A New Week, Progress, Thoughts

There’s not a whole lot to talk about in regard to training really. We’re going to start working on walking without pulling on the leash. As puppy class teacher says, a tedious process, but Hilda’s a quick study. Well, I really think that she learns like this. She won’t get something, quite. For a while. Then one day, it clicks.

With the crate and house accidents, there’s been a lot of improvement, though more tweaking is needed on my part. She actually had a #2 on Wednesday, but that was all on me, as usual. It was an off day with an off schedule. I’m not sure what to think of the Beast’s tidiness. She cleans up after herself. Whichever kind of elimination happens. It’s kind of gross. I’d never heard of pups licking up their own urine before, but this one does, if she does it in her crate and I don’t catch it. (Schlurp…schlurp…uh oh, I think she just went…) But there have been far fewer this week than last. I think there will be fewer yet once she decides not to hold onto her bladder. See, I think she’s going outside, starting to park, the second she gets a “Yes, good girl!”, she stops. Even if she’s not finished, but the pressure’s at least off, to her mind, and hey, she’s agood girl and gets a treat! Woohoo!!!! OK, so I’m thinking I need to hold off on the praise until after she gets up on her own, in spite of what all the experts say about “Catch her while she’s going and mark that”. We’ll see, but I think that’s what’s going on with that, anyway.

Poor Hilda wants to make friends with Melanie so badly. But she’s too exuberant, Melanie gets nervous, and no connection happens. We almost had a kind of disaster when Hilda got too close, with too much excitement, and pulled on an IV tube stuck in Melanie’s medport. Could have been a really really huge problem, but it fortunately was not. Other than that, it’s just been lots of jumping, friendly (though nervous making) mouthing…she’s really very friendly and just wants to make friends with everyone. She doesn’t really know quite how to do it on human terms though, so we need to work on that.

Also, yep, I guess she’s decided I belong to her. As in this excerpt from “Dogs Against Darkness”:

“Will she growl and bite? Is that what you mean?”
“Heavens no. It isn’t that she will dislike you. She will
just be indifferent. She won’t be interested in guiding you
because you don’t mean a thing in her young life. Win her
affection and then you will win her.”
It sounded like a large order to Morris. “How long will
that take?”
“That depends on you. But remember this always. She isn’t
your dog. She doesn’t belong to you. You belong to her!”

Friday night, I made a sort of late run to the Circle K (where strange things are afoot, of course). The radio scanner was on, and on the way, I was chatting with a friend of mine in San Antonio on the ham radio. Melanie told me that Hilda was pretty quiet most of the time, except when she heard me. Then she set up a racket. I don’t know. Hey, how’d he get in that box? Where is he anyway?

I’m just amazed at how big she’s getting, and how she’s growing up and learning. I’d really better be on my toes and stay a step ahead of her, else I’m going to be in some kind of trouble.

This Week, And Second Puppy Class

We had our second puppy class. My expectations are to get basic things in hand, and I think that those expectations will e met. Even so, I’m a little bothered. I’m thinking maybe our trainer isn’t really an out of the box thinker. It’s OK, some people aren’t. I am one of them in some respects, so it isn’t really an indictment or condemnation or something like that, it’s just a thing.

During part of class, she tells me that she’s been looking into service dogs, and they aren’t really started on formal service dog task training until they’re 18-24 months old. OK, I know this is traditionally the case, or really, usually guide dog school starts around 14-15 months a lot of the time. How would I not know this? I’ve had three program trained guide dogs…did they just fall out of the sky? Did I just get three dogs and no background? And, I might want to get some professional help, and she doesn’t know how I’d train the dog to go around obstacles. Good thing I don’t expect to have to do this right now. Seriously, I have a lot of time to work on this. I don’t happen to agree that I need a professional guide dog trainer to help me, since I know a bunch of smart people who have done this before I have. Meaning to cast no aspersions on professional guide dog trainers (Hi Christie!) I don’t think I’ll get too stuck and if I do, I know I have a lot of help to get un-stuck. I don’t believe I need some professional to hold my hand, once I get a start on communicating properly with my dog. But that this trainer thinks I might need professional help indicates one of two things to my mind:

1) I’m not a very good student. While I think this is a possibility, I don’t think it’s a great possibility. Maybe I’m thicker than I think I am, but I think I’ll do all right.

