Yesterday was my son’s 14th birthday party so we barely had time to think let alone get any real training in unfortunately. Today we made up for it with a short training outing. First we ran out some energy with frisbee time then I put Lad’s harness on and we loaded into the car for our trip. Lad was obviously a little anxious both wearing his harness and leash and leaving the house as he has been recently but he did well. He does have car riding anxiety but he is past the excessive drooling and carsickness he experienced as a younger puppy.
At HPB Lad was able to walk politely to the clearance shelves outside the store where we browsed for about 20minutes. He “downed” on command and took treats I offered. He did jump up when he saw people walk by and sniffed the ground and books a good bit (he also ate a couple of leaves on the ground). We will need to work some more on his “leave it” out of the house. He was solid on that a few months ago but adolescence is definitely working against him.
We had a cute experience with a family walking by with two little boys. One boy pointed to Lad and said “look it is a cute dog” and the other boy said “we can’t pet that dog he is a service dog”. The first boy said “why not” and the boy said “if you pet a service dog he could be distracted, you can’t do that.” His mom told him what a great job he was doing and they walked on by. Lad wasn’t even marked at all, just wearing his Hurtta harness and I thought he was acting pretty puppy. Just made me smile. A little girl walked by and came back and politely asked if she could pet Lad. He was being so well behaved (laying and waiting to be released) and she asked nicely so I said yes and told him to go say hello. He did great, no pushing or jumping.
After a little bit we went inside to see how Tim and the boys were doing. Lad walked through the store nicely, turned when I asked and only sniffed the floor once while walking. We stopped and looked at clearance books for a bit. Lad waited nicely in a down at my feet and only fidgeted a bit (he did scoot forward at first and lick the concrete, he really likes to lick cold concrete). He jumped up once when some one came very close but he ignored a woman who needed to shelve books above him which was great. No one asked to pet him which I thought was awesome. Again, he was not marked and I definitely would have allowed some petting because he was being so well behaved. I heard a few comments about him being a SD so I think everyone just assumed he was working. Towards the end he got a little fidgety in the children’s section (I guess the floor smelled better in there) but he made it out doing pretty well and walked nicely to the car. He was still taking treats well and making good eye contact which is a huge improvement for him. We can definitely work with impulse control, I expected to need to work on that again (and again) at this stage.
We now have a new training protocol, more about trying to get past whatever fear/stress Lad has around wearing a leash and gear plus leaving the house than about learning new things. With that in mind I want to keep a log of how that is going. So, without further ado, day 1.
It is important to reduced excess energy before training, I took Lad out for two good play sessions in the yard before starting training. The second session was right before training. I put up the other dogs so there would be no distractions. The point is to take the excitement/stress out of everything associated with leaving the house so today we started with normal training in his harness and leash. As soon as his harness and leash were on he started panting and pacing. I found that he refused food or let it fall out of his mouth if he took it. He would follow me in a nice heal but was slow to sit and wouldn’t follow any other commands while his leash was on. In the interest of helping him calm down I took his leash off and proceeded with just his harness. He calmed with his leash off and began taking food and swallowing most of it. He was able to follow commands like sit, down/stay, under, mat, paw, block, circle, and bow. We kept the session sort and ended with a jackpot of food. He was very tired when we were done and went to take a nap.
We got bathed, did our nails, and loaded up in the car for a trip to the mall. I made plans with a member of the local service dog group to do an assessment of Lad. This was huge for me, I knew I was possibly going to hear that my dog was not fit for SD work. Just going into a mall with a dog was tough but we made it into the building and nothing happened. The world didn’t end, no one shooed us out the door or told us we didn’t belong there. By the time I made it to meet Chandler I was starting to feel a bit calmer.
The assessment went well. Lad was his regular derpy self. He wanted to play with her dog (obviously he needs more training but that is not my big concern here, he is not even 9months old yet) and he wanted to love everyone he saw. She felt like his temperament was good and gave me advice on working through his present stress. She thinks this probably is just a matter of slow maturity, adolescence and a fear period, that we can come back from it. So we will work on training and reassess from there. This helps my anxiety.
I have had a few concerns over the last month or so about some of Lad’s behaviors particularly when out of the house. Many I have brushed off as adolescent behavior or fear period stuff but it has been bothering more and more lately. Hopefully I am just letting my anxiety get the better of me and worrying about nothing but I really need an objective observer to look at him and tell me if he is fit for work or if his temperament is wrong for the job. Thursday I am meeting up with a friend who is a trainer with experience training Service Dogs. She is going to evaluate Lad for me and give me her honest opinion on him. Here is hoping.
Another month is slipping away. This month has seen some big changes for our family. My oldest son turned 14, his party is this weekend (almost 4 weeks after his actual birthday but we wanted his friends to all be back in town for the party). As a gift we completely redid his room, no more fishy border (that the old home owners put up for their baby’s nursery), no more ugly carpet (and it was gross), no more plain white walls. He now has “leap frog green” walls, sealed concrete floors, and area rugs, as well as a flat screen TV and a video game system. Very cool teen room going.
Unfortunately I found myself less than useless at most of the more labor intensive tasks and when I pushed myself too hard painting I regretted it for most of a week. My stomach and joints still haven’t fully recovered. I’m afraid a trip to the doctor is next on my list.
Lad was able to accompany us on several outings. We went to see Shakespeare in the Park again, it was a blast last year and again this year. Lad was a bit fidgety but did manage to get through it without too much trouble. He accompanied us to The Highland Village Balloon Festival, that was a little harder for him. Just entirely too much to see and quite a few dogs. I also took him to Lowes with me on a trip to pick up some painting supplies. He did very well with that trip. Not a whole lot exciting at Lowes though he was very nervous walking past the tile display and I had to take him a different direction.
There has been an upheaval in our lives in the loss of our derby facility. Tim and Terror are feeling it the most, particularly Terror whose team has not found another facility yet. Tim’s team was able to secure practice space at another rink but the juniors are still without a rink or other training place. I had come to rely on HOQ to help with training and socializing Lad so it was a blow in that as well. If he is ready I can start just taking him to rinks in general but I don’t think we are quite there.
This was supposed to be a challenge for a SD group I am part of but we’ve been doing Doggie Zen for so long that it was no big deal. “What do you want me to do with it?” The hardest part was getting “Leave It” spelled out in kibble and keeping Lenore from trying to eat it. Some of my dogs are not quite as well trained as Lad (my excuse is that she is still pretty new here, only about 2 months which isn’t long for a rescue).
Lad is 34weeks. Not changing as much week to week now.
Working on balance and core strength with the peanut. Lad likes rolling it with his paws.