Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Queenie - Week Two

We are now through our second week with Queenie, and it is time for updates!

Last Monday we took her to the vet to get her spay stitches removed and have some skin irritation along her tummy and thighs checked out. I am happy to report that she was very well-behaved at the vet and let them do whatever they wanted to her without protest -- pulling out those sutures, giving her an injection, inserting a rectal thermometer, whatever. Queenie is exceedingly tolerant of body handling and stayed fairly relaxed the whole time.

In fact, she was so relaxed that we started working on her Down in the waiting room. Most dogs find it very difficult to do behaviors they already know in a stressful environment like the vet's office, but Queenie was so untroubled that she was actually capable of putting her full concentration toward learning a new one.

To me, that is extremely impressive and indicative of a pretty special dog -- a highly motivated, biddable, and environmentally sound dog who might have some real promise as a sport prospect.

Queenie is also a very quick learner. Here's where she was almost a week ago:

At this point she didn't have a ton of experience with any of those cues -- this is her third or fourth session with Down and second with hand targeting -- but her responses are fast and confident, and there's not a lot of confusion in her ability to respond correctly to each cue.

She also has remarkable focus, particularly considering how little work she's had to develop it. In this clip from her second visit to a dog park, she keeps trying to solicit attention/engagement from me. Rather than playing with the other dogs, she is asking to be given the opportunity to work.

That wasn't a one-off; she has done that consistently every time I've taken her to the park. While sociable and playful enough to enjoy romping with the other dogs, it appears that so far at least, Queenie would much prefer to engage with a person.

At that same visit (which was, again, her second visit to the dog park), I asked Queenie to jump on a bench just to see what she would do. Here's the result of that experiment:

One of the reasons I think Queenie could make a pretty neat little sport dog is because of the attitude exhibited on this clip. With almost no practice, she is already willing to follow my empty hand target (no food lure), jumps onto the plastic bench without hesitation, trots across it at a pretty good clip, and gets back on for a second go after slipping on her first try. A lot of dogs will slow down or be more hesitant about getting up on an obstacle after a slip like that, but not Queenie. Also, throughout this experiment, she ignores the other dogs who are crowding around the bench.

I didn't prompt the Sits at the beginning and end of this clip. Queenie just offered those because she's been learning that Sit is the correct default answer to all situations where she doesn't know what else to do. Her eagerness to offer that behavior tells me that she is a clever and biddable little dog; I take that as a good sign, too.

Finally, we have most recently started working on Queenie learning to file her nails.

That's only her second session with that particular exercise (her total time working on it is well under 10 minutes), so we're still in the shaping process, but she's catching on quickly and I don't think it will take long for this trick to come together.

She really is a fun little dog to work. I'm starting to think she could be a pretty good sport prospect, given all the qualities she has begun exhibiting in her training sessions. She'd be a great family pet too, of course, but if somebody wanted a starting competition dog to play around in various sport venues, I suspect Queenie would be a pretty ideal candidate for that.

Really, though, the main thing she needs is a good home.


  1. I am starting to have a crush on Queenie!

    1. I know right?!

      She isn't completely perfect -- she's a dog, after all -- but maaaan. Queenie's a firecracker. Not in a crazy way, either. Just where she's good enough that I really want to see her light up the world, because I think she could do it.

  2. I adopted a dog from Wags 2 years ago. He has extreme anxiety. If I wasn't so sure he would decompensate, I would apply for Queenie. A dog this confident and low key, yet still happy and playful? My daughter would love her. I hope she finds a great family!