Saturday, June 28, 2014

Puppy Class

We've tried out a couple pre-puppy classes and even though Whiskey is great at home and the park, she's crazily distracted in class.  She can sit, lie down, stay, paw and her recall is pretty good, even with one dog around.

 Well this class is huge and has over 10 puppies in a small space.  Whiskey's about the most happy-go-lucky dog and really wants to say hi to everyone and play play play.  We didn't realize how important it was to get her exercised before her class (class was at 10am so we thought it would be ok) and of course, since the puppies are all so young we didn't really expect too much out of her.

Naturally, everyone else had their little one calmly sitting/lying in one spot and not lunging and barking at the next pup like ours.  I think half the dogs were intimidated by the amount of puppies/people but ours was well socialized and totally confident enough to know exactly what she wanted.  We can get her to sit and stay but really for only 5 mins and then she wants to know why she can't play!

The trainer was trying to get us to keep the pups in their "spot" for 20 mins while she was speaking over the barking.  It was really next to impossible.  We needed lots of help and about 6 different treats (rotating).  Why do some trainers preach positive reinforcement on the dog, but then use negative on the owners?  We didn't think we were doing anything properly (just continuous correction from the trainers, not anything positive).  Even peanut butter in a Kong only got her attention for a couple seconds.  She also started some sharkies (the trainer gave me an evil eye with that one).  I was even asked if I knew how high energy her breed is (of course I do! but I just didn't know how the class was structured or I might have thought to take her for a 2 hour romp in the park before it).  I think we might try a new place next time...

Sorry for the rant.  We all (Whiskey included) came out of that class particularly frustrated.  She's not too food motivated, she's more "play" motivated and the class was treat-only.

Another thing we've been looking at is clicker training which we were introduced in the class.  I've read alot about it but decided that it takes the relationship out of the training.  Whiskey has no problem understanding what is expected out of her and learning new tricks.  She just gets bored fast.  So no clicker for now!

a busy puppy class
playing with a lab, great dane, and labradoodle
training roll over in the street
she can't sit still while there are puppies all around!

Monday, June 23, 2014

Early Socialization Vs Exposure to Disease

Here's a conundrum:  Puppies need to be socialized before their socialization period ends (before 12-18 weeks).  At the same time they are most susceptible to disease because they aren't yet fully vaccinated.  Also, living in the city, there are few parks that are available for dogs to roam (and meet) and fewer still that aren't full of dog droppings.  This is especially hard with an energetic pup, and there was no way we would be able to deal with her inside an apartment for a month!

So with everything I've read about unvaccinated dogs and exposure to disease (especially the frightening pavro) my partner and I have tossed up alot of options.  Everyone has their own unique situation.  We live in a strange area with a mix of very high and very low income persons.  There are a bunch of homeless people with dogs whom I'm going to assume are not vaccinated, but also lots of people that are very dedicated and educated about dogs.  We are also next to a huge park that allows off leash dogs and included a couple of different areas some of which were usually empty.

here's a great article by the ASPCA

"The experts now agree that the risk of a puppy being given up or later euthanized for behavior problems is so huge that young puppies must be socialized before they are done with their vaccinations. The recommendation is to socialize puppies as safely as possible by exposing the puppy to people, places and other animals while not taking unnecessary risks."

My partner and I discussed this and I found I was by far the more cautious one.  My general rule of thumb was "better safe than sorry", and his was "ahhh she'll be fine! stop being overbearing".  So here are some rules we tried to follow:

-no eating, or chewing anything on the ground (except grass)
-no drinking water off the ground (this is hard when it's raining)
-no saying hi to strange people
-always ask owners of dogs before introduction and explain your situation
-leave dogs alone after a quick hello if they show no interest
-no fenced in dog parks
-no off leashing
-stick to less crowded areas
-pick up the dog in dirty areas
-watch for signs of stress but otherwise encourage curiosity

In the end we decided to walk our dog from day one.  We tried to avoid areas with higher concentration of homeless dogs, and obviously ensure she didn't sniff any poop lying around.  We found after even a week of this we became more and more lax and overtime let her say "hi" to most dogs and people.  When she gets her 12 week old shots, we'll assume she's safe and let her go most places (but still no homeless dogs!) although the wait for that seems endless...

park play with an older Vizsla and Aussie puppy

play dates are great when they are matched in size and energy
puppies get a crazy amount of attention during street events

Sunday, June 22, 2014

First hike

So after months of waiting we finally have our hiking dog!  We love hiking and decided to try Whiskey on a new hike we haven't done before.  It's called Dog Mountain and I know it's alot to ask from a 9.5 week old, but we knew ahead of time if she was slowing down, scared, timid, tired, we would head back.  She would lead us and we wouldn't push her and we would help her up obstacles if she faltered.

