Last night we drove the Gator out to watch a dog class. Fabulous boy! He lunged once from his King Seat but I touched him and he turned back for a treat. From then on he lay quietly watching them. I gave him a kibble every time he turned back to look at me, but left him alone to watch the other dogs. Some of them barked at him but he didn't care. "King Schnauzer here, peasant! Go about your business!"

We worked some more of the Levels. He mostly got his 5 seconds of duration on hand Zen and we did a bit of open-hand Zen. I switched hands on the Touch - left hand to touch, right hand to dish out kibble - and he mostly had stopped trying to eat both hands. He's understanding that he has to move away from the treat hand to touch the target hand, though that's hard to remember. Sit on a signal, good. Still luring down. We've done some solo comes now that he understands my throwing gesture to mean that a treat might be landing over THERE somewhere.

This morning I gave him a treat ball that drops kibble when he pushes it. He pushed it near his crate, kibble fell out, and he was thrilled. So now he's pushing his crate all over the living room obviously hoping for a ham to fall out, or a turkey or other roast beast.

Different toys for different boys... I have an old leftover Giant toy made from firehose. It's been out in the far reaches of the dog yard for 15 years as the Porties don't recognize it as a toy - they like the soft sucky plush ones. He picked it up and brought it in and now it's his Very Favourite. Second-best is the toy that you put empty large pop bottles in so he can crush them between his might jaws with a satisfying crunching noise.

I think I'll clean and medicate his ears one more time and then post them up again. They're starting to go in odd unpleasant directions.

Farm living' is the life for me...

This morning we took the Gator
out to the pasture for his fourth farm jaunt, and then to the dugout.

He has the Gator thing figured out, no problem. As long as he stays out in front of it following the ladies where I can see him, I'll follow along and he can run or walk or collapse in a heap or sniff or chew. When he gets tired or hot, he starts walking back toward me and I stop. He climbs in under my feet and lies down on the floor and then he gets to ride until he wants to get out again.

This is a PERFECT arrangement for working on impulse control, since the ladies will drop back and run beside us sometimes (they know the score and I have no worries about running over them) so they're running and wrestling a couple of feet away from him and he's calmly lying down and watching them. Perfect. After a while I stop and ask him if he wants to get out and he either gets out and joins them or lies where he is like a little king in his chariot.

Please note before anybody gets excited that this whole run is a little over a kilometre on soft dirt and pasture grass, and he isn't doing most of it by any means. Lots of opportunity for exercise and ZERO possibility of over-exercising his "dainty little growth plates".

Then we arrived at the dugout. Syn and Stitch waded right in while Spider went in to the tops of his toes and examined the water. Pawed it a lot. Drank half of it. While he was pawing the water he pulled up some water plants and then he was plunging his whole head in grabbing the plants and flinging them around. Then I threw some stuff for Syn and he ended up in the water above his elbows hoping to grab stuff from Syn as she went by.

And he doesn't have a urine infection, polydipsia-polyuria. He drank too much, so he peed too much so he drank too much so he peed too much until it was running right through him and he got thirstier and thirstier. Physically and mentally impossible to housetrain a puppy with pd-pu. So tomorrow I'll be back to taking him out every 15 minutes and monitoring his intake for a couple of days.

Dog door #2

Ron reported this morning that Spider went out both dog doors after Syn and Stitch this morning. EE HAH. That's a HUGE step. Only part that's left is to get him to think of going outside on his own. I didn't take him out after I fed him this morning, but watched closely. He started to squat and I ACKed him, said Go outside!, took a step toward the dog room and pointed. He started to follow me, paused a second to have a think, then perked up and ran ahead of me out the door. GOOD morning.

We went to a lake in the afternoon to practise some water trial stuff with Syn. It was SO windy one of the crates blew over with a dog inside. Waves. I carried him out and put him down in water about halfway up to his elbow. No. Go. Literally. Apparently he can't walk when the floor is transparent and moving. He wasn't upset, was perfectly happy to eat treats, but couldn't take a step. He lifted a front foot a couple of times but put it back down where it came from in bewilderment. Wagged his tail at the other dogs. No problem, but no walking. I finally lifted him back out and he had a good time chasing seagull shadows on the lawn.

And in the evening, he either has a urinary tract infection or polydipsia-polyuria. He knows why he's going outside, knows what to do when he gets there, but sleeps in urine puddles, pees as he's walking, and pees while he's sitting thinking about other things. Ah the joy of puppies! Urine sample to the vet in the morning.

First shaping, starting the Levels, and a bond

Please note that I'm aware of how I switch tenses all the time. Sometimes I'm talking in the present, sometimes I talked in the past, and I switch with no apparent reason. I'm sorry. If I'm going to record what I'm doing, I'm not going to go back and proofread to get my tenses matching. Sorry.

Last night we tried a bit of shaping. Lots of fun. We were hindered by his puppy brain (what are we doing? Which way did it go? Look a fly!), his puppy mouth (I know there's a treat in there somewhere, unless I already swallowed it?) and his puppy eyes that can't yet quite follow a flying treat, but we got some good solid attention for treats as cheap as Cheerios. Good work, little man!

Then I sat down to do some paperwork and he climbed up into my chair and lay beside me. Just like that he went from being a really nice Giant Schnauzer puppy to being my dog. I felt the lock click. We're home.

And then the little wretch was up until 2 AM and up to pee at 3 and 3:30 and again at 5.

