Monday, December 6, 2010

Outings, Evaluations, and Parties Make for a Busy Month for Nubble

It seems like the closer we are the holidays, the busier we become. SSD Nubble has had an extremely busy month. The Northeast Division went to Cabela's with the dogs for a public outing. Cabela's is an outdoor outfitter, and their decor includes an aquarium and real stuffed animals. Nubble loved the aquarium, and he didn't mind the animals. Even though he eyed some of the fake trees in the store, he actually do anything. Overall, he did a very nice job in Cabela's.

Afterward, the Northeast group went to the local Pizza Hut. Again, Nubble did great, even though there were other dogs sitting next to him.

Nubble and some of the other dogs had their 12-month evaluations. We evaluate all of our dogs-in-training when they're 12 months old. The dogs stay overnight at the kennel before their evaluation. The evals help us determine whether the dogs will be successful as service dogs. Since SSD Slate from the Northeast was also getting evaluated, the two dogs carpooled. After the Cabela's outing, Slate went home with Nubble and spent the next day with him. Nubble loved having another dog to play with! Gizzy, the family pet, barked a bit, but Slate took it all in stride. Donna then took both Nubble and Slate to the kennel for their evaluation, and Slate's puppy raiser picked them both up afterward. Wow, was Nubble tired when he got home!

The Northeast Division joined our Harrisburg area group for our SSD Holiday Party. We always have a lot of fun at the holiday party. Everyone brings a dish to share, each dog gets a new toy, and we play games. Even though it's fun, it can also be a very challenging evening for the dogs. There are lots of distractions and activity going on. The evening was a challenge for Nubble, particularly because there were so many new dogs there. Donna worked very hard to get him to walk calmly on a loose leash without barking. They made it down the hallway to the room and they sat at one of the tables. Nubble had trouble relaxing at the table, however. He would sit, then stand, sit, then stand. Donna took him outside to relax, but it was just too much for him when they tried to rejoin the party. Donna put him the crate in the van so he could relax away from the other dogs.

Before she put him in crate, Donna worked on stairs with Nubble. Focusing on stairs and training helped Nubble calm down.

Even though the party was too challenging for Nubble on that night, Donna still had a good time. She got some ideas for training "leave it" while watching the D-O-G game, particularly when Slate stayed still while his puppy raiser put treats on his paws. Nubble does a similar "leave it," although the treat is on his head instead of his paws. He thinks it's a great game. When Donna says okay, he flips the treat into his mouth. After the party, Donna tried training him to leave food on his paws. She thought it might be difficult for him because the treats were in his line of sight rather than on the top of his head. But Nubble did great! Once he figured out what Donna wanted him to do, he listened very nicely. In the end, Nubble could do "leave it" with treats on both paws and on his head! Great progress!

Now that it's cold outside, bathing Nubble has gotten a little more challenging. He usually got a bath outside, but now he needs to use the bathtub. Because he has gotten so big, Donna can't lift him into the tub, so he needs to get in and out on his own. Meg, the Northeast Division coordinator, suggested laying towels down in the tub so it's not such a slippery surface. It worked! Donna used shaping to help Nubble understand that he can put his back feet in the tub, but once he figured that out, he had no problem getting in and out. Once he gets more comfortable in the tub, Donna will actually bathe him.

Donna also recently discovered a local self-serve dog wash, and she took Nubble. It was set up exactly like a car wash, only indoors. There was a waist-high table with a ramp so Nubble could easily get on the table. The hose had different settings - wash, rinse, de-skunk, etc. (No, Nubble didn't need to be de-skunked!) Nubble had no problem going up the ramp, and he sat and stood nicely for his bath. He also did great getting dried off with the drying hose.

Nubble went with Lindsey when she got her driving permit. He practiced "under" while she filled out her paperwork, and waited nicely in the waiting room with Donna while Lindsey took her written test. A toddler was pushing her own stroller around the waiting room, but Nubble ignored her. Nice job!

Next week, Nubble goes to the vet to be neutered. Wish his a speedy recovery!

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