Tag Archives: dog socialization

New Puppy – Great Beginings

IMG_6813Three months ago I got a new puppy. I named him Signal, Siggy … Freud … Sig and he’s great! Fast learner. Active. Agile. Motion attraction. Amazing bounce … and likes pretty much everything.

Would he be a good choice for everybody? For sure not, probably too fast a learner, too active, too agile, too likely to chase things and too much bounce.

What kind of criteria do you have for choosing a new pup? How well have you followed it in practice? Do you have certain things you plan on doing with your dog? How have your last dogs been? What didn’t work for you? These are all questions worth answering before getting a new pup.a

Just like in training or planning anything I had my ‘have to haves’ and my ‘likes, but not necessary.’ My needs included a medium large dog (aiming for 50-65#), people and dog social (before I have had more aloof dogs and they suit me, but maybe not my dog training class atmosphere). Excellent conformation, score well on puppy temperament test and I had a handful of breeds that would be likely good choices. The parents should be excellent examples of their breed and consistent with what I was wanting. I preferred a non-black dog … but only because I do photos and videos and black is hard to see details, expressions or even body parts sometimes.

IMG_6834abSo he’s all black. Rich, very black, black. He’s a doodle, which hits the people and dog social, and size range. I’ve known his mom, an AKC registered, 45#, standard poodle named Ruby, since she was a couple of months old.

Five months, the age where most people think … “whew, potty trained, better start doing some other training.” If you’re in that group I do have a dog basic obedience class coming up in January. Sig will be going … he’ll be my demo pup. Reportedly the other pups in his litter are kinda wild. I’m not surprised since active, quick and agile pups tend to get that way if they aren’t handled skillfully. We were visiting the vet clinic yesterday afternoon to put up flyers and practice puppy skills and Sig is the calmest one they’ve seen.

Which is nice to hear about ‘the dog trainer’s pup.’

But, you know, that’s not really true. What’s true is he’s had practice and knows what is expected and so he can be calm. Clarity produces confidence. He’s still very much a puppy. His mask of self-assurance and self-control can crumble if over-faced.

He has been in puppy kindergarten, he goes weekly to agility as a ring-side spectator, we do errand runs to town and practice what he knows in all sorts of parking lots and I do training sessions with him a minimum of three times daily (three meals … three opportunities to train). Yesterday I started the process of going inside dog friendly establishments because the more practice he gets, the better he’ll be. The other reason I was waiting to enter public buildings is he has nervous or submissive urination and I wanted to be sure we had that under control before stressing him.

I’ve come to the conclusion that nervous pee-ers are a lot like scared pups. Oh, body language is very different, but they need less eye contact, less verbal interaction, and no, or minimal, touch from unknown people.

Sig is cute and waggy. He looks very inviting and people want to come up and grab both sides of his face and cuddle. That’s way too much! Even if I tell them just one hand, just brief … they don’t seem able to listen.

So I just say no and block them. I don’t need random strangers creating bad rehearsals for my pup. I want good rehearsals. This temporary problem isn’t going to become a lifelong habit.

Both places we went into yesterday … were great.  Dry floors.  Of course, I did potty breaks before entering (an empty bladder is less likely to leak under stress). And anyone longingly staring, we just moved on and ignored.

Even the best choices of puppy are going to come with issues … I didn’t mention that we’re working on stopping the mouthing, and the jumping and the picking up everything reachable and…IMG_6881



Seeing the dog that he will be – wonderful future

Wow, Obe’s gained almost five pounds in the week that I’ve had him. The list of learning is pretty long, he’s a very quick study, but with reward based training many dogs are. One week packed full of things, built on each other for a 6-month-old recently purchased pup.

Blurred hopes to great beginnings.
Blurred hopes to great beginnings.

He learned to understand pointing for close things, to catch, push a big red ball, be a speed demon on the in the crate/out of the crate games. He’s learned some of the rules of tug, especially the ‘thank you’ which means stop, offer a sit and we might re-engage.

He’s learned to run on a leash next to my bike (today), learned to be quiet when left in the car and mostly always quiet in the crate even when we ‘abandon’ him to go elsewhere, and if he’s not it’s really brief. He’s sitting for doorways and offering sit a lot for other things, lying down quietly to get released from his crate, met 44 people politely, met the horses (two – nose to nose), met the cat and didn’t try to chase him and learned not to try to take Jazzie’s (adult ACD female) toys.

He knows his new name, comes nicely and is very easy to walk on the flexi-lead, He’s starting to learn the R+ zone beside me which will be heel. He can back up the stairs (physically understanding how to use his rear legs) and is very competent with hand touch, which makes twirl and spin easy and he’s even got the beginning of sit pretty. And he knows about ‘have a drink?’ for water. And he truly does seem to be house-trained, as far as potty goes.

He’s way more relaxed and happy. We visited the vet clinic again today – just a drop-in get petted visit and one of the staff thought he was a different dog because of his confidence (well she did have 409 cleaning spray on her hands last week). But he is expecting nice greetings now and no longer hesitates, I’ll have to start practicing non-greeting, just him sitting or lying down in the near future so he doesn’t decide that everyone needs greeting. It does seem a bit odd that people are so drawn to him, he is a Doberman after all.

He learned to lift his leg sometimes (such a grown-up boy), I mention this because he has seemed to mature a lot this week.

Bad stuff this week? Well he got his toe stuck in the crate gate, really stuck. For a while there I wasn’t sure I could get him loose (wheowee), but he was just laying still, not jerking it and not panicking. I got it released. He limped for a while that day and I postponed teaching him any real physical things because I couldn’t tell how badly it had been hurt, but it didn’t swell and it looked normal. Otherwise, both Jazzie and Max (elder adult male shepherd) got growly with him, he was being a little too testosterone filled. Jazz bit him in the nose and squeezed it pretty hard. But he just became more polite with them, so it was OK and not overwhelming…seemed about right actually.

A good week all in all. I’m feeling happy that I purchased him, I think he will do excellently despite going through two other families so quickly.

So why the stuff I have worked on? Well I want a balance of control cues like sit, down, wait, walk with me, settle in crate and car and action games like tug, fetch, run with the bicycle and come to me fast and play a game. And socialization…whatever area of it needs the most encouragement; for him it was make sure he had a lot of meet and greets that were good ones because he was only mildly tentative about it. If conversely,  he had been too wild about meet and greets or too worried about them, we would have done observer sitting for rewards without the meeting. One of the socialization things we will be working on, and I guess we have actually already started is having him totally focus on interacting with me instead of any distractions.

Why did those other families give up and want him out of their lives? Well, I don’t know for sure, but smart, athletic dogs are often very difficult for novice or laissez-faire or dominance-thought-pattern dog owners. They probably breathed a huge sigh of relief while I’m celebrating the good karma.