July 19th, 2010


Chickens Are Diurnal

The chickens have developed a routine. About 7:00, when I go feed them and let them out of the coop, they're usually still up on the roost (where Teckla can peck my head while I clean out the litter). If it's sunny, they come outside for a day of patrolling the front side of the run, digging holes in the ground, and general scratching around as soon as I've refreshed everything and spread some grain around for them to hunt. If it's cloudy, they wait until it's brightened up some. Usually they spend most of the morning outside in the sun, and hang out in the shade under the coop in the afternoon. Now and again they pop back up into the coop for a bit, and while we're eating dinner they jump back up on the high roost and settle into one corner or the other for the night.

We're glad to see them using the run finally, because we put an awful lot of work into it and it seemed for a while there like it might not get used. It took Teckla about a week to decide that she was willing to come out, and that was just very briefly right after my morning visit; then she'd climb back upstairs and they'd both spend most of the day roosting or poking around in the litter. The whole time Teckla was outside, she and Norska would call back and forth -- they spend the vast majority of their time less than a foot apart, so this being out of sight business was terribly stressful. Eventually, Teckla convinced Norska to come outside with her, and since then they've seemed quite happy with the outside world. If I leave the run door open enough, Teckla's started going straight for it -- she's very fond of eating grass and not the slightest bit concerned about being out of the run.

Galen is handling this fairly well. He was good at ignoring the chickens in the coop, but out in the run they're much more visible and interesting, so we've been reinforcing ignoring the chickens again. He'll still run at them when he's very excited, so we need more practice with that scenario, but he's got the idea most of the time. A week or so ago, I had him out in the yard to practice chicken-ignoring, and had gotten him focused on following orders around the run. I wanted to practice turning away from the chickens more, so I needed to make the chickens a little more interesting first. I had Galen sit near the door while I opened it a bit to attract the chickens' attention... and Galen leannnnnned around the door... and Teckla pecked him on the nose. He went YIPE! and ran back up to the porch and sat next to the door to indicate that he was done here and could we go back inside now please. Not my intended lesson, but I guess it'll work....

No eggs yet. (Still not king.)

Canine Good Citizen Prep

Our current class is Canine Good Citizen prep. I don't actually expect we'll pass the test this time -- it's only a 6 week class, and while Galen is getting better at ignoring other dogs that's a very slow process -- but the class structure is good for us all and it was either this or repeat Obedience for Dog Sports. I hope they hold a beginner's agility course at the Palo Alto facility in the fall; they've got a couple going at the Milpitas location, but that's obnoxiously far away. Or rally obedience; that would be fun.

I expect Galen will do fine with all the parts of the test that don't involve other dogs, but I'd like to practice a bit first in case there's anything we need to work on. Quite a few of the tests involve the dog's behavior around a "friendly stranger", so if anyone would like to volunteer to be a stranger, let me know and I will buy you a coffee-or-whatever while we practice. For Galen, I expect people he already knows a bit will be more distracting than people he's never met, so you do not in fact need to be a stranger to the dog to be useful practice -- waiting patiently, then calmly and politely greeting actual friends should be more of a challenge.

Also if you would like to volunteer your house or any other door- or gate-containing wall or fence you may control access to, I'd like to generalize his sit-and-wait-for-permission-before-going-through-doors behavior beyond the doors in our house.
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