Sunday, March 30, 2014

Chip Trial Day 2

SUMMARY: Morning activities and lessons

After months and months of not adding anything here to Taj MuttHall Dog Diary, I find that there is so very much to say with another dog in the house. I'm trying to collect all my thoughts, since this is supposed to be a trial run and I want to be sure that I don't forget anything important.

I've been griping about the Merle Girls having somehow decided that 7:30 is the time to be awake in recent weeks, but Mr. Chip thought that 7:00 was better. Since he's used to getting up earlier, I gave him this, this time.

Let him outside with the other dogs and they did their morning patrol and all did their business.


He stood with me on leash while I sent Boost down the driveway to get the newspaper and didn't try to chase her, although he watched carefully. Still on a short leash attached to me inside. I sat at the table to eat breakfast and read the paper, but frankly didn't get much reading done, as there was so much activity from the dogs (not frenzied, just moving, changing places, all the tension and uncertainty).

But--Tika did not snarl at him this morning. Guess a night in her usual spot on my bed with the young upstart in his place made her feel more secure. That's a relief. (Well, until he gets REALLY close to her face.)

I'm glad that he's socialized enough to back off and doesn't want to fight about it. And I'm happy that I have dogs who aren't dog aggressive.

Then, oh my what fun and excitement:

I let him off leash in my bedroom while I did my morning ablutions and dressed, and he and Boost started the preliminary cautious play bows and little pushes at each other, and then full pandemonium ensued. They played chase over, under, and around the bed, they wrestled, they chased some more, wrestled some more, chased and ran. Boy, those are fast and agile dogs!

Tika stood and barked at them in her "You're having fun! I think that's exciting!" way, and then she grabbed her bed and played with it with me, which she hasn't often wanted to do in the last couple or three months. Halleluia!

I cried a bit as she also seemed to want Boost to pay attention to her--until maybe a year or so ago, *they* used to wrestle gently with each other on my bed in the morning. But still, things I think were OK all around and there was happy energy from everyone.

We walked to the schoolyard where we play frisbee. It's 2/3 of a mile one way, and Tika did great! She's dragged so quickly lately even on shorter walks. I'm not sure whether the new dog is energizing her or prodding her, but I was delighted about her activity level; we walked briskly all the way there and all the way back and she even chased the frisbee a couple of times.

At the park, I attached Chip to a 12-foot lead and let him loose, having seen how much he wants to follow Boost around the house and yard when he gets a chance and deciding to rely on that attraction. He chased Boost for a while as I threw the frisbee--wow, he can move!--but then he'd lose interest and wander off in some other direction.  I tried calling him a couple of times but didn't get much response, so I stopped that, as I don't want him to get into the habit of ignoring me when I call. Instead, I'd just walk calmly but briskly to where he was, step on the end of the lead so he couldn't go anywhere,  and bring him back to me for praise and treats.

It's only noon, and I have lots of things to think about:
  • He has an OK "Sit" but thinks about it, and no duration on it once he's down.
  • He has a pretty iffy "Down", and also no duration once he's down.
  • Need to work on recall just using his name; I prefer to do that with my dogs, get an instant head turn and response when I say their name, and reserve the extra "come" for emergencies, which I also need to work on.
  • For meals, my dogs sit, I put the bowls down, and then they wait until I release them. He didn't want to sit as I stood there with his bowl, but did finally about the 4th time I told him to. (Yeah, I'm repeating the command, which I don't like, but I'm going to work with what he's got initially.) Then as soon as I started to move the bowl, he stood up. It took about 8 tries before he didn't immediately stand up as I moved the bowl, so he was getting it, and I was then able to put my hand in his collar to hold him there while I set the bowl down, praised, and then released him.
  • Zukes are NOT a high value treat to him. Drat. He'll take them slowly here in the house, but as if he's afraid that eating the pomegranate seed means that he'll have to stay here forever.  Didn't care about them at all when outside. Seems to like cheese a little better. Will go buy some hot dogs later and see how those work.
  • Part of the challenge with determining high-value treats for him is that he is so circumspect about taking things from me, and so gentle when he does. I need to better understand his "very excited" from "yeah, OK, give it here if you insist." 
  • He digs in when I try to pull him towards me when he's facing me on leash rather than coming.
  • His toenails need clipping (and they've never been clipped). So do my dogs'. Sighhhhh the never-ending toenail thing. We'll see how he does with a basic clipper and with the dremel.
  • He wasn't thrilled about me picking up his feet to wipe them off with a rag after coming in from the yard. He actually put his mouth on my hand (very gently). I just stopped in position, told him gently that I understood but that he needed to let me do this. And then he did let me.
  • After the walk and the exercise and breakfast, I put him in his crate to take a nap. I've been sitting here for probably almost an hour, and my dogs have mostly been napping the whole time, but I've seen him put his head down only once.  He's watching, watching, watching. Pawed at the crate door a couple of times but then did, at least, lie down.  Hmmm. Well, this is an unfamiliar situation for him.
  • Introduced him to the clicker. Not bothered by the noise at all. I think I made progress within about 3 minutes of getting him to move his nose towards a target in my hand, but he was only mildly focused. Treats not high enough value, that's just the problem right now. 
  • A quarter of his meal this morning was one of my dogs' kibbles. He ate that first! So he should be fine on a varied kibble diet. And Tika liked the quarter of her breakfast that was his food. Good trade, for an old dog who's not always that interested in her food any more.
  • Pity that my pocket camera is having problems at the moment; I'd like to be taking more photos but the SLRs are so bulky and heavy.
  • Played some crate games with him, just rewarding quickly with treats as he went in, treats as he stayed in when I opened the door, and practicing using "Break" as a release word to come back out. His current word for getting in the crate is "Crate." Long-term, I'd need to change either that or Break, as they sound too much alike.
  • Man, that crate is HUGE for him. 
  • He's actually good about going into the crate when told, and is comfortable there. But when I got home last night after being gone for a few hours, and after he was out for a bit, and I needed to put him back in for a bit, no, he did not want to go back in. Hence the crate games this morning. 
  • There is so much to do to get from here to Agility-Doing Dog! But he's so sweet, and has a good foundation and a good personality, and I think we'll both like the process. We'll just see how easily he picks up some tricks when I figure out higher-value nom-noms.
  • I need to start saying "Good dog!" again instead of "Good girl" or "good boy". Dogs don't care, but for some odd reason I do.
  • He's actually pretty good on leash going for that long walk. Time will tell whether he's really good or just on best behavior in an unfamiliar situation.
  • He is cautious about some new things (like the triceratops yesterday) but bold enough to check them out. This is good.
  • Emailed a brief status last night to Owner; response this morning that he thought about him all night and it's odd not to have Chip there. I sure understand that.
Anyway, all is peaceful at the moment and I'm caught up on my thoughts and observations and things are going well, I believe.



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