Thursday, September 17, 2015

Amy and Andy - settling down, fitting in, learning

Amy and Andy are settling down and fitting in well. They are calmer when meeting people out on our run. Since they were coming home from the run and playing furiously for another 15-20 minutes, I extended the run today to 3 miles. And, unlike my rides in the past few years, where speed was determined by the slowest and weakest member (Sara, old and with a bad knee), where I did not really get a workout, with Amy and Andy I am actually getting some workout.

Coats are coming in nicely. Their weights are pretty optimal atm. I'm watching intake carefully, as I don't want them to get overweight and I have to cut back on food. They have too much tendency to get into things, and the smarts to know they can, and to figure out how to. So TOO hungry could be bad.

They are definitely learning. We still have problems with basic stuff (sit, stay, come, down). But, as I've said, I think this is partly due to selective hearing. I think they have had some attempts at training before - and it included negative reinforcement. Not that I think that doesn't have a place, but I also know how easy it is to overdo it when you aren't making progress with positive reinforcement. I think it may be likely that previous training had difficulty understanding how Amy and Andy respond - they weren't all on the same page if you will. So, we still get "selective hearing" for come and stay especially.

But look at what they have learned on our runs! They have a decent comprehension for all of these commands: wait, clear, let's go, stopping, get right, get left, load up, unload, down, get down, leave it, and mine. Each one of those is a separate command, with a specific meaning. Although "wait" is a soft meaning (unlike "stay"). Still, that is a pretty good vocabulary for a dog, and a REALLY good vocabulary for a dog with such little work.

And they (Andy is better, but Amy is coming around as well) are both trusting us more, and coming around to working with us more as we want.They can intuit the needed behavior at times. Yesterday I dropped a glass bowl in the kitchen, and it broke into deadly sharp smithereens. The door to the back yard was open, and both dogs were in the back yard. At the noise, they came to the door and started to come inside. I (loudly) said "wait!" and some other stuff, I forget what all! But they stayed outside the kitchen, at least for a while!

They haven't gone over the fence since the first week. Amy, when on free-leash (leash on, but nobody holding it) was leaving the yard to explore - but a bit of extra attention from us, and I think we have slowed that down.

I am not overly concerned that either will "run away" - they REALLY prefer to stick with what they know. Including 'where' they know. At the same time - they want to explore a little - natural curiosity, I guess. And they are new enough to get lost, eh? Problem is, Amy goes where I can't see her, and that is a no-go item. Well - if I can't see or HEAR her. Behind a bush or tree, if I can hear her, is still ok. Amy wants a little more freedom than that. I could probably trust her, but she isn't ready for prime-time yet.

When we are on a run, we are mutually focused on each other. When I am just working around the house - I am not focused on them at all, and that is when we have had problems. But, I spent a little time doing things around the yard, while staying focused on them. Caught her just as she was leaving 'territory', and I think we've got a better understanding of limits. We will see!

Anyway, they are having tons of fun! Their appetites are great. They are always looking for more after they've eaten. Since I'm cooking their food, I take that as a compliment! While they both ate from each other's dish readily when they came, they quickly learned that I preferred it if they stuck to their own dish. I can see that they still have the urge - but they confine it. Mostly! Hehe.

So, we are making great progress! Everyone comments on how beautiful they are! And, they are! They are also certainly enjoying their days!

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