Kenai seems to have hit another willful stage, at least at home. That or he’s just too stressed–he’s not getting as much exercise and my niece seems to be here having tantrums every time I turn around. But we press on, slower since I’ve not been feeling good.
He is doing well overall, though he’s having some slight insecurity issues: he won’t stay if I’m out of sight, at least not unless someone else is there with him. He’s still not comfortable in noisy places, but with the gentle leader, I have no difficulty controlling him. He doesn’t like the feeling of being trapped: in line at the grocery with people in front and people in back. He handles it though. Time and practice will settle him down, I think.
Command Practice Sheet Date:
1. sit, –solid
2. down, –solid
3. stay, –still sliding, mostly when I’m out of sight
4. come heel, –solid when walking, needs more work when still
5. slow, –solid
6. up, –solid
7. stand, –solid
8. wait, –shorter time, and not holding when loses sight of me
9. on the bed, –starting to resist going/staying
10. off, –solid
11. leave it, –solid
12. let go, –solid
13. stop, –solid
14. back, –solid at last, more polite at door
15. go left, –solid
16. go right –solid
17. move foot, –solid, does it mostly on his own
18. Kenai (pay attention), –still ignores if too excited
19. no feet, –desperately needs work
20.tuck (his tail),
21. and carry.
22. brace, –solid, he doesn’t move when I put pressure on him
23. pull, –solid
24.and don’t pull. –not so solid when excited
I’ve gotten organized, inspired by someone who keeps a weekly list of commands and how they are going. It helps me remember! It also helps me decide what one or two commands to focus on each week, according to what’s slipping and what’s strong.
Thanks to the gentle leader, outings are terrifically easier on me. I can relax more because I know he can’t pull on me or rubberneck. It does almost depress him, though, so I use it sometimes and not at other times.
This past week, I’ve focused on come heel, and outside recall, mostly. Feeling so good on his new food, Kenai has substantially more energy, but I don’t. He doesn’t usually get his second run in the evenings anymore and it shows. Our outings are mostly in the morning, after his playtime when he is tired. Also because the heat is oppressive recently.
Kenai experienced his first grocery store, and the cafe we eat at most of the time was very busy one day and the back booths were taken. So he also experienced his first down/stay in a tight spot where he couldn’t move without blocking up traffic.
I’ve taken a long long long term view of his training, trying to focus on one or two things a week, and keeping in mind that we can polish up the less than perfect stuff over time. I think he could easily pass the GCC right now, but I’m not in a hurry to take it just yet. For me, that’s kind of a graduation day, taking the test and whupping butt.
Command Practice Sheet Age: 29 wks
1. sit, solid but slow with sore legs
2. down, solid but slow with sore legs
3. stay, he’s slipping a little, when BB present. Will break down stay if approached by stranger. Still holds 30 min at least in restaurant
4. wait, slipping just a little
5. come, solid at last! Used toy toss this week to reward his looking at me outside
6. come front, solid
7. come heel, began to focus on this: want it an auto behavior
8. come side
9. up, solid
10. stand, solid
11. on the bed, solid, just beginning to go without leading
12. off, solid unless really sleepy—has to be lured a bit if sleeping soundly
13. leave it, solid
14. let go, solid
15. slow solid
16. stop, solid
17. back, decided not to do this without my insistence, stubborn boy.
18. go left, solid
19. go right solid
20.bring it, not so good, may never be
21. pick up,
22. move foot, moves on his own if someone walks by in café. Does well if foot tapped
23. pay attention, super good, because of outside play practice!
24.no feet, needs work, having trouble with this and the teeth
25. tuck (his tail), I have to do it for him
26. Will carry his toys upstairs on his own
27. brace, introduced again and becoming a habit.
He totally came apart on me this week…between a disasterous outing with his brother and puppy school class, Kenai’s behavior has become nervous and excited. I became thoroughly frustrated with him during class, to my discredit. We both had a melt down.
So to get control of his body, which is pulling and too strong, i’ve returned to using the Gentle Leader. It definitely subdues him, so I can handle him when he’s nervous in my weakened state. And we are also beginning a ramped up period of exposure to loud noises, busy places, and doggie encounters. Not all of our outings will be stressful to him, or I risk him associating going places with stress. So that is also involved in the increased work: lots of fun places too. All with the GL on.
This week was discouraging to me. But I’ve rebounded, and restored my confidence that our hard work will pay off in the end.
