he didn’t have orthopedic problems so I could train him into my service dog. He’s much, much, much easier to work with.
But a pigs fly pup I have (Kenai), and I love him to the moon and back. It’s good for me, having to learn how to train him, and having to get off my duff for the frequent practices. Speaking of on my duff, We didn’t go anywhere Wed or Thurs, practicing at home instead.
That’s a shame too, because I really need to get the foam to make his crate bed. But the body has had enough outings for now, giving me a hard time. Such is life. Run some, rest some. But the crate bed is important, so the first sign of life in them thar legs and it’s off to find what I need.
I make the dog’s beds, since a bed big enough with good support for a Dane’s huge body runs $140-$250. So I go to foam suppliers and buy fitted sheets. Sometimes military surplus stores have good thick foam I can cut to size. It’s not hard, just a matter of doin it.
As recompense for 2 boring days, Friday Mom and I plan to get the foam and binding for a quilt I’ve got to finish. A sweet lady I cherish very much has been sending me and the boys gifts, and I want to give her the lap quilt I made. That’s the plan for the rest of the week anyway.
Posted by greatdaneservicedog on April 30, 2009
Boy he’s a striking fellow sometimes, my once little stinky toddles…Kenai 16 mo old
You may have noticed the type is a bit smaller the last two posts. I went a bit smaller to make my jabber-wokky posts seem less ponderous! They’re still very long-winded, but we can’t change everything all at once, right? Ha! Seriously, if the type is harder to for ya’ll to read let me know and I’ll go back to bigger.
The book I ordered turned up Thursday–that was fast–and I dove right in of course. It’s “When Pigs Fly” by Jane Killion. Shortly put, this book shapes a dog who doesn’t care what you want into a biddable, attentive dog able and willing make the most of operant training.
I’ve been bewailing Kenai’s independence and environmental focus for 14 months now, with no clue how to create the required willingness to work. That was the frustration: the books and training plans I could find like “Control Unleashed” last summer pretty much started from a mostly willing dog that looked to the handler at least somewhat for direction.
Before any feathers get ruffled, there’s absolutely nothing here to disparage “Control Unleashed” and other clicker training programs. I recommend them to everyone. Kenai just wasn’t at the same starting line–he needed priming before the engines could fire up so to speak.
Just to prove I mean that, when we’re through the exercises in “Pigs Fly”, I’m going back to “Control Unleashed” because I want to be able to let Kenai run free in his field again, with complete confidence in his recall, cats and rabbits be hanged. I want to trust him implicitly.
So I dove right into “Pigs Fly”. I was really amazed to find the exercises began with stuff I’ve been doing: the name game and giving Kenai something new to play with. The main differences? Before beginning the name/response/click/reward/release chain from “Control Unleashed”, I needed to drastically reinforce the clicker itself.
I won’t divulge too much of her book, but the first two steps is click/treat over and over and over without releasing the dog or asking anything of them. If you release Kenai after one or two click/treats, his return isn’t perfectly reliable enough to really make clicker=treat stick.
The other step is name/click/treat in the same fashion. Let the dog stare right at you and drool on your foot while you shovel in the cheese and lamb crunchies for 20 repetitions. My pigs fly “homework” is to do those two things at least twice a day. This I believe is going to be a permanent part of our practices from now on.
Being slightly obsessive, I’m shooting for three times a day, before each meal. Since we do have “homework” from the trainer, I’m using the pigs fly click/treat and name/click/treat as a warm up before the releasing name game we learned in “Control Unleashed” that Lisa uses.
The second major difference is NO MORE LURING. To create a work ethic in a dog who thinks for themselves, ya kinda have to reward them for thinking for themselves. Then they want to do things with you, since doing what you say and how you say quickly turns them off (Kenai!!)
Once ya know which behaviors come naturally to them, you selectively click/reward the ones that are heading in the direction of what you want. Does that fool them into thinking they came up with plan? This book, if you like trainer lingo, almost exclusively relies on capturing and free shaping.
I didn’t realize just how much luring I was doing, using treats and encouragement to get Kenai to touch the stroller or come forward when picking up the broom causes him to back away. I’m thinking with timid reactions, I might still lure slightly, but not rely on it so very much.
He wasn’t going to come forward while broom was in hand, and it wouldn’t matter how long I waited for him to. So I lured one time, and simply click/treated after that. Maybe eventually I’ll be able to phase out the “yum, there’s butter on that broom handle” altogether.
I like the idea of less is more from me–less wobbling around to interest him, less moving backwards to get him to come. That means I’m less likely to tenderize my rump roast. It relieves a fair amount of pressure if I am free to sit there with a goodie bag while he does the thinking and moving.
I actually managed to go blog surfing today, a continuation of checking in with folks. I found several blogs I had up on the blogroll are gone now, so I cleaned up a bit. It’s frustrating, clicking a link and getting an error page. Wish I knew where they went.
Behr’s kinfolk had a lovely play visit with her, which is always the BEST sort of day. Her brother’s in need of a good home, so anyone interested should go zip over to her blog. He’s a handsome blue Dane, who was neglected some. But he’s recovering, and had a good time with sis.
Borias had a scuffle with a cat, belonging to a woman too foolish to think a cat on a leash isn’t a moving target for dogs at an event with 70,000 people. Cats, dogs, dogs, cats…what did she expect? Duh. I thought I was dense. Borias too is a breed with a chase instinct, like Kenai, though Borias is much more polite, waiting until the cat was underfoot to have a rumpus.
Bosley got himself worn out by a country girl fresh off the farm and all lean muscle. Their play day has its own video if you use the link to the right and visit. Logan just had himself a birthday at a posh pooch friendy hotel full of retrievers. The pool, you know, was a popular hang out!
Saturday was the first serious testing of how much the pigs fly clicking was affecting his innate reactions: he was “guard puppy” most of the day. While I was out of the room, he drove Mom nuts pacing between the sliding door and the widow while squirrels, birds, and even a box turtle paraded their bold selves along the deck and tree trunks.
When I was in the room, I would let him notice, get excited, then “Kenai!” and hanged if he didn’t interupt his fixation to look at me and even come to me. I would offer a treat but he wouldn’t take it. He’d go back to the door. So when the turtle of his play-dreams reappeared, I went to the door.
