Doodle MPB Returns
About 10 days ago Doodle MPB returned home from her extended Puppy Boot Camp.
I chose not to write about her return as I was truthfully afraid to jinx a good thing. You see, she came home and seemed to have such better behaviour and, I feared that it wouldn’t last and she’d just revert to her old ways.
But after 10 days back home, here’s what I have to say:
- She’s still not perfect. But she is only 4.5 months old, so I think considering her age, she is doing rather phenomenally. She knows basic commands like down, off and touch. And, she generally listens to them.
- She requires a minimum of 45 minutes walking per day. We either go as a family to a nearby playground or river where both the Little MPB and Doodle MPB can happily play or one of the Adult MPB’s takes Doodle MPB in the evening. And once a week our trainer is going to come by and take Little MPB for a walk/training session, so we get 1 day off per week.
- The biggest areas of improvement are:
- Barking. We’ve learned that her natural response to being excited, overwhelmed or frustrated is barking. She seems to have a really short fuse, and turned to barking right away because it’s an easy behaviour. Our trainer worked on her rewarding anything quiet in an attempt to re-wire her natural response. It’s still not perfect, but it’s livable She still tries to bark at us when she wants to be closer to us, but she usually gives up after a few tries. And, when we need her to be quiet and settle, our trainer worked with her to help her settle in her crate so we are now putting her in her crate (not her x-pen) with a blanket over top of it. She seems to settle in the dark and stop barking and whimpering after a minute or two. So, basically, when Little MPB is getting ready for bed and we need the house to be quite we just put her in her crate with a blanket over her.
- Down. She knows lie down really well. Instead of barking she is now choosing to lie down. Which is AMAZING. 90% of the time this is now her first response to something.
- Sit. She isn’t a fan of sitting, unless we are at a river. Then she’ll choose to sit over lie down. But, this isn’t a concern to us as she is awesome at lying down.
- Touch. I love touch. Basically we put our hand out and say touch, to which she noses our hand. What this has done is essentially eliminated puppy nipping entirely. Also, it’s a very good gauge to see how excited she is. If she’s overly excited she’ll touch harder and we’ll feel her teeth graze our hand. If she’s calm, we just get a light nose. We reward the nose, we make her re-do a touch when we feel teeth. She has not nipped at Little MPB once since she’s returned!
- Off. She still jumps, but 80% of the time she is now jumping next to us, not on us. She has not jumped on Little MPB once since she returned home, which is great. We also use the command off when she stands on her back paws and puts her other paws up, either on the counters, her x-pen or us. This one needs the most work, but we’ll keep working with her and I assume as she get’s older we’ll see less and less of this behaviour.
- Loose leash walking. This was not actually something we even asked the trainer to start on yet. We were more concerned about her other puppy issues. But, it turns out by rewarding good bahaviours she now chooses to be at our side on walks and actually walks on a leash better then Dog MPB ever did!
- Toddler/Puppy interaction. Our goal with Doodle MPB is that no matter what the unpredictable toddler (or other people and dogs we pass on walks) does she doesn’t react and instead pays attention to whomever has the leash. Right now when Little MPB does something unexpected, Doodle MPB simply returns to the adult with the leash (of course we give her treats for this to reinforce the behaviour). And we do the same when we pass people and dogs – reward anytime she looks at whomever has the leash. We actually had multiple training sessions with Little MPB, Doodle MPB and the trainer to work on this, and it’s going incredibly well! That said, we still do not let Doodle MPB off leash near Little MPB and we watch their interactions like hawks, as we firmly believe children and dogs must be supervised at all times.
In addition to continuing to improve some skills and behaviours, there are some new areas that we really want to help her with. For example, I’d love for her to learn to settle on the ground when we are sitting on the couch watching TV after Little MPB goes to bed. Right now, she just desperately wants to be on me so her attempt to settle is putting her front paws and head on me, while keeping her back paws on the ground and completing ignoring the off command. So, clearly we need a bit more practice on this. And then one day maybe she will actually be able to be in the living room when Little MPB is awake too.
So basically, she’s not perfect, and we have lots of areas for improvement, but I can see her as part of our family now, and I have regular moments where I actually like her and enjoy her company.
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