Kenai, 26 wks old
Kenai has had little practice, thanks be to my physical state. I’ve not been feeling well, and neither has he. But we have gone on some outings. He was more distractable, I think because of how tense I was. It was a struggle maintaining a relaxed and comfortable state, so Kenai could be relaxed.
But he has to learn to maintain his own composure in public. All I’m asking of him still is a comfortable heel, and he is doing his best. He certainly is getting good at left and right, and looking back to me when something distracts him. We keep on keeping on, and we are getting better.
I have caught myself with an image of wanting Kenai to be as quick and attentive as say, an agility dog. I think that is not who he is. With this guy, I believe he will be a dog that works by habit, rather than operant behavior. That’s okay. I have a very good boy, and it isn’t fair to try forcing a dog into an image of what I thought I wanted. Kenai will take more work, but in the end, I think his independance, his ability to think for himself and contain himself will be just what I need.
So I’ve let go of the idea of making Kenai a more operant dog, one that enthusiastically jumps at the chance to try something new. He will be a great service dog, learning by practice and drill. So we keep plugging away, and not give up! Lots and lots of outings are in the future. Sorry buddy, that I’m not the dog whispering lady I used to be. I will try for you though, love. Hang in there with me!
Kenai content after a beautiful outdoor recall practice, 25 wks old. 6/29/08
Kenai’s loose leash walking is wonderfully more fluid and easy again, as it was when he was 10 weeks old. He can do right and left on command independent of my movements and without using the leash. He slows the pace or picks it up as I move, only sometimes having to be reminded to slow. I’m very satisfied with that.
I have added in an intensive “recall bootcamp”, working on leash, dropped leash, and off leash with the come and go principles. A bag of ham, chicken livers, and kitty treats were a great incentive.
The look at me when his name is called is rewarded everywhere, everytime, and laid the groundwork for disengaging from the object I wanted him to leave. Leave it on leash also helped.
I wouldn’t go more than 5 minutes without a recall, and if he seemed to be getting into something, I called him immediately. He’s responded like a champ, enjoying the new game. The benefits carried over to messing with his brother: he’ll disengage and come when I call.
His first home manners basic obedience class was one heck of big test: Kenai handled the massive amounts of hyper and hypervigilant energy remarkably well. Ttouch gave us an extra 15 minutes of calmness in the midst of all the madness, but 45 minutes and Kenai went over threshold, getting scatterbrained on me. Next time we go outside and let him run some the energy he’s picked up off and refocus.
My self imposed homework is to continue the public heel, look at me games, and the recall. Eventually I will have to work on 2 things: down with the rump close to me, and holding the down when approached. But not yet. I want him to become relaxed through the chaos of class.
Kenai’s gentle eyes, 22 wks old, 6/3/08
Okay, I’ve regrouped and have decided on the bare minimun of things to focus on: Ttouch & looking at me at home, and walking in public.
All I want from him when vested in public is to hold the heel: left side, turn when I turn, stop when I stop. He did very well with it yesterday, and that will be my only target for at least a week. I’m not taking him places yet where he is likely to encounter people or dogs that want to interact. That’s more difficult for him to pay attention. Later.
At home, we continue to use Ttouch and the clicker/treat everytime he reorients (looks at me while doing something else). I have had to figure out something for the field runs, because there is nearly no control or attention out there. I turn and go another way, and once he starts coming back in my direction I click excitedly. He’s made a game of it: rocket runs to momma.
I’m pleased to see him having more fun and being relaxed. The whining is reduced and easy to stop. Never again will he be sprayed with water for whining like our training advisors did. Kids have water guns and hoses, but that will be a game, not a punishment.
The 17th there is a group obedience class, very basic. I’m going to sign him up and see how it goes. He knows the commands, it will be practice at paying attention and a socialization experience. It’s all for fun. Just fun, no gotta do it right kind of stuff. A new approach.
21 wks old, 5/31/08
Kenai has gone from blah to anxious, fully resistant to training. He has just come unraveled. His eyes are sad, and my instincts were telling me that I needed a new approach to his obedience practice. I’ve started using Tellington touch to reduce his anxiety, and begun clicker training from a book called “Control Unleashed”.
In just a few days, Kenai has perked up, though the environmental stress is still a problem for him. I have chosen to use more positive training methods, and lost my professional SD trainers because of it.
They believe that I am the root of Kenai’s anxiety, and I baby him too much: I should force him through his anxiety, but not have any myself. A person with anxiety disorders cannot be calm all the time, and there is no one else to train him for me. I have to find a way to train him that works with that as a fact of life. Our former trainers have their methods, and it’s not working for Kenai. So my buddy and I are on our own.