With said soul-thrilling turtle pointed out, 1) “sit”, click, ear rubs, stand up again. Something else to do besides pace, you see. It’s not pigs fly capturing or free shaping, though. 2) “down”, click, neck pats. Again, not capturing but a place to start. 3) Turtle rustling about in the leaves, moi sit on the floor. “HUH?”
I rarely get on the floor, since getting up is an exercise in the follies. Having gotten fatter last year hasn’t helped. But down I went, talking to him about watching the turtle. He did the chest lean, I smooched the lips above my head, and rubbed the long legs.
That BTW is the secret pleasure of having a dog that’s 3 feet tall at the shoulder: a warm chest to lean your head on while sitting on the floor, and uber soft jowels to play with. When they look down to “kiss”your face, all their smushy parts puddle up and are just right for smooching and caressing. It’s a sort of semi-slimey massage.
Cleaning the cabinets, wiping baseboards, sorting through piled up magazines…all provide an opportunity for the “secret pleasure”. It’s a pleasure unless of course they decide to rest their head on yours. Then your spine is squished like an accordian under the cinder block they call a skull. Anyway, back to the turtle saga:
I tapped the bed beside me and Kenai decided to lay down too. We watched the turtle together for a couple minutes, having some together time love. “That was new” he was thinking… It also ended his excitable pacing about turtles.
I never saw the fascination, since it’s not like they can be chased as slow as they are. Swatted, yes, rolled around like a lumpy ball, yes. But not really chased. Still, turtles are critters and that makes them exciting to Kenai’s boy brain.
So as to the question of if my piggy is flying yet, I’d say he’s doing the up-down-flapping-stork sort of take off at the moment, which is still alot better than I was getting. It’s been all of four days as of today, but there is improvement. Now whether he’s going to pull a “got that, got bored” in a few weeks, I don’t know, but I’ll find out soon enough.
Behr “Bear” left me an encouraging comment about “Pigs Fly”, thank you hon! It seems lots of people have had the same frustration as me, trying to train a dog that just isn’t 100% willing.
The first shaping game in the pigs fly book involves a cardboard shirt box. Okay, not a good idea. Kenai’s had this really fun game of smush and smash with cardboard boxes like empty soda cases since he was little. So I need to dig out a basket or something. Then the real work begins–can I figure out free shaping.
Posted by greatdaneservicedog on April 26, 2009
Uh-oh, it’s gonna bonk me…Kenai, 16 mo old
Okay, there’s not a whole dog-pile of stuff to post about, but I feel chatty this morning. And I got a chuckle from this pic: Kenai doesn’t mind the swinging of his jolly ball, he doesn’t even mind when it bashes his neck while being shaken. But he doesn’t like when it flings up and bonks him on top of the head.
He gets all hunkered down in hopes it’ll miss (physics escapes him), complete with “ickie ears” and squishy face. When it does bonk him, he drops it, stomps it, then flings it off into the distance. Then he pounces it. Guess he thinks that’ll beat it into submission?
We’ve had a few practices since last Friday’s trainer visit. Kenai will touch the stroller, and he’ll take his baby back if it’s on the floor next to it. But if the toy is in the stroller, no dice. It sits by his food and water dishes, which doesn’t bother him.
We’ve practiced down and sit stays while it moves, too. During one blah Messin with Sasquatch time I brought it into the bathroom with Mom and us. He would sit as close as 6″, and I could move it a little. If I stood between him and the stroller, I could give a push away from us.
When he wasn’t on a stay, I walked it all around, gave it to Mom, and generally molested the thing something feirce. I think our next step is to start working down/stays while I sit too, which means Mom will have to be pushing it around. She’ll have to start some distance away, and build up to walking past him.
Just to up the ante, I’m going to use my rolling desk chair for play times…he tugs the baby, and momma chases him! That should be funny to watch. Especially if I can get enough foot traction on the floor to steal the baby and “run” away from him in the chair.
Lisa (trainer) will be disappointed about his disinterest in hand targeting. He’s perhaps too body sensitive. When he was little I deliberately encouraged his careful nature about bumping, since a grown Dane can take down a man with a butt-whiplash. I sorta rewarded not bopping, and corrected the foot swatting.
Lisa will be here tomorrow, so I’d like to see the plethora of rolling stuff she brings! A skateboard is certain to cause a stir. When Kenai’s doing better with rolling things, I’m gonna rent a walker and a wheel chair–it’s possible I may need a wheel chair in the future, so getting him used to it now…the plus side is he’ll be allowed to pull.
I’m also interested to see how she uses the “sound sensitization” CD I got from www.dogwise.com It’s got sirens and thunder and all kinds of noisy stuff on it. And I think we need to make a list of public places to work with her at. She has the touch for changing associations, thank goodness.
Here’s just a few of the important places to me, and their not in a “start here/end there” order. I’m sure she’ll come up with more of them, but each one has a puppy trouble in them. Can ya tell this $50 an hour is gonna be a long term deal? Boy do I need that SSI income…
post office–very spooky pooky there
Walgreens–we go there alot so nervous needs to change
Vet–not nervous but excited, especially around other dogs
smoke shop strip mall–flapping banners cause skittish puppy sidestep
gas stations–he best place, but still doesn’t like tight spaces there
doctor’s offices–I have two local ones, and really want him calm there
restaurants–these are tough for him, with noise, movement, & down stays
Speaking of flamenco puppy, Kenai nearly made Mom pee her Victoria Secrets the other day. I insisted he go out in the rain, so the wet wumps wasn’t happy when we came in again. He had squished down icky ears, puckered up pickle lips, tushie shakes…
Then when you add “shiney up the puppy” all decorum goes out the window. The Dane rump has a goofy nerve, so the back and forth with the towel caused a hunched up back and the strangest pick up feet dance you ever saw. I swear he only had one paw on the ground at a time.
The more Mom laughed at him, the more annoyed he got…”IT’S NOT FUNNY, IT’S ICKY” he whar-whared at her, still shimying all over the place. When I tried to dry his lower legs, he kicked them like a ticked off mule, lips still puckered and ears sideways.
