Pros and cons

Another great day. From the living room, kitchen, and carpeted TV room, he's going through the dog door out to the dog yard to pee without being reminded. What a lovely person he is!

So far he's really bad at:
- remembering to walk on a loose leash when there are people around.
- not staring at pit bulls who want to take him apart (wasn't scared, just wanted to go talk some sense into him).
- having his ears cleaned and posted.
- grace. He has all the grace of a dying camel. He runs like a drunk rhinoceros.
- staying on the Gator when it stops.

On the other hand, he's very very good at:
- being almost gentle with his teeth,
- liking every single person, place, and thing he has ever met,
- riding on the Gator without a qualm,
- cuddling,
- playing tug,
- convincing Syn to like him,
- sitting politely before I put his dish down,
- coming when he's called (even out of the open bag of kibble),
- doing his relax-on-the-table thing even at the vet,
- sleeping all night,
- entertaining himself,
- sleeping,
- thinking about swimming.

Much better day

Good morning.

Now that his urinary tract is feeling better, Spider's starting to think about going outside on his own. I'm still reminding him a lot, but now "a lot" means once every hour or so and not every 7 minutes.

We had a lovely training session this morning. He aced open-hand Zen. What a clever boy. He hasn't figured out the Yes hand and No hand positions yet, but he knows that if he touches the hand and nothing happens, he's doing Zen and he backs away from it. He also figured out that the kibble I put on the couch isn't available (couch Zen) when I covered it with my hand and rewarded when he backed away.

He was doing so well at targeting my Yes hand that we moved on from touching high and low to walking three steps to touch - no problem.

Then, because his tendency is still to put his Grand Canyon of a mouth on everything, I gave him the handle of a metal serving spoon and started rewarding him for putting it in his mouth. When he stopped to think about it or merely touched it, I took it away for a second and then presented it again. Clever baby.

I did some more pairing of his name (names, actually, both Spider and Spike) with a treat. The first session we did several days ago had amazing results - he comes on his name from almost anything - even when he's got his head buried in an open kibble bag. Then I tossed treats across the room and called his name as he was coming back to me.

Sit and down on signals.

I haven't done any stripping today, but I've been stripping him a bit every day as we practise our restraint (non-negotiable behaviours) on the grooming table, and I've got the coat about 75% started on rotating. Difficult to do along his spine when he's doing his non-negotiable relaxing on his side on the table, and since even his shaved cheeks are crispy, I think I'll leave his skull until he's more comfortable with his ear postings.

Only one accident today, otherwise he's going out the dog door at will. It's amazing how frazzled I am when I have a 30-pound critter leaking all over my living room - not that I'm blaming him in any way, it just makes me frazzled.

I learned - remembered, actually - an important husbandry point this morning. When you have a Giant Schnauzer you have to buy what we here in Saskatchewan would call the "Hutterite colony size" peanut butter, not the puny little single-family size:
That's just sad.

This evening he learned about the whip that whizzes back and forth between the Gator and the dog while the Gator is moving. The Gator is a fun and useful vehicle, but I always have to remember that it isn't a little ATV. It weighs over 600 kg - nearly 1400 pounds. He needs to respect it. The whip isn't for hitting the dog, it makes a nasty little whizzing noise when it's whizzing back and forth, and the string on the end of it stings a bit when the dog tries to walk into it. He's no fool - he got stung by the string once when he stopped in front of me, and then tried approaching from the side while we were still moving. Nope, that doesn't work either. It's only available when we're stopped. We'll be well into next summer before I stop totally expecting him to get in the way of it, but we made a good start on safety today.

And then he met six of the other people who live on this farm - Duck-the-retired-guard-and-4H-llama, Code and Sid my driving pair, Pearl, Whisper, and Fanmale retired 4Hers:

We got a lot closer to hearing his big-boy voice! He even gave us a manly little growl before he started barking. Not shown on the video - when I started rewarding him for not being rude to the older residents and he decided that we would all survive if he just looked instead of swearing at them.

Bad day

Let's see, it's 36 degrees. My printer won't align its print heads. Stitch rolled in an ant hill and is actively trying to peel her skin off. Two charging cables died this morning. I have a killer headache and feel like throwing up. My shoulder is demanding enough pain meds to make my headache twice as bad (new shoulder in March! Yay!) And Spider, who was having a pretty good day, walked oddly to the back steps and ralphed up everything he's eaten since he got here.

