Friday, 1 November 2013

Days 16, 17 & 18

Oy!! Look at me falling behind on the blog posts!

Okay, Wednesday was Day 16. I did toe nails after work. While Bennett was lovely the first time I did her nails, last week she decided to put up a fight which resulted in screaming and guilt. I didn't get any nails cut that time, so I really wanted to get them done on this attempt. Since Bennett is super food motivated, I decided to try a new little trick. I found a heavy ceramic mug and smeared a spoon of peanut butter in the bottom of it. I then arranged Bennett for nail clipping (ie. with me sitting on the floor and Bennett on her back between my legs) and stuck the mug over her muzzle. This tilted her head out of the way as she worked on getting the peanut butter out from inside. Completely distracted, I was able to clip all 4 feet without her even noticing! Fantastic!

Then it was off to puppy class. She remembered Max, her GSD buddy from last week, and they started the night off with some screaming pouncing puppy brawls. That was cut short, much to Bennett and Max's displeasure, to work on some skills. We did hand touches, downs, recalls, and then a play session with call-back breaks. Of course, Bennett had already started on each of the skills introduced, so we did some of our own stuff off to the side. Heel position, fronts, focus, and down in heel position. Her downs do need work, as I know I haven't done too much with them yet.

Thursday was Day 17, and it was also Halloween! The focus of the night was socialization. I set up the x-pen flat across the front door entry way so that no dogs could sneak out. None of them are flight risks, even Bennett I am pretty confident with at this point.  But Romeo and Gio have always prided themselves on their skills as baggage inspectors. They love sticking their heads in whatever guests bring to the door, not necessarily to steal, just to check. This makes Halloween one of their favorite nights, but tends to freak the kids out a bit.

The dogs all wore their costumes, Bennett a pirate, Romeo a devil, and Gio a dinosaur. The night was really nice, and a bunch of the neighbours were outside socializing, so the front door stayed open most of the evening. In addition to the bowl of candy, I also kept a bowl of dog treats by the door. I asked any child that paid attention to the dogs to give them cookies. Romeo and Gio showed off their tricks, and Bennett lapped up the attention and compliments! One toddler dressed as Thomas the Tank Engine freaked Bennett out a bit, but after that she was golden. Even the kid (gender unknown) that appeared to be dressed as an air conditioning unit ... essentially a giant walking box. Bennett quickly decided that she quite liked this door greeting gig, and parked herself on the door mat to be the first to catch the kids as they came up.

Today is Day 18. I introduced Bennett to the bucket tonight, an overturned decorative basket thingy, for the purpose of doing some hind end work. She's a little clueless about her back legs, and was more prone to just jumping over the basket than moving those toes around. But she did enjoy standing up on the basket with her front feet, and patterned to that really quickly. I'm confident the back end stuff will come along as we practice more. After a bit of a break we went back to the clicker for some heel patterns and downs. Now that she has a decent sit-stay, I introduced her to the rules of the 5 Steps heel position game. Interestingly, THAT game got her hind end moving very nicely, when the bucket game seemed to confuse her. She showed off a very nice 180-degree bum-swing with plenty of enthusiasm! We then did a little bit of small space heel doodling, working mostly on left and right circles. About Turns seem to be no problem for her, which will be refreshing after Romeo, who tends to lag on About Turns. The turns to the left need more polish, but she is clearly working to try and stay in heel position, just needs more control over those silly hind legs. I think with more of this circle work, the 5 Step game, and the bucket, it will all come along in short order! I wrapped the night of training up with a "down" competition. I've found with Gio and Romeo, a little bit of competition seems to help them with focus and speed. If one dog is getting cookies, you better believe the other wants in on it, too! So I let the older dogs loose from their couch stays and we played a crazy down game. Basically, me running around the house with dogs racing around me (no worries about heel position this time!) and randomly stopping and asking for a "down". Gio and Romeo know this game has a rule that only the first dog "down" gets the cookie ... but since it was Bennett's first time playing, she got a cookie each time. (Tonight, "cookies" were Honey Nut Cheerios. Anything goes for a food hound!) After a couple of rounds, she started to get the competitive bug and was racing around and sliding into downs with the big boys. She's still not the fastest with the downs, but she had a lot of fun with the game and was consistently dropping with each cue.

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