Thursday, October 29, 2009

One of those days...

Garnet quite likes Leo's little crate in the kitchen. She has discovered small remnants of treats on occasion and will stuff herself in and get cozy in there. Once she got in she managed to turn around and enjoyed a little nap.

Leo is happy in his crate in the bedroom at night, but isn't sure about the one in the kitchn. It prevents him from being in on the action.

Today didn't help matters any. I had "one of those days" and the poor little guy ended up cooped up too long. I had a hectic morning and cut our walk short. I left him with his breakfast at 8 am sharp, planning to come home at lunch to let him out and go for a potty break. A meetiong came up, but Devin needed to come back to the house for a few minutes and was able to take him out just before noon. He did his business but didn't get more than a few minutes play time.

At the end of the day I spent too long looking for a wayward teenager and delayed my arrival home by an hour. The pack was ready to get out for a walk! By now it is nearly dark so we had a good romp at the field and a walk around the block before dinner.

Now I am dealing with some serious puppy energy! The big girls can manage an appreviated exercise schedule now and then and are happy to spend the night chilling with me. Not Leo! He has been a whirling dervish-- tormenting the cats,  leaping all over me, bouncing off the girls, and getting into whatever he can. Every minuite I sit down to type I can hear him chewing on non-sanctioned items-- leg of chair, strap on back pack, dog bed.

At least he likes his "wubby"! Wubby is a "kong" encased in nubby fleece with legs like an octopus. I am tossing this across the kitchen in hopes of burning off some of his wildness. Note to self... Loooooong morning walk with dogs tomorrow no matter how dark and cold.
A tired puppy is a good puppy!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Blogging after work

Too pooped to blog well. My creative energy was sucked dry  today in an attempt to make the data base do what I need.
News from the pack today:
Walkies! Excellent progress.
House breaking! No accidents.
Chewing! Not so good. Flip flops damaged, teeneager scolded for leaving shoes where pup can get them.
Crate Training! Good progress, less yelping, quieted sooner.
Cuteness! Too cute for words.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Crate Training

Leo has a horrid high pitched yip. As he settles into life with us and gains confidence he is resisting his time in the crate today. He is less tentative and wants to be with the pack, at my feet, or in a lap. As darling as he is, I know I will regret it down the road if I don't get off to the right start. He is pretty high energy (the chihuahua in him) and needs to learn how to chill. I can see why there are so many spoiled small dogs out there! It is much easier to give in to them, scoop them up and be done with the bad behavior. I am pretending that Leo will actually grow to a 70 pound labrador and am training him the way I would if he were a big wild pup.

After brisk hour walk this morning and a good breakfast, my expectation is that the dogs will relax in thier places with a chewie. I don't want anyone in my lap or under my feet while I go about my morning chores. "Go to bed" is the command to get them in thier places. After the long walk Leo was leaping at the dog gate and yelping to get at me in the living room, even though the girls were settled nicely in the kitchen with him, so I invited him into his crate with a chewie and a toy. His yipping and complaining lasted a good ten minutes. Just as he quieted, my husband came in for coffee and he started again! This time he complained for about 4 minutes. All quiet now.

There are so many theories about the best way to crate train. Some say to leave the door open and make the crate a fun and inviting place with treats and rewards, never force the dog in.Others say to harden your heart and let the pup get used to it with short sessions, ignoring thier whining or barking. I am doing a combination-- first I tired him out, with a good walk, then I loaded a kong with some treats and offered a pig ear for chewing. I lure him in, shut the door and ignore the whining and yipping. The reality is that I have a full day every day if lots of things to do, not all which can involve the pack. I'd like to use the optimum method, but also need to keep Leo safe and secure when I can't supervise him. I did NOT want the crate to immediately signal my departure for a long period, so my goal this weekend is to intorduce him to it for short periods while we are around doing chores.

As soon as he is really quiet and resting I will open his crate and completely ignore him when he comes barreling out. Then we will have a potty break and I will let him have free time in the kitchen with the girls. Later I will laod another kong with treats , put it in the crate and close the door. My hope is he will want to go in after it and get his treat!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Leo's first lessons

The pack has already taught Leo some valuable lessons.
  • Don't try to eat of of a bull terrier's bowl at dinner time. Garnet takes endless puppy abuse with calm indifference, but don't mess with her dinner.
  • Don't jump on a sleeping greyhound. Flo Jo's naps are long and deep. She doesn't appreciate being woken rudely.
  • Don't walk in front of me! I am neither nimble or graceful. Dogs need to stay to the left or right or behind me unless they want an accidental boot in the bum.
  • If you leave your pigs ear for even a moment, it is fair game for others.
  • If you growl at another dog or a cat when you are in a human's lap, you will immediately be deposited back on the floor.
Leo is a quick study. The shelter must have done some housebreaking because he seems to "get it". We have 2 crates for him-- one in our bedroom for night time and one in the kitchen for while we are at work or need to keep him contained. He settles right in at night with one tiny squeek. I am sure having Dilly and Flo Jo nearby at night feels comforting.