On the good side, he feels better now, which means he's running around biting Stitch's tail, which almost feels good enough for her to let him do it, chewing up the papers I printed when I was trying to get my printer to behave, and telling me how hungry he is.

I took everybody to the dugout thinking we could all use a cooling off. I thought Stitch might feel better after a swim - she didn't, it's worse. Syn wasn't really interested in chasing stuff, but Spider did several bumper retrieves out of the water, and was almost floating when it went in too far for him to get and I had to ask Syn to get it.

I'm done. It's 7 PM and I'm going to bed.

Relaxed toenails!

Another 35-degree day. Yuck.

On the good side, I put him on the table and lay him down as I do every morning, but this morning I decided to try grinding his nails while he was lying down instead of sitting him up in a death grip. And he lay, and he stayed loose and calm while I did all 16 nails. Good boy!

Still a fight to post his ears though. Maybe I'll try a cup on his head tomorrow instead of the posts. Hey, fezzes are cool, right?

Syn is starting to keep a PLEASANT eye on him. When she's in a mood for running she's starting to look back to make sure he's following her.

To the beach

PDPU seems better this morning, he's not hysterically thirsty and he's gone half an hour without dribbling on the floor.

We started working on giving to collar pressure this morning, down with a signal, and relax. I've got a good start on rotating the coat on one hip, one shoulder, and half of one ribcage. He has a fantastic hard coat. Dremeling two passes per nail every morning is doing wonders for his ability to sit quietly and let things happen.

He's NOT happy that I posted his ears again.

We drove an hour to get to a lake where Syn and I practised our water trial work. Spider, as usual, was an angel in the car. It was incredibly hot - 35 degrees. When we got there, I tied his leash to several small bushes so he could lie in the shade of the bushes and tall grass. He ate the bushes. And the grass. And a bit of the leash. But no whining or barking. Some nice kids came by and played with him.

When Syn and I were done, I Released The Hound and he followed Syn back down to the water. With a wiener I got him to walk in far enough to float. Fun - his back feet floated first, and he didn't appear to notice, but when his front feet left the bottom he turned around and headed back to safer ground with enormous splashing. Nevertheless, he was willing to follow the wiener that far out twice more.

We stopped for ice cream on the way home
Yeah, we could do that again...

Plain day

Last night we drove the Gator out to watch a dog class. Fabulous boy! He lunged once from his King Seat but I touched him and he turned back for a treat. From then on he lay quietly watching them. I gave him a kibble every time he turned back to look at me, but left him alone to watch the other dogs. Some of them barked at him but he didn't care. "King Schnauzer here, peasant! Go about your business!"

We worked some more of the Levels. He mostly got his 5 seconds of duration on hand Zen and we did a bit of open-hand Zen. I switched hands on the Touch - left hand to touch, right hand to dish out kibble - and he mostly had stopped trying to eat both hands. He's understanding that he has to move away from the treat hand to touch the target hand, though that's hard to remember. Sit on a signal, good. Still luring down. We've done some solo comes now that he understands my throwing gesture to mean that a treat might be landing over THERE somewhere.

This morning I gave him a treat ball that drops kibble when he pushes it. He pushed it near his crate, kibble fell out, and he was thrilled. So now he's pushing his crate all over the living room obviously hoping for a ham to fall out, or a turkey or other roast beast.

Different toys for different boys... I have an old leftover Giant toy made from firehose. It's been out in the far reaches of the dog yard for 15 years as the Porties don't recognize it as a toy - they like the soft sucky plush ones. He picked it up and brought it in and now it's his Very Favourite. Second-best is the toy that you put empty large pop bottles in so he can crush them between his might jaws with a satisfying crunching noise.

I think I'll clean and medicate his ears one more time and then post them up again. They're starting to go in odd unpleasant directions.

Farm living' is the life for me...

This morning we took the Gator
out to the pasture for his fourth farm jaunt, and then to the dugout.

He has the Gator thing figured out, no problem. As long as he stays out in front of it following the ladies where I can see him, I'll follow along and he can run or walk or collapse in a heap or sniff or chew. When he gets tired or hot, he starts walking back toward me and I stop. He climbs in under my feet and lies down on the floor and then he gets to ride until he wants to get out again.

