Thursday, February 18, 2010

Snow, Shoes, and More with Nubble

While all this snow might make for difficult driving and parking conditions for people, the dogs love it! Nubble has been having a blast in the snow! He would live in the snow, if he could. He romps through the snow and burrows. After a nap inside the house, he’s be ready to go back out and do it all over again. His puppy raisers had a great time playing in the snow with him. “It’s very neat that you can throw a snowball into 20 inches of snow, and a dog will chase after it and find it,” says Donna.

Nubble also tried to “help” Donna shovel. First, he had to check out the shovel. Then he wanted to remove all the snow from the shovel. Finally, he’d chase after whatever snow Donna managed to toss to the side.

Last week, we shared Nubble’s first progress with shaping. Donna and Lindsey are working on shaping him to stand on a small platform. When we left off last week, he was putting two feet on the platform. Now, he pivots around it. He has been developing other skills, as well. He has gotten very good at going through doors. We train all of our dogs to wait for the “go on through” cue before going through doors. It’s still a challenge for Nubble to go through the front door because of the temptations of cats and cat food, but he’s getting better. Also, when Donna lets him out of his crate, he waits patiently for the “okay” or “go on through” cue, even when Gizzy is in the room waiting for him. Nice self control!

Donna and Lindsey continue to work on loose leash walking. They’ve been practicing in the yard, sometimes with Gizzy, sometimes just by himself. He hasn’t quite caught on yet. Another thing they’re working on is up, all the way up, and off with furniture. While Nubble understands all of these cues, he still tries to climb on the couch when he hasn’t been given the cue. Donna is working on finding a way to make him understand that he can’t get on the furniture any time he wants to.

Nubble has gotten bigger! He’s now 41 pounds and can jump over the baby gates Donna was using. Here are two pictures of him in the car. The first one is him as a puppy, when Donna and Lindsey first brought him home. The second is Nubble today. What a difference!

He’s now big enough to countersurf, and he does it even if there’s no food on the counter or table. We’ll keep you posted on Nubble and his puppy raisers’ progress in changing this behavior.

This week, Nubble went back to the gym with Donna. They worked on stay while Donna did several reps on 4 different machines. He was doing great until one of the gym’s employees walked over to ask Donna about the dog. Once Donna explained that Nubble was a service dog-in-training, the employee understood, but by then, Nubble’s concentration was broken. The trip to the gym, however, was still a success. Nubble gave some great stays and Donna had the opportunity to teach someone about service dogs.

Nubble also went to a shoe store this past weekend. He was fascinated by all the shoes – what temptations! Donna, her husband and Lindsey worked on stay in the aisle. To make sure Nubble didn’t wander off, Donna’s husband stood on the leash behind the dog. Donna asked him to stay while she walked away. Then she and Lindsey walked away together. It was more difficult for Nubble when both Donna and Lindsey walked away, but by the second time, he stayed nicely.

Nubble had a successful interaction with a strange dog on Sunday. While driving near the shoe store, Donna and her family came across an older lab wandering the street, blocking traffic. Donna stopped, and with the help of another driver, she managed to get the dog off the road. He was shaking and scared and very thin. Since Donna had a spare collar and leash, they took him to the Animal Rescue League. Before putting the strange dog in the car, she put Nubble in his crate, just in case. When the strange lab got in the car, all he and Nubble did was sniff at each other. (If you’re wondering, the Animal Rescue League did find the owners of the lab.)

Nubble has been doing great! “I just love raising him,” says Donna. “I just love it!”

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