We went to the downtown lake park for a walk this morning. It was only about 22 degrees and the walk was a couple of blocks long. Cons: I picked a park with lots of geese. No geese right where we were, but LOTS of goose poop. Finally stopped walking on the lawn and walked on the sidewalks instead. Pros: between the two of us we did a creditable job of keeping the leash loose. After the first couple of dogs went by I was able to tap him on the butt with a finger and call his name to get him to swing around and look for wieners again. Kids were harder than dogs, but he didn't lose his mind completely. He got a lot of attention from old ladies by walking jauntily along and then collapsing as if shot when he got to shady spots. Several people said "aww, he ran out of gas!" Then he'd cast around as far as his mouth could reach until he ran out of interesting possibilities and then he'd agree to walk on to the next patch of shade.

We started controlled learning today.

Zen Step 1 - the dog moves off a treat held in your hand. You're sitting down. Holy doodle. He's got a terrific attention span - took him almost 10 seconds to get off my hand the first time. When he did, I clicked and dropped the treat (had to drop it ostentatiously so he could tell it was falling). 8 seconds the second time, and this time he knew it was going to hit the ground. The third time he didn't even touch my hand, just looked at the floor waiting for the treat to show up. Lovely little Giant Schnauzer brain!

Come Step 1 - the dog looks for treats at your feet. That's going to take some practise. There's a great deal of mouth involved and he's still got puppy-eye, where his eyes aren't mature enough to see something crossing his line of sight (only rolling away or rolling toward), but he's starting to figure out that a hand motion has a result.

Sit Step 1 - The dog sits with the leash off. Thanks to Marina (the breeder), he's got that cased, at least enough to pass Step 1. Even better, he has a vague idea that she should be sitting in order to get something, although his enthusiasm frequently overpowers the idea until he's reminded.

Target Step 1 - The dog touches your hand with her nose. Well, that was fun! I worked two sessions of 10 treats each. I held my hand in what I call the Yes position -
The first five repetitions he assumed there was a treat in the Yes hand and tried swallowing the entire hand. As soon as I felt a touch, I clicked and offered him a treat from my other hand. On the 6th rep, he had a Thought. He very deliberately barely touched my finger with the side of his muzzle, got the click and the treat. Hypothesis proven! Then he forgot and swallowed my hand another 3 times. The second round of 10 gave us 4 swallows, 4 deliberate closed-mouth touches of one kind or another, and two tries at getting the treat by staring at the treat hand. When he did that, I took the Yes hand away for a second, offered it to him again, he touched it, and he got his click.

Down Step 1 - the dog downs with the leash off. This was easy, he's happy to follow the treat lure. A couple of times he thought it would be easier to stand up and just follow it, but I just lured him into a sit again and went on from there.

And that's Step 1 of all the behaviours in Level 1 of the Training Levels - Steps to Success. Of course we have lots of practising and Comeafters to work on, but that's a great start. Clever baby.

The hardest thing we're working on is his ear infection. His ears have to be cleaned twice a day. This isn't negotiable. I can't wait to teach him to trust me enough to let me do it. I'm aiming for a compromise between having four people hold him down kicking and screaming and having him lie down and let me do it.

First we spend 20 minutes on relaxing on the grooming table. As I said the other day, he's an amenable little hooligan - and he likes to be petted. I lifted him on to the table and rolled him down onto his side in what I call Chill position. Since I was holding both his underneath legs (both left legs if he's lying on his left side) and hold him down with my body, it took him maybe 4 seconds to decide that lying down was a good idea. Then I eased up, sat back, and petted him until he fell asleep. I played with his feet, his tail, his muzzle, scratched his head, lifted his legs up and down. When he lifted his head, I put my hand on it and pushed it lightly back to the table, making sure to hang on to the front underneath leg (once they get the underneath elbow under them, there's no way they're going to get back into Chill position by themselves).

When he was completely relaxed, I touched the odd toenail with the Dremel, combed his jacket with a carding knife, looked at his teeth, and massaged his paws.

After 20 minutes, I took him out to pee, brought him back, put him in a sit on the grooming table, hugged him to my body, and cleaned his ears. Lots of massage and sweet talk and moaning, a little whining, a yelp or two. When I'm done, we spend another 20 minutes of relax and massage. The massage so far seems to be overwhelming the ear cleaning.

Hello to the vet

He had an appointment to meet his vet this morning. What a lovely puppy he is! Didn't hear a peep out of him all the way there. I'm pretty sure he fell asleep in the crate before we were out of the driveway. Once again he showed me that he never met a stranger he didn't love. A friend had a Flat-Coat there and kept it minding its own business so I got to remind Spider that he WAS able to sit in presence of another dog - he's much better at that than he was last week. Loved on the staff, loved on the vet - and she had a couple of tongue-depressors worth of CANNED CAT FOOD OMG to reward him for being present. This went over brilliantly with him, and with me as well because of course she ignored him jumping on her when he smelled it and only gave it to him when he remembered Marina's training and sat. The cat food wasn't necessary, he's apparently willing to have a good time no matter where he goes, but it was great to have it. He got a gob of it before she touched him, and another gob for not trying to jump off the table and kill himself (which he wasn't inclined to do).

First thing she said was "That's how I picture you - with a Giant Schnauzer!" "Work of art" was also mentioned. I was happy to hear that he has a honking big ear infection, because he started shaking his head a lot yesterday. I was hoping it was something we could fix and not just that he's overly-sensitive to having his ears posted. So for now his ears aren't posted.

Got some pictures of him today (about time) - first the dog yard -
bambi defoliating
Bambi in the forest And what does Bambi eat? Trees, of course!

Then out onto the savannah to play hide and seek in the alfalfa (still in the dog yard):


And then he decided it was too hot and he was going to go back inside

Then it was time to go to the vet, and when we got back I had some ear cleaning to do, which I was NOT looking forward to, but we spent half an hour working on relaxing on the grooming table and the ear thing turned out to be a non-event. He's a hooligan, but he's an amenable hooligan.

almost asleep

and there he goes.