This is a PERFECT arrangement for working on impulse control, since the ladies will drop back and run beside us sometimes (they know the score and I have no worries about running over them) so they're running and wrestling a couple of feet away from him and he's calmly lying down and watching them. Perfect. After a while I stop and ask him if he wants to get out and he either gets out and joins them or lies where he is like a little king in his chariot.

Please note before anybody gets excited that this whole run is a little over a kilometre on soft dirt and pasture grass, and he isn't doing most of it by any means. Lots of opportunity for exercise and ZERO possibility of over-exercising his "dainty little growth plates".

Then we arrived at the dugout. Syn and Stitch waded right in while Spider went in to the tops of his toes and examined the water. Pawed it a lot. Drank half of it. While he was pawing the water he pulled up some water plants and then he was plunging his whole head in grabbing the plants and flinging them around. Then I threw some stuff for Syn and he ended up in the water above his elbows hoping to grab stuff from Syn as she went by.

And he doesn't have a urine infection, polydipsia-polyuria. He drank too much, so he peed too much so he drank too much so he peed too much until it was running right through him and he got thirstier and thirstier. Physically and mentally impossible to housetrain a puppy with pd-pu. So tomorrow I'll be back to taking him out every 15 minutes and monitoring his intake for a couple of days.

Dog door #2

Ron reported this morning that Spider went out both dog doors after Syn and Stitch this morning. EE HAH. That's a HUGE step. Only part that's left is to get him to think of going outside on his own. I didn't take him out after I fed him this morning, but watched closely. He started to squat and I ACKed him, said Go outside!, took a step toward the dog room and pointed. He started to follow me, paused a second to have a think, then perked up and ran ahead of me out the door. GOOD morning.

We went to a lake in the afternoon to practise some water trial stuff with Syn. It was SO windy one of the crates blew over with a dog inside. Waves. I carried him out and put him down in water about halfway up to his elbow. No. Go. Literally. Apparently he can't walk when the floor is transparent and moving. He wasn't upset, was perfectly happy to eat treats, but couldn't take a step. He lifted a front foot a couple of times but put it back down where it came from in bewilderment. Wagged his tail at the other dogs. No problem, but no walking. I finally lifted him back out and he had a good time chasing seagull shadows on the lawn.

And in the evening, he either has a urinary tract infection or polydipsia-polyuria. He knows why he's going outside, knows what to do when he gets there, but sleeps in urine puddles, pees as he's walking, and pees while he's sitting thinking about other things. Ah the joy of puppies! Urine sample to the vet in the morning.

First shaping, starting the Levels, and a bond

Please note that I'm aware of how I switch tenses all the time. Sometimes I'm talking in the present, sometimes I talked in the past, and I switch with no apparent reason. I'm sorry. If I'm going to record what I'm doing, I'm not going to go back and proofread to get my tenses matching. Sorry.

Last night we tried a bit of shaping. Lots of fun. We were hindered by his puppy brain (what are we doing? Which way did it go? Look a fly!), his puppy mouth (I know there's a treat in there somewhere, unless I already swallowed it?) and his puppy eyes that can't yet quite follow a flying treat, but we got some good solid attention for treats as cheap as Cheerios. Good work, little man!

Then I sat down to do some paperwork and he climbed up into my chair and lay beside me. Just like that he went from being a really nice Giant Schnauzer puppy to being my dog. I felt the lock click. We're home.

And then the little wretch was up until 2 AM and up to pee at 3 and 3:30 and again at 5.

We went to the downtown lake park for a walk this morning. It was only about 22 degrees and the walk was a couple of blocks long. Cons: I picked a park with lots of geese. No geese right where we were, but LOTS of goose poop. Finally stopped walking on the lawn and walked on the sidewalks instead. Pros: between the two of us we did a creditable job of keeping the leash loose. After the first couple of dogs went by I was able to tap him on the butt with a finger and call his name to get him to swing around and look for wieners again. Kids were harder than dogs, but he didn't lose his mind completely. He got a lot of attention from old ladies by walking jauntily along and then collapsing as if shot when he got to shady spots. Several people said "aww, he ran out of gas!" Then he'd cast around as far as his mouth could reach until he ran out of interesting possibilities and then he'd agree to walk on to the next patch of shade.

