First week down, Slow Learner

Me, not Hilda. I’m a slow learner. Mark the following lesson well:

If you’re walking, and the puppy stops for no reason, there’s a reason.

OK. Pretty obvious, right? Well, like I said.

Today I got leashes and the training collar from Handcraft Collars. All made out of black tubular nylon, which isn’t tubular at all, so I’m not sure why they call it that…someone explained it but I still don’t understand. Anyway, Debbie at Handcraft tells me that this is the stuff the mountain climbers use, and it doesn’t burn your hands the way standard nylon webbing can do. The training collar is an adjustable Snaparound Training Collar, the so-called (but not really) Volhard collar, popularized by the Volhards, who have used it in training for ages. While it’s true she’s still young for a training collar, and this one’s a little too big for her, it won’t be too big for her for long. I really want to know what the snap they use to close the collar is called, as I think it might be the perfect thing for a removable harness handle, provided it can be welded to the ends of a harness handle to keep movement to a minimum. The shortcoming in most commercially available guide dog gear I’ve seen, or seen descriptions of, appears to be the handle and its attachment points, in my opinion. With traditional bolt snaps the way they’re often used, there are way too many spots where something moves…but I digress. The leashes are the exciting thing. The short leash, I got them to make up like a standard guide dog leash, meaning it can be folded in half to make a short leash for working, and then unclipped to make the leash longer for parking or what have you. However, instead of using two rings, I just had Debbie use one ring for the short leash position, then put the handle through a second bolt snap, so making a long leash involves only unclipping the bolt snap. One step instead of two. She’d never made one like this before, but it’s exactly right. The other leash is a standard 15-foot long leash, which will be nice to give Hilda a bit more freedom but still have some control or at least knowledge of where she is.

The long leash may help address my next challenge: getting (and keeping) Hilda’s attention. The stuff I’ve read suggests that getting your dog to come to you can be easily accomplished by running (or anyway, moving) backwards, away from your dog, which will theoretically make your dog follow and come towards you. This isn’t exactly easy to do with just four feet of leash. Still, getting her attention when she’s fixated on, say, a cat, or pretty much whatever isn’t me, is my next challenge to overcome.

Besides “Sit” and “Down”, and she’s really getting “Sit” nicely, being that she is expected to sit before I put her meals down, I’m teaching her to touch my hand with her nose. I figure this is maybe good substitute for people who have a command to have their dogs look at them. Clearly that won’t work for me, so I have to figure out some other thing.

Panic, twice, both today. Once, I had Leno out, and I had Hilda out at the same time. This was because I had to take Leno out, but I didn’t really want to put Hilda in the crate yet, because I figured she’d have plenty of time there. Anyway. Dropped her leash by accident and had an OMG you idiot moment, but she didn’t go far. A similar thing at the crate later. Took the collar off, let go of her, she walked off, I called her, and she came running back. Whew…can’t count on that just yet though!

Crate yowling is calming down a lot. Now, it’s a lot more periods of quiet, some loud protests, but mostly just a little whining. Just as y’all said 🙂

Progress Continues

The first full week is almost up, and we’ve come a long way.

The big thing we’re working on is chewing on toys, not on me. She still really, really wants to chew on me, but she’s starting to get that I’d rather she didn’t. She’s also stopped trying as hard to chew on the leash.

I’m also seeing lots more quiet periods in the crate. It could be that those are happening while she naps, but at least she’s comfortable enough to fall asleep instead of just expressing her displeasure full time.

She’s also sitting for meals, which is great!

Housebreaking is just super. Each accident was very definitely my fault, and those have been very, very rare. One poo in the crate yesterday, and pee today, but! With the pee today, she was very definitely trying to rush outside. It was I who was slow. She was seriously trying very, very hard to get to the door. Proud of her! And it wasn’t very much she got out either.

We’re still exposing to “sit” and “down”, and adding “Off” to the mix, because she’s started jumping onto the food buckets. And the chairs. And jumping at me and Alena sometimes.

For a first week, she’s sure learned a lot and made a lot of huge adjustments. This dog is just full of potential, I can already tell that!