Saturday, April 10, 2010

My doggy report card

Sue Li: It is hard work having a puppy and teaching it to become a dog.

I have always wanted a dog - since forever - and have been given pet fish/turtles/rabbits as bribes from parents. So naturally I answered:

Me: As long as I love it, I think all the hard work will be worth it.

Oh boy was dear Sue Li right.

I set eyes on baby Shiro one fateful day in August. It was love at first sight as he scurried timidly between Ray's legs. So small, so vulnerable and so adorable. I remember thinking that I would love him and teach him with all my heart.

Eversince that day, Shiro and us have gone through some pretty amazing milestones.

#1 Making him feel comfortable and secure enough to sleep alone in the living area

Endurance: 2-3 nights of non-stop crying and yapping and barking.

Method: Hardened our hearts and went out to reassure him a few times in the middle of the night.

#2 Making him feel brave enough to roam around the area he was allowed at

Endurance: Shiro sticking to our feet 24/7 and crying whenever we left to the toilet etc

Method: Repetitive reassurance and bringing him all over the place

#3 Training him to go toilet on paper

Endurance: An average of 7-8 poo/pee cleaning every day

Method: As soon as the accident happened, we would say a stern 'NO' in his face and place him on the paper where he was supposed to do his business. After a few weeks, he got it and started doing it on paper. For a period of time, whenever he did it at the right place, we would reward him with snacks.

#4 Teaching him to sit/lie down/give hand

Endurance: Shiro being trying to nab the snack out of our hands before doing the trick

Method: Just using snack he likes and really giving it to him only when he performs the trick

#5 Conquering his fear of the outside world

Endurance: Shiro did not like going outside at all. He would try to run home as soon as we walk as far as the end of the driveway.

Method: Going further bit by bit. Luring him with snacks and standing in front of him whenever he backed away from certain objects (as if you are protecting him).

#6 Training him to do his business outside

Endurance: Since he was already doing it on paper, there wasn't much problem. More like a transition, but there were times when he got confused and just did it near the door.

Method: Bringing him out whenever he did it on paper. Bringing him out first day in the morning, after every meal and before bedtime - waiting with a snack - until he did his business. It was epic during winter!

#7 Making him feel more comfortable with water during showertime

Endurance: A struggling and agitated Shiro when wet

Method: Just have to hold him and distract him until he gets used to it. Oh and also to blowdryers.

#8 Stopping him from nipping/biting

Endurance: A 2-month long period where Shiro tried biting and niping people's hands and all other object

Method: A firm 'NO' whenever he did it and avoiding putting anything that can be bitten on the floor. Held his muzzle and repeatedly said no until he relaxed and stopped struggling. Gave him his chewtoy whenever he started finding bite targets.

#9 Taught him to do other hand/rollover/find his bowl/ stay and wait while his food is served

Endurance: Patience.

Method: Again, snack and being really firm with rewarding.

I am quite proud of my baby but there are a few major behavioral problems with him that I have yet to solve despite trying hard over the last few months! Everyone tells me that he is just a puppy, so it is alright but I really don't want to slack and make these problems grow!

#1 Walking on leash

Problem: Shiro jumps and jumps ecstaticly whenever we take out the leash. He doesn't sit or stay to allow you to put on the leash in peace. Once he is outside, he drags, pulls, storms forward and doesn't respons to his name at all!

Methods used: Making him sit whenever he drags. Give him slight pull whenever he drags. Calling his name. Distracting him with his fav toy. Luring him with dog biscuit.

Current status: Still drags like mad. Whenever he drags, I will stop and he will stop to look back at me/sit down with back facing me.

#2 Excessive territory marking

Problem: He does it to every single tree/pole along the street even until he has no pee for marking anything! He drags extra forcefully to get to the tree. I heard that this is not a good sign.

Methods used: Forbid him. Distract him whenever we approach some tree/pole.

Current status: Still the same.

#3 Eating everything on the floor

Problem: He never used to be like this but right now, whatever we dropped onto the floor and he finds on the floor, he will eat it. And he runs away when we catch him doing that. Everything - human food, rocks, leaves, plastic material.

Methods used: Removing the item from his mouth (I have removed some disgusting stuff from there) and firmly telling him 'NO'. Giving his muzzle a smack (smacking his body doesn't help, his coat cushions him from all external trauma).

Current status: Just removed a piece of rock (and a minute later, a string) from this mouth after chasing him around the living room.

# 4 Barking

Problem: He used to be really quiet and never barked. Until he hit 7 months old, he started barking at every noise from outside - not in his cutesy bark - but a now loud bark.

Methods used: Telling him 'NO' when he does so. Holding his muzzle until he calms down and does not struggle.

Current status: He will bark again as soon as the next second :(

So how true was what Sue Li said.

With my co-trainer being far away in Alice Springs right now, me energy is being sapped at a rapid rate by this little bundle of terror.

I have almost exhausted the internet for information and have youtubed a few nights away just for this! Does anyone know what to do?

And while I type all these out, Little Mr Terror is doing this.

Sigh. Although what Sue Li said was very true, cannot be more true; I think my reply was just as true as it turns out to be. And I bet all dog owners can relate to that :)

This just in:

Achievement #10 Getting Shiro to fetch without the initiation of a deadly tug of war

Endurance: Tugging his fetch target from him everytime he brought it back for us

Method: Giving him a snack whenever he brought back his toy. The snack makes him drop his toy and we give him his reward only when he places the toy in our hands.

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