a Taj MuttHall Dog Diary: Puppy Progress

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Puppy Progress

There's so much to work on, and so little time! It seems as if I spend most of my puppy time monitoring rather than interacting in any way, whether it's playing or training. Jake makes it much harder, because not only do I worry about her getting into something dangerous in the yard (or house) if she were unsupervised, but I worry about whether Jake would in fact hurt her if I weren't there to yank him off when he decides she has transgressed. I can hardly wait until she's big enough for me to feel that she can stand up for herself the way Tika did right off (at 11 months old). Tika never fought, but snapped back in self defense long enough to get out of the way.

Tika is being SO good with the puppy. She snarfs at Boost occasionally, but this evening, out in the yard, Boost was leaping and hanging all over Tika's face and head--wish I'd had a camera--without Tika batting an eye. And they do play together some, when Tika's in the mood. More often, Tika wants to play with me when I'm out there, which I am grateful for but it does also suck up my limited attention hours.

ANYway--We've been working on:
  • Down: Using Rachel's method of holding food low and saying Down when the puppy goes to the floor, she's doing great and we're at the point where I can hold the food higher than her head, she goes down, and I slip a finger into her collar while I move the food away and then back again. We'd be much farther along if I worked on it for a minute or two 2 or 3 times a day instead of once every couple or 3 days.
  • Sit: Again, using Rachel's controlled sit method, we've just started. Worked on it only twice, just barely getting to where she doesn't resist forever when I work on placing her into a sit.
  • Hand touch: Greg started her on this before I got her, but she was very tentative at it--I think mostly because puppy eye-brain-body coordination wasn't all that good yet at 12 weeks. Now she's getting noticeably faster, moving quickly from one hand to the other as I raise them.
  • Watch: She has great eye contact. I've been working on putting a command to it because she makes contact and holds it so well already.
  • Sitting for her food: I want her to sit on her own (no command) before I put the food bowl down, then look at me while I praise and not go for it until I release ("Break!") her while she's looking at me. This is more good practice for start-line stays. :-) She's pretty good but not completely reliable--every meal I have to pick up the bowl at least once, but she does go into the sit immediately and is holding eye contact longer and longer rather than staring a hole into the bowl and then making a break for it.
  • Come: I've been adding the "Come!" command when she responds to "Boost!" and runs towards me, which she often does full-speed. On the other hand, if there's something else more interesting--say, some tasty orange peel bits dropped by squirrels or roofrats or whatever's eating them, or, say, she's got a rawhide in her mouth and she wants to make a game of it--then I get no response. Ditto if the other dogs are moving around in an interesting way; her ears don't even twitch when I call her name. At the trial last weekend, they had some mowed areas in a big field and I let her loose completely a few times to run and sniff. When I called her name, she came running back to me full speed every time. I also gave her a good pull-toy when she came back sometimes rather than food. I was very pleased.
  • Walking on leash: Just started concentrating on getting her to walk alongside me rather than going every which way (which is what she did/does while attached to my belt; she settles when I stop, but when I move she yanks out in front of me).
  • Get In and Break commands for crate, x-pen, etc.: My standards are that she go directly inside and not come back out; when I put my hand on the gate, she sit and wait for the "Break". Excellent, really. Goes right in in most cases, although she doesn't *race* in, which I'd like. In fact, she goes out of her way to go in (sometimes turns right around after coming out) in hopes of more treats. At this point, I've made being inside more desireable than coming out; I'd like the Break to have her racing out to me (as she might when released at the start line). So I'm starting to try to do more fun or rewarding things when she comes out--play, toys, extra food, lots of fondling & happy talk, whatever.

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