Basic Training: Week Two

Kitto is 10 weeks old.  I’m staying home with him for the month of May.  This is helping us bond while he stays indoors until his final vaccinations.  He’s around a family member 100% of the time and is never left alone.  We’ve had no negative kennel experiences, and he is mellow about family members coming and going.

Socialization is KEY while dogs are under 16 weeks old.  We have a lot of guests over.  On Sunday, we had family and friends over for Mother’s Day, and he was quiet and absorbed in solo play near us in a different room where he could see and hear us, but not participate (he was leashed).  I gave him a cold kong chew toy stuffed with Allprovide as we sat down to eat our own food.ds

Temperament Changes: Kitto is completely comfortable in the house.  Potty training is hit and miss, but proximity to the potty box and our encouragement helps.  He is very excited when people come home and invite greetings (and before that).  He normally can’t sit still, but when “at school” he can sit-stay or down-stay for 10 seconds with interspersed “look at me” (in the eyes) and “kisses” (soft mouth touch to hand).  Alyssa taught him “spin” in five minutes, and he remembered it the next day and repeats it for her.

Week Two Excercises / How We’re Doing

  • Walking Tethered, Giving Eye Contact
    • Kitto is Very Good at this, probably because we started clicker training early.  He learned to focus on the clicker and then to focus on us.
  • Sits for everything
    • This is easy.  Kitto offers sit for everything he wants, and he will sit when asked 80% of the time if we are within three feet of him.  Sit-stay or down-stay is required to hold him in place for more than two seconds unless it was his idea.
  • Sit: hand signal from distance
    • Max distance so far is ten feet from his eyes to ours with us standing about six feet away, at 30% of the time.  If we have eye contact first, he’s 60% of the time. [Kitto teaches us: Without eye contact he isn’t listening.]
  • Sit: withdraw treats
    • Did this last week by teaching Kitto that commands are chained together, like this:
      • (Sitting two feet from Kitto, heads close together.) “Kitto, look at me” (point to eyes, wait for eye contact)
      • (hand motion for Sit, with or without verbal cue)
      • (hold out right hand, fingers down like a stranger would greet) “Kisses”
      • “Good kisses.  Look at me.” (Praising kisses doesn’t break his focus.)
      • (A final command. Kitto has patience for four or five at most, and the total chain needs to be 10 or 15 seconds long at most, counting stays)
  • Recall at distance, with name, Sit at end
    • Kitto recalls at full speed.  It is hilarious and breathtaking.  A reminder to sit at end is required because we are literally asking him to go from stop to full excitement to stop again on a dime.  We never realized how cool dogs are that have learned to do this well.  Now we know!
  • Down
    • Down is harder to teach than sit, possibly because of laminate floor which is slippery.  Kitto offers down when we ask him to sit-stay sometimes.
  • Release after training
    • We show Kitto our empty (of training treats) hands and pet him and send him with “Go Play!”
  • Hand-Feeding, Crate Training
    • Kitto does not guard food and he likes his crate.  Any of us can take his food, and he will eat from any hand in the family.
  • Potty Training
    • Hit and miss.  Kitto is starting to associate the master bathroom as “this is where we go” because he sees humans use it.  Starting now, his potty box is staying in this room because he remembers it.  (This doesn’t help him actually remember to get into it ever time, yet.)
  • Biting and Gentling
    • Kitto is naturally gentle, but overuses his mouth when excited (awake?).  He can also be mouthy when we frustrate him by not listening well.  We have unintentionally taught him that mouthing means “I want to go down” so we need to replace that with a different signal.  Hand-licking would be nice and hands are usually close by when he wants down.  That would be good for strangers, too.
  • Games
    • Kitto plays full out, with all of the excitement and energy of a full size husky.  He loves to run, chase, and chew.  He taught us a hunting game this week with a throw carpet by rearing up and pouncing on invisible targets.  We added to it by making the tiniest of fingernail scratches against the underside of the carpet so he could listen for them and “hunt big game”.  Caveat: Kitto likes this and is super cute while playing it, but it’s not a great game for long term since we’re not planning for him to hunt for real, and we don’t want him to be aggressive towards small animals.
  • Other: I’m a boy dog!
    • Kitto discovered he can grab and hold with his forelegs and paws this week.  We saw leg-humping behavior for the first time.  We’ll address this the same way we address mouthiness and other undesired behaviors: We’ll redirect Kitto to a behavior we want him to do instead.
  • Other: Respect is conditional and earned by putting in the time.
    • Kitto is normally on lead even though we’re indoors.  This makes him easier to control and limits his capacity for disruption.  He normally follows us everywhere, dragging the leash behind him.  He has started to balk at following voluntarily if he doesn’t want to go somewhere, or if he is currently enjoying rolling on the carpet.  He can do a perfect imitation of a teenage human, “I’m doing something,” grumble.  He will stare us down and not move, a simple and straightforward “No.”  We go pick up the lead and get him engaged enough to follow.  [We can’t just pick him up, or drag him.  The point of Positive training is to get the dog to want to do what we want, not to mollycoddle or force him.]

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