2) The trainer isn’t really sure how to work with me, and thinks maybe I’m going to be limited in what/how far I can go in working with my dog. This seems to me to be a bit more likely. I’m not sure how to best address this, and anyway, it’s a six week class at a pretty low price, relatively speaking, so I reckon I’ll get the most I can out of it and go on.

I’m honestly not sure why this is a worry at this point anyway, since Hilda is only three months old for goodness sake. Gotta walk before you can run, gotta crawl before you can walk.

When I brought up our steps backward in housebreaking, the trainer said “Maybe take her out more often”, and reward when she goes in appropriate places. OK, I can get that. I think she just thinks that places to go that aren’t appropriate *are* appropriate. School proves that she can hold it. I gave her a chance to go after class, in the grass near the place that classes are held, and she didn’t go. When we got home, however, she did. Enough that I actually heard it. Anyway, I mentioned that the trick was knowing exactly when she went. (Sometimes it’s very quick.) Well…maybe I can get someone to go out with me and tell me exactly when she’s going. OK…who? She suggested alena. Great idea, except Alena would probably tell me, except well after she’d finished. So this is just something I’ll have to keep plugging away at. It’s a process.

We’re working on sits and downs with stay. We’ve been doing this a bit already. I was amused…Hilda would go down for me with a lure, and she didn’t want to at first for the trainer.

With the hand touches, I mentioned she’d do them once I had her attention. Well, says trainer, that’s the point, you use that to get their attention. Yeah, I get it. That’s the ultimate goal. But what about when she’s paying attention to something else? I understand the ultimate goal, and we’re working toward that. Not there yet.

Next week, we’ll work on “Come” and loose leash walking. She uses a tunnel to help with come. These are a couple things that will be helpful.

Sometimes, I wonder what made me think i could do this thing. Except, maybe I’m crazy, but I still think I can.

Puppy class!

Well, pretty good puppy class, with lots of handouts. This trainer is an Ian Dunbar fan, which, I’ve read at least one of his books, and he talks sense. One kind of interesting thing is that she’s not a fan of the clicker, preferring instead to use a verbal marker. Ironically, her reason for not liking the clicker is the same reason often given for why people do like the clicker, that is, “I find that people don’t click at the right time, and reinforce the wrong things”. I just don’t like them because they’re so bleeding’ loud! Seriously, dogs have good hearing, why do we need such loud clickers?

Anyway, first session, the third member of class wasn’t able to come, so just two of us. We did lots of intro lecture stuff, and practiced teaching a hand touch and rewarding for letting us interrupt their play.

In other news, Hilda can actually sit for a good 5-10 seconds waiting for the release to eat. I barely need to just remind her with a brief “wait” or touch on her chest to remind her. I haven’t had to pick up the bowl at all the past couple feedings.

Steps Backwards?

Puppy class on Friday. I think I’ll be glad to start that. Since Melanie’s gotten home, I’ve been as busy as ever though. Which also means that I haven’t had a lot of time to do a lot of training with the Beast. Seriously, it’s felt like I’m always doing something with a dog. Usually involving taking one or another of them out to park. Of course, that’s not entirely true. I wish I could let her have some freedom in the house, but I can’t. In part because of the housebreaking. In part because of the propensity for indiscriminately picking up and possibly chewing anything and everything. Picking up the oxygen tubing and giving it a good chomp would probably be a bad thing. Especially if I don’t notice. I’ll feel a lot better about it once I can start getting a good recall on her. At least with the bell, I can keep track of where she is, except of course when she got away from me this evening when I was getting her into the crate to do something with dinner. She took a merry run around the downstairs, and eventually came back on her own. The coming back on her own was a good thing.

Today was a busy day for me, not so much for Hilda. Tomorrow will probably be the same.

Today, I had to take Fiona to the vet. Fiona was a spaz at the vet. Panting, squirming, trying to be everywhere at once. I think there was some anxiety going. (On a side note, I think she’s not entirely happy about Hilda. Lots of growling and snapping, and I don’t think it’s always playful. I do keep them separated as much as possible for that reason, but Fiona also barks as if she wants to play with the other two, except maybe she doesn’t want to when she has the opportunity.)