We started controlled learning today.

Zen Step 1 - the dog moves off a treat held in your hand. You're sitting down. Holy doodle. He's got a terrific attention span - took him almost 10 seconds to get off my hand the first time. When he did, I clicked and dropped the treat (had to drop it ostentatiously so he could tell it was falling). 8 seconds the second time, and this time he knew it was going to hit the ground. The third time he didn't even touch my hand, just looked at the floor waiting for the treat to show up. Lovely little Giant Schnauzer brain!

Come Step 1 - the dog looks for treats at your feet. That's going to take some practise. There's a great deal of mouth involved and he's still got puppy-eye, where his eyes aren't mature enough to see something crossing his line of sight (only rolling away or rolling toward), but he's starting to figure out that a hand motion has a result.

Sit Step 1 - The dog sits with the leash off. Thanks to Marina (the breeder), he's got that cased, at least enough to pass Step 1. Even better, he has a vague idea that she should be sitting in order to get something, although his enthusiasm frequently overpowers the idea until he's reminded.

Target Step 1 - The dog touches your hand with her nose. Well, that was fun! I worked two sessions of 10 treats each. I held my hand in what I call the Yes position -
The first five repetitions he assumed there was a treat in the Yes hand and tried swallowing the entire hand. As soon as I felt a touch, I clicked and offered him a treat from my other hand. On the 6th rep, he had a Thought. He very deliberately barely touched my finger with the side of his muzzle, got the click and the treat. Hypothesis proven! Then he forgot and swallowed my hand another 3 times. The second round of 10 gave us 4 swallows, 4 deliberate closed-mouth touches of one kind or another, and two tries at getting the treat by staring at the treat hand. When he did that, I took the Yes hand away for a second, offered it to him again, he touched it, and he got his click.

Down Step 1 - the dog downs with the leash off. This was easy, he's happy to follow the treat lure. A couple of times he thought it would be easier to stand up and just follow it, but I just lured him into a sit again and went on from there.

And that's Step 1 of all the behaviours in Level 1 of the Training Levels - Steps to Success. Of course we have lots of practising and Comeafters to work on, but that's a great start. Clever baby.

The hardest thing we're working on is his ear infection. His ears have to be cleaned twice a day. This isn't negotiable. I can't wait to teach him to trust me enough to let me do it. I'm aiming for a compromise between having four people hold him down kicking and screaming and having him lie down and let me do it.

First we spend 20 minutes on relaxing on the grooming table. As I said the other day, he's an amenable little hooligan - and he likes to be petted. I lifted him on to the table and rolled him down onto his side in what I call Chill position. Since I was holding both his underneath legs (both left legs if he's lying on his left side) and hold him down with my body, it took him maybe 4 seconds to decide that lying down was a good idea. Then I eased up, sat back, and petted him until he fell asleep. I played with his feet, his tail, his muzzle, scratched his head, lifted his legs up and down. When he lifted his head, I put my hand on it and pushed it lightly back to the table, making sure to hang on to the front underneath leg (once they get the underneath elbow under them, there's no way they're going to get back into Chill position by themselves).

When he was completely relaxed, I touched the odd toenail with the Dremel, combed his jacket with a carding knife, looked at his teeth, and massaged his paws.

After 20 minutes, I took him out to pee, brought him back, put him in a sit on the grooming table, hugged him to my body, and cleaned his ears. Lots of massage and sweet talk and moaning, a little whining, a yelp or two. When I'm done, we spend another 20 minutes of relax and massage. The massage so far seems to be overwhelming the ear cleaning.

Hello to the vet

He had an appointment to meet his vet this morning. What a lovely puppy he is! Didn't hear a peep out of him all the way there. I'm pretty sure he fell asleep in the crate before we were out of the driveway. Once again he showed me that he never met a stranger he didn't love. A friend had a Flat-Coat there and kept it minding its own business so I got to remind Spider that he WAS able to sit in presence of another dog - he's much better at that than he was last week. Loved on the staff, loved on the vet - and she had a couple of tongue-depressors worth of CANNED CAT FOOD OMG to reward him for being present. This went over brilliantly with him, and with me as well because of course she ignored him jumping on her when he smelled it and only gave it to him when he remembered Marina's training and sat. The cat food wasn't necessary, he's apparently willing to have a good time no matter where he goes, but it was great to have it. He got a gob of it before she touched him, and another gob for not trying to jump off the table and kill himself (which he wasn't inclined to do).

