Trip Yesterday

Written yesterday…
We took a walk up to the Dollar Tree today. Not a bad trip, on the whole. We’re going to really start working on moderating the pull. Towards the end, I think she started getting the idea that pulling like a freight train really isn’t necessary.

She’s got a little bounce in her step sometimes. I’ve heard ofthis wonderfully smooth GSD gait, and I’m getting that sometimes, but other times? Not so much. I’m not sure what it is she’s doing really. Like maybe she’s thinking about stopping and thinking better of it? Don’t know.

She’s definitely taking initiative though. We found a car blocking our sidewalk. She stopped, I directed her to go around, and she went around. She gave some thought to continuing down the street, then correctly decided to get back around and onto the sidewalk instead. Pretty cool.

We got to do lots of right about, and sometimes she didn’t want to, but mostly because it was to rework something. At this one spot, she wanted to go right instead of forward. The crosswalk was a bit off from the sidewalk, but it was only a slight angle. She wanted to take the right to cross theother stret. We had to do it several times before she got that “Forward” in this case meant “Forward”.

We also need to work on Little Miss Social Butterfly’s social tendencies. She’s perhaps a bit friendlier than is good for her. Or at least, good for me. Definitely a work in progress there.

One thing that I’m really enjoying though is she’s starting to get pretty confident in her decisions. Definitely more decisive in her turns today. Following in the store wasn’t really great, but not worried about that.

Distractions, lots of distractions

Well, the best laid plans of mice and men so oft go astray.

My plan today was to work on some of this contract work I have going on, but I’ll do that later. Because, as it turns out, today was far too nice a day to waste completely indoors, so Hilda and I went off for a training walk. It felt like spring, with a temperature of 52 and a stiff breeze. Enjoy it, I said to myself, because it’s probably the last we’ll get for at least a week and a half. Maybe more.

She did some absolutely brilliant work. Hilda stopped at all the curbs. Didn’t miss a single one. I have trouble with this one very flat curb a couple blocks from my house, but I think we even nailed that one. Wait, I take it back, I think she actually ran one, but one is really pretty good.

We also had a chance with a few barricades. Some were melting snow piles, and she worked her way around those very nicely, requiring only a small amount of coaching from me to get around, in the street, and back onto the sidewalk to continue on our line of travel. We had a couple cars parked across our path, too, which I was sort of hoping to engineer sometime or other, and again, she handled those beautifully.

I noticed that she was doing a lot of window shopping today, and who can blame her? This meant sometimes we were too close to one side or the other of the sidewalk. It’s kind of an interesting feeling to be walking more or less straight while your dog is also looking off to the left at goodness only knows what. I don’t really mind that so much, as long as she’s paying attention to where we’re going, which I think she really was.

I think she’s starting to get the idea of reworking something she got wrong the first time. I think this because one time when I went to do that, we were walking back and she was doing the pokey slow pouty walk. You know the one, I’m sure. They all do it. All three of my last dogs did. But when she nailed it the second time, it was all good!

The thing we had to rework was a street crossing. Well, actually, there were two. The first one we had to rework because she got distracted by a dog that was out, maybe loose, I’m not sure, but he was caddy corner from us, and Hilda was giving some serious thought to a diagonal crossing. This would definitely not be high on my list of things to do. First time she ever attempted such a thing. But we got back on track, went back across, and did it over, without the distraction dog, and she nailed it. And then I nailed some sharp dead twigs from a tree at the corner, so we got to show her that looking for overheads is a good idea. Only took two do overs to avoid the tree.

She was also a bit distracted by another dog, barking at her from its yard and running as far as it could towrds us. She didn’t want to walk past it and kept trying to block me. Eventually, we got past it and life was good.

The other crossing, I almost let slide. See, here’s what happened. We approached the corner, and she stopped perfectly. We made a left to the other curb, also perfect. Then we crossed. And instead of hitting the curb, she went more around the corner and approached *that* curb. I thought, oh, she was just avoiding a big pile of snow. So I went to investigate, and sure enough, the approach she should have taken was clear. So we went across and did it again, and again, she went around the corner…or almost did, but I stopped her and got her to where I wanted her to go. And realized what she was probably doing. She didn’t want to step in the huge puddle that was sitting right in front of the blended curb. Suppose I can’t much blame her for that.

It was very windy, with lots of stuff blowing around, so there was lots for her to look at and get distracted by. All in all though, she didn’t let a lot of things distract too much. Sure, I had to stop a couple times to slow her down, but all things considered, with a pretty high level of distraction by new things happening, I’d say it wasn’t bad at all. I’m still having to coach her through going around things that block our path, but only a little bit. She’s definitely got “Right” and “left” down, and I really think she’s clued into the fact that I’m following her.

