Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Penny Lane - Week Two

Into our second week with Penny Lane, and we're getting to the stage where training is fun!

She knows Sit now, and is rapidly learning that Sit is the correct default behavior for all situations in which she wants something and doesn't know what else to do. She is so eager to Sit that she'll do it if I try to reward her for being polite while out on walks -- as soon as my hand starts moving toward the treat bag, Penny's butt hits the ground, and she stays there until I tell her "Okay!" and get moving again.

This makes it really easy to pose her for pictures.

She's gotten over her potty reticence and has picked a couple of spots around a nearby park that she uses regularly. This, of course, makes my life much easier. If she doesn't go at the first spot, I can just walk five minutes to the next one and she'll potty there. Sometimes she does need a little bit of a walk to get in the mood (or something... I'm not really sure what's going on there), but she's pretty reliable at this point.

I've started taking her to the dog park, which she LOVES.

Because of her long coat, she does get muddy very quickly -- and our dog park has a particular problem with mud right now, since the mulch they resurfaced it with just last year all crumbled into dirt and turns into gross yucky black sludge for days every time it gets wet -- so we only go when it's cold enough that the mud has frozen hard. Otherwise I'd have to wash her every time I took her to the park, and nobody wants that.

Her limp is mostly gone. I don't know why. It could just be a sporadic thing that will come back later. I didn't do anything differently to improve it, so I'm not sure why it doesn't seem to be bothering her as much anymore, but it's not. She uses the foot most of the time and runs full speed with no apparent problems. Even after a boisterous hour of romping at the park, she hasn't been limping much lately.

Penny's reluctance to eat at mealtimes is also waning. Again, I don't know why. I never did end up feeding her together with the rest of Dog Mob, because Pongu has taken an especial dislike to Penny and it didn't seem worth the risk, but she's eating more on her own anyway.

I'm not sure if I'm going to start teaching her a Down. On the one hand, that is one of the basic commands, and once she has a Down, she'll be almost all the way to CGC-ready (since she's a stable and friendly dog, all the handling stuff would be very easy for her and would require maybe a week's worth of practice, but no formal desensitization exercises. Meanwhile, Pongu the Insane is signed up for his CGC test in about six weeks and I'm not at all confident he'll pass. This is the difference between a calm dog and a crazy one: calm dog takes maybe 3 weeks to prep for the test, crazy dog is going on 3 years and not ready).

On the other hand, there's generally a period of confusion when a dog has just learned Sit and started working on Down and needs some time to get the different commands sorted -- particularly where, as here, the dog doesn't have any prior experience with position cues and needs practice to keep them straight. And since it is extremely unlikely that we'll have Penny past this weekend, it might not be the best approach to weaken her Sit a couple of days before she goes home to a new adopter. Most pet owners barely even use Down anyway; Sit is sufficient for most everyday purposes like "okay I love you too, now please stop jumping on me" and "just stay there for a minute while I scoop up this poop." So I'm thinking it may not be worthwhile to teach that one in the last couple of days we have together.

Of course, if all my predictions are badly wrong and we end up having Penny past this weekend, Down will certainly be next on the agenda!

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