Using the clicker, Kenai has begun paying more attention, following commands much better, and the Ttouch has made him quite the cuddler. He wants more attention from me. I’ve incorporated the “training” in his play, and in only a week, I’ve seen more interest and fun in him.
18 weeks old, 5/8/08
Kenai is very blah with his brother gone, having surgery to fix his messed up leg. He’s doing what he’s supposed to but his heart isn’t really in it, poor guy. And i’ve changed the typeface here, since I’m having trouble reading the small print–bet others are too.
Sit: is still very good, and now we are working on using only the hand signal. I’ve noticed, though, he is not as sharp with his sit if he sees a dog or person. I’ve been having to tap his tush again.
Down: ever unreliable, he is still improving on it. At the trainers, he is showing off, and I am supposed to also do this with hand signals only and not bending down. This one will take work, since he is not good with down in public.
Stay: Another one to practice with only hand signals. If I am sitiing down and he is next to me, he will easily stay for 20 minutes. But if I’m up and moving around so he has to watch me, he’s topping out at about 2 minutes. We’re shooting for 3 minutes next week. The catch is him having to concentrate on what I’m doing. If he doesn’t have to watch me, he’s remarkably good at just staying where I put him.
Wait: this one is also pretty good, and needs to be learned with only hand signals. He waits easily, and I’m very glad, but it is also got the catch of whether or not he has to watch me.
Stand: fairly reliable, but at least half the time I have to touch his belly. I’m thinking about adding my own hand signal to the word, so in a couple weeks he can practice with only the hand signal. I don’t know if there is a common signal or not.
Come: He’s doing so much better! He will come and sit much closer to me now, since I started holding the treat at my side. I’m super proud of him for it! The next step is adding a heel, front, or side command to finish with. I may also start adding a hand signal of my own.
Leave it: Usually he’s very good about it with just a leash tug, but I do sometimes have to touch him. He will leave a treat or bone on the floor, looking at it or even looking away! Not too shabby for a 4 month old!
Retrieve: yikes, he just couldn’t care less. But he does pick up, carry, and let go, it just usually a stick or rock, or a sock or slipper that interests him. He’s doing these kind of on his own, but not on command. This one’s going to take more time and work. I wish he was better at it so we could play fetch for his exercise. He’s wearing me out with walking.
Off: good with most everything except getting off the couch when he’s sleepy. He was doing well with getting off his brother, but when BB gets home, he absolutely cannot be bumping into, stepping on, or touching his brother. So this command is going to get lots of practice!
1day shy of 17 wks 4/29/08
I normally wait a week or two before updating this page, but there’s been a bit of a snag: Kenai was not concentrating or listening when I took him to practice yesterday. It dawned on me that he hasn’t “practiced” outside of a shop or walked a parking lot without going in…so the passing cars and people, noises of city life were a distraction to him. He ignored them because he was focusing on inside. Duh…
It also occured to me that Kenai hasn’t practiced while he wasn’t calm. I would calm him down before he could play. So today begins practice at home when he is playing with a squeaky and is excited. I need to teach him to focus, even when wound up. Oh, I’ll still calm him sometimes, so he gets good at responding to my wanting him calm. But right now and until he’s more mature, he isn’t always going to calm down.
He’s doing sit/waits before I toss the toy, the stay while I play with his baby, and off (the couch) by following the toy in my hand. The ever unreliable down is being learned when I do a sit/wait then drop the toy in front of him with a down command. I’m not even trying to calm him at times, letting him learn to respond in any state of mind. Live and learn.
Kenai has started official puppy obedience class, and so we both are learning! He is becoming much easier to work with, and I really must begin to train for longer periods. His attention span isn’t as long as I want, because I haven’t worked with him for longer times. And soon I need to see about calming him down when other dogs are around–he gets very excited and doesn’t listen.
GOOD BOY: the sits are excellent, stay he can hold 10-20 minutes or more in a quiet environment. Wait is very good, waiting at the door for the leash, and at the top of the stairs while I remove his collar. He sits and waits for attention from strangers most of the time.
WORK ON: Down is still not accomplished without a treat. I need to focus on it in particular. Calming and listening in exciting enviroments needs work too. And I need to try and increase his attention span–shooting for 20 minutes.
Kenai is 14 wks old now, and is slooowwly getting over his stubborn phase. It may reappear, but I am grateful for his being easier to handle. So we’ve started practicing more, and he is responding better.
