Training Fred The Newf

Fred has had a busy few days.

He’s losing multiple teeth each week as more of his baby teeth are replaced by adult teeth.

We worked hard with his trainer over the weekend.

Fred is doing great with his lessons.

At the same time, he’s testing me a little bit sometimes which he wasn’t doing before.

Fred’s trainer tells me it’s perfectly normal behavior, and right on time, too.

(Five months is, apparently, the equivalent to “the terrible twos” for puppies.  Fred turned five months old yesterday.)

I know I will have Fred’s “teen years” to deal with in a few months – around his one year birthday.

Fred is still “ahead of schedule” with his training.

He rings a “jingle bell” I’ve hung on our door when he needs/wants to go outside.

This is something I’ll keep him doing, so he won’t scratch on the door.

It’s also the first step on learning to touch/pull something to open a door for me.

Everything else he’s learning is, for the most part, basic obedience training.

Fred knows these commands:

Sit, down, stay, wait, heel, touch, come, stay, watch me, sit-stay, down-stay, stand, enough, leave it, and drop it.

We are working on staying for longer and longer periods.

I’m taking him places with more and more “distractions.”

Fred is still very puppy-ish when there are a lot of distractions around – other dogs, in particular.

It’s very normal because he’s still so young.

On Saturday, I took him to a very busy retail store.

Fred was invited to come in, even though he hasn’t completed his service dog training.

(They didn’t even know he’s a service dog in-training.  They just LIKED him.)

Fred was SO good in the store.

He sat calmly next to me as I asked.

People approached, one after another, to pet him.

Fred’s behavior was impeccable.

I was a proud mama.

Later in the day, Fred and I went down to the beach and walked around (the very busy!) San Clemente pier.

Fred’s behavior was NOT impeccable.

He wasn’t horrible, but he got excited about pigeons and pulled on the leash a little.

(Thankfully, he didn’t pull THAT hard.)

Then he got excited about some of the dogs walking by and pulled again.

When Fred pulls on his leash I stop and stand still and/or turn around and walk in the opposite direction.

It’s a standard training technique.

(I used it even with my past dogs.)

The difference with Fred, however, is his size and my bum arm.

He’s big and strong.

Even though he hasn’t (yet) pulled on his leash with all his might –

Any pulling is a potential problem with my arm.

I can’t hold Fred’s leash with two hands/arms if he decides he HAS TO meet a pigeon.

The trainer has worked with people with various disabilities before.

He gave me some ideas on how to use my body to act as reinforcement for my left arm.

Hopefully it will help until Fred matures a little and is 100% pull-proof.

It’s just going to take some time and practice.

But really?

I’m pretty amazed at how well Fred’s doing at such a young age.

I hope we can keep up the great progress.

I’m very proud of how much he’s learned.

5 Responses to “Training Fred The Newf”

  1. Michelle

    Well done, both of you. Though I did cringe when you said Fred was pulling on the leash… Glad you have techniques you can use to help alleviate any problems before they become a problem.

    • Suzanne

      Yes, it’s very normal for his age. Most service dogs aren’t ready for “work” until they’re about two years old. It’s because it takes time for them to mature, to be trained, etc. Once Fred has all the basics down and is reliable with them, I will build on what he knows to learn more. I only hold his leash with my left (good) arm.

  2. gina

    Love these Fred posts.

    When I was teaching second grade students, there would occasionally be a child whom I thought of as having an ‘old soul’. This would be a typical 7-8 year old child, but with wisdom and understanding way beyond his/her age.

    I think Fred has an ‘old soul’.


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