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Sunday, March 14, 2010

House Training, Separation Anxiety, Etc.

Cute baby Wimzi

Baby in a basket

Zala meets Wimzi who appears unconcerned

Submissive face licking

Face to face crates to ward off separation anxiety

Hardware cloth on the door and cardboard on the side windows

Vast array of Wimzi's puppy toys

Wimzi, having been here for only 3 days, has been exposed to so many new things and is learning very quickly.

Since Wimzi's litter was raised inside, only having been outside three times prior to her arrival, we needed to try to house train her quickly while also slowly introducing her to being outside for longer periods of time. Crate training is the way to go. The crate is not a punishment but a place the puppy beings to identify as a safe and quiet place all of their own.

Upon Wimzi and her sister's arrival, each had to be placed in a crate without their sibling for a short period of time so we could work with them individually. Wimzi's sister, since named Sascha, immediately threw a puppy tantrum and got her lower jaw wedged into the openings in the crate door. This was frightening. Thankfully we were there when it happened. This made the crate an unsafe place and something had to be done. A puppy can not be left alone for a minute without supervision or without being in a safe crate. Neil set out to devise the solutions: hardware cloth on the door and cardboard and duct tape on the side windows. Problem solved. The puppy can see out the door just fine but can not wedge anything in the tiny holes of the hardware cloth.

Crate training basics: Make it a warm, dry and comfortable place for your puppy. Have chew toys and stuffed toys inside to keep them occupied. Place the puppy in the crate and leave them there for no longer than one hour past their age in months. So, an 8 week old puppy can stay in the crate for three hours. There are many exceptions but this is the basic rule. Yes, the puppy WILL likely throw a tantrum. As long as they can't hurt themselves, don't remove them and try and ignore those very sad and pathetic sounding noises. Poor puppy! If you remove the puppy while it is having a tantrum or while making any noise at all, the puppy is training you. She knows that all she has to do to get out is make some noise! And that she will. If the tantrums get to be extensive and you do feel you need to remove the puppy WAIT for even a second of silence, then open the door immediately and praise the puppy for being quiet. Hopefully, the puppy will just get tired and fall to sleep. This is what Wimzi did. Now she is at the point where she will go in her crate to play. This has become her space.

When the puppy is removed from the crate, immediately take them outside and give them whatever command you are using for them to do their business. Our command is "go potty". This may take some time, but when they do, praise like crazy followed by the command. "Good Girl Wimzi! Good Potty!" You will do this over and over and over and over again until they reach the point where you see them waiting by the door to be let out to "go potty". If you take them out and they don't do their business, place them back on the crate for a while longer and repeat. At 7 weeks old and with consistent training, Wimzi is almost at this point.

Wimzi and Sascha slept together in the crate the first night until Chris came to pick up his puppy and now Wimzi was the only baby who desperately needed a canine role model. Since neither Blueberry or Copper, the little house dog mascots were not interested, another willing participant had to be identified. Tuloon, the mother of our recent litter that included Topa and White Feather, was more interested in guarding the toys and her space against the poor little pup. We assumed that she had had enough of the little ones for a while and needed time and space to herself. Her behavior was also not very welcoming to the pup and Wimzi was being slow to come out of her shell around Tuloon.

Zala had shown some good puppy nanny skills with Tuloon's recent litter so we thought we'd give her a try. Perfect! Zala loves and, more importantly, tolerates the little poop monster, as Neil calls her, without being too rough on her during play sessions.

At night, however, Zala and Wimzi need to have their separate space so each has a crate just their size. And so that Wimzi feels her closeness, the crates are placed door to door at night. Once Wimzi is more comfortable being alone after having been one of six puppies, each fighting for their own space, she will be weened away from Zala's kennel door.

Wimzi needs to be occupied 100% of the time when out of her crate. This is why we made sure she has numerous items that are hers so that she learns what is acceptable to chew on and play with and what is not. Some of these items spend the night with her in the crate in case she feels the need to chew. One item is specifically for separation anxiety. It is a stuffed animal that is microwavable. Placing it in the microwave for 30 seconds heats the buckwheat inside to about the body temperature of a puppy. They can sleep on or next to it and it mimics the feeling of laying next to litter mates. The majority of the toys are for teething puppies -nylabones, bones that are rubbery and specifically for babies and various Kong toys that treats are placed in that keep puppies occupied for hours. These toys are also to act as replacements if she decides to begin chewing on something that isn't hers. One of them is placed in front of her and used as a lure to remove her from the chair leg or the couch cushion. If she bites at people flesh or clothes, which doesn't happen anymore, a two finger light pinch to the scruff right behind her head with a gentle shake and a low toned "no" does the trick.

We began taking Wimzi outside during the big dog feeding on day two. She screamed and cried. What a poor puppy! Today we spent several hours doing dog yard chores. Wimzi spent this time in an outdoor kennel with Zala where we could keep an eye on her. The time wasn't without a few puppy screams but, for the most part, she did extremely well and even curled up on some fresh straw inside one of the dog houses for a nap.

This routine will continue for the next few weeks until we add the next lesson. Once Wimzi has had a shot at roughly 10 weeks old, she will be going to puppy class for socialization!

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