Monthly Archives: June 2012

Progress so far

Okay, so Spencer’s been with me for almost 5 months now and I thought it might be nice to see just how far he’s come in that time.  Especially as he seems to have well and truly hit the dreaded teenage stage and I’m feeling a bit of a failure.

When he came to us he knew sit and down.  Sit he was okay with, down he was very fearful about.  So I worked on down as though he’d never been taught it, fully prepared to change the word if necessary.  It hasn’t been necessary and he now lies down on command with no fear whatsoever.

We’ve also worked on sit.  He can now sit even if there are other dogs in sight.  He can also hold a sit in the basement while I put the washing on.  He sits at the door when it’s time to go out and most of the time waits to be released instead of rushing out.  Still needs a reminder now and then.  Same with the car.

He happily bumps my hand with his nose when asked.  He does get a bit lazy with it though and tries to get away with not quite touching it.  However this doesn’t get rewarded so I’m sure this habit will fade in time.

Nail cutting.  Only had to actually cut his nails once, since being cut they seem to have kept themselves short.  But he happily let me cut them all in one session while my husband clicked and treated after each one.  He was a bit anxious at first but the click and treats soon overcame that.  I still practise with him so if I do need to cut them again he’s not going to have a hissy fit.

Loose leash walking.  I swear this is the bane of my life at the moment.  Most of the time he’s not too bad but if he sees another dog we’re back to head down, shoulder to the ground pulling.  And if my husband is with us it’s the same.  But he’s better than he was and as long as I’m on my own with him walks are fairly pleasant.

Eye contact.  Don’t have this on verbal cue yet and it’s VERY shaky outside of the house so still needs a lot more work.  He can do about 4 seconds in the house though.

Head on paws.  Still in the early stages yet but he’s starting to offer it so it won’t be long before I put it on cue.  He was even offering it outside earlier.  Well, sort of, it was more a brief touch of his chin to the ground but I can build on that.

Recall.  Was brilliant, now it’s not so brilliant.  I think a lot of it may be his age but I’ll keep working on it regardless and not just hope he grows out of it.

I really need to make an effort to take more of his training outside.  He’s doing absolutely fantastic in the house but I’ve been doing very little actual training outside so I need to get off my backside and make sure he’s trained outside and not just in the house.  Still trying to find something he REALLY wants while out though, other dogs is the main one but obviously I can’t always use meeting another dog as a reward for various reasons.  I’m sure we’ll get there with it, just a matter of trying different things I suppose.

Oh, and he’s also crate trained now!  Although just like Rupert he refused to set foot on the metal bottom of the crate so I had to remove it.  And he refuses to have any more bedding in there than what’s in this photo.  If I put more in he shoves it all to one end and lies at the opposite end.

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The entertainment value of raw eggs

Seriously, never under estimate the entertainment value of giving your dog a whole, uncracked raw egg.  Spencer’s been having them regularly but usually I crack them and drop them into his bowl.  Anyway, today I didn’t crack it, I just put it in his bowl.  He picked it up very gently, put it on the towel he’s fed on, went to lick his bowl clean.  And realised there was nothing in there.  Well he kept going to the egg, sniffing it, back to the bowl and nosing it, back to the egg, back to the bowl lol.  After about 5 minutes of this he started rolling the egg around on the towel, picking it up, dropping it, rolling it around some more, making big toothy faces at it and picking it up and rolling it some more.  Eventually he bit down harder than usual and it cracked slightly.  He dropped it, stared at it, nosed it, picked it up again.  Nothing.  So he grabbed it again.  This time he cracked it enough that it began to leak and that was the end of my mornings entertainment.

Spencer has been switched to raw.  We ran out of our normal dog food a couple of weeks ago and put him on Wagg for a few days.  I know it’s not a good food but it was either that or Bakers which is even worse.  Anyway, he ended up bouncing off the walls, unable to settle, unable to focus, constantly on the go, constantly pestering me, waking me up in the night by dropping toys on me and so on.  Had a few packets of tripe and some beef left in the freezer from when we had Rupert so I checked the dates on them, they were fine so he had a sudden and unplanned dietary change to raw.  He’s been on it about 2 weeks now and so far is doing great.  He’s had the odd meal of raw regularly since I got him so I didn’t foresee any problems changing him and except for slightly soft poos the first day he’s been fine.  We’re still figuring out how much he needs to stay at a steady weight so if he’s looking overly thin or podgy in any pics I post please point it out!  I know it’s very easy for it to sneak up on you when you see a dog every day.

The tests he was having done all came back clear.  As far as we can tell there is absolutely nothing wrong with him.  And he hasn’t been sick since the day before we took him to the vets.  So while we’ve still no idea what was causing him to throw up like he was it seems to have stopped and he’s apparently a nice, healthy young Labrador.

Training has been going so so over the last few weeks.  His loose leash walking is coming on absolutely fantastic when it’s just me and him.  The leash is loose almost all the time he’s on a collar and leash now.  Still pulls on the harness but that’s coz I use the harness and long line to give him some freedom.  As long as he’s differentiating between collar and harness that’s fine by me.  His recall around other dogs is shocking.  In fact, it doesn’t exist.  We’ve been meeting up with someone with a 5 month old Lab and while Milo happily goes running to his owner when she calls Spencer just goes deaf to me.  Doesn’t matter what treats I have, he’s not interested.  So we’ve lots of work to do there!  I’m hoping that as playtime gets to be less of a novelty he’ll be happy to come back, have a treat and be sent off to play again.  In the meantime, long leash it is!  He’s taught Milo all about the fun you can have in the water.  One of these days both us owners are going to end up in the water with them if we’re not careful!  This leash law can be a real pain at times.

I really need to pull my finger out and get teaching him some of the non essentials though.  He enjoys learning and I enjoy training him so I dunno what it is that’s stopping me.    I have been doing some work on getting him to put his head inside a Tesco shopping bag though.  The aim of it in the end is to get him putting something in the bag and carrying it by the handles.  Why?  I dunno lol, just something to teach him.  I was trying to teach him to close the drawer in my bedside cabinet the other day but he was much more interested in messing with the things on top of it so that wasn’t successful.

Anyway, this wouldn’t be a Spencer blog post without a picture would it?  Here he is with his new friend.

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