Sunday, August 26, 2007

Anything for Chicken

Well, the second night was a vast improvement on the first night.

We took Ellie into the bedroom with us, at around 22:30, as we were both really tired from the lack of sleep the night before. The plan was to see if she would sleep in her bed, in the corner of the room, next to me. Talking of bed...

Try as we might, we just couldn't get her to settle in the plastic one. So, we got her a soft bed to see if that was any more enticing. Bingo! She loves it, and is constantly heading into it to lay down. That is that problem solved. At least now we have a bed for her which she seems to like using. The eventual plan, of course, is that once she likes the crate and the bed, we merge the two. All in good time.

She wasn't keen on laying in her bed straight away, at least not for the entire night it seemed. So, I placed her onto the bed with us, and she was out like a light.

I woke up around 03:30, and so I figured I would let her out to toilet. Like a star, she instantly obliged in both toilet departments! I rewarded her and took her back to bed.

A short while later, I was still awake, as was Jan by this time. We decided to get up at about 04:30. Ellie followed us down and had a bit of a play, before falling asleep on the sofa. It was quite a sight, I'm sure. Jan and Ellie were on the sofa, with Ellie falling back to sleep and Jan wide awake. I was sat on the floor, wide awake. What's wrong with this picture?

About an hour later, we decided it was time to head off back to bed. This time, however, I placed an already sleepy Ellie into her bed, right down my side of the bed. She tried to jump up on the bed twice, but at present it's a little too high for her, so now is the best time to train her for that really. She then laid down in her bed and we didn't hear a peep from her until 07:30 this morning. Even then , it was me who awoke, and I think that woke her up, so she desperately tried to jump on the bed to greet me. I naturally obliged. You can't resist that little face first thing in the morning. If there's one thing you can say about Ellie, it's that she's always and without fail pleased to see you.

After getting up, we went for a walk. She ventured further than yesterday, and she seemed to enjoy it more. She certainly stopped a lot more, in order to sniff around. There isn't really any discipline going on at walk time yet. It's too early for that. At the moment, it's just getting her used to the leash, and walking with me at her side. If she pulls, I stop, but that's it. The training course will show us the best way to walk her. For now, it's just for pleasure.

Upon returning, I decided to do a short training session with her, using some left-over chicken from yesterday. As well as the 'sit', 'down', and 'come', I introduced the 'leave' today. I figured this was a good idea, as it's not a natural thing for a puppy to do -- to leave something that is interesting, smelly, and tasty -- so a bigger reward than usual is needed. Chicken fits that bill nicely.

I placed the chicken in my open hand. Showed her it and closed me hand. I wanted her to work out that if she stopped trying to get at my hand, then the hand opened, and the food was there for the taking.

After only two or three attempts, it clicked with her that the way to get the treat was to in fact leave it.

After a few successful attempts, I introduced the marker word, 'leave'. I don't expect her to leave on command yet, but she'll quickly learn to associate the two. To say I was pleased with how quickly she grasped the logic of the 'leave' would be an understatement. By the end of the session, I was able to place it in my hand, issue a leave, and leave it there in my hand for three seconds, before giving it to her. Now that's a smart puppy!

That really is the beauty of a puppy -- they are so malleable and their curiosity and willingness to follow you around, just makes it so easy. I sense that she is going to be great to work with.

Jan has now gone out to purchase a mesh-guard for the back of the car. We're going to put the back seats down for the foreseeable future, insert the guard and give Ellie the back of the car to travel in, as the crate won't fit in. Once I've installed that later today, we're going to take her for a ten minute drive, to help get her used to it, in time for when Jan takes her to training classes on Sept 05. We'll just keep taking her out in the car each day and gradually extend the time.

She's had her front claws clipped, and she wasn't too bad. I distracted her with treats, as it was her first clipper experience. I also bathed her, just in water, and then ran the hair-dryer over her. She wasn't too keen on the dryer, so we kept that experience very short for now.

Next week, I shall make sure I have some chicken available when I try to dry her. Chances are that we will never use a blow-dryer on her in real life, but I think it's important that a puppy experiences as many different feelings and sensations as is possible in their early days. We've tested her with the vacuum and she seems fine with that. Though the foster-carer has already vacuum proofed her anyway. She's not a fan of the vacuum but then who is. She just ignores it and gets out of its way. Much better that than chasing it!

Oh, and I've never known a dog with such a taste for tea. She loves the stuff! And right now, she's panned out in her new bed, exhausted from all that training. Just how it should be.

1 comment:

dawnie said...

I cannot tell you how much i am enjoying reading ellies progress, we miss her so much but know that she has found a fantastic home. Perhaps we should have called her Tetley (i'm convinced as a newborn she was fed on a diet of Tea & Mouses!!).