The obedience practices also continue now that we’ve hit 4 months old, and new things are added, like alerting to and going around an obstacle (guiding). I’m working hard to get my pup ready for a Canine Good Citizen test, to enter into some therapy work: this is both socializing and sensitizing a puppy to physical differences.
The usual commands I know I’ll need most from a service dog will be down stays and come, and that absolute neccessity: the glued to my hip loose leash.
Now however, I’m adding wider distance between us in a down stay, and the distractions are getting harder to ignore when I want them to come. At this point I’m looking still for attentiveness!
But there’s a whole slew of tasks like brace front I will also need, and intend to be default behavoirs (lingo for them doing it without needing a command). Some are natural actions like the counterbalance–you lean one way, they lean the other–which can be easily “captured” by simply click and treating when they do it on their own.
Other mobility tasks are not natural actions, such as a brace: they must hold still under pressure on their shoulders. Dogs would normally move away, so I will need to build first a tolerance of the pressure, as well as increasing the duration they will hold the position.
All the commands my little SDit will learn or improve are still based upon attentiveness. They need to deepen their awareness of my body’s movements, my emotional state, and that means the games we played when they were 2 or 3 months old continue!
Special training classes like my own trainer has, “Rock Solid Recall”, and the CGC test preparation classes can be very helpful, first in having a professional who might catch things I miss, and also in providing a new approach to keep their interest up.
Four months old or so begins a new puppy development period, where they are becoming more independent, and wanting to think for themselves. The most helpful book I’ve found for keeping the interest and attentiveness during this developmental stage is “When Pigs Fly”.
I actually want a dog to think, to problem solve without being so dependent on me for direction. This is because there will be times when I need them to “take over”; to guide me to an exit if a migraine has interfered with my vision, to insist I sit when fatigued or dizzy and find a chair for me.
So when my 4 mo old suddenly turns “impossible”, I find another set of games for the same commands that is something new and exciting to them.
There’s a great saying I heard once that fits the puppy stubborn stage perfectly: “Blessed are the flexible for they shall not be bent out of shape”!