When his shiny up the puppy ordeal was over, he leaped over to Mom and swatted the chair she was sitting in, and yippy barked at her. She told him he barked like a girl, which really made him mad!
So he ran to the living room, and little brother BB left a blazing trail to the crate; big bro was on the war path, and he wanted no part of it!
Kenai polar bear pounced the largest of the babies out of the box, a shockwave felt far and wide, and ran back with his one-eared elephant baby (amputee, poor thing). Then he proceeded to shake the devil clean out of it. I’m surprised it still had its stuffing.
Just to finish his point, yes Kenai follows through, he stomped the baby, stood up big and tall, and let out a bark that would never be mistaken for a girl’s. Feeling his man-dignity was re-asserted, he trotted over to his bed and laid down, leaning on one elbow like a majestic fellow.
BB was still in the crate, and not coming out…
Ahhh man, I laughed so hard it literally hurt. Mom had tears streaming down her flaming red face, and I wished to heck I’d had my camera for all of that. He ignored us from that point on, and it took a goodly while to stop howling at his indignities suffered.
As far as Kenai’s public outings, we had two: one to Walgreens. I used his easy walk harness instead of the gentle leader as a comment suggested. He just pulls too much in it. Made it hard to walk with him, and keep him at least nearly at my left side. Durn. It was a good idea. I do have success with it outside at home, where the GL makes him very insecure.
But we paused at the shopping cart rack; I got him to sniff, and hold a standing stay while I jiggled it some. A loose cart we walked up to, and he could handle it moving in front of me fairly well, though he lagged along behind a bit too far.
And his post office stop wasn’t a happy one for him. He hates that place. I just hung around outside, not doing much, letting him roam and sniff. I did go up to the flag pole, without any weirdy pup freaks, so he was “given his head” and allowed to wander where he wanted.
I think I need to add reconditioning about stuff being picked up and carried. A man who waved his cane came close to causing a freak out at the post office. We may half abandon the hand target and work on moving objects and picked up objects. I’ll talk to Lisa about it.
There are three books I want to get, “Click to Calm”, “Play With Your Dog”, and “When Pigs Fly”. They were suggested to me long ago. I think the latter would be the most helpful to me, since it was written for taking advantage of the natural strengths of independent and intelligent dogs. (Kenai!)
But alas, my wish list is bigger than my budget. Practically all my money goes to the vet, the vet supply websites, the puppy store, the trainer, and Walgreens. The boy’s expenses run between $300-$400 a month right now. Lord I wish I could get those tums healed up and working normally.
Walgreens is about the only place I spend $$ on myself, and it’s not hardly got treats for me, just pills and cheap t-shirts. Just a little whining, if you will tolerate it! I’ve gained so much weight since last summer, I’m hardpressed to find nice clothes that are comfie in my closet. Gotta drop some pounds–getting embarrased of my appearance.
I want to get the boys a $60 box of bones from Foster and Smith like last Christmas (they loved them), and I’m kicking around a new wide padded leather collar for Kenai since he pulls so often. And the books, I really would like.
So anyway, that’s my chitter-chatter for today…
Posted by greatdaneservicedog on April 21, 2009
it was a busy day, ma
Kenai all tuckered out, 16 mo old
Yesterday was a marathon 2-hour training session with the boys. That means you get a marathon post. Anyone trying to re-condition their dog’s nervousness about something, or their dog’s wild child behavior will certainly have a good idea of how to go about it.
The first 2o minutes was devoted to Kenai: it involved a short walk outside, a warm up of the “name game”, where he looks when his name is called. With all those critter smells, it’s a tough thing for a boy to do. Mean ol’ me wouldn’t let him mark on my bushes, either.
Then Kenai was re-introduced to a stroller inside. He’s recently gotten all freaky Scooby pup with moving objects, like strollers, walkers, etc. First step was just letting it sit there, clicking and rewarding for smelling it, looking at it, walking by it, and taking treats sitting on it.
Then it was a stand stay while the stroller, about 3 feet away, was moved a tiny bit, then a sit stay. The trick is finding his limit and stopping to click and reward right before it. At first he could hold for a 1″ away movement, and a scant 1/4″ towards him movement.
When he held, he got his click and treat, then a fun little rumpus time where he could play and bow and trot around the dining room. The rumpus ended when we came back to the kitchen and did another sit stay. By the end of 7-8 repetitions we could bring the stroller within 12″ or so.
Mom was AWOL with a sick tum, so after about 2o minutes of Kenai time, BB was brought out of Mom’s room, and Kenai went in the living room pen. It was finally FUNNY BOY TIME! First thing we did was take him out to potty, since Mom had neglected to do that. Lisa was surprised that I didn’t even bother to put on his collar.
Beebs is totally reliable about coming when called. All he wants is attention, so even a threat of attention brings him gallopolling your way. BTW, BB doesn’t gallop, he gallopolls, legs going every which way, ears flapping like a dodo bird trying to take off…he’s so funny!
He’s such a wild and crazy guy, he can startle you running up so close to you. He runs at you then around you, bumps you, then runs that’a'way. It’s like an overgrown Jack Russell jumping up and all around you for attention.
He bumps but he doesn’t ram or really jump since he’s only bearing weight on one back leg. Lisa hesitated at first, stopping and even backing up. I explained he really won’t knock you down, he doesn’t even bump hard enough to knock wobbly balance challenged me down.
Just keep walking at him, and he moves to the side. I usually send him to the door or tell him to go find his brother and he happy gallopolls off. When he starts heading back at me, I remind him to go to the door or whatever.
While Kenai was demolishing the furniture, (he couldn’t see me), leaping on and off that poor battered and sliding around the room couch…
BB was learning a new game: “go wild!” Mom’s typical reaction to Beeb’s crazy excited is to get mad, and then get madder since he’s not on the bed relaxed like she wants. Eventually she yells, and before long, Kenai is upset and jumpy. So “go wild” game is the first step in the remedy to all that angst.
Beebers gets to go wild, running, spinning, hyping up to match our high pitched voices, then a sudden “down”–at first he gets a click/treat the moment his baby bottoms hits the bed. He gets a release and “go wild” again.
