Sunday, April 24, 2011

First Week

Eli and I are getting acquainted. We're also getting settled into what we expect from each other. Eli is looking for lots of love, attention, and direction. Check! He knows I'm asking him to do things and seems to want to please.
Eli has done superbly with puppy pad training. One thing I never knew about service dogs is that they are not supposed to relieve themselves until their handler gives them the okay. Eli lets me know that he has to go and is learning that I should be with him at the puppy pad. This coming week we're going to begin going outside.
We started clicker training with the command to sit. As part of the AKC Canine Good Citizen program, Eli should be able to sit on command at my side while a friendly stranger approaches and pets him, without showing any shyness or resentment. Chihuahua's learn best when they're taught as early as possible, so while it seems premature to make these requests of a 9 week old puppy, it is extremely important that our training is underway. Eli has recognized that I am asking him to sit, but we do need to keep working on it consistently so that he will only need to be asked one time.
As far as socialization, Eli seems to have no issues. I definitely feel that he will have no problems with friendly strangers. He hasn't exhibited any signs of aggression and actually enjoys the attention he is getting. He is also welcoming to other animals.
Eli has been doing well in his carry bag. Not that he loves it, but he is beginning to accept the idea of being in it when we leave the house. I take him out of it when I am able to have him out. For example, we went to Petco and tried walking on a leash in the store. Eli didn't know what to do on a leash, so I carried him. Walking on a leash is another area we will be working on next week. Leash-walking will go hand-in-hand with outside "potty" training. However, being a Medical Alert Service Dog, Eli may not be walking on leash often. Probably only to relieve himself. The majority of the time we spend in public Eli will most likely be carried in a backpack...or frontpack. It will be easier for me to carry him than to try to hold a leash while using my cane or even my wheelchair, plus carrying my tote bag. Nonetheless, leash-walking is essential to Eli's training and an important skill for him.
The upcoming week will find us continuing to work on "sit" and beginning to work on going outside for Eli to relieve himself and introducing the leash. He seems to love getting dressed, but we are expecting his training vest to arrive this week and that will be another new experience for Eli. It won't have the pockets that his official service vest will have, but it will allow him to get used to wearing the vest and understanding that the vest means we are going out and he needs to be on his best behavior.

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