14 Weeks

Syn sat in her crate in the truck all day yesterday. I took her out to pee&play every hour, but it was a long day for her anyway. She was VERY good, but in the evening we walked around the hotel parking lot and she went cRRRRazy. She found a curb about a foot high and figured out how to jump up it, which she thought was very funny, she turned and jumped down it, and then went ripping 8 times around me in a circle defined by the 6' leash, as fast as she could go, growling like a fiend. Then up and down the curb again, and another 8 laps. She did this five times until she'd burned the junk out of her engine and was ready to walk politely back into the hotel. Repeated the performance at 5 this morning.

Amazingly, though, even when she was running like a banshee, while she HIT the end of the leash occasionally, she never PULLED on it. When she hit the end of it, she just reversed course and kept on going, so when she was doing enormous circles around me, the leash wasn't tight. Wow!

I can only let her play with Stitch outside because when they play, Syn barks - not a polite thing to do in a hotel.

And Stitch - Stitch who I haven't seen in weeks - Stitch was entered in Rally Novice Team, Advanced C, Excellent C, and Versatility (this is a CARO Rally trial), and passed Novice Team, Advanced, Excellent AND Versatility. Finished her Versatility title and earned two legs towards her Silver Championship (needed to have Advanced and Excellent scores over 190). Today Stitch finished her Novice Team title, earned her first leg in Advanced Team, and got another Silver leg from Excellent. Excellent day, excellent weekend.

Today Syn had a harder time staying calm, having sat in a box for 2 1/2 days, but she managed. Went back to mom & dad's and bugged old Jimmy until he told her to leave her alone - and then she had a hard time believing him. We'll see how she does in class next week now that she's been reminded of how much fun Stitch is and seen that she can rip and tear with another dog.

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Nothing much to report today, a day of travelling and trying to keep her from commenting on everything when the baby was trying to sleep.

Thinking over the trip, though, what she knows is quite shocking.

She can walk on a leash better than most adult dogs, unless she gets "the rips", and even then she's running until she hits the end of the leash, not trying to pull me anywhere.

In spite of her imminent-teething need to put her teeth on everything and everyone (which at this point is fine with me, I'm a big believer in teaching a puppy to control her bite), she's very, very good with her teeth, mouthing and play-biting and flea-biting with a good understanding of the fragility of her bitees.

She is, so far, 100% housetrained in hotels. Once she had to pee really badly, and once she had a bit of diarrhea, but she fussed so much on each occasion that I easily got her outside before she ran out of time.

She listens to "no", my Zen cue. She listens to it when I'm talking about not: putting her mouth on something; barging over to greet someone; jumping up on me when I have a food or water dish in my hand. Brilliant.

Her attention in spite of distractions is amazing.

Her recall is terrific almost always.

What she doesn't know: to stop commenting on everything that happens, specifically, the fact that nobody's looking at her when the baby's trying to sleep, and the fact that I am brushing my teeth at midnight in a hotel room.

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One last long day of successfully doing nothing until we got home in the evening. Then she had a bath and blow-dry with a minimum of peanut butter on the wall, had her nails ground with NO peanut butter or treats - just sat on the table and let me do it, occasionally wagging her tail. Then she had an hour-long rip-and-tear with an almost-empty yogurt container.

We ended the day with a brush-up session. She's decided that down is the most profitable behaviour, so I spent one-fifth of her kibble rewarding only sits.

One-fifth on building a hold on my finger to 3 seconds - we did get a few nice solid ones, but most only lasted 2 seconds with a second one as soon as she let go.

One-fifth on recalls - 4 or 5 SynSyns with me tossing the next one to my left as she rushes toward me from the right, the next one tossed to the right as she hurries back from the left. This really gets her excited and is VERY good for exercise when it's miserable out. After 4 or 5 side-to-side ones, I call Syn Come and she comes in front of me, sits, and makes eye contact.

One-fifth on building a down-stay toward 10 seconds. We have a pretty good 8.

And one-fifth on eye contact and starting to see if I can shape her to back up. This will be a VERY difficult shaping exercise because everything she does is inch closer to me. I might have to start by rapid-firing treats into her "aggressively" and see if I can get her to gobble while moving backwards a bit.

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Another puppy class tonight. I expected it to go a bit better than last week because Syn has been rapidly outgrowing her idea that she has to pee every time anybody looks at her.

