Chuck 13wks

Training focus this week has been more of the same.  I'm a bit saddened that I'm not supposed to be teaching Chuckles a whole bunch of tricks.  But I've compromised with myself and decided I can teach "tricks" that can in some way help with his service dog tasks such as crawling to better get under a table, shake since it's simply a paw touch, and bang! to relax on his side.

We have mostly verbal cues now for sit and down, although sitting from a down on verbal only is harder for him.  I have also started to lure a stand, being very careful to get a controlled movement rather then a wiggly throwing himself around move.  Since a nice kick back stand is hard to get I think I'm going to go back a step and teach him to do so by keeping 2 front feet on a book.  I've only had one lesson with this strategy and so far I haven't even gotten to the stand part.  He actually automatically stands when standing on the book so I am now teaching him to sit with front feet on the book and then will go back to letting him stand.  And round and round we go :)

I put more emphasis on stays this week.  Down stays are done only on his mat and I've been working on going to the side of him and stepping over him.  Of course this is a very difficult thing for Chucklet but I think he's starting to understand the concept.  I'm doing the same thing with his sit stays, away from his mat.  So far I haven't done a down stay without his mat since his default is to lie down.  The initial attempts at sit stay were pretty hard since he kept sliding into a down, so far now I'm separating the two out completely.

Leave its are done with treats falling around him which he has no problem with. Just like puppy Lance though, Chuck wants to move away if I try to put one his foot.  We have also been working on doing little recalls past his food dish on the floor or setting up his dish as a goal to walk nicely to.

Biggest accomplishment this week was the formal retrieve!!!  Chuck now picks up his spoon eagerly and I've been working on him putting it in my hand.  He may just be starting to get the concept although I still move my hand a bit to help him and occasionally he tries to shake my hand with the spoon in his mouth instead of dropping the spoon into it :)

Still working on getting some height to his paw touch on the target.  Since we started focusing on his formal retrieve Chuck sometimes wants to bite the target instead of paw it. 

And in non-training news, Vito is finally accepting of the little guy!  He plays with him much more relaxed instead of the really stiff awkward play they did last week.  He even lets Chuck tug with him although it's very growly and only for a little bit until Vito decides he just wants the toy to himself.


Throw it!!

Throw the frisbee please!!



Here it is!


Iz so happy!

Vito went to a MN Disc Dog competition today to show off what we have been learning at home.  It was fantastic!  We arrived nice and calm this time, no screaming at all!  He could even be crated ringside without any blankets over his kennel and still no screaming at the other dogs and their discs! Huge improvement over the fun match in May!

On the field we both did quite well!  4/5 throws caught in the first round with almost all in the air and in the box for extra points.  Round 2 was also 4/5 caught throws although I didn't throw quite as well so not as many landed in the special box and were in the air.  We actually placed 2nd in the novice division!!!

It's so much fun learning about this sport!  I can't wait until we are ready to learn about putting together a freestyle routine!


SA brag!

Since I have started work at the assistance dog organization full time full time earlier this month the dog's schedules have been flipped upside down.  They are allowed to come to work with me but since 90% of my job is away from my desk and getting each service dog ready for their client, my dogs don't really get to hang out with me unlike other employee dogs who can just chill with mom.  Previously I had baby gated Lance in my cubicle while I worked and came to check on him every 30min or so.  Lance didn't like it but was ok with the situation.  Except for the cats that like to hang out at my desk since I feed them; Lance is scared of cats.  But I knew that I couldn't leave Vito in my cubicle all day, not with his anxiety.  I have even brought him in for really short times over the past couple of months hoping that he would relax and settle in with his bones but he really didn't.  On the positive side Vito didn't do full out hollering, but he would still do light whining and stand at the gate with eyes peeled out for me, bones untouched. 

Anyway, now for the brag!  The last two weeks, when Vito started to come on a more frequent basis, I assembled a crate and stuck it in the training room with me.  Vito is in the crate when I'm training each dog, and gets out of the crate to hang with me for the 5minutes of downtime I have between each dog while I write notes.  In and out, repeated a billion times with the occasional break to hang out at the cubicle with me.  And he is doing AWESOME!!!  No whining, even when I completely leave the room to walk the dogs to and from their suites.  I can even be gone for 30minutes and nothing!!!!  He may not be completely comfortable, but he is lying down in his crate nicely and no screaming :)  Well there is the occasional whine but I think it's more from frustration then anxiety.  I am ecstatic!