Once he reliably does the instant down (he knows that from his lightening round practices) he gets a click and has to wait one second before his treat and release comes. Then 2 seconds, then 5 seconds…. the duration of stay is increased and the duration of silly is decreased.
If he didn’t down, we turned our backs and ignored him. He got so annoyed with that once he barked at her. Stinky. If he got too in her face or bumpy (for dogs that jump too), the treat was used to lure the nose away to the side. You could even toss the treat or toy on the floor, then click and reward the moving away from you.
I personally would give a finger-bite for a jump or bump, then lure away, but that’s just me. Sometimes a dog is so excitable and not thinking that the combination of correcting the unacceptable in a primitive doggie way and luring into the good behavior works better, at least for me.
I can get a 3 1/2 min down stay out of Beebs during practices, but I’ve never used them to interrupt THEN RELEASE the true wild child somebody’s-here stuff. I’ve been trying to just build the stay, using a bone or something to keep him down past that 3-4 min.
Giving him the wild child time over there keeps him off the person over here, keeps me in charge of when he’s wild child, and gives him an off switch he’ll use since he gets to turn on again…Lisa’s perty durn clever!
Next it was back to Kenai, now entirely devoted to being my shadow. His relative calmness before was shot, since BB was just over there in the living room.
We did the stroller again, and since he was only really uncomfortable when it’s picked up, we set it on my lap. I spun the wheels, turned it this way and that (slowly), and even hugged it. Any nose touch, coming near me was click/rewarded.
He began to play bow, so anytime he touched it he got to play with Lisa. When I set it down, the silly boy would “dig” in front of it, rather that touch it. He went to town on that laminate floor too, trying to dig his way to Mongolia.
I found if I put my hand in his “arm pit”, he would stop digging. That is NOT a habit I want him to take up. A lab could make a hole to hide chair in, but a Dane could make one big enough to hide an SUV. Bigger paws make bigger holes…I don’t want to drop my riding mower into a Kenai-made sink hole one sunny day.
The touch was enough to stop the behavior without completely interrupting his attention from the stroller. After a couple minutes of that, he plopped down on my foot and relaxed. “Whew, mom, that’s tiring…”
So Lisa moved the stroller around while he down/stayed on his own. (Technique called capturing). This is more what I wanted–I wouldn’t be happy if he jumped up from a down stay to push some poor mother’s kid around in their stroller!
I can just see him doing that…the kid might enjoy the ride, but I doubt the Mom would be as delighted. Can a dog be charged with kidnapping?
Kenai also got some work on targeting my hand, getting a click/treat when he nose nudges it. Brown’s not a nose nudge boy. A body sensitive boy, this toffee tank of mine. He did it a few times then lost interest. Not his style. I’ll keep working on it, not setting my heart on success. He targets places like bed, couch, mat etc.
The hand-nose target is a super useful thing. The dog can touch your hand when they notice something they don’t like, and you can reward them for noticing and change their emotions that way. The dog can touch your hand when they want something, asking permission to go play, or whatever.
Hand targeting can be incorporated into just about anything, including medical or sound alerts for service dogs. The idea of targeting then can be morphed into touching other things, and eventually (hope, hope) picking up dropped objects, retrieving pots or canned veggies, turning the lights on and off…targeting is a big time service dog trick.
True to form, Kenai’s skipping out on this prized SD trait like he does all the others! That’s my boy, consistently contrary.
The last thing we worked on directly was his seperation anxiety. I never did anything about it because I wanted him to want to be anywhere I am. But of late it has indeed become anxiety, not a desire to be where I am and work.
While Lisa’s working with him, I come and go, a sort of indirect way of getting him used to not seeing me. For a more intensive approach, I went outside, where he wanted to go anyway, and he had to stay inside.
In order to come outside with me, he had to do a sit for Lisa. He wouldn’t. So she came outside too. Attempt number 2 went the same way. On the third try, he did his sit for her, and had the door opened. Oh the boy love–head rubbing, leaning!
Then he was allowed to sniff about, getting a reward for the name games. We did that three times, and he had it all figured out, doing his sit whenever asked. I’m sorta kicking around how I can make being with me more dependant on working, without being too draconian. He does get to be my buddy too.
Anyway, the boys was pooped after all that! Neither of them moved more than neccessary: eating, going out for potty, and one too-tired-to-be-onery Sasquatch time with Mom was it for the rest of the day. I could just about hear the air leaking out of their tires.
My spare was a little flat too. The fatigue is pretty bad, the muscles are in a fibro fit, and so are the joints thanks to my now active again Lyme disease. Ooo today is tough. But it was worth it–I’m glad to see some hope of getting him back to being comfortable in public.
This morning’s practice for Kenai was holding down stays around the moving stroller, wanting a bit more calmness from him about it now that he’s not so disturbed by it. He still got a release for a bit of bum rubbing and play, but I’m encouraging placidness during the down as much as I can.
It’s interesting how little I rewarded him before–I was glad for the non-chalant way he used to respond to things like strollers but I didn’t give him a happy enough reward for it. Seems I was too sedate and dull, and still have that tendency.
That’s not uncommonly found in people transitioning from the traditional correction training style to the positive encouragement training. The philosophies are wholly opposite in their approaches. And their goals too: one wants obedience because the dog’s supposed to and the other wants obedience because the dog enjoys it.
I’ve spent most of my life teaching dogs to be quiet and calm, so suddenly encouraging play time for a calm response feels slightly incongruous. It certainly works, it just feels odd at first. This here ol’ dog is learning some new tricks, too.
Posted by greatdaneservicedog on April 18, 2009
I don’t usually post two days in a row, but yesterday was a very big day. First it was Partner’s birthday, a lovely retriever in training as a service dog for a lovely sweet lady. He’s 2 now, the playful bud, and needless to say, his lady friend loves him madly.
Kenai and I had a late day outing, unusual too. Normally if I’m gonna get-er-done, it will be in the morning when I feel relatively good. I’ll eat dinner out, but not run a bunch of errands. But Walgreens didn’t have my meds ready, said call at 4, so I waited all day rather than have to go out twice in one day.