I have found a way to get him to come off leash from long distances: I sing to him. He stops what he’s doing and comes running, followed by lots of hugs and kisses. Then he REALLY runs hard.
GOOD BOY: he sit/stays for over a minute now, 2) he down stays with children for 10-15 minutes when he is well exercised, 3) he stands, lets go, comes when called, and follows me very well without treats. 4) he is sleeping outside of his crate at night, without waking me up or going on the floor.
NEEDS WORK: 1) the leash pulling is getting worse when distracted, 2) to pay attention to me when distracted, 3) remaining calm around BB, 4) stop the whining, 5) retrieve
We’ve not been getting out much, with the unending rain and storms. Not to mention he’s become stubborn as a tired old mule. Working with him is far more difficult right now, and I’m glad I had taught him the basics right away or I’d be really frustrated trying to teach him now. He’s really handing it to me. With his current attitude, I’m mostly trying to reinforce what he knows and wean from the treats a little.
He decided he wasn’t going to do his sits and such unless there was a treat in my hand, and so the treats are much less frequent now. To get him to do a treatless sit, I used the “tail tuck”, where I run my hand over his rump and down the back of his legs like I’m tucking his tail. The downs need a hand on his back, and kibble still.
The new whininess and stubbornness is normal for his age, though it can be very vexing. The exercise and making him behave with his brother is exhausting me. We’ve gotten gentle leaders, which really subdue him without physical correction, which I pefer. I don’t like that he is skittish of it, and it stresses him, but it’s still a better way to correct him.
GOOD BOY LIST: 1) he is doing his sits with fewer treats, 2) heel with a treat is 80% reliable indoors, 3) stand, stay, pick up, and let go are going very well. 4) ask for getting on beds and couches is 50% now without showing him how again 5) he sits and stays whiles making his food 6) he sit/stays in practice for 20 seconds or so as long as the treat stays in front of him where he can see it
WORK ON LIST: 1) treatless sits, downs, stand, heel 2) socialization 3) come isn’t so good, now that he’s in the 3-4 month old stage 4) no bite, since he still wants to mouth me, and fuss with BB,
MOMMA’S MISTAKES: 1) not getting him out in public more, for fun and practice 2) not watching my voice tone and emotions when practicing and correcting bad behavior–too excited, too harsh, or too pleading 3) not reading more about littermates, so I’d know all the corrections and encouragments to use.
After 2 1/2 days home, Kenai is growing confident. We nap together in the afternoons, and go exploring the field each day. We are certainly bonding. He is an easy going little guy, but has lots more play energy than I do. We went the first morning home to the pet store for his new food, and he did well meeting another dog. Once he got fussy about the leash, wanting to go somewhere I didn’t. But after a leash tug, he came and did not fuss again. Today we went to a vet for re-taping the ears, and he was anxious at times. But all in all, he’s a happylittle boy.
“GOOD BOY LIST”: 1) he sits very well, and 2) is good on the leash. 3) he’s not a fussy eater, and 4) He’s only piddled once in the house, because I didn’t get him out after a nap.
“NOT SO GOOD BOY LIST”: 1) he bulldozes his brother, and they bite and compete. 2) he’s not coming when called, and 3) shows some anxiety in the car.
“NOT SO GOOD MOMMA LIST”: 1) I get frustrated and angry in the evenings when I’m tired and hurting.
“GOING TO WORK ON IT LIST”: 1) looking at me when I call his name, 3) recall on “come” command, 2) playing with brother BB, 3) start left side heel training
He’s been with us almost a week, and Kenai is such a gem of a little boy. He is confident and easy going, and very much likes to meet new people. He still likes to bulldoze his brother, and doesn’t pay attention when they are together, but I am far less frustrated 99% of the time. They spend almost all their time apart, except for meals, my lunchtime, and a little time in the evenings. They miss each other, but I’m hoping this will deepen the bond between us, and he can learn to listen to me even when BB is around. If he can do that, he can ignore anything!
He is also 99% housebroken, and 99% easy to handle. He walks very well on a leash, usually staying on the left side where I want him to be. The sits remain excellent, downs are vastly improved, come is still shakey. But he is only just shy of 10 wks old. When he hears my hand in the “goodie bag”, a fanny pack I keep on, he immediately comes and sits. Monday, the 17th he will meet his SD trainer for an evaluation.