I tell you, this is pretty amazing stuff!

A Long Walk, And Things We’re Doing

We continue to make progress. It’s amazing how much difference a couple weeks make.

First, I want to say that Hilda is at least 40 pounds now, according to my scale and me carrying her on it. My tape measure also says she’s 21 inches at the shoulder. That’s got to be pretty close, even if I couldn’t exactly get her to stand still for very long.

We’ve had fewer parking accidents in the crate. I think, on the whole, she’s getting the idea, because mostly, when she has one, I can take her out and she still has more to do. Melanie also tells me that she doesn’t bark constantly when I leave her. There is actually some quiet time in between sometimes.

Last week, I had to leave Hilda with a friend to take Alena to an appointment out of town. No problem. Or, as Melanie’s dad says, “What? You’re leaving?” I think she might maybe want to trade me in for Heidi and Kaitlyn and Cheyenne. Seems she had a good time and was well worn out when she came home.

I have actually been able to leave her lying down long enough to walk around the kitchen and do stuff without having to put her in the crate. She stayed put! This would have never happened just a couple weeks ago. Also, she’s been having a good time running around and playing with the other dogs a bit during the day, off leash. We still have to work on the recall thing a lot, but that’s OK.

Other useful things we’re working on:

Not rushing through doors. I can now stand at a door, open the door, and mostly, she won’t go through the door until I do. Not rushing through doors is a good thing. Of course, we haven’t tried it off leash, but on leash, she’s doing great at standing at the door.

Very useful: I’m prompting “Upstairs”, and teaching her to just stop at the bottom of the stairs, with her front paws on the first step. Sometimes she puts her paws on the second step instead, but generally, she does stop on the first. This is really great, because when a guide dog stops at steps and curbs, they stop with front paws on the step or curb. Great for getting an idea of the height of the step, not to mention knowing a step is there in the first place. When I prompt “Downstairs”, I want her to stop at the steps, and sit just to reinforce that yes, this is a place to stop. She stops, and mostly she sits, too. Huge!

While she is not walking completely on a loose leash, she’s doing a lot better. She’s doing enough better that for the first time, we took a long walk today down to the drugstore. It’s like a mile and a half round trip, and only at the last couple blocks did she start to get tired. I could tell, because she was pulling more and listening to me less. But even then, if I gave the full length of the leash, she generally didn’t get too awfully far ahead of me. Thing is though, she did pull a little, and gave me more tension than I ultimately want, but in general, she stayed with me mostly, if a bit further to the left than I’d prefer. But this gave us a chance to work at stopping at curbs, too. I wanted to introduce one of the ladies at the drugstore to her, as she was asking. I think Hilda was a hit. Bonus, we met a baby on the way back. Hilda had only met one or two other babies and toddlers since I got her, but she didn’t seem put out or bothered by them at all. In fact, she was very excited to see the baby and wanted to make friends with her, just as much as she does with everyone else she ever meets. I’d really like to hang out around the elementary school when school is letting out sometime, too. Anyway, excellent stuff going on with that. All progress is good progress.

Just for fun, I tried putting one of the nylon harnesses on Hilda, at its smallest settings. It’s just a little bit too big for her, but not by a whole lot. I don’t think it’s going to be very long at all before she can wear it around and start getting used to it. Without the handle, of course.

Cat Chasing And A Walk

Something I heard this morning put it all into perspective. A puppy is like a toddler. Needs lots of sleep but doesn’t want to take a nap, and will thus complain a lot when you try to put her down for one. Yeah, that analogy works for me.

She sure is headstrong though! She wants to chase the cats. Very badly. My cats are unfortunately too nice, however, and she has now pinned both of them, and neither of them gave her a “Listen here, we mean business, now stop it already” snootful of claws. I really wish one of them would though. Or that I could convince her that chasing down the cats is not in her best interest.

In order to try to get some energy off her, we went for a short walk. No problem with the cane, she didn’t seem to pay that any mind much, but everything else was dead interesting of course. We were able to keep her mostly moving in a mostly forward direction about halfway around the block, then when she started stopping to, I don’t know, eat dirt or something and not moving in a forward (or any other, really) direction, we figured she was getting tired, and, like a toddler, didn’t want to admit it. Don’t let anybody tell you that 10-week-old GSD puppies ain’t heavy. I got maybe another 1/4 a block around before I had to just walk and hold her in both arms and pray I didn’t trip over something, which I didn’t, because it was the sidewalk on my side of the block. No loose dogs out, so it was all OK. I know there’s some concern about her getting something before her final shots, but she did just have her second round not long ago, and she’s going to have to see some of the world besides our driveway. Also, I hope she’s tired, because I sure am.