10 Weeks 2 Days- Passed Level 1

Sep 18, 2004 | Stitch's Story

All right! Passed Level One. She thinks the Come Game is the best thing since sliced bread. About the 4th call, she even starts anticipating the next call, and galloping between Ron and me. Amazing how a 10-lb puppy can sound like a cavalry. Zen – she thinks lying down and looking away is probably the safest way to stay away from food in hand. Sits very well, her cue is Park It. Down is also very good, she folds up her front legs with the paws underneath, like a llama. Perhaps it’s catching. Target is no trouble, she likes that. Level Two is a whole new step, where she actually has to start listening to cues rather than just responding to body language and hand signals. Upward and onward!

Last week I explained to someone how to teach a puppy to go in a crate. This isn’t something I’ve thought about with Stitch, it just happens, but this morning I notice myself putting a cue on it (Hit the Rack), which means she’s trucking right into the crate when she sees the treat. We have a special treat that’s very high value and used ONLY for going in the crate. I get the treats, Scuba goes automatically into her crate, gets the treat, door closes. Stitch sits staring at me, willing the treat into her mouth. I show it to her, she runs into the crate, I hand it to her and close the door. We’re doing this probably five times a day. Once in a while the door stays closed. She has a 15-second hissy fit (if she’s tired) or a 3-minute hissy fit (if she isn’t) and then falls asleep. If it’s a training run, I let her out when she’s been quiet for 30 seconds.

She doesn’t have a very good day. I’m having a Discussion with the gov’t – you’ve been there. I have to go into town, do stuff, come back out, check stuff, phone somebody, go back into town – ALL day. So she goes in the crate, sleeps, I come home and let her out, then five minutes later she has to go back in her crate again. She goes into the crate readily enough each time, but gets more and more peeved each time to realize that she can’t just eat the treat and come back out. She’s behaving well about getting out, though. Obviously she’s awake when I come into the dog room, but not whining or pawing. I let Scuba out first, still Stitch is quiet. When I open the door, she waits a second, then comes out cheerfully.

We work on retrieving again. I ask for three bites on the dumbell bar. She’s ready to work, but three is a bit much. She decides maybe I mean dumbell Zen, and tries looked away from it. I have to take it away, wait a sec, then present it again several times before she goes back to trying a little nibble. From there it’s only five clicks back to three touches, and very good quiet holds.

The bigger kibbles are working much better than the smaller ones. She still doesn’t chew most of them, but at least she’s noticing that she got something.

One last session on retrieving today. I’ve obviously been going faster than Stitch can go. At this point I can tease her into taking the DB, but that’s not what I’m looking for. I’ve pushed too hard. Tomorrow I’ll start back at the beginning with getting her to volunteer touches on the bar. NO retrieving tomorrow, only touching the bar.

I also step back from luring the down. Lure it five times, then wait. She turns her head in each direction, jumps sideways, turns a circle, whines, backs up, and finally lies down. I don’t have the clicker with me so I just say Yes! and roll a kibble onto the mat so she has to get up to get it. Swings her head a couple of times, then lies down again, Yes! She’s so fast! I’m not confident enough that she’s going to actually go down that I can get a cue in, but the last 4 kibbles I manage. What an awesome little brain I’m discovering.

I should keep her away from Scuba. At 4 months, Scuba took a bedspread out through the dog door. Here’s Stitch at 10 weeks. Today Scuba had to bring in three shoes, a dish cloth, and Stitch’s crate blanket.

There’s also a clicker outside in the gravel. I don’t have my shoes and am just directing the cleanup from doorway. Scuba can’t find the clicker, so I pick up a bit of gravel and toss it beside the clicker to show her where it is. She goes and picks up the bit of gravel and brings me that – well, it WAS the last thing I touched! Meanwhile Stitch ducks around her, picks up the clicker, brings it back and gives it to me. What a pair!