Anyway, I put her in the crate. I wanted to take her out one more time before I left, but of course, the cab came for us right away, as opposed to later. However, as I took her out only a half hour or so before, I figured it’d be OK. I put Leno in with her, hoping that would help. instead, they both set up barking! Oops. And she peed. And licked it. And walked in it. (I think she laid in it yesterday after I gave her a bath…I can’t think of another reason the whole side of her was all wet after she dried out.) She repeated this performance a couple other times, even though I’d taken her out only a short time before, each time. I had to go to the store and came back to a similar mess. And another time later. And again this evening. When I took her outside each time, she still had more, too, so I think it was a physical rather than a mental or training problem. On a different note, she’s never, apart from the first or second day, defecated in the house. And she’s gone through the night every night after the first week or so, knock on wood.

Speaking of the bath, yep…I gave her one yesterday. She was a little squirmy, there was a tiny bit of whining, she made a halfhearted attempt to get out of the bathtub, but over all, no real problems with that.

I’m also getting less pulling on the leash when we walk to go out to park. I’m looking forward to trying another walk around the block.

Her leash definitely has puppy teeth at it. She hasn’t chewed through it yesterday, but it’s definitely been chewed from the couple times I accidentally left it on her while confined. I’m going to send off for a couple more of these, just in case.

With Melanie having new attendants, and nurses, and therapists, and all sorts of people in and out, Hilda has met a bunch of people. She’s been very friendly to all of them. She is a jumper though. But she’s showed no anxiety with new people. Oh…and she definitely barks at the vacuum cleaner. Don’t think it’s a fear bark, because it sounds like the bark she barks at the cats.

A Couple Observations

Just couple of observations. There really isn’t a whole lot that’s terribly new.

I wonder if teething has started yet? She likes to chew on her toys of course, but she doesn’t like softer rubber puppy things so much as she likes the sterilized bones, Nylabones, and things like that that area bit harder. The funny thing is though, she has a pretty soft mouth, all things considered. She hasn’t actually destroyed anything, apart from getting open a couple of stuffed dog toys that then got thrown away, and that was a while ago. In fact, her leash got in her crate with her while I was napping, and I can see a part that got chewed on a little, but the damage is very minimal, nothing to really compromise the leash much if at all. She picked up an SD card that somehow fell off the desk, and no problem, it was intact (I got it very quickly). She likes to pick things up and carry them. She’s picked up one of Alena’s shoes a couple times, on her way out to park, and dropped them somewhere on the ramp. Same with slippers. She got a sock once or twice that she wanted to play tug with. The good thing is that she’s not obsessive about things, and I’ve been able to get things away from her easily enough and without complaint.

She does another interesting thing, too. Most of the time, she noses the bell at the door, tor anyway, she rings it, even if just barely. Sometimes, maybe half the time though, she goes one better. She’ll jump at the doorknob. She’ll jump then at the handle to the screen door, and she can almost make it. I reckon she has some idea of how the door opens and wants to open it herself.

Seems to me between these two things, we might be able to do some service dog tasks for fun. I definitely wanted to work on a fetch anyway for when I drop stuff, but that she’s interested in opening doors as well is kind of neat.

Waiting to eat is also coming along really well. Now, I only have to start the exercise over just a couple times, and even so, no more noise.

We’ve also determined that it isn’t being left alone that bothers her when I leave. It’s *me* leaving that bothers her. Melanie, Alena, Melanie’s aid, and all the critters (and I) were downstairs yesterday, and I had to go to the drugstore. So I put the Hildabeast in her crate. When I walked out the front door, she put up her usual protests. So I moved her to the upstairs crate. That one’s a plastic crate, and I think she might feel more comfortable there, because I gather she put up less fuss for less time, because when I got back, she was still pretty quiet.

In addition, I believe that when we went for haircuts and grocery shopping on Wednesday, she was able to hold her bladder the whole time.

We’ve had several attendants come in for Melanie, and a couple of them claimed to be afraid of dogs. Hilda acted the same with all of them, which is to say, excited, jumping (another thing to work on), unfailingly friendly.

Puppy classes start on Friday. I’m kind of excited about that.