Puppy Pals

Scout Meets Rudy 

As we’ve learned, puppies need to be socialized to as many people and sniff as many other dog butts as possible during their early months at home… Especially with our Scout being such a social butterfly now, we’d like to keep him that way as he grows up. (just need to teach him not to jump up but that’ll be for another time).

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Scout has the upper hand… but not for long!

Our neighbour down the hall has a puppy too and we were excited to have them play together finally after at least one got his shots. Rudy is a wheaton terrier – poodle mix and is full of energy too!

I completely turned into the protective mom when we first introduced them since Rudy is quite a bit bigger than Scout and as you’ll see in the video has some sweet wrestling and hip-checking moves! I’m so glad that Richard, my fiancé, was there to bring in the voice of reason: “This is how puppies play and they’ll let each other know when enough is enough…” It took a lot of my own self-control to not pull my dog from underneath this other puppy, but he did eventually let Scout take over.

I guess this is what happens when big dogs play with smaller ones. The bigger dog will let the smaller one take the upper hand after a while… It’s hard to hear your dog let out a squeal too if someone takes too hard a chomp! But I guess that’s how they learn and why this socialization/biting process is so important. I found this article helpful and reassuring when it comes to just letting the dogs “play it out.”

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Break time! Good dogs!

And as I watched my own dog interact with another, the natural pauses in play do occur as suggested in another article – a good indication that the play is safe. Whew! I’m sure these two will look forward to many play dates in the future! (great way to burn off some of that crazy puppy energy!)

 

 

Puppy Training, Stage 1

“Come!” “Sit.” & “Lay Down.”

As instructed, we got right down to teaching Scout the first few commands that every dog should know. In Dr. Dunbar’s notebook, he demands that puppies know these easy skills by 8 weeks! At first I thought: What the?? As if an 8 week old puppy could get those commands, he’s so young! But as we’ve discovered, and having gotten Scout at 6.5 weeks, he was ready and willing (for a treat!) to learn. Here’s how we did it:

Using tips from AFTER You Get Your Puppy (Dr. Ian Dunbar), I would call Scout to “Come” and give him a treat. We had bought the freeze dried chicken pieces, which made great rewards and not too many calories, but I’ve also used the kibble from his daily ration. Then, while giving the command “Sit”, it helped to move the reward “from in front of his nose to between his eyes. As the puppy raises his nose to sniff the kibble, he will lower his rear end and sit.” He got it pretty much right away, especially since he’s food motivated! I incorporated the “Sit” hand gesture as I’ve seen in the past: hand flat, facing upwards, like you’re holding a tray, and this way eventually (and hopefully!) he won’t need the verbal command.

As for “Lay down:”

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Ok, he may be sleeping in this one but you get the idea…

This turned out to be an easy one  as well since puppy’s nose follows the food, by lowering the treat from his nose to between his front paws. We found it helpful that if he didn’t get it right away to cover the treat or kibble with a hand, between his paws, and he drops right into a lie down… Gets ‘em every time!

I must mention that in no way have we mastered these “tricks” yet, far from it! (especially when there are distractions) But, I learned from this video on “stay” that it’s only beneficial to engage in puppy training for 5ish minutes because of their short attention spans… Sometimes Scout doesn’t even make it to 5, so we try again later.

What has been amazing is that he was able to learn these simple moves in his first few days at home;  I guess that consistency was key! I never thought that a 7 week old puppy could learn so quickly but again, as I’ve read, puppies aim to please and although they chew and bite and sometimes go a little crazy, they want to make their human friends happy… Or at least that’s what I keep telling myself; that and patience is most definitely a virtue when dealing with a puppy with limited memory recall.

Stay tuned for “stay” and “roll-over.” Oh yeah!

First Bath!

I decided that it would be a good idea to bathe our pup since I’m not sure he’s ever been washed and he’s had this little sticky stuff on his chest since we got him. (I know, lovely, right? What’s with the sticky stuff?) Anyway, the process went something like this:

Step One: Look online for tips… I found the wiki site, Bathing a Puppy, had a nice outlined step-by-step process and Cesar’s site was helpful for expectation management. He says: “Make peace in your own head with the concept of a bath,” and with a positive mindset you create the attitude towards the bath for the puppy… Which is key! Just like the crate, everything around the bath needs to be a good experience… Okay. Let’s do this!