We still have some work to do though.  Vito hasn't needed to come to work every day with me but that may change.  And when that day comes, Vito will need to be left in a crate for up to an hour with me gone as I take dogs out in public. 


The Running Contact Saga continued...

So many ups and downs in our attempt to have a real running dog walk (and aframe).  I think the biggest hinder to our success has been the lack of a real dog walk to practice on.  I taught him on a 12 ft board propped up on various house hold objects until we got to full height.  But as our instructor pointed out, it is doing us no good to continue to practice on just the 10ft board as his striding is going to be completely different when he actually has to stride over the entire obstacle and at full speed  It's not like Vito is "jumping" (usually still in the yellow, just not striding through) every time, but he is doing it often enough to worry me.  

I've been close to giving up this training so many times and just switching to a 2o2o since you can practice that position almost anywhere and striding should not change the outcome.  But after much discussion I am going to keep at it and go back a few steps in our training.  The ball as a target is going to be there every single time again and I am going to move it in closer to help keep his head low.  I am a bit worried about him slowing down on the descent in order to collect for his ball.  It's not the longer time to do the obstacle that worries me, more so the fact that slowing down changes his stride from the full run he will eventually be doing again when the ball is out farther.  A running contact is about RUNNING.  But so far it does seem to be helping.

And as far as his regular agility class goes, I love it!  I feel like I am finally learning how to handle this dog and Vito has really opened up on the courses.  He is gaining confidence by the bounds and allowing me to work at a distance from him.  We are able to handle tough sequences much more in sync with each other and I really think we can be ready to trial soon, as long as it's not standard!


Chuck 12wks

I feel like I didn't do that much new this week with Chuck, but when I looked back at what he was doing last week we really progressed quite a bit.  The nice thing about puppies is that they learn so quickly!

House manners are going well and he seems to not be picking up quite as much stuff off the floor.   Chuck is also starting to learn that he is not allowed up on the couch (unlike the rest of our pets who take over the couch at will) and is pretty accepting of this fact.

We also went on our first real outings this week!  While Chuck has been out in public quite a bit, we hadn't yet used his cape to gain access to areas dogs are not allowed.  His first trip was to Target.  Of course he promptly peed on the floor less then 5 minutes into it.  Damn dog just wanted to eat wood chips when I tried to have him go before we went inside!  Once cleaning up our little mess we continued our outing and Chuck showed off his awesome attention and great walking skills, even offering downs whenever I stop moving! Of course I am shoving his kibble in is mouth every 5 seconds :)  We also went to the mall and Best Buy this week where Chuck did great and had no more accidents.

Training focus:
Chuck has been doing great with touching a target with his foot so this week I worked on placing the target at different heights.  He's not doing any "rises" yet (and won't until much older) but he is having to touch a target very low on the wall or on my leg.

Pivoting skills have progressed so Chuck is now learning to get into "heel" and "side" from front position without the help of his stool.  He still needs a treat lure for this.

Shaping the retrieve/tug is going slow.  Chuck does it great in a play session but I am still not getting anything more then an open mouth on an object when in a training session. 

Crate games went well!  Chuck will run into a crate from 15ft away and voluntarily stay inside with the door open until he hears "ok!"  I have been adding some mild body movement to start working on the stay concept.  Basically I plan on teaching Chuck a stay using both his crate and his mat before I start naming it and doing it outside of the crate/mat. 

We have also played some random shaping games this week to get Chuck thinking.  I'm not sure what I had him do but all involved interacting with a box.


Lance is back!

Lance is feeling so much better!  Ever since his last agility trial where he was again creeping down or bypassing some of the contact obstacles I had been wondering if he had a physical issue or if it was a training problem.  So I took him to a wonderful chiropractor for an assessment and it turns out Lance had a billion things that needed adjusting.  Since she did SO much she wanted to see him a few more times so Lance has now gone 3 times in the last month.  And by golly he is a new dog!  I don't think I had realized how much Lance had slowed down his activity level until it has suddenly come back.  Of course he's still no Vito, but the corgi does have some attitude!  He hasn't been to a competition since he's been going but I'm hoping that we see some improvement.  Lance is now on a maintenance schedule and will be seen every 3 weeks and hopefully we can gradually add time in between visits.

