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Panda’s Persistent Puppy Progress

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Panda continues to grow and progress on her road to becoming a service dog. She has reached some milestones over the past couple of weeks. For her, one of them is the ability to jump up on furniture. Quite by accident, she discovered she could jump up on the couch. She was chasing Mowgli, our other dog. When Mowgli is playing with her, he likes to jump up on furniture and then tease her knowing that she can’t follow him. This week she followed him up onto the couch and was shocked that she did it. She soon realized it is one thing to get up, but you also have to know how to get down. When she followed Mowgli onto the couch, she turned and looked down and realized her problem. Mowgli quickly jumped down and ran across the room to another piece of furniture, leaving Panda stranded on the couch. What’s a playful puppy to do? She lay down, looked down at the floor then at me, and wined for help. I offered her encouragement that she could jump down and then bribed her with a treat. That was all the motivation she needed; down she came. Ran over to me and got her to treat and the game was back on with Mowgli. It took her a few days before she was willing to follow him up onto the couch again. Panda spends her days in my home office with me. In my office, there are several comfortable chairs. After several attempts, she figured out she could jump on those chairs and quickly get back down. Now when she wants to rest during the day, she will jump on one of the chairs and nap. Recently I purchased a very comfortable leather recliner chair. That used to be my chair. Now it is hers. So what about her training? She has gotten all of her puppy shots, including her rabies shot. It is now safe for her to visit the park and some of the dogs visiting the park. As a service dog, she will need to learn how to respond when other people or animals are around. It is good practice for her to interact with them at the park. When I visit a person, she has learned to sit next to me and not jump or bark. With other dogs, she is learning to sit and wait for permission to visit the other dog. She is doing very well at both. It may be easier to train her not to jump up on people because we are socially distanced. When you are 6 feet or more away from someone, it is less tempting to jump on them. Her biggest struggle with meeting people is children. She tends to get a”puppy brain” around children and jump up on them. We are working on this, but I need to make sure the child knows not to acknowledge her unless she is sitting down and if she starts to jump to step away. That gives me a chance to try and get her under control again. I will also step on her leash close enough to her that she cannot jump. The command I use to stop her jumping on people is “Off.” She responds very well to that command with adults. This week panda visited the vet. She is now at just over 14 pounds. The vet said she would probably get to about 25 lbs. when fully grown. That is quite a bit less than the 40 lbs. we thought she would be. She also attended her third week of puppy obedience training. She is more playful with her classmates now. But she is also doing very well with what she is learning. This week we focused on regaining her attention when she is distracted and responding to the command to come. She demonstrated that she is doing well with the leave it and heal commands. We have started taking long walks over one mile. Panda is now quite a bit taller than Mowgli. Tall enough that he has learned to go under her and stand up. That high centers her so she can’t get away. I guess she is growing so fast; this tactic will only work for another week. All and all she is doing very well, she behaves herself when we go to Lowes. Over the next few weeks, I will try taking her to Lowes or another dog-friendly business and let her walk on a leash. It is critical that in that environment, she ignore people unless I give her permission to visit with them, and she must never jump on them. For those who may be interested she is attending training at Versa Dog Sports in Layton Utah. I have been very happy with the training and the facility. In addition to the Puppy Obedience Training that Panda is in the also offers agility training and daycare. They have indoor and outdoor facilities. We are doing our training outside to allow for better social distancing.

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