Checking In

Last week Kona went for her annual check up and I thought this would be a good time to write an update on how things are going with our now-15 month old lab.  

She did very well at the vet (she loves going there because she sees people and other dogs).  A bit reluctant when it came time to the vaccinations (who isn’t?) but otherwise fine.  The vet told us she was a bit underweight and could stand to gain a few more pounds with her ideal weight likely being around 52 lbs. 

In terms of training and obedience, things are going fairly well.  I’ve been working on her on-leash manners during our walks, and occasionally in the mornings I can rely on her regular collar instead of the gentle leader. 

She’s loving, and obedient (well as much you can expect from a young lab).  Thanks to her crate training she hasn’t destroyed anything in our house.  But we do have one “problem”…

Our dog is too friendly.  Yes, I know that sounds ridiculous.  But it is the one area that we really need to work with her on.  The “problem” really only becomes an issue when she is off leash.  As soon as she sees another dog, person (adult or child), or other moving animal/bird she is off, racing towards them to say hello. On leash she is pretty good, but if one of her top draws comes into view she will start to pull on the leash, even if she has the gentle leader on. 

And of course, if our doorbell rings, she goes crazy with excitement.  In fact, the doorbell doesn’t have to ring – a few weeks ago my parents knocked softly on our door then walked into our foyer.  As soon as Kona heard their voices it was like the doorbell had rung.  Barking, jumping – it’s a good thing there is a gate to prevent her from reaching the door! 

So what gets her really excited?  Well there is an order of “preference” when it comes to her interest (#1 being the most excitement-inducing)… 

  1. Pippa (Kona’s BFF)
  2. Other labrador retrievers, or golden retrievers. 
  3. Strollers (this is relatively new).  Yes, Kona has figured out that strollers contain little people, which are almost as exciting as labs!
  4. Any other dog breed.  Small, large, friendly or not. 
  5. People.
  6. Cats.
  7. Birds. 

On the plus side, because of her small stature, strangers think she is still a puppy and assume that’s the cause of her bad manners (I’m too embarrassed to correct their mistake).  Also, in all other areas her obedience is very good.  In fact, when we find she’s weak in an area, it only takes a week or so of constant attention and the issue quickly gets resolved. 

We’re working hard to get the doorbell situation under control.  After only one session of watching Peter ring the doorbell, she stopped barking (and running frantically around the house looking for the guests) when she saw him ring it.  Hopefully we can transition to her not barking when the door is closed (and an unknown person rings it).  After that will be working on her reaction when a new voice enters the house.  Baby steps…

We’ve also signed up for an obedience course which will start the second week of June.  Instead of being in a training facility, the classes are held in parks throughout our neighbourhood.  The course description was perfectly suited to all the areas we’d like Kona to improve on:

“Each week, we’ll work on street and leash manners at different locations around the neighbourhood.  We will be working on our motivation skills, keeping our dog’s attention and the application of previously acquired skills such as heel, watch-me, stay and other commands.  

  • Teach your dog to walk politely beside a stroller, work on heeling AND paying attention to you while walking along a busy street with pedestrians, playing children and busy stores and restaurants.
  • Condition your Retriever’s innate desire to flush out the ducks as you walk around a park.
  • Wait patiently while you greet a friend you meet while on your walk AND ignore their dog.”

If we can succeed with that last item, I will be thoroughly impressed!

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