Sunday, November 6, 2011

Slow and Steady

Where I left off, Haddie was being a handful. Things have so far settled down. The last three days she has been kinda lazy and content when on Release.

Aww, look at her!! She is a love bug on her terms, and apparently it was her terms when my son was headed off to school on Friday. I think Haddie has seen Cora in the laps of all the family members throughout Haddie's stay with us, that she wanted a turn too.
For as much as Haddie knows in Commands and manners, I have taken a few things a little slow and steady.


Haddie has always gone to the bathroom on her leash. I feel it has helped us tremendously in her learning the Hurry command and sticking to it. She will wander to the door when she needs to, but she also goes when I tell her it is time to go. This helps when she is on outings, she already knows the routine. I have mustered the inconvenience of always having to go out with her while at home, but the benefit is awesome.

She goes to the same place every time at home. We have a small rectangular section that is fenced and double gated right outside the side garage door. It used to have our garbage cans within, but those have sensed been moved to the other side of the gate - still in range to toss the garbage and clean up of Haddie. So, while the location is perfectly enclosed, Haddie is leashed. She knows the routine, command, and it is fast.

Therefore, when out and about, she knows the routine, command, and it is fast. Going on rocks, grass, cement blocks, and plastic outdoor flooring (yes, really), she can do it all, as we have practiced the Hurry command at least 6 times a day at home every day since her arrival, so when she hears it out in the real world, she knows it.

The same is going true with her Release time in the backyard. We started off on-leash just on the grass for month one. Month two was off leash but controlled to just on the grass and surrounding plant areas. Month two and a half of being with us she has learned to explore the entire backyard off leash (which includes stairs, crushed rocks, bark, play chips, loads of bushes, and multiple patios), working on her Here command to check in with me.

Yesterday was the first time that both dogs were off leash together outside (with me). I had treats in my pocket, leash in my other pocket, and a "just in case" spray bottle of water should dog fur be flying too aggressively. I am proud to say, the spray bottle was never used - although there came a time I had my finger on the trigger.  The two had been chasing each other, and both stopped and did this stand-still sideways look at each other that just spelled trouble as their tail were positioned still and not wagging. I called out my pet dog first, who looked at me quick, and then I called Haddie to do the same. Truce.

Other than that ending, Cora thoroughly ignored Haddie, who was a jumping jelly bean around Cora trying to spark up some life into her four legged friend. Cora just could care less. She wandered, sniffed, and gazed up to the sky. Haddie wandered, sniffed, and gazed up to the sky too. Hilarious how much Haddie was copying Cora from a safe distance. And I mean safe distance, because I think Haddie knows that Cora tolerates her, but is not in love with her new roommate. The lil'sis is trying desperately to catch up with, and win the heart of, big'sis.

I'll continue to expose the girls to the backyard together. Now that I see that Haddie is not dog-happy, she volunteers to check in and come to me, and can be pulled away from play time when I command, I think eventually the backyard experience will get to be all about the dogs enjoying exercise together - more than wandering adventures. It will add another option to the Daily To Do List.

Going slow and steady has allowed me time to establish routine for Haddie, acknowledgment of who is in charge (even if Haddie does not always agree - I know I am the leader and will not let her truly forget it), and provide a chance for Haddie to know her Commands before we practice them in a distracting environment, allowing her to be set up for success.

I figured that if she didn't know Hurry, then I could not trust her out in public. And if she didn't know the Here command, then I could not have her off leash - even if it was in a fully fenced yard. And if she did not respond to me as the pack leader, then there was no sense letting her have free range with Cora in the backyard. And if she wasn't good about leaving things alone that don't belong to her (ie, fuzz, food, random things on the floor), then she wasn't ready for the temptation of pinecones, fir needles, and bark.

In my opinion, Slow and Steady can be your best friend when Puppy Raising.

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