First thing she said was "That's how I picture you - with a Giant Schnauzer!" "Work of art" was also mentioned. I was happy to hear that he has a honking big ear infection, because he started shaking his head a lot yesterday. I was hoping it was something we could fix and not just that he's overly-sensitive to having his ears posted. So for now his ears aren't posted.

Got some pictures of him today (about time) - first the dog yard -
bambi defoliating
Bambi in the forest And what does Bambi eat? Trees, of course!

Then out onto the savannah to play hide and seek in the alfalfa (still in the dog yard):


And then he decided it was too hot and he was going to go back inside

Then it was time to go to the vet, and when we got back I had some ear cleaning to do, which I was NOT looking forward to, but we spent half an hour working on relaxing on the grooming table and the ear thing turned out to be a non-event. He's a hooligan, but he's an amenable hooligan.

almost asleep

and there he goes.

Here he is pretending he's not going to floss the vet's teeth for her:

Dog door #1

Ron got up before I did this morning, so let him out and entertained him. When I came down this greeted me:
Ron said "I made a paper airplane for him and it was lots of fun until he caught it..." I'm thinking it was lots of fun AFTER he caught it, too!

He got tired of me waiting for him to open the second dog door after the ladies had gone in, and he pushed through it on his own. Good fella! Only three more doors and/or directions to go!

6 days in and all we've done in regard to "training" is some name recognition - Spider (hot dog), Spider (hot dog). He likes this game. And some work on sitting (which he already knows) and remaining sitting until the dish hits the ground.

He met a very small puppy the same age as he is, and we now know that a) he's too big in his mind to play with older PWDs yet, and b) he's too big in his body to play with small puppies yet. We held him on a leash and left the other youngster off leash so she could do laps around him, occasionally buzzing in close enough to count coup.

He went for a ride in the Gator. Zero cares were given. No problem with staying in one spot, no problem with the yard going by, no problem with the motion.

Today we started discussing the idea that it isn't only necessary to pee when he's outside, but it's necessary to NOT pee until he gets there - adding a little tension to the whole get-outside idea. That means I've got him back on leash inside. I wait until I see him fussing and THEN ask if he wants to go outside and hustle him out instead of just hustling him out every half hour. The first few times he gave me a glance and then started to pee. I jumped up with a rather loud ACK NO ACK!, patted him with flat hands on each side of his ribcage (which effectively turned off the tap), and hustled him outside cheerfully. By the end of the day he was glancing at me more significantly and NOT squatting until he got outside. Good pup.

He meets The Ladies

Lowering expectations for myself slightly. I bought all the stuff to post his ears. Got them posted.

While doing that we had a good wrestle concerning the possibilities of him lying quietly on my lap. First I took him for a loooong walk in the dog yard, where he bravely went off to explore the woods, eat weed flowers, and find new old toys. It was hot and he decided he likes the woods where it's shady, but we kept moving until we were both hot and sweaty. Then we came in and I arranged the ear posts while he started napping. Then I sat down in the recliner and got him on my lap and then we had a talk. He finally decided that getting petted wasn't really so bad, and he decided to stay and fall asleep.

He hasn't gone OUT the two dog doors to the yard yet because when he wakes up I'm in a hurry to get him outside, but he's gone IN them about a billion times. We've progressed to where I only have to hold them open about an inch for him to push on through. It's especially good when he's hot and he can smell the cool air coming out that inch.

He learned how to jump into the recliner. And why he would want to be there.

We played tug and chase a LOT. We're going to need some work on "that's enough now, sweet pea, give me back my hand towel!" He got a package of treats from a friend and I started working on sit, but the treats were so small he couldn't figure out how to get them in his mouth, so I ended up just shovelling them in - much like coal into a furnace.

As soon as he figures out the dog doors he'll be puppy-house-trained. He heads for the door and pees when I'm not paying attention.

