Friday, November 19, 2010

Week 1- Eli the Service Dog

(Note-for those new to my blog- Eli is a black English lab puppy I am training for Freedom Dogs  . Eli is 11 weeks old and has been in my home for 10 days as of this post. I will be writing of his progress, along with my usual ramblings ;)

I must admit that I was a bit apprehensive about introducing Eli to Dexter. Don't get me wrong; Dexter is very sweet natured, as hounds usually are.

But...Dexter is so BIG. Lean and pure muscle, Dexter can leap straight up off all four legs to a height of six feet. How do I know this? I have seen him do it. With my own eyes. I am convinced the dog was part of a genetic experiment in which grasshopper genes were involved. Or perhaps, like Spiderman, he was exposed to a radioactive insect at some point in his development.

In any case, Eli and Dexter have turned out to be very compatible playmates. Dexter is gentle and Eli respectful-a perfect combination. Take a look at this lovely play session. Notice the following:

Dexter self handicaps by:
  • coming down to Eli's level (at the 29 second mark)
  • adjusting his strength (many times in the video)
  • stops immediately when Eli signals distress (1.34 minute mark)

Eli communicates his intentions by:
  • pawing
  • rolling onto his back

Notice also that this play is mutual. They  take turns being the "victim" and the "aggressor". When one breaks away the other pauses before resuming their play. This is a very nice example of good play.

Other news:

Eli, this week, developed some selective hearing. Apparently, the great outdoors is way more fun than going back inside the boring old house.

So, I chopped some turkey breast into chunks and we began to practice recalls. I filled my pockets with the high value treats and randomly would say (in a conversational tone) "Eli, come". As he turned and /or took a step toward me (because that is the behavior I WANT) I then *click* and treat in front of me (the position I wish him to be in).

I then turn around and continue what I was doing, as Eli is free to do as well. In other words, "La-la-la-no-pressure-here-come to me if you wish and good things happen and your fun will not stop because you did" is our mantra, and it works.

We have been doing this for 48 hours now and I am very pleased with his response. He comes to me, indoors or out-at least until adolescence hits!

Proofing "sits" is the other behavior we are working on. I will ask for a sit under all sorts of circumstances:

Facing me
Behind me
Away from me
Close to me
When we are alone
When we are with others

We are also working on beginner zen, downs, touch (nose target), and foot targeting. 

Happy Training!

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