Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Shakespeare - Day Four

Busy day today (and tomorrow), so just a quick video post.

Shakespeare seems much happier since I've temporarily given up on dragging him outside (too cold!). He's happy to just scamper onto the frozen deck, do his thing as quickly as possible, and flee back inside; we've had zero potty accidents since I resigned myself to just letting him potty on the deck. Not ideal, but I'm not going to subject either Shakespeare or myself to 40-minute stretches of standing outside in (literally) frozen terror, so we'll make do.

Some clicker work from this morning. This is his fourth session and the first time where he was fully engaged in playing the clicker game with me instead of just trying to crawl into my lap.

I'm rewarding for attention/eye contact, either in response to his name or freely offered. Normally I try not to give too many prompts in these early sessions, but with Shakespeare it seemed helpful to say his name to keep him focused on the idea that he's supposed to be "working" (sort of); stretches of silence were usually when he'd start trying to cuddle up to me.

I have not actively been trying to teach Shakespeare to Sit, but he has been offering a bunch of Sits anyway because he's learned that Sit is usually what earns cookies when I'm trying to take pictures of him with the other dogs. As a result, it's rapidly becoming his default behavior (yay!) and should be pretty easy to clicker capture that behavior -- if I want to keep his current Sit, which I'm undecided about. It's a rolled-over hip Sit that looks pretty cute and seems to be most comfortable for him, but would be undesirable for competition purposes and might be a hassle to re-train if his adopters later decide they want a straight "proper" Sit (a thing that Pongu still sometimes has trouble with, because I trained it wrong when he was a puppy and it's very, very hard to change after he's had so many years of repetitions doing it that way). Soooo... eeh, I dunno. I'm only going to have this guy for two weeks (hopefully) and so far none of his prospective adopters have expressed even a mild interest in doing any of the dog sports where a straight Sit would be relevant, so I might just take the sloppy one.

Slightly longer video of him doing everyday stuff, with some notes:

(1) Shakespeare's interest in toy play continues to increase. He doesn't seem familiar with interactive play -- when I try to get him to tug or chase with me, he just looks confused -- but that's not surprising for a dog who was probably mostly ignored in the yard and left to invent his own games. He is clearly familiar with playing with other dogs, both with and without toys.

(2) He's dog-savvy and responds appropriately to changing social situations. At 0:09, 0:16, and 0:20 you can see him clearly reading and backing off from Pongu's unwillingness to share the Christmas Flappy (which Pongu decided a couple of days ago was his #1 toy and not to be shared with the other dogs), then immediately turning around and initiating play with Crookytail. Shakespeare knows where he is and isn't wanted, and reacts accordingly. Not pushy, not aggressive, doesn't argue about who gets the Christmas Flappy -- just very socially appropriate and playful.

(3) At 0:40 or so he comes down with a bout of hiccups. I've never seen that before and the hiccups went away about a minute after I stopped taping, with no signs of recurrence. Crookytail had hiccups yesterday which is probably just a coincidence but who knows. Maybe the dogs have collectively decided they're allergic to this polar vortex nonsense.

(4) At 1:20 Shakespeare goes back into his crate of his own accord. He seems to like having it as his own personal safe space and will hang out there sometimes when he doesn't have to. When he does have to, he's generally very quiet and calm in the crate; if he squeaks, it's usually because he has to potty. I think the neuter stitches must be irritating him and increasing his need to urinate, because right now he can't hold it more than 5 or 6 hours before he needs to go. But at least he always tells me!

Shakespeare is a pretty energetic and athletic little guy when he's in play mode. He has a fairly impressive level of hind-end awareness, too. He switches back into cuddle mode pretty readily, but it's apparent that his adopters are going to have to accommodate a moderate need for exercise. As stumpy-legged as he is, I'm not sure that Shakespeare would be a great jogging partner (although who knows, sometimes they surprise you), but toy play, romping with other dogs, and maybe a little agility for fun might be good for him.

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