Are you crazy?

Two days ago we drove to Boston to pick up a puppy. Those who know me simply smiled and rolled their eyes. Those who don't said "FOUR dogs? Are you crazy?" "Leo" was arriving from a Nebraska shelter, Hearts United for Animals.

Leo is a 5 month old chihuahua/shih-tzu cross. Commonly known as a shi-chi, he has been fondly dubbed by the teenagers in the house as a shihtz-huahua. Weighing in at 7 pounds, he is the smallest member of the pack. Adopting a dog sight unseen requires a leap of faith and a willingness to roll with what ever comes our way. The adoption counselors at HUA are knowledgable, careful, and patient. Over the last few months I have been looking thriough the website and inquiring about some dogs. After narrowing down some choices on the website that I found appealing, Jenny and I discussed the positive and negative attributes of each dog, their history, the energy level and lifestyle of my family, and the temperment of the existing dogs in the household. I was looking for a small playmate for our pug-pom Dilly. I wanted a male to add to the pack of females. One dog, Spice caught my eye-- a brussels griffon from a puppy mill. I have always loved the breed and hoped to find one through resucue. OK, not male, but really cute! Jenny told me they would require a fenced in yard because Spice was still very fearful and had a tendency to bolt. Nope, not going to work in a household of clomping teenagers who don't always latch the door behind them. Zuko, and adorable bichon might be a good fit! But the grooming needs of a bichon would mean one more appointment for me to add to my already busy schedule, or grooming time at home, plus my husband really didn't like the "fluffy white dog" look.
As a former shelter employee and veterinary assistant and an experienced dog owner, I have worked through behavioral "issues" with dogs in the past from dominance to extreme shyness. I have handled dogs in all shapes and sizes and I have the experience and interest in working through a vartiety of potential problems. But to be perfectly honest with myself, I wanted a fairly easy transition this time.

With three busy teenagers and a full time job that requires some night and weekend work, I knew I wouldn't have the time to devote to a high energy breed requiring major exercise, an aggresive dog needing constant supervision, or an emotional wreck needing a very mellow household. I do know that I could raise and train a pup and wasn't much concerned about his exact temperment. "Loves people and other dogs" was the selling point! Plus he is darn cute.

Leo has the "look" of a terrier-- my husband is drawn to terriers but one terrier (Garnet, a bull terrier) in the house is enough. I wanted another small dog as a friend for Dilly (our pug-pom mix) and because I have fallen in love with small dogs. The kids will love any critter that comes through the front door, and although Mike was lobbying hard for a dachsund (and HUA had a dozen adorable doxies to choose from) I was sure that one hound per household is enough for me (more on our greyhound Flo Jo another time). Since I am the resident "dog-whisperer" and primary caretaker, the decision was ultimately mine, but I wanted the whole family to be happy and invested in our choice.

Leo is 5 months old- still young enough to mold and train, but not as needy as a tiny pup. I wanted a pup old enough to take on long walks, be crated for about 6 hours if needed, and to have a little more bladder control. Jenny's description of him sealed the deal-- I wanted to find a dog with enough energy and confidence to join our busy household. The usual puppy training challenges were something I was willing to tackle as well.

Within days of the decision to adopt Leo, Jenny had arranged a flight for him from Omaha to Boston through their "Jet-Set Dogs" program. Jenny watches the weather for mild conditions and uses non-stop flights only to avoid delays or worse. She then books the earliest available flight. My husband and I took the day off from work for the trip. Coincidentally school got cancelled that day so my daughter joined us as well! We loaded up paper towels, bottled water, a blanket, a bowl, Leo's new leash, a harness, the instructions from HUA with phone numbers and off we went. Leo arrived without incident and soon we were happily on our way home!

I called the kids at home and asked them to give the 3 girl dogs a good long walk before we arrived. I wanted them to be relatively calm when we made introductions. I wanted the first meeting and experience to go well for all of us!