Step Two: Prep the area. Bucket? Check. Pouring device? Check. Towel? Check. Treats? Check. Baby shampoo? (heard it was okay) Camera for post-bath shots? Check.

Step Three: Get into bath ready clothing… Glad I did this step since I was pretty much soaked afterwards.

Step Four: Find the puppy. Poor thing had no idea what was coming! He’s not big enough for a filled bathtub but he’s a little big (and squirmy) for the kitchen sink, so my solution was to fill a bucket and use a plastic cup to wet him down and rinse him off.

Step Five: Offered Scout a few treats once in the tub, letting him smell around and get used to the idea, but he was kinda slipping around already so I figured to just go for it. That initial cup pour was his first cue as to what was happening and he wanted out of that tub NOW! He didn’t cry or bark, but his paws were up on the side of the tub and face in my chest… I persisted, thinking that if I could just get him mostly wet, soap him up and rinse off, then we would call it a day.

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Scout post-bath

Step Six: Soap’em’up and Rinse’em’off… This happened as quickly as I could since the look on Scout’s face told me I had limited time. He was okay while scrubbing with soap, I didn’t bother trying to get his face or ears (which I read to avoid), but then during the rinse I wanted to make sure to get all the soap off. So we ended up with his back paws in the bucket, front paws in my one hand (his face buried in my neck and chest since I was leaning into the tub) and then my other hand scooping water to get him all rinsed. I basically kept speaking in calm tones, telling him what a good boy he was and reassuring him that “it’s okay, Scout. It’s okay.”

We had a good cuddle post-bath in the towel, where I praised him and gave a few more treats, and dried him off as best I could… But the most hilarious behaviour ensued afterwards when we went out into the living room (video below). I call it: the Carpet Slide.

I guess it’s uncomfortable to be wet when you’re a dog.

 

To Crate or Not to Crate…

So we got the crate. It’s a bit big for him now but we’re hoping we picked the right size for him as an adult. (17-22″ tall). Now to figure out how to train him to A) go into it willingly and B) enjoy being in it. As I’ve read, Dr. Dunbar’s advice is to have a long-term confinement area (our kitchen/bathroom as mentioned), complete with bed area (first with lining pad from travel bag and now with crate, although, to be honest, Scout prefers to nap behind the toilet – cool and dark back there!),IMG_1112 as well as elimination area and water bowl. We’ve been quite successful with this assigned-space method and he will even whine or swat at the bear bell we hung from the door knob, asking to go outside! Since we want him to learn how to be on his own, much to my distress, we’ve left him for up to max 4 hours and he dutifully relieves himself on the puppy pad! Whew!

After determining that we really wanted Scout to have his own portable “room,” we picked up the crate on Day 4 of puppydom and are confining him to that space overnight now. I’ve read many differing opinions on what to do when he starts whining in the middle of the night. The Daily Puppy suggests taking him outside each time he whines so that he learns to go outside, which can speed up house breaking and doesn’t dirty the crate. Another article says to just sit by the crate and reassure the puppy, although I’m sure there’s many more tips out there.

Our experiences so far:

  • puppy cries when initially locked in crate at night. Despite trying to do it just before we go to bed so that he knows it’s bedtime, he still cries. As I’ve read, I should be getting him used to going in during the day with the door closed so that it’s not a punishment and so that he enjoys going in. Crate games anyone?

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  • puppy whines in the middle of the night… I’ve tried three methods – the reassurance, the trip outside to pee and the trip to the puppy pad in the kitchen. So far, inconsistent attempts yield inconsistent results… Shocking!? But I do think with how small he is and as such his bladder too, he should need to pee regularly. Heck! I need to “go” in the middle of the night and I’m no 5 lb. ball of fur!
  • puppy wakes with the sun… This one is non-negotiable and completely okay by me! If I expected a 7 week old puppy to hold it until 8am when his humans want to get up, I should’ve got an adult dog! So far we’ve been up at 5:30, 6:20 and 7am with the overnight crate. And only one of those nights required a midnight rendezvous with the outdoors… Pretty good, I’d say!
  • moved crate into the bedroom to be near us… What a great suggestion! I’m not sure what helped more, the fact that we calmed him down before bedtime (equals a sleepy pup), and/or the fact he could hear us sleeping near him. Either way, bed at 11pm and up at 5:45am without a midnight pee break! Unreal!