Snarky bastard.

He even won sometimes!
Lance also had dental surgery last week to remove a chipped tooth.  Before the surgery they took x rays and found that the tooth had probably been injured about a year ago, it just cracked recently.  Unfortunately it was badly infected and spread to another tooth so Lance lost 2.  I knew his tooth had been bothering him recently as he hasn''t wanted to retrieve anything the last month but I wonder how long he's been in pain and just didn't say anything.


Chuck 11wks

Two weeks of Chuck!  The little guy is really settling in nicely.  Lance still loves him and the opportunity to bark more and play chase me and even Vito is starting to play him!  So far Vito has only played with Chuck at daycare and a tiny bit out in the yard, but in the house he is being much more accepting with fewer grumbles.

Potty training is well, work.  But Chuck is going much faster outside and I've been able to eliminate the use of treats as at least Chuck can now multi task by peeing and having a stick in his mouth at the same time!  I am wondering if he has a bladder infection though as he leaks a tiny bit while he is sleeping and at other times.  I don't think he's peeing more often then a puppy should but I'm also just happy that he doesn't have to pee 4 times an hour like Puppy Vito.

Still picking up everything in the house, especially any paper.  He loves showing it off to us though and wags his entire body as we call him over!  Chuck has a very solid grip though and I will need to start working more on a drop it cue.  So far we have been trading objects for toys and he has had only one lesson in drop it during a tug session.

Training focus this 2nd week:
Chuck has been doing great with respecting me and the dogs around food!  I no longer need to do any body blocking and don't even need any treats as Chuck keeps a good distance from the others' food dishes.  I can even train Chuck with his bowl of food on the ground next to me without having him try for it.  This is really a huge thing for my family as it means I am slowly able to start training the other dogs again!  While I am working Lance and Vito he is still right underfoot which is stressing Lance out a lot but at least he has been sitting nicely and not trying to grab their kibble out of my hand.

In his training sessions I introduced "go mat" and quickly shaped Chuck to run over to his mat about 5 feet away and do an automatic down.  I have just started to work on duration and will add the verbal cue shortly.

I also started "touch" which is his foot target.  He will go step on a coaster from 4ft away and I am now introducing the verbal cue.  Chuck was very cute the first couple sessions as I have been doing a lot of rewarding for offered downs so Chuck thought he was supposed to lie down on the coaster.  He quickly realized a paw was being rewarded but would still lie down next to it and then pick up his paw to place!

Chuck has been getting pretty good at pivoting in front of me on his little pedestal so he has now had a few lessons in pivoting to heel.  Chuck was very confused at first since I wasn't moving with him but I think he is just now starting to get the concept of following the lure while keeping his front feet on the pedestal. 

Leave it, sit, down, and nudge my hand have all gotten better.  I don't think he knows any verbal cues yet though.  And I realized that I have done very little this week with crate games in our sessions but I am at least requiring him to wait now in real life before he can come out of his crate.  Hopefully I will remember to work more with crate games this next week.

I have also just started to shape a retrieve.  Mainly just clicking Chuck for nosing an object and now just for open mouths.  He has somewhat of a play retrieve but when food comes out Chuck has zero interest in playing.  During play I use lots of encouragement and lots of playing tug and he is starting to learn to come to my hand.  I really like playing tug to teach retrieving as it really gives the dog a reason to come back to you AND a reason to come back all the way to your hand.  If you just throw the object again or use food you often run into the dog anticipating what comes next and starting to drop the object earlier.  When the dog is focused on playing tug it is about interacting with you so not only do they want to bring the object in really close they also start tightening up their grip in anticipation of tugging!  So while I do formally train a retrieve with treats, it is so nice to also have a dog who loves playing tug.


Puppy Raiser Picnic

Today was the annual puppy raiser picnic for Can Do Canines so I took all 3 boys.  Chuck was very excited to see some of his siblings again as being apart for 1 day is rough!  (While I have had Chuck for 1 week the other puppies didn't go to their homes until Friday so Chuck has been coming into work with me some days and seeing them).