Today Kenai not only passed his puppy aptitude tests, he aced them! Nothing the trainer did could rattle him or make him run away–even the squawking bird. He investigated thoroughly every corner and content of the room, and did not mouth or misbehave as he was handled and messed with. So his noise, sound, and sight sensitivity is excellent, touch sensitivity is excellent, and friendliness was outstanding. Retrieval wasn’t tested because he did not know how to play with toys when I brought him home a week ago. But I can say he is bringing back babies to me about 50% of the time.
Though not part of the test, he did all his sits, downs, heels and remained calm, casually laying at our feet while we talked. He will begin formal obedience April 9th, and full public access in June, at 6 months old. I was so proud of him! He did, however, insist on getting up on their couch and wouldn’t take no for an answer (oops, my fault). I did not teach him that he has to be invited onto furniture. But I did start this afternoon, whether he liked it or not!
NOT SO GOOD MOMMA: 1) the furniture politeness, 2) I’ve been slacking on exercise and play practice for 2 days.
NEED TO WORK ON: 1) furniture politeness, 2) retrieve, 3) recall, 4) mouthing when frustrated (he’s teething)
Kenai at home 10 wks: March 20, 2008
Noise, sight, sound sensitivity: does not startle, looks at noise then either goes back to what he was doing, or investigates. Doesn’t care about clapping hands, stomping feet or any other distraction.
Toy drive: seems very low, save for a beef chew. His interactive play attention span is 1 minute or less before bored with toy. With multiple toys, he will play about 3-4 minutes before starting to lose interest.
Attatchment to brother: very strong. Will ignore toys to mess with BB, and sometimes even food. His attention span for wrestling and fighting is indefinite. Does not listen well when together.
Dominance: medium to high around brother, medium to low around me. 1) He doesn’t like to be rolled over and held there—he mouths and scratches. 2) Seems to be entering that 3 month old stage of pushing his boundaries and is developing the habit of deciding whether or not to come when I call, treat or no treat. He will often turn and go off on his own, especially outside. 3) he waits in a sit by his food and water bowls, and will back away when asked, which is VERY nice! 4) is determined to get on my bed, on the couch etc. He is persistent in his attempts, then becomes vocal if I disallow it. 5) he doesn’t get up and come with me unless he feels like it, too.
Food drive: strong. The only human food that he will fuss about not getting is cheese popcorn. I refuse, and he barks a little, then gives up and pouts.
Home Training and behavior changes:
Play with BB: I’m using a scruff lifting technique to stop the wrestling and fighting—It is an almost wild fixated thing, and they will do nothing else, ignoring toys, me, even treats. They hurt each other and just chew harder. Kenai’s starting the head shaking, and it increases Kenai’s dominant behavior. Not to mention it causes constant disruption to our day. So I’ve become really intense with a scruff shake correction when they don’t stop, which seems to put an end to it.
Because it carries over into his play with me, to the point that most of my time is spent re-teaching the same “no bite” lessons, and because of the dominance issues, I’ve decided to not allow it at all. If they can’t play nice, they don’t rumpus at all. Danes are too big to allow them to be physical like that, even as puppies—gentle is more important. They have other avenues of play.
Outside in the field, they are easily distracted and easier to correct and get them moving on. They walk together once a day (BB’s leg can’t take much) off leash, and have a good time. They can be on the same bed and mess with the same toys, but when the biting or wrestling starts, I put a stop to it.
Dominance: I am not letting him on the couch, teaching him to ask by putting a foot on it and looking at me. My bed is more difficult, but he has his own bed, and the crate. I do not allow him to wrestle and carry on with his brother, either, because he wins. I walk through the door first, I take away toys, I reward when he comes after I’ve moved off. I am also from time to time telling him off after I let him up for awhile.
Toys: I’m trying to provide him with different toys, and chews and entice him to play, but he just doesn’t show much interest in toys. He has discovered tennis balls, though, and he enjoys chasing them. He will spend more time and energy on tennis balls and a cow ear beef chew than anything else.
Leash/heel: Is not as good, especially at home. He is trying to lead or fall behind. He can make a turn with me if I have a treat in front of his nose.
Sits: he sits beautifully, and I am beginning to teach him to sit on the left side, not just in front of me.
Down: is much better, and more reliable, but still have to move treat to get it.
Stand: is better too, but still needs a treat to do it
Pick up/Let go: I praise every time he picks something up, and praise more if he comes in my direction with it. I discourage the keep away game. If he brings it to me and lets go, he gets a treat.
Stay: only about 10 sec max, and I am almost able to walk around him in a sit/stay.