Called at 4: not ready. The other errands had to be done, so out Kenai, me, and Mom went. We went to the post office, (Kenai’s nemesis), and for his sake just did the drive-thru. Next was the insurance agent’s office. They haven’t seen my little love since was little, and he seemed fairly confident.
With his vest and gentle leader strapped on, in we went. He did so well!!! He wanted to walk near the wall over the shiny floor in the hallway, but he didn’t whine or refuse to go at all. He helped me sit down, and stood there next to me just looking around curious.
Once I was sitting I let him go get some attention from friends, and he was a wagging then sweet guy. When ya walk around with a Dane, you get used to the same comment types that appear at least once per outing, and I have some “standard” replies already practiced:
that’s a horse=he saves on gas by pulling the car
you need a bigger car=nah, he’s got 6″ to spare
bet nobody messes with you=only if they have a barking Chi-Chi dog with them
But sometimes ya get something new. One guy in a restaurant complained as loudly as he could that the place stunk now, when we came in. “Nah, he smells better than I do” was my reply and made everybody laugh at the nasty guy.
The insurance agent offered to lower the premiums on my life insurance, which got a chuckle. I was once asked how many children per week he could eat, tongue in cheek of course. And speaking of children, they always ask if he can do tricks!
Just for the kiddos, Kenai has a leave it trick: I put a treat on each front foot when he’s in a down, and he has to leave it until the child says “ok”. And we have a pick up foot trick, but it’s a little shakey just yet, not all sharp and snazzy.
Kenai didn’t relax to the point of laying down, but I took his gentle leader off and he was calm, kept me balanced and braced. After about 5 minutes he started to whine a bit, and it was time to go, but I was so very proud of him. He did it!
That was all for Kenai’s working, since next was the smoke shop. He likes the people, but that’s the place with the flapping banners which scare him. He did so well before, I wanted to end on a high note, so he and I waited in the car.
The gas station had motorcyles and big trucks, so he was skittish, and he stayed with Mom while I went in. Didn’t untuck his tail or raise his head until we were pulling away. I usually go in the mornings, when it’s not so busy, since my ears can’t take that noise either.
Ready to drop after a couple more stops, I got the mail, which became an adventure in itself! The box was crammed. I mean crammed. It took two hands and some tugging just to get a place to start…but the boys got their pheremone collars, and Mom and I got a care package.
All the lovely handmade soaps and such smelled wonderful. So wonderful we couldn’t get BB’s nose out of the way long enough to see what was what. Silly boy, that’s girl stuff! Mom would shoo him off, and next thing the nose went right back into the box! We had to go to the kitchen and leave him in the living room.
The nose sniffled us the rest of the night, after testing out our gifts…
Today will be a big day too, starting at a 9:30 swing by the vet for a weigh in. (Too tired yesterday). Then a 10:00 training hour with Lisa in public. I’ve got to go to Walgreens, the bank, and the store too. Mom’s going to the store, I know already.
So we’ll see today how the pheremone collar affects him.
Mom and I were joking about with what to dress the boys up as for Halloween. Even if we don’t go trick or treating–I’m a little old for that–I gotta dress ‘em up and take some pictures. Maybe we’ll go with my niece, Kenai anyway.
He’s a good deterrant to kiddie snatchers and other evil beasties that might be out. Sad that we have to think of such things. Nothing like that’s happened here, but ya never know. He could walk her up to the door and back, since she likes to “do it myself”.
She’d love having Kenai for a companion, if he is mature enough to walk nicely with just her and her brothers by then. He’d also clear the lines for her at busy houses, not to mention he can carry considerably more candy than a little girl. Yep, Em would love that!
BB’s relatively easy to choose a costume, being an irrepressible goof and devoid of any sense of dignity. You could put a tutu on him and he wouldn’t take offense. ‘Course if he had to pee, that would make a mess. I don’t think he’d leave a pirate hat or anything on his head.
There’s too many to choose from for Beebs. Mom suggested making a hot dog bun to fit around his body, with a “name” badge: Oscar Meyer. I thought a “feather” coat, like Big Bird or a chicken suit would be funny. A scooby suit would be unneccesary…
Kenai’s a little tricker. He has his man-dignity. He’d pluck the chicken suit bare as a processed fryer, and give me an hours long moose face complete with crooked ears for anything remotely feminine. How he can tell the difference, I’ll never know. But remember the fleece coat?
My thought was a hobo costume with a sign that says “will work for meat”, or a furry lion collar. The tuft of hair at the tail tip would be imaginary, since any clippy back there would soon be slain.
If ya’ll send me suggestions, I’ll make a poll for everyone to vote for their favorite. That’d be kinda fun.
Posted by greatdaneservicedog on April 14, 2009
Kenai practicing ingore-yous, 16 mo old
Well the progress with Kenai’s “name game” is mixed, as expected. He long ago went off looking at me outside. I’m having to use loud, shrill noises to get his attention after a name call half of the time like the trainer said, and it risks setting off a leashed zoomie.
Oh if only I could use treats for reinforcement! (It’s obvious my attention isn’t interesting)
And he still views his gentle leader as an aversive. But he leaves me no choice. We put it on when he’s outside, and I’ve thanked God for it several times: a bunny on easter morning, a cat out in the field, and some unidentified critter he was smelling or hearing.
He fixates, he whines, he shifts his weight around like a flamenco dancer…but he hasn’t tried yanking loose with his gentle leader on. That’s next if I don’t make some progress with the look at that games. I did manage to turn him around, to face away from the exciting things.
That will at least begin teaching disengagement–ya can’t do anything if they don’t redirect their attention. If I have to redirect it for him at first, so be it. But to be honest, he’s gotten me into a nervous avoidance mode some days when it comes to taking him out after meals.
Those leash yanks hurt, and the time he yanked loose scared me silly. Hence the GL. He dislikes that gentle leader so much he backs away when it’s time to go out, or hangs his head so far down I can barely reach. I know he’s averse to it, but it’s a neccessary evil for now, poor kiddo.
He’s much improved with coming when I call inside though. It was so-so before, but he’s decided he at least needs to check out what I got or am about to do. Toys, food near meals, and play are interesting enough to him inside to be a reinforcing reward.
Note to myself: I need to go back to reinforcing BB’s name game, since he’s getting sloppy about it. (Mom’s still not working with him).
