Wednesday, July 20, 2016

In with the Treats...Out with the Crate

As we continue on our path of making Dylan ready to be a guide dog, we have been given training ideas to help us achieve her success.  On coming when called; Dylan probably rates a 2 out of a possible 10 in this endeavor.  During her evaluation, this was noted by the trainers, but they failed to attach the guide on what we were supposed to be doing to correct this behavior.  Well, they finally sent it to us.  It is every dogs dream.  Call their name and when they come running, give them a treat.  That's it!  No "atta girl" or "good job" just give them the treat and walk away.

Now the thinking behind this is to do it 25 times a day for a week with a treat.  The second week, give treats about 75% of the time.  Week three, 50% and so on until they come when called when doing things like chasing Bailey around or bounding out of the pool, without hesitation.  A blind person can't be chasing around their dog because it won't come when called.  The problem is this, a certain other dog that resides here, also comes a-running when Dylan's name is called.  Plus, they know when you have treats in your pocket.  So they're always following you around sniffing your shorts or pants.  So to counter-act that, we have placed treats all over the house.  In the bathroom, call "Dylan" and she comes a-running for her treat, along with Bailey.  Outside, call her when she's in the house, she comes a-running, along with Bailey.  See a pattern here?  We will see how week two works out when we reduce the number of treats.

At the Hollywood Bowl.

The other big news is we have removed Dylan's crate from our bedroom.  She now sleeps on the pads without the crate, but we have to put up a kiddy door to keep her from roaming around the house in the middle of the night.  The other two dogs aren't real thrilled about this, but we give them the option when we go to bed.  In or out?  Maggie is always in.  Bailey keeps looking for that treat.  Once they decide, we close up shop and turn out the lights.  No whining!

Monday, July 11, 2016

Pet Sounds - Not what you think.

Sunday night we took Dylan to her first Hollywood Bowl concert.  It featured Brian Wilson, of Beach Boys fame, doing his iconic Pet Sounds album in its entirety.  Dylan had spent 6 days at the Sylmar Kennels when we picked her up on Sunday.  It was also graduation day for 9 new Guide Dogs and their handlers.   This is our third graduation that we have attended and I must say it is such a great experience seeing how these wonderful dogs change their handlers lives.   For some, this is their second, third and for one, their 6th dog.  Three graduates were first time recipients of these life changers.  There wasn't a dry eye in the house as they related how guide dogs have made such a difference in their lives.

When Dylan goes up for kennel stays, we never know what to expect when she first gets home.  Of course, she picked up an ear infection.  Last time it was a hot spot on her neck.  The kennel assistants told us she wasn't eating the last two days of her stay.  Seems the dogs get a bit of "kennel stress" which changes their behavior.  Leaving her for six days was a long time.  In talking with our area leader Brian, he indicated it is not unusual for dogs to experience this behavior.  We also conferred with Brian as to taking Dylan to the Bowl.  He told us that it would be a good experience for her.  Nineteen thousand people is one thing, but when it's all feet and knees, we didn't want to stress her out any more.  She handled it like a trooper.  Even the bus ride up and back was easy-peezy for her.

Now it's back to training and working on some of her problem areas.  Heeling without pulling seems to be #1 along with her reactions around other dogs.  This week we will also be attending an advanced skills class with Brian.  All with the hope she makes it and becomes someone's guiding eyes.

Her first Bowl experience!

With friends Kate and Charles - Their first time to The Bowl.

Such a great venue 

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Turning One + Evaluation

Going back a few weeks, June 11 was Dylan's one year birthday.  It so happened we were in Sylmar for obedience training with all her siblings.  Dozier's human had made birthday bandanas for them all.  So we naturally had to get a picture.  After many attempts with handlers in the pictures, we were encouraged to see if they could all sit/stay for a picture without us...Ta Dah!   Lets see L to R we have Dinah, Daisy, Dozier, "?", Dylan and "?".  Been so long ago, I can't remember all their names.

Demonstrating a sit stay in synchronized fashion

We left Dylan in Sylmar for her 10 month evaluation that was delayed due to her going into heat.  They kept her five days along with about 10 other dogs so it took a few weeks to get back the report on how she was doing.  Here are some of the highlands from the report.

Kennel Behavior: Overall, good
Walking in unfamiliar areas 
  Response to people: Good
  Response to dogs:  Needed correction to pass
  Response to animals, birds squirrels: Good as she heeled.
  Response to other (stairs, kids, sniffing): Good on stairs, can be sniffy as a diversion.

Basic obedience:
Was progressing, but her training needs to be more consistent.  Pulls on leash and when that isn't          allowed she reverts to sniffing.   Needs work on her sits and downs as far as positioning.   Does not come to her name off leash.  Her "formal come" is coming along but need work.  

Not recommended for re-evaluation at this time.   (this means she passed)

All this means she is coming along ok, but we have to step up our game as puppy raisers.  Her energy level is very high and neither Chris or I can match it on walks.  So our pool comes into play.  With permission, we have been allowed to work with Dylan in the pool.

At first, she would not go in.  Sitting on the top step was as much as we could get her to do.  You would think instinct would kick in here, being a water dog and all.  

Nice sit, but not what we're looking for here.

With some coaxing and the use of a football, she got it and it was love at first splash.  Important to teach her how to exit the pool by finding the steps.  After a few attempts, she was excelling in true Lab fashion.

In a short month, she's been evaluated, learned to swim and gone to her first concert in the park.

Kicking it at the park

With the 4th of July right around the corner, we'll see how she handles the noise of fireworks.  Not a good time for dogs leading up to the 4th with all the explosions going off.  All dog owners can agree to this.

Apologies for not keeping up with my blogging.  I will do better going forward.