Puppyhood goes by so quickly, and with a baby puppy it seems like there is so much to do. Asher is settling in well. He’s quiet, for the most part. Though I haven’t yet had him crated in the house, though will soon have to. The boy is trouble, much more so than the very relaxed Navarre was. Asher is always on the go and wants to chew EVERYTHING. I don’t think I’ve had such a mouthy puppy since London – who was way more of shark than Asher, but the other puppies just haven’t been. The more comfortable he becomes the more busy he gets, we’ll see if that continues.
This week has mostly been about introducing life while I’m teaching, which is pretty darn boring for puppies. But it was so hot that I think that helped take the edge off. Still, while he napped quietly in the car for the most part, he would start carrying on occasionally. Sometimes he needed to pee, but I think sometimes he was just bored. So he got to come in and supervise classes for a while, wander around, watch some agility and get underfoot while I attempted to explain exercises or when people were walking courses. He likes everyone and, right now, just sweetly greets everyone for love. Got to see lots of different dogs, met a few up close. He’s appropriately cautious with unknown dogs, though I wish he were a little MORE cautious, but he’s an optimist – he thinks everyone could be his friend – despite the fact that really no one is, at least dog-wise.
The x-pen lasted maybe 5 minutes before he just used his freakishly strong puppy strength to push THROUGH the panels of the plastic x-pen. And he was carrying on before that anyway. I haven’t had much luck with dogs actually set up in the arena, they see all the action and want to be a part of it. Out in the car they seem to learn from the other dogs to just chill. That’s been my best luck crate training, for some reason crates in the car seem to be not as traumatic as crates in the house, not sure why. But he adjusted quickly and he had one day where he was a little drooly after the drive, and then after that I have seen no more signs of car sickness. So that makes life a lot easier and he naps happily in the crate in the car and isn’t upset to be left there.
I still have yet to have him on leash, we’re taking advantage of his natural puppy follow and he sticks close right now. He gets lots of rewards for that, and his recall on his name is very strong at the moment. As he matures I’m sure we’ll lose all that, so we’re enjoying it while we can. He’s not overly fixated on the other dogs, he’s probably less interested in the older dogs than any other puppy I’ve had in my house. I expect that will change, but he’d rather hang out with me than the other dogs … for now. To be fair, the other dogs are not being real welcoming, that’s for sure. Navarre is less clingy and needy, but he still wants nothing to do with the puppy. Bright just tells him off and Haku is tolerant, but doesn’t really interact with him either. Poor Asher has no friends! It would be really nice if he could blow off some his puppy enthusiasm with some appropriate dog play, instead of trying to play bitey face with ME. You have to be careful, he will just suddenly fly at your face, sharp puppy teeth and all. He’s not being aggressive, he’s just got a lot of pent up puppy energy that he doesn’t have any place to direct to.
We have at least a couple mass toy play sessions every day, where I attempt to play with ALL the dogs at once. Which includes tugging with both Navarre and Asher while throwing a special toy for Bright … and Haku circles endlessly. Everyone likes that, it gets some of Asher’s biteyness out, and it makes Navarre feel better. So far Asher likes tiny little toys he can destroy and tug toys that look suspiciously like cat tails.
So, yeah, after one day of being super polite with the cats, Asher decided that cats might be his new playmates. They are not amused. Another reason we’re going to have to start crating the puppy so he can’t terrorize them. I have been letting Asher sleep on the bed, he’s been very well behaved. We have a big play/cuddle session before we go to bed and then when the lights go out he mostly takes the hint and sleeps soundly through the night. So far I’ve always woken him up in the morning to take him outside, he’s very snuggly in the morning! But I miss my cats and Navarre, and I’m pretty sure he’s going to quickly lose his bed privileges anyway. I think it’s nice for tiny puppies to have some time to transition without being crated though, so it’s been good for him to sleep with the group. Haku, of course, lets Asher snuggle up to him, which is super adorable. Not the other dogs, naturally.
We had one half of an accident in the house, but I think the benefit of having such a giant puppy is that his bladder must be huge. For an 8 week old puppy he doesn’t have to go super often. So just taking him out a lot we haven’t had any issues. Any time he stops being busy I stick him outside. And any time I let him in I have him go potty first, so he seems to be making the connection that peeing=party. He’s not picky about what he pees on, he’s done dirt, grass, bark, rocks, pavement – when he needs to go, he’s happy anywhere.
As for training, he’s slowly coming along. We’ve introduced lots of things, haven’t really mastered anything. Not that I’d expect to, but he’s not the sort of dog you can have an agenda with. I may go in wanting to work on waves, but he will have another idea entirely. He seems to pick up behaviors with things more than just behaviors he’s doing. So shaping the target plate and going into a crate went really fast, while he’ll still lags with waving and has yet to offer it without a prompt. With a bigger pedestal he’s started to figure ‘get on’ and with the crate ‘get in’. Asher seems to swing wildly from frantically pawing and jumping at my face to falling over on his side and laying there staring at me when training. Neither of which I really want to reward. We did progress quickly to targeting a noise button for his paw target behavior which he thinks is SUPER FUN. Very cute! He seems to enjoy training, but, naturally, has a very short attention span. It’s also very cute how he will be trying very hard and then has to run off and hump the dog bed for a few seconds and then comes back and trains some more.
He got to go with the dogs to their herding lesson this week, he thought watching Navarre herd was really interesting, but down on the ground he said sheep seem suspicious. It means nothing at this age, he’ll get to continue to come watch.
As for herding with the other dogs, Navarre wins this week. I think our whistle work on toys actually made a difference! Navarre was doing MUCH better at doing all whistles, especially at the beginning. Even with a ‘steady’ whistle which he’s never heard before in his life, I think. Well, still some arguing about what his lie down whistle means, of course probably not helped by the fact that his ‘steady’ whistle is half a lie down whistle). There was some Ian running all the way up the field when Navarre decided that after a REALLY long outrun that he didn’t need to respond. Which is pretty much what needs to happen when your dog doesn’t respond at a long distance. And what I SHOULD have done when Haku didn’t listen to me AT ALL today. Good lord. On his outrun the sheep were so far away we figured he would need to be redirected. Which may have worked but he refused to not only lie down, but stop searching for sheep at all. He was like, “I’ll be right with you, I have to find the damn sheep first!” Sigh. So finally got him back to me after he basically did an outrun of almost the entire damn field back to where we started, and by that time the sheep has escaped back into the trees. The good news, with a redirect that he vaguely listened too – he got them out of the trees! And then wouldn’t listen at all. OMG, if we don’t get some work in with long distances this upcoming trial is going to be UGLY.
But even close Haku was on his own agenda, maybe because I’m feeling the impending end of his career and I just want him to be a good time. I got nothing to back me up. And Ian’s all, “And Haku is perfect all the time, you say?” Yeah, if Navarre had been pulling that shit I would have ejected him completely. So, yeah, we need practice, but I don’t know if that’s going to happen. As always, things are rather loose with Haku, you never know what he’s actually going to do.