Much better day

Jul 30, 2017 | Serra's Story

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.