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Thursday, December 15, 2011

Growing Up Deaf

Jasmine is growing like a weed!  Things are getting easier now that she recognizes the signs for good girl and stop that, both of which are very helpful in changing and reinforcing her behavior.  Because she’s been on the road with me since she came home, she is very comfortable in the car.  It’s like her second home now and she settles very quickly and quietly in her crate for the ride.  She has learned to potty fairly quickly on the leash when let outside and in different areas, which is a very handy skill for a puppy to learn. 
Jazzy is learning how to do long flights of stairs.  Each stair is still a small mountain for her, due to her size and going up is definitely easier for her than coming down.  Going up, she gets a running start and just keeps running up until she runs out of momentum.  Then it takes a bit for her to get moving again.  Coming down, I have to make sure the stairs are well lit and I’m not so sure how much depth perception she has, or if she’s just cautious because that’s what puppies do, but she's careful to feel for the edge and how far down the step goes. 
Jazzy loves to play.  She brings toys back very well now and she loves to play tug!  I’m trying to teach her a give cue by grabbing her collar with one hand and pulling slightly towards me while holding the toy in my other hand.  She’s learning to be more careful with her teeth on my skin and will stop herself most of the time.  She has trouble finding her toys if they are more than a couple feet away if they are not moving.  If I toss them, she can track them where they land and runs right to them, but if she doesn’t see them move, she can’t always see them. 
She enjoys her food puzzles and toys, which have also helped to keep her occupied on our trip.  She has also discovered the joys of rawhide and pork chewies, which she had never had before.  Her tiny baby teeth allow me to not worry too much about a chunk getting bitten off and swallowed.  I just give her the bigger sizes of bones.  They are lasting her a long time, and they are great for keeping her occupied when I want a few minutes to type or watch TV. 

She seems to recognize her tactile go potty cue, and she’s even starting to ask to go outside, which is amazing to me because we’ve not been in the same place for longer than a week since she came to me.  Jazzy is learning that being woken up is a good thing and that there’s no reason to startle and jump away.  I give her a treat or a toy or a quick ear scratch to distract her from the startle of it, and she is startling less and less.  This is important to teach any dog, but especially a deaf dog who won't be able to hear you approaching while it is asleep. 

Jasmine is enjoying her first walks.  I am always prepared with a supply of good treats that I can break into very tiny pieces.  I use moist treats so they can be swallowed quickly and I can break them up very tiny.  Puppy teeth often take a long time to chew crunchy treats, and too big of a treat will fill up a tiny puppy very quickly!  I feed her for everything to make sure she is making good associations with her world - feed for walking on a loose leash, anything that is sudden (noises if your puppy can hear, movement, etc), moving things like bicycles and flags flapping, still things like large scary looking trash cans and garden statues, feed for lured sits and downs on different surfaces, feed when you meet new people and children, when you see another dog or cat, for checking in with me, for any new surfaces puppy walks on, etc.  By taking some extra care and time now, while she’s young, I can help her to think all of these things are good instead of taking the chance that something will scare her.  That being said, she is an amazingly outgoing and confident puppy already!
Of course, Jasmine is still a puppy and does puppy things.  Zoomies are still fun to watch, but stay back or you might get run over!  She is starting to respond to a sit signal alone without a lure or toy being held over her nose.  Down still needs a bit of a lure with hand, food, or toy.  Spins are coming along and she jumps over my leg, or crawls under my knee held barely off the floor.  I’m starting to teach her stay by delaying her reward when she sits so she has to sit longer each time.  She’s getting better about staying calm for cuddle time and letting me check her teeth, nails, etc.  Now that she recognizes the good girl signal, it is much easier to mark the moments in which she is calm, and then release her to go play again. 
She will sometimes try to play keep away when I reach for her, so we are doing some hand targeting and me grabbing her collar for a treat, toy or petting, so she sees it more as a thing to look forward to.  She is not afraid to come to me, but she loves to play chase with the other dogs, so wants me to chase her too and will try to start a game. She drags a leash in the house sometimes so I can stop her and not feed into her game, which she thinks is extremely fun!  She has a come signal, but right now I only use it when she is extremely close and coming to me to get a toy or treat.  I don't want to risk using it and have her take off running trying to play keep away! 
One other fun tidbit pertaining to deaf puppies is that you can create your own puppy snooze alarm.  Because Jasmine gets most of her information visually, covering her crate allows me to sleep a bit longer in the morning.  She can't hear me moving in bed, but she can sure see me if she's not covered.  In puppy language, any movement means it's time to get up and play!  So by covering her, I may get to sleep a bit longer.  I taught her that a tap on her crate meant I was still there, by tapping and then sticking my finger through the crate door to comfort her.  She can feel the vibration of me tapping the top of the crate. Now she knows that the tap alone means I am still there.  She hasn't figured out that I need to be awake in order to tap, and I'm not about to tell her!  So, if she starts peeping in the morning, I can just reach over and tap the crate from my bed, and she will settle back down to sleep a bit longer ... puppy snooze alarm! 

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