Syn and Stitch came home from Auntie Barbara's in the morning. Old Stitch walked in, shrugged, and told him that he better not sit in her chair. He spent 10 minutes being a dick to Syn but she finally made him yelp and he became suddenly very polite. It's going to take several more days of Polite Puppy before she decides he can stay. He did put his nose right in her toothy face after supper and she read him Rudyard Kipling's story of the Elephant's Child whose nose was stretched out by a crocodile.

After I posted his ears he was unhappy and shook his head so I got him on my lap and petted him to sleep again. I was listening to an audiobook and enjoying warm sleeping puppy when the doorbell rang. Now, I can't put him down on the floor because he's abruptly awake and he'll pee. I can't take him out the back door into the yard because somebody's at the front door, so I carried him to the front door, wading past Stitch and Syn announcing the visitors (yeah, thanks, I heard the bell too). I get to the door and I can't open it because my arms are full of 30 pounds of Giant Schnauzer puppy. I hollered "OPEN THE DOOR!" and the non-doggie visitor did so. Syn and Stitch burst forth to say hello and I followed thrusting this large struggling bundle of legs and paws ahead of me, pushed past them, and deposited him on the lawn.

I have to say that if that was someone I had known, none of that would have seemed odd to them at all.

Today he's learning the word "thwart". Marina said he wasn't a barker, and he's not - until he's thwarted. I'm guessing there wasn't a lot of thwarting in his birth home - puppies to play with, always someone eager to have a good wrestle. 6-year-old Syn will like him eventually, but for now he's too rowdy and he can't come within 5' of her without her snarling at him. He's learned that this Means Something, but he doesn't have to like it. She's thwarting him. He sits 5' off her port bow and barks at her. This does little to improve her mood.

12-year-old Stitch seems a safer bet, and he likes her a lot. So much, in fact, that this afternoon he got a good head of steam going and simultaneously chest-butted her (which would have knocked her flying) and grabbed her by the back of the neck (which prevented her from flying). She took him apart. He was thwarted. He stood back and barked at her until he got up the nerve to try again and now he's just humping her. Stitch is telling him repeatedly to knock it off and I'm waiting patiently for her to up her game and take him apart again so he'll knock it off for keeps.

Home at last

It's official - I'm just as tired sitting in the car as I am if I'm driving. It's been a long 3 days for Spider, on the leash all the time or in his crate. I took him for a walk as soon as we got home and he found all sorts of good stuff - cat poop and a dead mouse and lots of pine cones but then we came to the plowed dirt around a shelter belt and he got the rips. Dropped his butt in the dirt and started spinning, snatching up chunks of dirt as he went by. Finally he collapsed in a heap in the dirt and we walked back to the house.

Ron rolled up the area rug while we were out, leaving tile, and Spider started to run laps - around the living room, into the kitchen, around the island, back into the living room. He ran and ran and ran - and now he's sleeping. What a great puppy.

Tomorrow I have to give him a bath, post his ears, get Syn and Stitch home and introduce them, buy him some dog food, teach him to lie in my lap in the recliner while I'm typing, start his first lessons in the Training Levels, and continue the quest to get him to go through the dog doors by himself.

They're called schnauzers because... schnozz!

Thoughts on losing everything

This puppy is astonishing. He's lost every single thing he ever knew. His mom is gone, his siblings, his home smells, his familiar territory. The only things he has that he's met before are his crate and a little piece of fuzzy cloth.

He walked out of the crate at the airport and saw a hundred friends and a million interesting things. Not a moment of doubt in his mind about anything. If anybody talked to him he jumped on them. If anybody picked him up he kissed them. Left on his own for a moment he explored to see what wonderful things he could find.

What a grand person! I hope he never meets anybody or anything that doesn't look cool to him.

OMG What have I done?

Here we go again. Rather suddenly, in nine days we're going to have a puppy. Right now his name is Purple. When we meet his name will be Spider. Or, as he's been telling me in my dreams, it will be Serenity, Serra for short, or Firezone Firefly At Dragonair for formal occasions.

Little Man is a Giant Schnauzer, introductions to follow.


For now, here's his dad, Ty:
BIS BISS GrCh Ingebar's Tynan Dances With Wildflowers

and his mom, Rumba:
Ch Firezone's Special Blend CDX DS RATO RN TT CGC

and his pedigree:

so far we have a new lime green leash and collar, and a whole whack of new toys ready for him. Puppy proofing the house hasn't begun. Next week's going to be VERY busy.