Well...she's fearless.  She runs head up on all the inclines like rocks and roots, and even when she tumbles, she goes right again for another try.  She runs down steep roots and goes faster than I could ever on 2 feet.  I was having a hard time keeping up.  Wow.  Vizslas are just awesome creatures.  She looked so happy and so natural out there.  Nothing fazed her except for water.  Oh this little girl does not like getting her feet wet.

We had to carry her half the way back from the peak (she wasn't exhausted, she just slowed down and stopped leading the way).  She slept all the way back home, then was up and running around again.  We're both amazed and happy.  We wanted a hiking dog, and we got her!  I can't wait until she grows up enough to do the longer hikes.  I've been hiking with other dogs before and never have I seen such a fearless pup. I was expecting to have to encourage her to get up and down obstacles, but every time I turned back to check,  she was in front of me!

No problem at all with obstacles

Soooo excited to be out

hating the water
made it to the top!
one pooped puppy

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Whiskey comes home

It was sooooo hard to get through the day today.  My partner flew in with Whiskey on a 4.5 hour flight from Montreal.  The battery on his phone failed and the connection was too spotty for a phone call at the breeder's so I was just staring at the one picture he could send before he caught the flight (she's small enough to be taken as hand luggage).  I left work early and headed to the airport where I awaited...the cutest, tiniest little Vizsla ever.  I've never met a Vizsla puppy and didn't realize she'd be so small.  Apparently she was a trooper on the plane, going to the bathroom (on a peepad) without an issue and charming all the air hostesses.

She popped her little head out of the bag to say hello and immediately wanted out (who could blame her after the flight?).   We had a bit of an issue grabbing a dog friendly taxi (even if we kept her in the carrier) and then we were on the way home.  As soon as we got home, I realized the cat had gotten into the drawers and ate half a bag of freeze dried chicken while shredding the rest all over the kitchen.  Sigh, such is a life of family pets.

Already Whiskey was very attached to my partner and I was jealous!  We introduced her to her playpen area (sectioned off with baby gates) and she was really quiet and super cute.  Moo was very curious and observed the circus from her high view points and made a face when she smelled the dog.  Dogs are very smelly compared to cats!  Ewww.

We just spent the night cuddling Whiskey and playing with her new toys.  She ate dinner without an issue but it took a bit of patience to get her to pee outside in the alley (she's used to grass in the countryside).  We live in an apartment on the 2nd floor, so for now we are carrying her outside by taking the stairs.  There was a bit of whining when we put her in the crate, but otherwise success!

At the breeder's

meeting at the airport

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Getting ready

Oh man!!!  We are so excited!!!  You can tell by the amount of exclamation marks :)  So we've done a bunch of research over at least a year and have settled on a breed (Vizsla, obviously), breeder, and we await our first puppy together.  My partner has had dogs his whole life with his family but this would be my first ever dog, and just a couple months ago we got our first cat.

Moo is a rescue that came to us from VOKRA.  She's been the perfect pre-puppy since she's pretty much a dog in-disguise.   We quickly discovered she'll do anything for treats and we've already had her successfully trained to "come" "sit" "lie down" "roll over" "paw" and go to where we point.  We choose a confident cat, and have made her a bunch of cat shelves she can escape to in case of stress, though we know that it would take awhile for any cat to get used to a crazy puppy.

So with the cat trained up, we've been reading a couple books and watching tv shows (Ian Dunbar, Ceasar Milan, Victoria Stilwell), talking to friends, stalking Vizslas and their owners in dog parks, and going on dog-supply shopping sprees.  Who would have known it could cost so much before getting the puppy?  Cats are practically free!  Here is our puppy list:

-baby gates
-chew toys: antlers, nylabones, bullysticks
-food bowls
-puppy pee pads (use for plane only)
-plane-approved carrier
-leash (we got several types)
-tooth brush and paste
-shampoo, ear cleaner, styptic powder
-bleach (for cleaning her outdoor pee place)
-dremel (for nails)
-poop bags
-a good insurance company

Moo inspects the goods