Today being Monday, I have to swing by the vet for Kenai’s weigh in. Missed it last week, so I need to get an update on his growth page, and I’ve got to stop at Walgreens. There’s a quickie outing in the car for him. Tomorrow is another date with the trainer, so that’s a big outing. Better to entertain your brain with my dear…
There must be running today–two days of rain meant no outside time this weekend. The wet grass washes the kennel mud off his feet, which means there will be a walk in the field right after the boys have their run-with-me fun. That’s probably enough for me today.
Despite not having outside time, Easter wasn’t a total loss for Kenai: he got himself a new baby. It’s a “BLUUU cow” baby, that has a velcro strap so it closes up. Took him about 5 seconds to figure out how to open it, and it’s just the right size for the bull elephant to smush.
Of course, the sound effects are fun too, me saying “BLUUU cow” like the cow was mooing at him. And the “gimme that you boy”, a cue for his keep away games. Then I steal it with a let go and give it a good throw. Oh the fun! More fun when Mom does it. His big baby heart loves it.
Kenai’s easter bunny impression, two weeks ago. Bunny ear headgear would not have been a good idea. Remember the jingle collar? How’s that for a look of displeasure?
BB got a similar baby, only his is a yellow duck, called “smushy ducky” so it doesn’t get confused with Kenai’s yellow duckie baby. It goes without saying that BB enjoyed playing with it–BB would enjoy a rock, funny boy.
Those two have developed a not-so-good sneaky: when I leave the room, the next thing I hear is the two of them having a fuss over the pen. Playing with toys over the expen is fine, teasing each other with bones is okay too, but I don’t allow the nippy snapping.
Half the time Mom’s there, and they ignore her telling them to quit. Cat’s away, the mice will play… I can go back time and again; it will immediately stop. Sometimes just a “hey, knock that off” from me stops it. Often I practice Kenai’s “come” then; finding me is fun too. Especially if treats are involved.
But they start right back up, incessant about the biting. You can put toys in their mouths, and the moment you walk away they spit them out and go snippy again. Once I got really ticked off, and used a parade ground voice on them. BB scooted it right into the crate and stayed there. Worked, but I don’t like yelling at them.
Don’t like wearing out my slippers either. The squirt bottle got put by Mom’s end table. I’m not logging miles to put manners on my teenagers. She’s sitting right there on the couch and being blown off. If she needs something to enforce, a shot of getting wet should do the trick!
Just so ya don’t think they’re only a pain in the patooty, I thought I’d put up their “good boy” things too. They are a pain in the patooty, just not all the time! Insert chuckle.
is reliable with his basic commands at home: sit, down, stay, wait, come, scoot
well mannered excluding critters: no indoor zoomies, politely waits for his toys instead of lunging to snatch them from us, careful not to bump or break things,
enjoys his clicker and his brushing, holds still for nail clipping and ear cleanings
is about 90% reliable with tasks at home: brace getting me up and down, walk with me if I hold his collar, the step and wait proceedure, taking off slippers and even socks (don’t need it, but he has such fun doing it…)
getting the idea of targeting: on the bed, on the couch, and starting to target hand
much better about the feet: keeps them away from the face, and not as hard or often with the swats
Is very gracious about all my “down time” resting: doesn’t wake me, make lots of noise, or bug me to get up.
eager to do what you want, always ready to do something fun with you
50% calmer: holds his down stays much longer, doesn’t leap up with his front feet on the back of the couch, is getting gentler with his mouth if reminded when excited,
He barks sometimes because his brother barks, but stops if no one’s there. He stops when you tell him to watch the trash man or whatever: “he’s gonna get out of the truck”, “watch, he’s putting the trash in the truck” etc
will tolerate all four feet getting nails clipped at one time, holds still for ear cleanings and loves his brushing and baby wipes
Relatively outstanding recall: 95% solid on coming back your way when called. Would rather play with you than anything else. Kenai is responsible for that last 5%, but they are brothers after all
Accepts his gentle leader and walks so much better with Mom. All she has to do is give a little tug and say “hey”, and he slows his boy bottoms to walk nice
This is hardly a complete list of “good boys”, but a good start.
Posted by greatdaneservicedog on April 13, 2009
Kenai and his new friend, 16 mo old
http://assistdogautism.blogspot.com is a blog for Clive, one of the first service trained goldendoodles in Ireland. He works for “little man”, a youngster with autism, and from the pics on his blog, I can’t tell who’s smiling more, Clive or “little man”! Clive, you take good care of your friend now, ya’ hear?
It’s a beautiful sort of world that has service trained animals in it. The emotional and spiritual bond that develops between a human and another species is really exquisite…
Then there’s Kenai. We haven’t quite made it to that level of co-operation yet. Right now he’s beautiful but unruly during hormone surges, thanks be to adolescence. He’s not too bad, considering how a bull elephant like him can behave. Still, ugh.
I’ve decided I’m going to take some email advice I got the other morning.
“Handle stressful situations like a dog would: if you can’t eat it or play with it, pee on it and walk away…”
That gave me a huge laugh. Thanks Ann!
The trainer came out yesterday, to see what we can do with Kenai’s chase ‘em habits, and his overexcitement around other dogs. This is a new trainer, since the other one just disappeared and was never heard from again.
It seems my area of the country is plagued with a strange indifference, and lack of initiative. Not just with dog trainers. Yahoo groups and such die a slow, silent death too. Not many folks goe to any inconvenience for another person.
Anyway, when (if) Kenai ever reaches a point of total solidity as a service dog, I’m going to take a video and send it to all the folks who said he wouldn’t…including myself?
This trainer will handle your dog for you. In other words, Lisa S will take the leash yanks of a chase’em attempt instead of me. She’s a clicker trainer, using all the same reconditioning techniques I use. Difference is, she’s a new person, an interesting person, a person worth interrupting a sniff for!
Her appearance created the typical exhuberant silliness: Kenai got all wiggly and in the way, BB howled from the living room. I got Kenai settled on his kitchen bed, and Mom turned the lovable beastie loose.
