I remember someone else who used to stand there and say “nope, not playin in the sprinkler”…Levi 12 wks old
Today Levi is 12 weeks old! My little amigo has just 1 month left in that relatively easy socializing and super fast learning window (the first 16 weeks of life). EEK! Four more weeks of trying to ensure he has a good experience with a wide variety of places, people, and other dogs.
Of course, socializing goes on (or should) for a dog’s whole life, but the first 3 months of life is when a puppy most easily accepts new experiences that will shape their behaviors most of their lives.
Levi’s basic obedience class was Thursday night, and after the class there is a social time for the dogs. Last night’s best bud for Levi was a Jack Russell mix named Finley. Finley is a high energy guy, but fairly well mannered about his play so he and Levi had themselves a really good game of nip and swat.
The same didn’t translate to a retriever named Jack, who was very physical whether a dog liked it or not. Levi didn’t like it. They started off good, and Levi being Levi approached nice and gave a very gentle paw on the nose, a few gentle play bows. But Jack was both hyper and all over him, which spooked him.
I called Levi away, and he avoided Jack the rest of the play time. He was spooked enough that he didn’t want people to pet him either, though he’d met all the two legged folks already. Thankfully he happily returned to Finley, so we let him play a few moments then decided it was time to go.
As Levi gets bigger, I think he won’t be so intimidated by more physical playing strangers. Between his burgeoning size and the testosterone-fueled confidence of the 4 month old stage he will soon enter, Levi will probably be as full of rumpus as Jack is!
As for his class, the program was about learning a polite greeting and learning to settle. Levi already has these habits naturally. The poor teacher could get him to jump or spaz! Not good for demo but sure made me proud!
Since there was no jumping to practice teaching him not to jump, I used the time to do a few other things for him. One was get used to the barking, with a click and treat when the barks happened. No problem for toots. He settles right down next to me and stays calm.
Young as he is, this is only for positioning and preparing him. Soon enough this will be a mainstay of his working life, so I want to make it a default behavior.
Default behaviors are simply things a pup will do automatically, either by reinforcing something they do on their own, or by repetition.
Essentially, a default behavior is a habit.
There are two parts to a brace front. This coming into position, and also accepting pressure on their shoulders. Both parts need a click and a treat to reward. Levi loves his food, so he’s up for anything that involves having a yummy. I say the word with a treat lure to follow until he’s in the right position, then click and treat.
He’s not the least bit body sensitive, thankfully, so he doesn’t care about the brace. (Oops, also forgot his harness again, so it has to go in my purse from now on!)
Some dogs dislike the bracing, and will need considerably more reward for accepting it. Kenai needed lots of reassurance at first, then decided that was just how we roll.
Levi takes it all in stride, and his young age may be part of why he so easily accepts the pressure on his body.
I was so proud of him! I have to watch myself, in fact, not to get that showing him off tendency. Yes he’s doing great with his beginning task training, but he is young and has several more developmental stages to grow through. He can be killer good now and come apart later, so I gotta watch the excess prideful or feel like a ding dong later!
Right now though, Levi is wonderful in his obedience training. His home behavior is improving too. On advice I decided to try feeding him raw to see how that affected the crazy food drive. Day one was a remarkable change: instead of eating every 3 hours and being most nippy after meals, he easily goes 4-5 hours between raw meals with very little nip and chew.
That’s only day one though. Friday is day 2, and I’m watching for bone and joint pain since the only raw I have leftover from Kenai and BB is red meats. The beef and buffalo like all red meats are naturally higher in phosphorous, which is the primary culprit in growth problems like PANO, HOD, knuckling over, and splaying feet.
So Friday morning we are heading to All Pets to see if we can find some chicken or turkey to take home with us. I’ll order a case of Bravo venison for a different red meat, as well as chicken, turkey, salmon, and duck for him. That will stock the freezer well for such a small fella.
He needs at least some red meat, since red meats contain amino acids and nutrients that white meats don’t. Variety of protiens is important when feeding raw. I didn’t want to feed raw this time because of the expense, but if I can use it to reduce the frequency of feeding until the 2 cups a day of grain free Blue Buffalo is sufficient, then I’ll do it.