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04/07/2011 / Julie

Eso day 7 – Half way point

Yesterday I got a message in my blog from Kenzo the Hovawart asking questions about Eso, and I realised that I haven’t properly introduced him. Seeing as today has been a rather quiet day, it is the perfect opportunity to give you an introduction of him.

He belongs to a friend of mine who breeds Bergamasco. She has six Bergamasco at the moment. There is Lirico, the grown male, Ewelina and Alfa, the grown females, Dorato and Esotico the adolescent males, and Ella, the adolescent female. Ella and Esotico are from the same litter, and I believe Ewelina is their mother. Dorato was born in the litter before, not long before though, they are quite even in age, and he is the son of Alfa. It is a hard breed to sell, since it is still very rare in world. The owner sells a lot of dogs abroad, and the last time I dog sat for her, it was because she was driving to Denmark to deliver a puppy.

This of course often means that she will have to keep the dogs until they have finished their rabies vaccines, which could take a while. When Esotico (Eso) was born I believe she had 12 dogs put together(including a litter). Dorato, Ella and Eso are the ones left today (Dorato is actually a return), apart from Ewelina, Alfa and Lirico. Ella and Eso both were quite fearful, however Dorato is the ideal Bergamasco with all engines go, doesn’t know fear, and would throw himself into anything with his tail wagging.

If there had been only one fearful dog, things would have been simpler. But when you have six dogs, and two of them are scared of the world, it’s hard to get the time to focus on them induvidually. When I dog sat for her, Ella wasn’t there, she had taken her with her while delivering another dog. Eso was there, and he was terrified of me and the other person who was there. He was also a bit of a victim among the other dogs there. He was bullied by the other males, and somewhat the females, and when they got a meal he ate under an improvised cave that had been put up for shade, to avoid the others.

At the moment I have summer vacation, and as I met Eso’s owner at a club training with Eso and Ella, a plan started to form in my head. I was worried that I would be bored out of my scull this summer, and when mum and dad were leaving for our cabin down south, I wondered what I would do when they were gone. I asked Eso’s owner, Stina, if it would be possible to watch either Ella or Eso for those two weeks. That way I would have a project and she would have some time to focus on just one of the dogs. She said yes, and I am now half way in those two weeks.

Today is the half way point in Eso’s visit. He has improved quite tremendously, however I am a little bit afraid that when he goes back home, the other dogs will make him go back into his old habits. Today he has showed small, but great signs of him becoming more confident. One of the most surprising was that he actually growled at Bajnok over food. They both have very tasty food, so I am seeing this as him daring to protect a resource he has full right to protect. He said nothing towards me, so what happens between the dogs, stays between the dogs (as long as nobody is about to be hurt).

When he came here his body language was very tight, his tail was hanging and he would not walk in front of Bajnok, despite of being on a 5 meter line. Today he was basically jumping back and forth, he was investigating and sniffing everything. His tail was up, his head was up and his body language was free and flexible. Today also brought out the mischievous side of him. Properly, I mean. He jumped the fence once and tried to run off, he has tried to steal food and he has chewed socks and shoes. When he was given an alternative, he chose that though.

We have also been doing some clicker sessions today. The first round we did was with the crate. It was a session with a mixture of luring and shaping. I clicked for every behaviour towards the crate and threw the treats, first towards it and later inside it. This made the session go faster. Since he isn’t used to clicker training, he has a tendency to get passive and throwing treats is a great way to avoid this. At the end of the session he was walking inside it. And tonight he has actually voluntarily gone to sleep in there.

Our next session ended up being about teaching him to lie down. A command I have been missing. He seemed to be getting the point that he was the one that got me clicking. I clicked when he lay down, gave him a treat in front of him, and clicked again, then threw a treat to start again. This was session one of lying down. Session two I introduced the cue. Throughout the day I have tried the command several times. He needs time to think, but he soon responds. And then we have a party!

At the moment Eso is sneaking to the couch. I love it! He’s allowed in the couch in this house, by the way.

Here are som pictures from when I dog sat when Esotico was a pup.

More pictures can be found here.

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5 Comments

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  1. Jen / Jul 4 2011 01:03

    What a great idea, both for Eso, and for you to avoid boredom. Working with a fearful dog is a lot of work, but must be very rewarding, especially when he makes such fast progress! I know I’ve had a lot of fun using the clicker with Elka, and would certainly leap at the chance to try out clicker training with another dog.

    Thanks for the explanation of Eso, and the pictures. We always love pictures πŸ˜‰

    • Julie / Jul 5 2011 03:57

      I’ve tried the clicker with a lot of different dogs and it i remarkable how different they take to it, though they all seem to think it’s fun.

      It has been great fun seeing Eso’s personality shine through. He seems more like a puppy every day.

  2. kenzohw / Jul 4 2011 09:41

    Thanks for the background information. It is wonderful what you do for Eso. Kenzo & Viva are cheering for him!

    • Julie / Jul 5 2011 03:58

      No problem, it’s much more fun reading about a dog you know something about.

      Thank you! And thank you, Kenzo&Viva! πŸ˜€

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