Didn't go a bit better. Went a LOT better. She was still a little nervous of having a bold puppy right behind her (notably a very bold Bulldog puppy), but otherwise she was Tough. There were four other people and the instructor. I finally had to hold her leash to let anybody have access to their own pups, as Syn was busy racing back and forth trying to force everyone to play the Come Game with her.

Her faith in the Come Game is quite remarkable. She spent the entire hour trying to play it.

After about half an hour, when I figured the other owners were probably getting annoyed about how MY puppy was constantly in their way when they were trying to feed their own pups, I put her on leash and started playing my own solo version of Monkey In The Middle. I sat far enough away from everyone else that she could feel fairly close to them but was unable to actually get to them. Then I just sat and let her watch them feed their pups... and feed their pups... and feed their pups... until she thought to check in with me. I gave her three treats and told her to go see what else she could find. Another few minutes of watching, and she was back in front of me. Another few times and she wouldn't go back at all, just sat staring at me. Superb eye contact, especially in that situation.

The last few minutes I picked up a tug toy and clicked her for putting her mouth over it. We got up to 4 grabs and 4 seconds of hold.

When we got home, we spent supper working the hold on one of our own tug toys, followed by sit stay (I thought I'd get some decent duration since she was tired - and I was right). I was able to walk 20' away and back, and got up to 15 seconds at 6 feet. We finished off with a bit of our solo Come Game .


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Excellent session this evening. We started with a little bit of eye contact. Note to self: hungry puppies do NOT do duration behaviours. In 3 seconds of eye contact, she managed 2 downs, 3 sits, a roll onto her left side, and pawed me twice. We stopped working on eye contact.

Then I took a small hemp bag with a squeaker inside (that's a REAL hemp bag, not a bag of weed... ) and clicked her for putting her mouth on it. We didn't get any duration hold like we got with the tug toy yesterday, but we got a lot of very good eager mouth. Then I put it 2 feet to her left and shaped her to touch it. When she was repeating the touch consistently, I put it 2 feet to her right and shaped it again, then 2 feet behind her.

By then she was hitting the bag hard enough to make it squeak each time, so I dared to wait a second after the first hit, then click the second one. That didn't stop her from hitting it, so I waited a bit longer the next time, et voila, she picked it up! Three of those and I held the click long enough for her to turn towards me, then to take a step towards me. I wouldn't call it a retrieve - in fact I wouldn't call it a fetch yet, but she got it consistently closer to me, and several times I managed to get it in my hand without reaching too far. That was exciting.

The Orijen kibble I'm using is definitely a better size than the itty-bitty kibble I was using when Stitch was a puppy. I had to give Stitch three or four pieces to keep up any enthusiasm at all - and that wasn't Stitch's fault, just that the kibble was so tiny. The Orijen, though, is getting harder and harder for Syn to chew. Her mouth now looks huge and her teeth look like pins. Her gums are so swollen it's a wonder she can chew at all (she seems to find human flesh particularly appetizing right now). I bought her a couple of big bully sticks the other day and she's been packing them around the house as if she had a briefcase. Fun to think that in a week or two she'll have a little bitty puppy mouth and huge vampire choppers - my favourite picture of puppies.

After we finished the retrieve, we did some conformation stacking. It's coming along very nicely. She's still too wiggly (maybe she has rubber bones) to assume her own stack, but once I put her in it she can hold it for up to 10 seconds while I move my hand with a kibble in it towards her nose and away. She looks good. My moving her feet doesn't bother her, and her tail is SO pretty, it forms the ring all on its own and she carries it up almost all the time. I haven't started working on being able to show her teeth while I've got bait in my hand, but since her Zen is good I can put the kibble on the floor in front of her and then work her mouth.

Finally, I asked her to roll onto her side and we worked on relax. It's been several days since we started that roll, and she remembered it. She almost rolled on her own (flipping her nose toward her hip, rolling off the hip and nearly coming off her elbow as well), but once I lured her all the way down, she stayed in position. She doesn't have the actual "relax" part yet, of course. Her front legs are reaching forward for the bait, and once in a while she gives a giant rabbit kick with both back legs - while staying on her side.

So we finished a very satisfying session. What a good puppy!

At least until I sat down to write this out, when I heard a small commotion in the kitchen and she came trotting triumphantly into the living room carrying the plastic dish I had her kibble in. Awwww, her first full-height catch off the kitchen counter! Isn't that preshus!