Puppy Socialization Diaries Day 10

Another big day for everyone’s (ok, my) Saint Bernard puppy!

Today was a very rainy day.  We woke up to torrential downpour, and it was Cuba’s first time out in heavy rain.  He wasn’t really thrilled about it, but tuna fish made the experience downright pleasant for him!  Later on the rain lightened up, but by this point he was pretty comfortable getting soaked.  I was thankful for the opportunity, as it contributed to my goal of getting Cuba wet, either in the bath, getting hosed off, spritzed with water, getting rained on, splashing in the kiddy pool, or going swimming, at least once a day between 8 and 14 weeks.

We did take a brief walk in the rain together with Mokie.  We all enjoyed ourselves even though we got soaked!

Crate Training Progress

Cuba is amazing in his crate!  He will go in there voluntarily (though the behavior is not on cue yet) now quite regularly.  95% of the time, he settles down immediately when he is in his crate.  Initially, I was just clicking him for going into his crate.  Once he was doing that well, I raised my criteria and reinforced him for sitting in his crate.  The next step was clicking for head dips, shaping the down and capturing any offered downs.  I would say at this point he’s about 50% reliable about lying down immediately when he goes into his crate.  He is quiet riding in the car in his crate, and slept in his crate yesterday at orientation when it was Mokie’s turn to do demonstrations.  He also no longer whines or whimpers in his crate at bedtime.  Hooray!

At the classroom tonight, I crated him for part of the class and gave him bio-feedback and played look at that as Cuba lied down and an adult Standard Poodle and adolescent German Shepherd paraded by his crate, played the “name game” with puppy in the crate as a distraction, etc. We also played “Look at That” as he was lying down and looking at the other dogs.

Cuba now waits to be released from his crate, even with the door wide open. He knows that only sitting or lying position while waiting for release wins him freedom from the crate. Nice progress at nine weeks!

When he does whine in his crate, I just ignore it and wait for the desired behavior of lying down, which is always clicked and reinforced.  When he is lying down in the crate, I like to practice biofeedback with him, clicking for increased signs of relaxation including:

  • blinking
  • sighing
  • rolling on his side
  • rolling on his back
  • lowering his head down
  • chewing on a bully stick

Training Progress

Added a cue to “sit” today – our cue is gentleman!

Began Sue Ailsby’s Clicker Training the Stack. Right now desensitizing to muzzle touches and grabs.

Practiced heeling, including next to the running vacuum cleaner.

Continued conditioning whistle as recall signal

Practiced name response

Practiced targeting – stand, spin in both directions, follow

Lots and lots of look at that with other dogs, rolling cart at classroom, umbrellas opening, skirts ruffling, etc.

Adding a cue to lip lick – “Want a treat?”

Adding a cue to head dip – “What’s down there?”

Began teaching “front” position

New Toys

Other New Stuff

Approximately 10 new people including one chef in uniform!

Two new dogs – one Standard Poodle that he actually played with a bit, and the other was an adolescent GSD that wanted to bark and lunge at him.  He knows the crate is a relaxing place, so was happy to lie in his crate and play “look at that” while I guided the GSD’s owner through some desensitization exercises.  After a couple of minutes, she was quietly taking treats a few feet from his crate and he was sleeping.  Superb!

Riding in the van on a very bumpy dirt road in the country!

Rain, rain, rain

Having his paws wiped off

Other Good News

No potty accidents in three days!

Mokie, who normally has a tendency to resource guard, is very much developing patience and feeling less stressed about the puppy.  Earlier today, she brought a bully stick to the puppy and dropped it in front of him for a click and a treat, which was probably the most exciting training success of the day.

Since I’ve been working with the puppy a lot, I’ve also been rewarding the cub for lying quietly next to me during training sessions.  I started out with a very high rate of reinforcement but am starting to thin the reinforcement schedule out and she is responding incredibly well.  I’m ridiculously proud of my little girl for being such a fantastic big sister!  She really has been initiating more play with him lately as well.  To the uninitiated, I’m sure her grumbly-growliness sounds awful, but she and Cuba are starting to have a blast in play together!

She even tugged with him (very briefly, around ten seconds) twice today.  She’s never tugged with another dog before.  Good girl, cub!