Monday, September 10, 2007

Clever Girl

The more I experience Ellie, the more I fall in love with Border Collies. They seem to be a simple breed in so far as their primary demand is to be challenged. It doesn't seem to matter whether it's mental or physical challenge (though they seem to prefer it to be mental) just so long as it's fresh and new.

For someone like me who loves to spend time with a dog, Border Collies are heaven-sent. Of course, I might not still be saying that in a few months when my dog is smarter than I am! But for now I am happy to marvel at just how quickly they learn. In fact, I would suggest that they are sometimes a little too smart for their own good. Sitting is an example of this. We made the mistake of trying to teach her to sit and down in the same training sessions. Now, she seems to want to predict what we want. We ask her to sit, and she does. But then she will lay down too, before we've asked, and even if we had no intention of asking.

To keep things fresh for her, I've been teaching her targetting over the past two days. I have a large piece of dowelling. I hold it out, and if she touches it with her nose, I click and treat. I'll do this for another day as she seems to have got the idea now, and then I will add the word "touch" to it. Then, once that sinks in, I'll get her to touch it for longer and longer periods.

The advantage of this is that it helps to teach so many other tricks and behaviours. For example, closing a door.

I've begun to expand her walk this week now. It only adds another five to ten minutes to the walk but it exposes her to a bit more mixed size traffic, cyclists, and people. So far, she seems fine with cyclists and traffic, but she sees a person and begins pulling on the leash, trying to get some full-on hot stroking action from them!

However, at least in the park, I can walk her to heel off-leash, as I did this morning, without issue. I limit the off-leash time however, as she's way too young to be given completley free-reign.

Jan and I took her to the park yesterday evening to play with the Kong Puppy Frisbee. She loved it. I thought she would get bored of trying to catch it, but she never did. She didn't jump for it, as her wee legs are still too fragile for that, but she did love chasing it. However, Jan threw it a little too far, and so we lost it in the nettles. Oh well, we had the backup tennis ball. (We use a bright purple one, as there are often-used tennis courts in the park, and I didn't want to give Ellie a fetish for normal coloured tennis balls -- for obvious reasons.)

Yesterday was bath day and it was much easier than the previous two weeks. She only tried to get out of the bath once, but that was short and once corrected, she stood there quite happily. In fact, I swear she seemed to enjoy it after a short time. Then came the towelling off, and she was very happy to receive that. Then the hair-dryer. Usually she struggles when that is turned on. This week however, there was a very quick attempt to gnaw at it, but then she just laid there and let it happen. I blow-dried her for about five minutes, as I like to quit on a good note.

Then came the claw clipping. She was great! In actual fact, because of the walks, there was only two claws that really needed clipping, so I did those and just touched the others with the clippers so that she could still go through the experience. My guess is that after a couple more sessions, she will be fine with having her claws clipped and being bathed. Victory!

We seem to be falling into a routine now and I think she's much happier for it. She seems to have set sleep time now, and boy is she sleeping more now that she is working at training and chasing balls across fields!

She did her twelve minutes being left alone in her crate at the weekend, and she coasted through it. It will be fourteen minutes today. As per usual, as I write this, she has fallen asleep at my feet under the desk. Bless her, she really does love it there. Ideally I'd like her in her crate but I'm not going to move her now. It's my fault for not putting her in the crate when we had finished earlier. I need to start remembering to do that!

1 comment:

dawnie said...

ah look at her, everytime i see a piccy my heart goes thud, she's grown so much - look at the size of her legs, and her coat looks so shiny and glossy. I'm counting the days to October but i'm sure someone keeps adding days cos its getting longer and longer!