There was Beebs usual can’t-sit-still, sticking his nose up in Lisa S’s face, nudging and bugging her for a solid 5 min. Kenai wanted in on the act, and tried to crawl under the kitchen table (he hasn’t done that before)…you get the idea. Out came the gentle leaders, down went the pups.
Once the interview was done, we strapped on Kenai’s tracking harness and headed out. Right off the bat, Kenai heard a noise and had a look-see. It was call his name, click and reward for looking back, then release him to do whatever. (“Look at that” game from “Control Unleashed, Leslie McDevitt).
Sorry I didn’t get these pics lined up better, but you can see the technique. And my overgrown flower bed there. Unfortunately the rose arbor in the background isn’t blooming yet, but it’s gorgeous when it does.
Next up was the field, and a variation of look at that I call “sniff ‘n look”: wait for his nose to hit the ground, then call his name, click and reward when he looks at ya. That’s the beauty of the look at that game, all the individualized variations you can create.
We spent about 40 min out back, then went out front. The other dogs weren’t around, so she didn’t get a chance to see what that’s like. There was however, a morning dove too silly dumb to just fly away. Kenai’s chase’em attempts were relatively mild, but he responded so well to Lisa’s calling/clicking/reward.
In our conversation, two really outstanding ideas came out: 1) recorded sounds, and 2) dog appeasement pheremones. I knew recordings were used for doggie phobias like thunderstorms or fireworks, but it never occured to me to use them in a look at that variant to recondition Kenai to public sounds.
The idea’s the same as look at that or sniff ‘n look: play the recording very low while the dog is relaxed. If they don’t react, great, let it play and the dog becomes desensitized to the noise. The volume is gradually increased, and the recording is played in various rooms or places.
The the dog does react, use the name/click when looked at/reward to recondition the dog’s emotional response from nervous to expecting a treat. This creates a reaction of enjoyment and relaxation from a cue that used to cause fearfulness.
There are recordings called “puppy habituation”, with all the sounds of a home and neighborhood that some breeders use to acclimate young litters of pups to noises they will encounter when the have new homes. Or owners to help older pups and dogs desensitize.
Before 8 wks there is rarely a fear response, but it isn’t safe to expose the little ones to environments where they could pick up parvo or other puppy illnesses before their first round of shots. These recordings give pups a head start on socialization without the risks.
www.legacycanine.com or www.dogwise.com are the two websites Lisa gave me. I haven’t been there yet, but I will.
Since it’s unlikely these sites will have grocery store, flapping banners, post office, or family doctor’s office sounds, I’m going to have to go searching for a digital recorder on the cheap. I’m sure a pre-recorded CD will have barking dogs, another big reactive noise for Kenai. But if I have to record other sounds myself, I could do the noisy dogs myself too.
I’m also going googling for dog appeasement pheremones. Lisa tells me they are the scent of a lactating bitch, and can stimulate a relaxation response in some dogs. I’m told they don’t do diddly for one dog but work wonders for another.
The way Kenai is with his teddy bear, we have a good chance. He takes its nose in his mouth, wraps his front legs around it and goes to sleep. He still wants my fingers to “suckle” when his hind legs are hurting.
These pheremones come in an electric diffuser like a scented oil plug in, which is really good for when new pups come home, or a dog with seperation anxiety is left in the crate when you go to work. A diffuser would be helpful for pups that have trouble relaxing at home. http://www.dancingdogcafe.com/petsmisc/3-PACK-DAP-Dog-Appeasing-Pheromone-Electric-Diffuser-144-ml-.html is one place I found.
The DAP also come in a collar, for dogs who are stressed when they go places. The med/large will just barely fit my guys. It might be too small, but I’ll figure something out. http://www.entirelypets.com/pheromonedog.html or http://www.entirelypets.com/dapcollar.html is a site I turned up and ordered from.
Some google searching would certainly turn up more, but I was so worn down I didn’t feel like spending much time searching–took the first collar site I found.
I was hoping part of the hour would go to Mom and BB, so I could rest my legs. But alas it didn’t work out that way. I was on my feet, walking, talking, and turning into jello for a solid hour. Ouch. Ooo. Today is rest day. Kenai’s look, sniff, and leave it will be done from the couch today.
Kenai and I meet with Lisa next Tuesday in public so she can see what his nervous behavior is like, as opposed to his excited behavior. We’re meeting at the puppy store, but right next to it is a dry cleaners–noises and commotion galore. So if he’s cool at the chow rack, I’ll herd us over to the cleaners. That should bring out his inner wimp.
Once we’re getting some results, then there’s a laundry list of places to work in, that are much scarier to him than the familar pet store strip mall. No sense in melting him down the first time out, though. After the nerves are under control, we start hitting the down stay spots.
Since Mom and Beebs do need some help, next Friday will be a 2 hour marathon: a few min of Kenai, a few min of BB and back ‘n forth until we’re all melted down into lumps on the couch. If Lisa can stand up to that, I’ll buy her lunch in admiration.
Posted by greatdaneservicedog on April 9, 2009
Kenai’s funny “moose face”, saying “I don’t wanna come down”, 16 mo old
Kenai has always been a fellow who knows what he wants. Or doesn’t want. Changing his mind is akin to playing hopscotch: hop the wrong way, and it’s game over. Stinker. The past couple weeks he’s decided he’s not a “morning person”, trying to lie in after I’ve gone downstairs to whip up his breakfast.
Well, hopscotch boy will actually get off his couch upstairs when the kibble hits the bowl. Then the luring begins. Sometimes it works. Sometimes a bone tempts him to wobble his sleepy bones down for a chew. Sometimes I get to watch part of the Glen Beck show that taped overnight by myself.
He wakes up the rest of the way when we get outside for the after-meal deposit. His lazy lout game isn’t as pronounced when the afternoon nap comes to an end, thankfully. Then he wants to play. I just want something cold to drink. (BTW naps don’t “refresh” me, they just put off the inevitable until 9 pm).
I know he’s been housebound, whining at the sliding door where all the fresh air and outdoor smells come in. I swear that dog would prefer to be outside all day, barring rain of course. The weather’s been good and warm, spring is sprung, and his boy bottoms wants to be out in it.
