Things with Dexter have been really great recently. He’s improved in his car chasing, house manners, and even some obedience. Today was probably the first day that I’ve really seen his naughty side–and boy was it entertaining! Though, I suppose the right thing to do is to first talk about some of our big successes we’ve had recently.
I think the most AWESOME turn around has been his house manners. It took ten days for him to lay down in the house on his own. He simply couldn’t stop moving, stop scanning, stop searching, stop pestering all the animals. We did some default down practice in the house and he was doing really well laying down to earn rewards. After a few days he started to just lay down without working for rewards. Now these were brief 5-10 seconds of laying down before getting up and pacing, searching, etc. but they were moments of relaxation. He continued to lengthen the amount of time he stayed laying down and increased the frequency of his relaxation. Now a day over two-weeks into our adventure Dex will lay down and relax in his crate (with the door open) regularly, he will lay down and chew a toy on the floor for a while, or relax on the couch with me for upwards of a half hour! He is not quite as relaxed as a normal dog but he is well on his way and is showing huge improvements (as I type this he his sleeping in his open crate next to me).
Along with offering to lay down and relax in the house, he has also earned some freedom. For the first ten days he was either tethered to me, kenneled, or playing outside. He simply was too busy and unable to just stop that there was no way he could be trusted to have freedom even in one room (he also had a history of marking so part of this was a housebreaking mindset). Well, now that he’s much more settled in the house we’ve gated off two rooms and a hallway for him to be loose in while we are relaxing. There is about 10ft of hallway that is out of sight, but otherwise he can be observed the whole time. It’s been nice to let him have some freedom with us… and it’s great to let him make choices and be able to reward the ones I’d like.
His car chasing… well… you win some you lose some. While on leash he is super easy to manage so long as I’m able to reward appropriate behaviors with cheese. If he sits and watches the car drives by calmly, he will earn some cheese and he’s more than willing to work for that. With that motivation for cheese, his car chasing while on leash is 95% better. He is actually a pleasure to walk on leash, even around cars–right now we stop when a car approaches and he sits as it passes and he’s doing exceedingly well with this process… he hasn’t lunged or seriously pulled toward a moving car in quite some time. We are working toward continuing to walk while the cars move, but this is a huge increase in difficulty for him. With the use of the flirt pole I have seen a drop in intensity while chasing cars in the yard and he has made the choice to tug/chase Rio instead of chasing cars on occasion but this is a very large work in progress. Initially Dex would pogo at the fence corners for a significant amount of time after the car was out of sight and would obsessively look for it and wait for its return. Now he will run along the fence 3-5 times with the car and may pogo once or twice (and not nearly as high as before) but that’s it–it’s still a work in progress, that’s for sure!
Now for the day of naughty…
**Dexter decided to jump a baby gate in the house to get to my me and my mum grilling on the porch.
**Dexter de-stuffed 4 dog toys and tried to break a cat toy
**Dexter pushed “over” the support for the “flap” of an end table which nearly sent a lamp and computer crashing to the ground… luckily their center of gravity was NOT on the flap
And last…but not least….
**Dexter not once, but TWICE somehow jumped up onto the cat’s window seat. I was walking through the kitchen to grab something and I notice a strangely Dexter-shaped thing on the cat seat… and sure enough it was Dexter. I nearly died laughing at him. This seat is like 12in x 18in and it’s about 3ft off the ground and there is no easy “runway” type space to get up on the seat. He somehow got his 40lb body up on this seat… and somehow didn’t break it… and luckily didn’t break the window! (Un)Fortunately he got down before I could get my camera but take it from me, it was HILARIOUS seeing this huge dog on the cat seat… he was kenneled with a kong while I recovered from a laughing fit and checked out the seat for structural issues. Boy was it naughty but boy it was funny as well!!