Wednesday, September 5, 2007

The Catch Up

We've had quite a busy few days so I've been missing blog entries in an effort to recoup some time.

Sunday saw Ellie's second bath and claw-clipping session. (Remember, we're fake-bathing her at the moment using just water, just so she gets used to it.)

Learning from the previous week's bath, I attached her long-line to the shower so that I could use both hands. It made a big difference and things went more smoothly. After coming out, I attempted the blow-dryer on her again. She is still no fan of it, but she was much much better this week than last. It'll take time but we'll get her there.

The biggest difference was in the claw-clipping. She took to it like a duck to water, and I managed to get them all done in one sitting. If it's as easy as that each week, then I'll be happy.

She's now losing that soft and fluffy puppy fur and it's being replaced with the more coarse adult fur. It looks funny at the moment as she's lost it all down her back and around her rear, but it's still soft and fluffy everywhere else. But boy is she growing - both in size and personality; though she's still all legs.

Jan attended the two hour theory part of the puppy training class on Monday evening. She came back extremely impressed with their set-up, methods, and demonstration dogs, which are in fact dogs owned by the instructors. It's made us more determined than ever to make sure Ellie does as much training as possible. We have decided that we'll put her through all the classes they have, ultimately including agility and competitive obedience, and we're also looking at completing each KC 'Good Citizen' course, starting with the Puppy Foundation one.

Tonight sees the start of the actual training classes. We're actually only going to be in a class of two, so Ellie will only have one other puppy to interact with. Because it was under-subscribed, the instructors did offer us a different evening, where the classes are a little fuller, but with Jan's shifts that was impossible. Anyway, they are going to bring a couple of their own good-mannered adult dogs too. There's also the first puppy socialisation walk on Thursday night. Jan's shifts may bugger this up but we're trying desperately to find a way around it, as we think it's really important to get her on them.

Talking of training, it's here where there is the most progress really. We've been busy clicking and treating, and the rewards are really paying off. After advice from the training class, we now also insist that she looks at us before she gets the reward. So she might be asked to sit, but that alone will not bring the reward, she has to look up into our face too. She picked that up yesterday without problem.

Her door manners are really good. I simply don't let her out before me. When we started, if she tried to dash out, I would close the door and give a wait command. She now happily sits at the door (often without prompting even) looks up, lets me step outside, and then waits for a come command. She does that on the front and back doors at the moment, though sometimes forgets herself on the front. But hey, we've only had her for almost two weeks.

Her car travel is excellent and we're exceptionally pleased about that. We really wanted a dog that we could take around with us and we sure have one. We've purchased a harness for her that fits around the rear seat-belt. While she sat quite happily without it, we wanted to be certain of everyone's safety while travelling. It doesn't seem to bother her at all. There's been no sign of the travel sickness that she exhibited on her journeys over to us from the Foster-Carer's home.

Yesterday, I had her attached to my belt while I washed the car. The reasons were that she can often be very nervous facing the big wide world. We open th front door, and she's overly reluctant to step out of the house. (I've had to do a lot of carrying which obviously I don't want to become a habit.) Anyway, there we were washing the car quite happily when I saw an extremely overweight Chocolate Labrador jump into my car boot, and then jump out, nosing little ol' Ellie onto her back until she submitted. To say I was bloody angry would be a gross understatement.

The neighbour came out, anxiously saying "sorry, mate" and trying to get a hold of his way too fat dog. I asked him if he was insane, and he, presuming I was joking, laughed a little. He then said "She just escaped when I opened the door", to which I abruptly told him that is what leashes and gates are for, before calling him a few choice names. I think he got the message that I detest irresponsible dog owners. Especially ones who can set my puppy up to resent or fear dogs through their lack of thinking!

Regardless, Ellie seemed to handle it quite well. She rolled over quickly enough, and I resisted the urge to pick her up. I sort of stepped in between the two so that the Labrador couldn't do much damage. Despite staying supremely calm for Ellie's sake, I was so bloody angry with the idiot, and I think he knew it. Might help if he actually walked his dog once in a while. I've never seen it walked yet. It's little wonder that it bolts out when it sees daylight, or that it is so unhealthily fat!

Anyway, aside from that, she seemed to enjoy exploring the front of the house, and getting soaked from the bubbles and water dropping to the ground from the car.

We took her to Pets at Home for the first time yesterday, actually to purchase the car-harness. Boy does she love getting attention! She actively hunts it out from anyone who looks even remote interested and casts her just the slightest glance. She may well end up being a lot of things, but I don't imagine that shy will be one of them. I carried her around to start with as it was her first time, and I thought she might be a little nervous. Was she hell. Once she realised there were people about, she wanted in on the action and wriggled until I put her down so that she could go and get her quota of strokes.

Right now, as I write this, she's done her usual trick of curling up under my desk and sleeping at my feet. She seems to love it under there. Earlier, she was curled up on my lap as I was typing.

Yesterday, we formulated our plan for getting her used to being alone. We're going to crate her and leave her alone each day, adding two minutes per day. That means that after thirty days, she should be able to stand sixty minutes. We did her first two minutes yesterday and she was perfectly fine. Today, it will be four minutes. I do make an effort to shut her into it each day though, so I think she's used to being in it while I move about the house anyway. I'm sure she's going to be just fine.

We've arranged to meet Dawn, the foster-carer at a show in October, where we can take Ellie along to see her, plus she's going to come over to see Ellie between Oct 1 and 21 too. I bet Ellie remembers her immediately. We're trying to expose her to various public scenarios between now and then so that she's not completely flooded on the day of the show. We're taking her away to a dog-friendly lace this weekend, so that will give her quite some exposure.

All in all, it's going really well. We're pleased with her learning, both in training, and in her learning how to behave around the house. She's lovely and sociable around people, and oh, she let me sleep in this morning! What more can a dog-owner ask for?

I almost forgot to add. Yesterday, I tried brushing her again. She doesn't seem to like being brushed and is far more interested in attacking the brush. However, after reading the two books we purchased from the training theory class, I decided to take their advice and brush her when she was already quite relaxed. Cheeky mare fell asleep on my lap, with me sat on the floor brushing her for half an hour! She has such a cheek...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I love reading Ellie's blog....shame about the irresponsible neighbur, and the poor overweight dog. Sounds like Ellie is a very bright and lovely dog...keep up the good work !!

Sam (TT)