There were some little games set up for the puppy raisers and one that I was most excited about was the tennis ball retrieves.  About 50 balls were scattered about inside some ring barriers and the dog had to bring back as many as he could in 60seconds while the handler stood behind a line.  I knew that Vito would either rock the house or fail miserably.  Well in the first 5 seconds I could tell that it was going to be the latter.  Vito excitedly rushed to the pile and then went from ball to ball, picking up and dropping them as he went.  Impressively he would come when I called, but drop the ball.  Then he scattered some so they rolled outside of the ring and Vito would whine as he only wanted that one special ball.  Finally he started to get the hang of it, but alas time ran out after he brought 4.  The first place dog only brought 6 so I guess he didn't do too horrible, but I still think of all those balls that could have been mine!

Another game was a relay obedience race with stops along the way for the dog to sit and down.  3 dogs formed a team so I took the boys to the line!  Chuckles went first, followed by Lance, and Vito as anchor.  We flew through the course in record speed with Chuck even offering automatic sits at some of the halts and  going down for my hand signal each time!  I think it goes with out saying who the winning team was ;)

A dog park was next door so we all headed over after the festivities.  Chuck was in heaven since the park was laid in wood chips.   And Vito was happy so many people were there to throw the ball for him.  Lance just followed around barking.

A tired ride home.


1 Week of Chuck

Chuck finally started sleeping through the night on day 5.  Previously he decided that he would need to pee at 1am, poo at 3, and then pee at 5.  Every night.  Thanks for that Chuck.

I actually broke down and started using treats for potty training.  I have never been one to potty train puppies with treats, mainly because I don't think it's neccessary.  I'm always right there with the puppy, praise like crazy, and since you take the puppy outside so often the simple management teaches the puppy where to go.  If they don't get many opportunities to go inside the house then they don't learn how good it feels to relieve themselves inside!  I still believe that but I broke down anyway.  Little Chuck is obsessed with eating sticks.  Obsessed.  He could have just woken up from a nap, drank a ton of water, played a big game of tug, and basically done every other thing in the world that would make a normal puppy pee and Chuck will hold it if he's outside.  But there is one thing that will trump his love of sticks and that's food.  Of course now the other reason I don't like treats is coming true, Chuck pees just a tiny bit and runs to me with glee expecting his treat.  Smart alec.

I was dead on about Lance and Vito.  Lance pouted and growled at any little thing for 3 days and now he just loves the little dude.  Still not completely comfortable but they play a lot and Lance hardly ever yells at him.  Vito is majorly pouting.  Lots of grumbling and looking pathetic but he is letting Chuck *gasp* actually sit next to him now and then.

Loves the ferrets.  And is scared of them.  Opie is being his typical naughty self and biting his nose every chance he gets.  Opie does this with any new dog visiting the house so I'm not surprised.  Chuck loves trying to play with them but then doesn't quite know what to do when they pay him any attention.

Training Focus this first week
Mainly I have been working on getting Chuck to respect me and the other dogs around food.  Starting when I dish out all of the food, Chuck gets handled kibble for sitting and a body block for jumping on the containers.  I train him first and then for the first couple of days I did not training with the other dogs and simply gave Lance and Vito their food, one at a time.  Chuck was body blocked and then rewarded with more kibble when he sat and didn't dive bomb the other dog.  More of the same when I ate as Chuck would try and fling his body onto the coffee table or couch.  We made huge progress in this aspect as while I still need kibble on hand to reward the sitting, I don't need any body blocks and am no longer dispensing kibble out like a pez dispenser!

In his training sessions Chuck has been learning to offer sits and downs and I have just started to use hand signals and verbals.  He has been started on doggy zen which has now morphed into a tiny leave it.  I always need to warm up slowly with this, but Chuck can now leave food that is dropped in front of him.  Hand targeting and eye contact games have also entered his repitore as well as shaping games.  I can't say that Chuck really understands that he controls the click but he is slowly offering behaviors.  Mainly we have been shaping going into the kennel and waiting inside, and then the start of pivoting on a box.

We did 3 little outings this week.  To the pet store, to the vet for Lance's chiropratic appointment, and to the obedience club for the older boys' classes.  Chuck was super in all places with great attention even with other dogs and people going past.  I am doling out treats like crazy right now and Chuck is eagerly sucking them up and ignoring everything else.

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