Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Settling in with a giant puppy

Kane is 55 pounds of puppy. Fifty-five pounds of very energetic puppy. Although he was relatively sedate during our first visit with him, he warmed up quite quickly.

He thinks he only weighs three pounds.

One of the first things I did with him on his first full day with us was a dog IQ test. After reading about Allie Brosh's profoundly stupid pet.
Simple Dog licking the floor.
So we did the tests, the same ones that Allie's dog failed. Here is how Kane did.

1. Food under can: 11 seconds to get the kibble. 4/5.
2. Dog under towel: 2 seconds to get himself free. 5/5
3. Social learning: he did not get up or come to me. 1/5
4. Food under towel: 10 seconds to retrieval. 5/5
5. Food under couch: 10 seconds to digestion. 5/5
6. Knowing his name: no budge at all for refrigerator or movies. Instant response to his name. 5/5

Kane's score: 25/30

Over 25 points... Your dog is a genius
15 - 25 points..... Your dog is smart, but won't go to Harvard
5 - 15 points....... Your dog is not too bright, but is most likely very cute
Below 5 points.... Your dog must be an Afghan

These tests are supposed to be done after the animal has been in your home for a month, which is probably why he didn't immediately come when I smiled at him. In fact, the first day I did the "name" test, he failed, but when I did it today after practising his recall all day today, he aced it. So I think he's actually a genius and would probably pass that third test if I re-did it today.
Remember: he's not full-grown yet.

We spent the weekend getting to know each other and establishing ground rules:
  • One gentle woof is fine, but no outright barking in the house.
  • The big, fluffy bed is your place.
  • Absolutely NO jumping up on people.
  • No going upstairs.
  • No going downstairs.
  • When I call you, you come.
  • When I say "sit," you sit.
  • When I say "down," you lie down.
  • When I say, "wait," you stay put until I say otherwise.
  • No playing chase. Ever. (We had one completely unacceptable episode where I was trying to grab his leash (which he was trying to chew) and he kept running away.)
  • No biting. (He sometimes tries to playfully bite when we're have a little floor time.)

So far, we're doing well.

His bed is so big, it makes Kane look small.

The only real hitch is that the cat did not want to come downstairs for love or money, so we've moved her food and litter box back upstairs. Only today has she ventured down to the main floor of the house, but she hasn't approached Kane. For his part, Kane behaved when he saw her (I still had him on his leash), but would really love to have approached her.

Gnawing on his bit of antler.
For the past few days we've been really working on the "come" command. I consider it really important for his and our safety to be able to recall him on a moment's notice.

Here are the instructions the trainer, Cher from Streetwise Canine gave me:
To teach Kane his recall, just get a long line. And EVERY SINGLE time you call him, reinforce the behavior RIGHT away. The leash doesn't need to be too long but at least double the size of his standard one. Do not ever call him if you cant reinforce the behavior. I called this activity come for your dog. 

Do this everyday, 10 times a day for two weeks. Then you will get a bomb proof recall. The point is to "pull" him towards you as soon as you say KANE< COME! Start pulling him in, when he gets to you say GOOD BOY. Then his release word. 
"Bomb-proof recall." I like the sound of that!

He really doesn't like it, especially if he's got a snoot-full of something stinky. I, in fact, have made it a point to call him when he does seem captivated by something.

Today, at last, I thought we were making headway. He started to voluntarily return to me when I called him - a distinct improvement. Maybe, I thought, he won't need the full two weeks!

About 30 seconds later, he saw a squirrel before I did. I tried to call him back and yank him back, but he was going full guns and pulled me first onto ice, then flat onto my face.
"Road rash" on my chin
The rest of the walk home was very subdued as I kept him on a short leash. He hardly even tugged at all. I think he knew he'd kind of screwed up.

But this reinforces, for me, the importance of this training.

This afternoon, I am flying out to Regina for three days, to honour the life of my dear friend K.B., who died a few days ago (it feels like yesterday). Because Kane is still adjusting to our home, Steve has decided to stay home with him to reinforce all the training we've been doing.

Kane has been a very good distraction for me.


  1. That's going to leave a bruise.

    1. And a scab. I also ripped a small chunk out of my knee.


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