Baby Steps

Friday, April 01, 2016 12:30 AM | Front & Finish (Administrator)

Written by Marilyn Miller

Teaching a new puppy the world around them is like taking baby steps. One step at a time. A step can be a huge accomplishment. For instance, Blaze was afraid of our back door  and did not want to come up the ramp into the house. After a few days of having to be carried inside, she walked in the back door without thinking about it. The same goes for walking in and out of the scarey garage. We are trying to make the vet's office a less frightening place by making short visits to have the office staff fuss over her. Now we just have to get over the motion sickness she has in the car. Our vet suggested an over the counter medication today to give Blaze 2 hours before the next car ride. Hopefully this will help and she will out grow this problem.

 Glenn gave Blaze her first bath a couple of weeks ago and I dried her under our professional groomer's hair dryer. She was pretty good dealing with both for the first time, but soon after just crashed for four hours. I checked on her once to make sure she was still breathing. Very stressful for this little girl !

 Blaze and I are practicing walking on a leash without tripping me up. She likes to walk back and forth in front of me or in between my legs.

 Playing "keep - away" on our enclosed back deck got very tiresome for me, especially when it was 10 degrees and I was out there with her at 5 am in my nightie freezing, making a stab at house training. She is very fast and extremely hard to catch. Blaze thought this was great fun. We tried snaring her with a large beach towel, but she caught on to that quick. Glenn finally cut an old puppy leash in half and every time she goes on the deck we attach the leash to her harness. When we want her to come in we just step on the leash. That problem was solved.

 I thought it would be a good idea to sign her up for a "puppy play group" since she has no dogs her age to play with. The Piscataqua Obedience Club in Kittery, Maine had a play group beginning the first Sunday morning in March for 4 weeks so we signed up for that. I had never entered any dog before in a puppy play group. The idea was to get Blaze used to other dogs before I enter her in any obedience classes. We attended our first session last Sunday. There were 6 puppies in the class. Of course, my Lhasa was the smallest puppy. Two of them were enormous compared to the other four and had no business being in the class. The trainer realized this and put the two large puppies in a class one hour later each Sunday beginning next week. The class was a free for all. Blaze was very frightened. I was not happy seeing her rolled and stepped on or having her hair yanked and the teacher knew it. Either I or the owners pulled the bullies off Blaze. The one thing the class was good for was the socialization with the adults. Blaze went up to each person (or hid behind them) and wanted to be petted. If someone picked her up Blaze gave them kisses. Everyone there handled her and she loved it. The last 15 minutes of the class, the trainer had us sit with our puppies and calm them down. We also did a lot of handling of the ears and feet. Those who wanted to put fingers in a mouth with puppy teeth did so. I will wait until the adult teeth come in. Next Sunday I will need to take a squeaky toy and more treats for Blaze.

 I will give the class one more try next Sunday. If I think it is be too rough for Blaze and may traumatize her, that will be it. I don't want her scared for life or for future classes. Maybe she will just have to mature a lot more before we attempt anything else. She is only 4 months old after all. Some dogs can handle the training this early and some cannot.

 My exercise coach asked me why I signed up for the puppy play class ? I had never taken a dog to one before in the 30 years I have been training my Lhasas. I thought about the question and could not come up with an answer. My coach answered for me. It is because I never had just one puppy before. I started with two Lhasas, then had the litter of three, then the litter of seven. All the dogs always had at least one other puppy their age to play with. This time is the first time my puppy does not have a playmate. Luckee, at age 15+ is not interested in having Blaze in his face.

 I don't know why these dogs were not divided into separate classes before the first one began. The breed type of your dog was asked for on the registration form. I wish I had known to ask before I signed up. Live and learn. I just hate to do it at the expense of my puppy.

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