So far, I have to say that I’m so impressed with my dog Scout! As any proud mama would gush, “he’s the smartest, best dog around!” But shhh, don’t tell our neighbour with the 9 week old puppy.

 

Mouthing, aka Chews at Everything!

He’s a biter!

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Scout with his rope

I knew that this was typical puppy/dog behaviour – the desire to bite, gnaw and chew on anything and everything. The first picture I ever took of Scout was him chewing on his now favorite colourful rope toy. I didn’t realize just how much biting we were talking about until Day 1 with Scout, but I’ve learned to embrace the chew.

I even came up with my own term: the Chill’n’Chew

I’ve dubbed this my snuggle time with Scout. We’ve developed a real liking for the Nyla Bone puppy chewtoy, flavour: yams. And it’s our quiet time for petting, playing with his ears and feet, and for him to get his chomp on. It’s pretty cute! And often we chew on fingers and toes, and with the command “Gentle” he is getting the hang of it.

With the guidance of some internet sites on biting, and, of course, Dr Dunbar’s bible, I have learned some tricks to let him know when he’s too rough or bites too hard. I’ve played around with a simple yelp (yes, I speak puppy!) and stopping play altogether, and when he’s really chomped down hard to get up, using an angry voice “That’s too hard. I’m not playing like this. I can’t believe you would do that.” All while stomping out of his area, and shutting a door. Each of these timeouts last about 20-30 seconds, before rejoining him to reassure and restart the play. I’m not sure if this works or not, but I know that he really likes being around people, so maybe removing the person/plaything is the best way to discipline?

Learning the proper mouthing pressure is relatively easy to manage because I have to be present with him near me, the other puppy behaviour of chewing could have it’s own blog! We knew that puppies chew, but he literally chews EVERYTHING! And I understand the importance of consistency, but seriously! Every time I turn around he’s either chewing the base board, the door, the baby gate, the toilet (you name it!) and you can only put vinegar on so many things before the place reeks of it… I will have to come up with a new strategy for this… Stay tuned!

Day 1

Nevermind being woken through the night by little puppy cries, I also didn’t sleep because I was just so excited to have this new member of our family. This dog-ownership gig is definitely a training run for parenthood, and I can’t even imagine the excitement and nerves of a new mom. But I think I felt some shred of them. I was excited for what was to come, already imagining what it would be like to play with the new pup, training him, getting him house-trained… It was all so new and incredibly intimidating! What if I screwed it or him up?

I never thought I would be that person who posts incessant pics of their pet on Facebook, but already on Day 1, I find myself wanting to scream to the world how cute my dog is! But can you blame me? He’s just so damn adorable, even friends who aren’t pet or dog people agree that he’s pretty irresistible.

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Me and Scout

Since I was the one lucky enough to stay home with puppy, I got right down to the household etiquette training (most urgent on Dr. Dunbar’s list of puppy training) and bite inhibition (#1 on Dunbar’s Importance scale, also in another blog post). What I learned pretty quickly is that the Kong chewtoy training is only effective if the puppy actually likes the kibble that you stuff into it. Sounds pretty self-explanatory, right?! Well, if you’ve bought a bag of good puppy food (our first try: Blue Buffalo) that he doesn’t like you won’t get the desired response of chewtoy training: settling down quickly and quietly… We had bought the freeze-dried liver treats, as recommended, and they worked great to start him on learning simple commands like “sit” and “down.” (but more on that later)

As for the house-training, it’s is just a matter of staying on top of regular outings, and keeping that puppy pad nearby in the long-term confinement area… Scout learned this pretty much right away. I even went out for an hour run to leave him on his own and he dealt with it easily. His area right now is the tiled kitchen and bathroom, where we can easily clean up mistakes, but also lay out his bed, toys, water dish and elimination space: the puppy pad.

Oh! We also decided on Scout’s name today. I was outside with him and got some neighbourhood kids to play with and pet him, and when they asked his name I said I wasn’t sure but that “Scout” was in the running. When I asked the 7 year old what he thought he said he had two names he liked: “Scout and… Maggie!” — Scout won out!