Tuesday, November 06, 2007
Baby steps for puppy
Pinky Laverne went to her first Puppy Primer class last night. She's way smaller and younger than the other puppies and they frighten her a bit. So far her only real socialization has been playing with a few adult dogs because they don't barrel toward her like gangbusters they way puppies do. She's only about 10 weeks old, and last week she weighed 6.1 lbs. (she's due for another weigh-in tonight). I'd really love to find her some appropriately sized puppy playmates.
She's also a bit afraid of humans sometimes. We did an exercise in class where each of us went in turn to the other people's puppies and fed them treats while handling their paws, ears and tails (to accustom them to human handling and help them accept things like vets and groomers). Pinky was reluctant to be close enough to the people for the handling part, so we just had people feed her treats. It's weird because sometimes she'll run right up to people and other times she's afraid. I think being in the class environment with all that puppy energy for the first time was stressful for her. She will probably improve over the next few weeks. I think that when we're done with this session I'll repeat Puppy Primer again instead of moving her up to Senior Puppy right away in the hopes that next time around, being older and a bit bigger, Pinky will be able to actually interact with the other pups.
As far as her general training, we're taking baby steps. Potty training is going really well because we have established a system and a schedule and we (the humans) have been diligent about sticking to it. We've had only a few accidents and they were all human error. Pinky seems to be trying her best to accommodate our desire that she do her business outdoors. I think she shares that goal.
I'm doing a lot more "play training" than anything else--encouraging her to play tug, having her fetch a ball and return to a game of tug (foundation for flyball!), and getting her to bite toys instead of hands. As far as control behaviors, we're doing attention to name, sit and down, but I'm taking it slowly and patiently because she's only 10 weeks old and has a rather short attention span.
Lucy and Mr. Gomez aren't exactly thrilled with the new addition, but they're slowly accepting her. She's never allowed unsupervised access to them, and so far all the time they spend together is limited to short sessions in the backyard, where the dogs have some room to escape from the pestering little midget. We're trying to keep all the interactions between the dogs as positive as possible, both to help the dogs accept Pinky and so that she doesn't learn grouchiness from them. Lucy is much more accepting than Mr. Gomez, who is just a big old grump sometimes. We call him the "fun police" because he can't stand it when someone besides himself is having a good time.
So I know it sounds like I've really decided for reals to keep Pinky, and I think that's probably true, but I'm leaving the "official" decision until she's been through puppy primer. I figure that will let me really get an idea of how she will fit the family and my dog-sport goals, but she'll still be at a cute and very adoptable age (with the bonus of having gotten lots of training) if it seems like it's not going to work. But so far everything seems to feel right.
The one big question that can't be really answered right now is her adult size. We have no idea what's in her mix, so we can only guess based on her growth rate so far. I've been trying to find as much information as possible about growth rates of various breeds so I can make a comparison. Right now I'm guessing she's on track to be about cocker spaniel size, which would be great.