Friday, April 16, 2010

Motorcycles, Fishing Rods and Newspapers

What do motorcycles, fishing rods and a newspaper have in common?

They're all new things Nubble has encountered.

With the nice weather, people are starting to take their motorcycles out. At first, Nubble was enthralled with them. Now he ignores them. It may have helped that Donna's son Zac was playing catch with Nubble while riding a dirt bike in the yard. Nubble didn't chase the bike or even really get distracted by it. Instead, he focused on Zac and the ball.

On the first day of trout season, Nubble went fishing! He went with Donna and Lindsey and sat next to them while they fished. To keep him occupied, they gave him a bone (not a fish bone!) to chew. Afterward, he got to go swimming in the creek. Nubble loves the water, especially playing catch in the water! Donna and Lindsey practiced recalls with him, and he did great! What a happy, muddy dog!

Donna continues to take him to the grocery store with her. This time, there was a newspaper blowing in the parking lot. Nubble could not figure out what it was, and he barked and barked at it. As they moved closer to it, it kept blowing away. Finally, they got right next to it, and Nubble pounced. After that, though, he left it alone. It took a little while to focus him to go into the store, but once he settled down, he was very well behaved.

Stairs still present a challenge for Nubble. He either refuses to go up or bolts all the way to the top. Donna only has three porch stairs, and Nubble always runs up them. As a service dog, he will need to walk in a controlled manner up and down stairs, so Donna plans to continue working with him on stairs.

Loose leash walking is also a challenge, especially as he gets stronger. Meg, the SSD Northeast Division coordinator, gave Donna some advice that really helped. Now, Donna is holding the leash close to her body, rather than relaxing her arm, and what a difference it has made! They walked a 2-mile loop in town, and Nubble walked on a loose leash 75% of the time. Great progress! He's still sniffing everything, but now he isn't pulling.

Fire hydrants no longer bother him, either. He completely ignores them in town.

He is working in place, which is similar to heel, except the dog moves to the right side rather than the left side. So far, he seems to be getting it. Donna is using the purple platform to help in training. Nubble gets up on the platform and shifts until he's in the proper position. Although he's not ready to try it without the platform, the training is progressing very smoothly.

Other cues he's getting very good at: car and go on through. The dogs must wait patiently at the car until they're given the cue (car) to get in. They must also wait to be told they can exit the car. Go on through is used at doors. The dogs are supposed to wait for the cue before going through the doorway. Once the cue is given, they should go through and turn around to look at their handler. Nubble's go on through has definitely improved. Donna is still working on doorways in the house, however. He doesn't seem to understand that they are doorways, too. But he's started to get the idea.

What will he learn next week?

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