Saturday, June 5, 2010

Charlie, Day Two

We're surviving! So far Charlie has actually been easier than I had anticipated. He's got pretty good leash manners, is good in his crate, and slept quietly last night - was afraid he was used to getting up at 4:00 AM or some such ungodly hour, but he was quiet in his crate until I went down at 6:30. Jess took him to the office yesterday where he got lots of exercise exploring the warehouse and playing with Stella the Cavalier, plus she took him for several walks. I walked him twice yesterday evening, and I think he was absolutely exhausted!

His owners switched Charlie's food to Costco Kirkland brand which is a reasonably good food, actually made by Diamond, supposedly with Diamond's regular formula. The only problem with discount dog foods is that the ingredients may vary from batch to batch depending on the commodity prices, and the concern that lower quality ingredients are often used. At least he is not eating Sprout or Old Roy, bottom of the line store brands. I'd prefer he was eating Pro Plan, but try not to be too "bossy" about the dogs I sell. This food is a good bit less expensive than what he was eating before, but cost should not be the deciding factor when feeding dogs.

I am somewhat concerned about the fact that Charlie is too thin - he's lost a couple of pounds since the last time I saw him when he was already lean. His owners will need to increase the amount of food Charlie is getting because he is an active young dog. We'll discuss that when I return him tomorrow. It's sometimes difficult to get the amounts right on young dogs and they are often too thin or too heavy. I would rather have him a bit thin and everyone who knows me well, knows that I hate to see fat dogs.

It appears that Charlie's owners took my suggestions to heart last time, as his leash manners seem much better already. They had gotten too dependent on using a prong collar rather than actually training him. Prong collars, like those nasty head collars, give the owner more control of the dog, but they are often used as a substitute for actually training a dog to walk properly on leash. Charlie understands to wait at the door and before coming out of his crate, which is also very handy, and is quite responsive to a sharp EERRRRR as a distraction when I need to get his attention (such as when he is focusing on a squirrel or obsessed over a good smelling post). The prong collar is fine when they take Charlie jogging, but for walks around the neighborhood a simple chain training collar is best.

He's also much better about having his teeth checked, and being "examined" which means being touched all over. Young males are sometimes hesitant to have their hindquarters examined, but Charlie seems to have gotten past that. It's important to pet dogs all over their bodies, so they can be examined by a dog show judge OR by a veterinarian. All the things that a dog needs to know to be a good show dog also help him be a better pet. As with children, the more dogs learn, the more they CAN learn. Charlie seems very open to learning new behaviors, and I'm extremely pleased with his temperament, how well his owners have socialized himm and how willing they are to take advice.

The only real problem to overcome is Charlie's tendency to sit whenever collar pressure is applied, and to sit for a treat - both learned behaviors that work well on companion dogs. We just need to teach him the stand command as an alternate behavior, so he does not sit unless he is told to sit. Automatic sits are required for obedience competition, and are taught in most obedience classes, so we will have to work around this. A sit is also used as a "control position" when Charlie gets overly excited - control positions are very helpful in managing enthusiastic dogs. We'll show Charlie on a soft cloth slip collar (like a chain training collar but made of woven material) which might help, as Charlie is used to wearing a metal collar when he is trained or goes walking. We'll work hard on this over the weekend, and encourage Charlie's owners to work on a stand command too.

Jess reserved ring time at Pet Junction tomorrow, so we will have a chance to work with Charlie (Argus/Nikon) and with Jax (Argus/Lilly) who Jess co-owns and wants to start showing this summer. Hopefully we can get good pictures of both boys. Am so pleased with both of them. Jax was difficult last fall, but has really grown up over the winter. Like Charlie's owners, Jax's owners have worked hard to make him a good companion.

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