|Sir.- Tuxanawlden- SDIT|
|Barked: Sun Jan 16, '11 7:41am PST |
My heart goes out to you! You did the best you could and sometimes things just happen. (Tux had a wreck in puppyhood once too).
If Levi is 3 1/2 months, that's still pretty young. Tux started going out in public at 5 1/2 months, "silent" stores by 6 months (not very popular stores, and on Sunday mornings) and then WalMart (in controlled training situations, beginning with Sunday mornings when everyone was in church) by 7 1/2 months.
If it were me, I would give consideration to changing the go potty command. I use tons of phrases in everyday language when I am communicating with people, and it is sometimes hard to NOT use dog commands. So, my relieve command is "potty." At 3 1/2 months, Levi has great potential to learn a new command for the same thing. But I think you will have to be careful about the "hurry up" for awhile, possibly a long time.
See, the way I was taught to change commands (when the dog knows the action for the command, as Levi has demonstrated - excellent job at 3 1/2 months by the way) was to solicit the action and/or match the action, and then add the new command. So, you would find a time when Levi is going potty (in an acceptable environment), either by cue and/or naturally. Then you give the new command, immediately praise as action starts, and give praise after for a job well done (good POTTY, Levi, good POTTY). So, for awhile you may have to say "Hurry Up, Levi, GO POTTY." with less and less emphasis on the Hurry up command, more on the GO POTTY.
In the meantime, and probably for awhile after, you will need to be careful to not use the Hurry Up command - as Levi may likely associate both Hurry Up and Go Potty with the same action. Eventually, (after he has go potty down as the potty command) you may want to retrain hurry up as an increase in speed or other desired action that is not so "risky" with embarrassment!
Additionally, Tux and I were trained that he has an opportunity to potty outside most stores before we go in. He is on a feeding schedule, so I can generally anticipate his deposits (fed once in the morning & evening; generally one deposit in AM, one at midday, and one in the PM) but he has free access to water, as all dogs should have. So, before we get in the car to go somewhere, he knows that he needs to "go potty." Then when at the store, while still in the parking lot, he gets another opportunity on a bush. He's generally ok inside, but if he has an "emergency," (rare) he will start crying and I know to rush him outside.
It took time for him to build bladder & bowel control; most dogs don't have it until 9 months at least. 3 1/2 months old and only being together 2 weeks is very soon. Tux was very young when we started training him, so please don't take that comment as criticism. As long as fear/overwhelming is not involved, young age exposure to environments is very good. However, it does also carry some risk as you can't always control the environment around you (Tux was assaulted by a 7 year old child when he was 8 months old in WalMart. Thank goodness, he did not react and he was not mentally phased by the incident, but most dogs would have been). In training, slow is fast. Additionally, at 3 1/2 months, Levi still has many fear periods to go; several within the first year. I would hate for training to start so early that Levi gets burnt out before he gets a chance to work for you for many years to come. You didn't say what type of a store/environment you were in, whether it was a quiet store, a large store; a pet-friendly or not. By all means, I believe that some dogs are capable of handling some things at an earlier age than others. Tux is a testament to that. I am in favor of training opportunities starting at young ages. I believe that truly benefited Tux. But I am also in favor of "knowing your dog," and not using a dog "too young." Remember, SLOW IS FAST in training. Maybe you are already doing this, and evaluating environments, and you just happened to have Levi with you (and he had a wreck). That's no big deal. That's awesome that you're exposing him to training opportunities that young (in a controlled manner). So continue to go for it. But if you hadn't considered some of these aspects, ask more questions on Dogster, consult training resources, and learn. Then you'll have the information to make an educated decision about when Levi is ready (and remember: Tux is proof that may not be far off. But Levi may need more time). If you work on a SLOW IS FAST basis, concentrate on reliability, and Levi's physical, social, and psychological health, you will set Levi up for the best chance to help you for many years to come. (Please note: not all dogs are suited for public access; it will take longer, and a period of training and experimentation, for you and Levi to determine if he wants to help you in public).
Good training resources:
Teamwork I & II, by Stewart Nordensson and Lydia Kelley
Working Like Dogs: The Service Dog Guidebook, by Marcie Davis
Psychiatric Service Dog Society (PSDS), http://www.psychdog.org
PSDS Frequently Asked Questions about Training: http://www.psychdog.org/faq.html
PSDS Training information: http://www.psychdog.org/training.html
PSDS Lifestyle: http://www.psychdog.org/lifestyle.html
I hope these help! Please don't hesitate to come back and ask more questions.
Tux & Big Sis
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