My doc appt provided a clue what’s been wrong with me lately: the chronic Lyme disease took advantage of immune suppression from all the stress of last year. That’s why I haven’t rebounded, despite the ol’ college try. I’ll be on antibiotics until October.
One of my other docs doesn’t believe I have chronic lyme, but I got news for him. Just three days into the antibiotics, and cripes-a-crud do I have a die off reaction! Oh wow is it bad. Kenai’s whining for extra outside time goes unsatisfied, needless to say. Poor guy. I can’t even get comfortable enough to sleep at night, drugs be danged.
Still, he’s acting very dissatisfied, especially at night. He has this chenille teddy bear that once upon a time was mine. He loves this bear. He’ll take its nose in his mouth, wrap his feet around it, and go to sleep half-suckling it. I should call it his “momma bear”, the silly wumps. Sleepy time as never given up his mouthing habit, on my fingers or on his bear.
BB is not allowed to have this bear. They swap toys like they swap slobber, the Brother’s Grin. But not this bear. A fight will break out if little bro gets his paws on it. I probably shouldn’t allow that, but it’s the only thing Kenai refuses to share. I can give him one thing. No fuss if I take it–then it’s play with me Mom. But not Beebers.
BB happily shares toys if he gets to play too. He’s very good about that. The “thing” he’s possessive of is Mom. That’s really not good. That he doesn’t get away with. He goes so far as to nip in his terrible anxiety, and gets in serious trouble for it.
Not that he’s mean or aggressive, he just gets so upset when I wake up Mom in the morning while he’s in the expen, or when me and Brown come down in the afternoon, that he forgets himself. I scold when I feel the mouth, and ‘finger bite’ if teeth touch skin. You bite me, I bite you, little boy. He always backs off, remembering how he’s supposed to behave.
Poor guy got bent sideways Friday with Mom not feeling good (summer cold), and Kenai absolutlely nailed him for a nip that was too hard. All Kenai did was come up to greet Mom since we’d been upstairs napping for a couple hours, and whammo, Beebs bit. Big bro was seriously ticked off.
Sometimes I think being seperated, especially from Mom in the AM makes him more anxious. But we still need it: there would’ve been a bent-butt kickin without it yesterday for the unwarranted nip. Beebs got Kenai’s lip, and made it bleed, so yeah, BB’s butt would have been kicked clean out the top of his head if growling big bro could have gotten to him.
Then they turn around and take care of each other or have a good play time together. Something was off with Beebs last night, and Kenai was plain distressed by it. BB’d been lethargic, his gimpy leg hurting with a big storm coming in. Didn’t even want to play.
So Kenai paced, whined, tried to reach over the top of the crate to sniff… He was driving us nuts, offering toys and wanting to squeeze his way around that end of the couch. He tried coming up behind the couch: no BB hanging his head over it to say hi. Whine. Whine and run over to nudge my hand, “what’s wrong, momma?”
He tried moving the crate until his nose could touch little bro: BB moved away. Cry and trot around to the front of the couch. He tried lifting the expen from the bottom: BB went to the crate, “leave me alone”. Cry and pace, cry and pace. Not even a good scolding settled him down.
I went up to little bro for an exam, finally. Belly was soft, gums were normal, nose was cool and wet. He just hurt, like me. Since he doesn’t lay still for rub-ems or snug-ems, rolling over and using his thoroughbred-long front legs to keep you at a distance, BB got a foot massage.
I’d massage awhile, then stick one hand over for Kenai to sniff. “Little brother’s okay”. Eventually, BB decided it felt good, and dozed while I massaged up to his shoulders. He doesn’t like his back or hind legs messed with, working on that, but since he didn’t feel good, I just stuck with what he liked.
So they are no doubt, brothers. Love hard, fight hard, play hard.
I am continually amazed at the control our Danes have over their mouths. Probably all dogs do, but the contrast of such tremendous strength used so gently is something to behold. They have big lips, Great Danes. Pendulous, be-whiskered, floppy lips.
When they rub you with those lips, usually just smelling you, it feels like I’d imagine a walrus rub would feel–those tickly whiskers always make babies giggle. Delightful to watch a Dane and a baby. Such monumental gentleness.
Kenai’s mouth is ever so careful. He can take a treat from your hand without touching you, or he can wiggle a treat loose in your fist with nearly all your hand hidden under those lips and you’ll never feel teeth. It’s incredible. Fastest tounge in the west, too.
The late Riptide of my childhood days would retrieve our balloons without breaking them. Brazos could carry a package of meat from one place to the next without breaking the shrink wrap. Trained dogs can pick up a paper reciept off the floor.
And just when you forget that Great Danes were once used to hunt and guard, Brazos also killed an attacking dog at the vet with one bite–crushed it’s skull, the canine teeth peircing clean into the brain tissue. I never saw the dog coming, trying to maneuver a 3 foot long body through a tight entryway.
Note: Brazos was never once aggressive. This dog just got it’s stitches out from it’s last fight, and the vet was reporting it as a vicious dog needing to be put down. It ripped itself free from its owners, and came straight at us, the moment it saw Brazos.
The killing was over before I knew what was happening. He wouldn’t let go until the dog quit moving, either. Then when the dog was dead, he walked over to his “spot” and laid down like it didn’t happen. Really scary, seeing the terrible strength they have, and almost never use.
Kenai has a “new” baby he is madly in love with. Once again, it used to be mine. Instead of stuffing, his new reindeer baby has those noisy beans inside. It’s small, his preferred size for tossing and pouncing. If this keeps up, I won’t have any toys of my own…
But he loves it so. One day he was just gazing away at it, so I took it off my dresser and let him have it. Ode to joy, the leaping and dancing it caused! Guess it’s the noise of the beans rubbing together, but he just has a marvelous time with it, carrying it around from place to place. I’ve even started using it as a “reward” during mini-practices between meals.
And one of his tennis balls is a muddy mucky mess, having been taken outside for playtime. I don’t really bounce it, since I don’t want him jumping, but he can chase it, lose it, find it and all that other fun boy stuff.
I’m hoping soon to have the stamina to re-start a second outside playtime for him, since he’s so housebound after the winter. He’s craving sunshine and warm breezes. It’s that time of year.
Posted by greatdaneservicedog on April 5, 2009