FLD Mike slept in until almost 7:00 am today. Usually he stirs in his crate between 5:30 and 6:00. We don't mind much getting up that early; Andy and I both like to rise with the birdies, but sometimes it is nice to linger awhile in bed.
How FLD Mike gets tired is the result of a number of things:
MORNING WALK (this day we did just over 3 miles)
Our daily walk is necessary exercise--for Mike and me! However, our excursions are also training opportunities. Before his Leader Dog jacket gets buckled on, Mike "parks" in his spot near the dumpster. Off we go. While he is HEELING he is "at work." He learns to pay attention to me. I vary our pace from a crawl to a 15-minute-per-mile march. I stop abruptly. I turn RIGHT or LEFT, or do an "about-face." I make Mike SIT and sometimes "hold" his SIT as I stop to pick up a lucky penny, or to keep his focus when an excited little Bichon escapes her owner and dashes across the street to greet us. We travel on sidewalks along busy roads so heavy work trucks banging through potholes do not startle him.
KEEP HIM THINKING
If we don't have time for a walk, or the weather is nasty, exercising Mike's mind for 10-15 minutes at a time tires him out sometimes just as well as a long walk. We work on obedience drills, depending on what he knows or needs to practice. I use part of his daily allotment of food to use as treats; his effort becomes a game!
Mike knows "mat" well now, so I move his mat around the house. Mike, MAT. He looks over to the spot where his mat usually is, cocks his head and wanders to the last place it was (this laid-back puppy is a thinker). When he spots the mat, he gives a little leap as if to say "Ah, ha! There it is!" He bounds over, turns around on it to face me, and lays down in anticipation. (treat) We work on staying on the mat. I leave the room and call his name. MIKE. He finds me and SITS. (treat) He thinks he's doing tricks when I he does "puppy-pushups." Mike, SIT. (treat) Mike, DOWN. (treat) Mike SIT. (treat) Mike DOWN. (treat) YEA!!!
PLAYTIME (this day with Rosie)
My trainer-friend, Katie, says, "Running around the yard is like taking your kids to Chucky-Cheese--instead of the excitement having a calming affect, their tiredness just makes them cranky and wound up." Has anyone been around a worn-out, crabby two-year-old?
I took Mike to my sister's yesterday afternoon to watch the girls while she went off to her graduate studies at Oakland U. Mike and Rosie chased each other around the backyard for hours. When we came in for dinner, they were so wound up and panting they wouldn't settle down. "We put Rosie on her mat when we eat," Sofia told me. Rosie, MAT. She went right to it. Mike, on the other hand, couldn't stop himself from engaging her. Mike, KENNEL UP. He ran into Rosie's crate. That solved things. Once Mike was forced to "stop," he fell right to sleep. Not that this provided us a peaceful dinner--he SNORES!