I get great pleasure from just watching Ray.
He may be wandering around doing whatever his intuition is telling him to do, or he may be deciding where to settle down to chill out for a while. Sometimes he is clearly following scents in the house and, given that there are no other animals around, it is assumed that he is hunting down minute tasty morsels. Regardless, it is always fascinating (and educational) to watch him. There is always a possibility that I may learn something that will be to my advantage when training him for some desired behavior.
There are occasions when he is clearly watching me and he is probably totally reciprocating my feelings! He is probably thinking that he may learn something that will be to his advantage when training me for some desired behavior!
For all the progress that Ray has made since adopting us in March 2013, there are two key areas which still need to be addressed – separation anxiety* and crate training. The first one is preventing us from having much of a life without him, and the second one would make treatment for a serious medical condition virtually impossible, as would crating him to travel. Given that German Shepherds are apparently known to have difficulties when confined in a small area (they tend to start spinning which, if left unchecked, could develop into tail mutilation and/or other body damage), we are moving very slowly with the crate training.
When Ray goes into his crate (den), he will usually turn round and lay down facing the opening (I would probably do the same!). What he also does is stops the door from being lowered by either making sure that his front legs are sticking out just a little, or sometimes his head is resting on the steel frame at the bottom of the opening. He has always gone to his den by choice so the prospect of being shut in there has not probably crossed his mind however, his strategic positioning has to be addressed in order to crate train him.
As Ray’s early morning routine (around 8:00am) is to wait until he hears me coming up from the basement** and then make his way into his den and await his biscuit, I was presented with a golden opportunity to start crate training. As I got his biscuit and approached him, I gave him a “turn around” signal and moved towards the back of his den. Ray dutifully got up and turned himself round so that he could get his biscuit through the rear of his den!
While he happily settled down to savor his treat (with his back to the door opening) I slid the door down. Absolutely no problems! Of course this is only a start and we need to slowly build up his time in there.
At the time of writing, he his quite content to be “locked in” for about an hour as long as he knows that we are around. Clearly we have a long way to go but, using the “Tortoise and the Hare” analogy, we’ll get there eventually!
*Related Post “Ray’s Skype Account” – Feb 2, 2015
**Related Post “The Bag of Biscuits” – Apr 23, 2015