Friday, July 28, 2017

The Tale of Socializing Petey

One of the most important things we can do with a new puppy, I learned, is to socialize him. And I nearly broke into a cold sweat when I read that the age a pup needs to be socialized is from about 3 weeks until 16 weeks, and after that the window is shut, permanently. Oh my gosh!  What if I blow it. Am I doing enough? Am I doing it right?

I'm cute, right? Why do I need anything else?
If we expose our puppies during this time to a wide variety of sights, sounds, smells, people and other dogs, we can help them learn not to be fearful or anxious when faced with something new.
Well-socialized dogs are less likely to react with fear or aggression. I must admit I think often about what Petey's temperament will be like when he's older. Sure, he's adorable now, and funny and sweet and playful. But what about when he is a puppy adolescent? And adult? I feel a huge responsibility to do everything I can to help ensure Petey is a friendly and happy and well behaved dog, and one who gets along with Ernest too. We've been adopting senior dogs, who come to us pretty much as they are (and as a side note, I've been amazed that after all they've gone through, they're almost always well behaved and loving,). A puppy is different. We play a significant role in his developmental process. Oh Petey, the pressure!

So we've enrolled him in puppy manners class, a kind of puppy Kindergarten. (More about that in future posts.) There are also puppy playgroups where the pups can learn to interact in a safe, supervised environment. And then there's the socializing. We walk Ernest and Petey in our urban neighborhood a couple times a day. Because of this, Petey is exposed to cats, squirrels, dogs, people, children, buses, birds, cars whizzing by, sirens, fallen crab apples, puddles, sewer grates, trash cans, motorcycles, blowing leaves, garbage trucks and more. With Ernest's gentle lead, Petey trots along confidently.

Side by side. Ernest is a good calming presence.
We also take him out almost every day. To Great-grandma's. To friend's houses. To parks. And sometimes he gets to help me do the shopping. Wheeling him around in a cart at the pet food store, we attract many other shoppers who squeal at his puppiness and can't resist patting him. I welcome their attention, because they're helping me socialize him. Petey enjoys the outing because I usually can't resist letting him pick out a toy.

I like shopping with Mom.

Socialize-schmocialize. Let me at these toys!
Pretty soon Petey will be entering the next stage of puppyhood.
We'll get through it together.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Great photos with your dog? Try the Pooch Selfie.

Have you ever wanted to take better pictures with your dog? But your dog gets distracted and is looking everywhere but the camera? Have you ever thought you could get a good picture, if only you could stick your dog's favorite toy on top of the phone? Well, that's the theory behind the Pooch Selfie!

Smile!
 Chewy.com sent us a Pooch Selfie smartphone attachment so we could try for ourselves. Basically, it's a clip that snaps onto your smartphone or phone case, and easily holds a tennis ball. (retail $12.99).

You can insert your own tennis ball if this one gets demolished!


I don't know what they did to this tennis ball, but Ernest went crazy! All he wanted to do was to EAT TENNIS BALL NOW! He is generally a mellow dog, so his excitement surprised me.

Tastes good to me, Mom.

You wanted a picture of my canines, didn't you?


Petey didn't even seem to notice the ball at first, but when he did, he took a nibble. With his miniscule puppy attention span, nothing keeps his interest for more than a split second. He can't stay still either, so a posed picture is still hit or miss.

I'm teething, you can't blame me.

Here are our selfies we managed to get:

Close up with Ernest.

Close up with Petey. Very close up!

Petey noticed the tennis ball.

I love you Mom. (Tennis Ball!)
PROS: The product is sturdy and easy to use. Dogs in my experience were excited by the presence of the tennis ball.
CONS: If your dog loves tennis balls, he might become too excited and do anything BUT sit still and pose for a picture.

CONCLUSION: Pooch Selfie is a great idea for any dog who would be interested enough to look at the tennis ball, but not so excited by it that he has to play with it. The dogs definitely did look at it. With training, I think they would learn to stay calm. It's definitely worth trying!

P.S. I found it amusing that the package states: "Not liable for damage to phones or actions of dogs while device is being used."

FULL DISCLOSURE: Chewy.com provided us with one Pooch Selfie in exchange for our honest review. This in no way influenced my opinion. Opinions expressed here are 100% my own.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Hello, My Name is Petey Introducing the new puppy.

Even before we brought home new puppy Petey, our first thought was how would we make sure it goes well between him and Ernest?

"I'm so cute. How could anyone not adore me?"
Ernest is almost 9 years old. Petey was almost 9 weeks old. Would they like each other? Would Pete be too much for Ernest? Would Ernest be too rough on Petey?

The first thing we did was walk them together in a neutral area. Ernest gets along well with other dogs so I didn't feel too concerned that he'd have a problem. He and the puppy walked well, mostly doing their own thing. Then we let them loose in the fenced yard together. When all went well we brought them inside. Luckily Ernest is a very mellow older guy.




In the house, we supervise all interactions. At first Ernest was mildly interested, then he seemed to say, "Okay, he's small, he's cute I guess...now take him back." The puppy enjoyed following Ernest around and biting his tail. Sometimes we interpreted Ernest's sad looks up at us as if to say "Help me!" I'm not sure if that's really what he was thinking or not, but in the very beginning it was really hard not to feel guilty for bringing in this tiny needle-toothed competitor for attention.

"Okay, he's cute. But I'm not so sure I want to keep him."


REST-
When Ernest needs a rest, sometimes we use a puppy corral. We put it in the middle of the living room so Petey would feel in the middle of the activity, throw a bunch of toys inside, and let him play.  If he barks or whines to get out, we just ignore him and because he had so many exciting toys to play with, he soon forgets to whine and just has fun. We give him a tiny training treat when he's being quiet. This works well, when used sparingly, as a great time out--I know Ernest is glad to have a break from the puppy chewing on his ears, biting his tail and pouncing on his back.

"I love to playyyyyyyy!"

PLAY-
Ernest chews on a nylabone occasionally.
Petey pounces, tugs, and chews and attempts to destroy everything he sees.

Since Ernest is a laid-back dog, he isn't very assertive at correcting the puppy when he's pushed too far. Sometimes we step in so Ernest won't be too tired or gnawed to shreds. 
Most adult dogs will growl to teach a puppy that he's gone too far. A puppy usually learns the rules well from the older dog. We think Ernest could be a little more bossy!

ATTENTION:
I think most important of all we give lots of encouragement and attention. We spend time cuddling with each dog, and other times playing and running with each dog. Lots of walks, too. We've already come together as a family. And I think Ernest and Petey like being brothers.

Bros

What about you? Have you introduced a puppy to your resident dog? How did it go?

Monday, July 3, 2017

Did you Guess? Our Family has Grown!

Something exciting is happening at The Writer's Dog...Friday I asked you to guess what it might be. Some of you guessed that I was under contract for a new series of dog books, and that my first book is being made into a movie. Wow I'd love that! Both of those would be awesome but it's not happening (yet!). Others guessed that Ernest got his TDI (therapy dog) certificate. Not yet, but he will be attending classes and  heading toward that goal. So the correct answer is....


Petey in a bucket
We got a puppy!
Can you believe it?
As you know we've been adopting senior dogs, and sadly, in March we lost both Ike and Kelly. Then two months ago we adopted 8 1/2 year old Ernest. He's an awesome sweet boy and we sure got lucky when our rescue group found him for us. Then, something totally surprising happened! We got a wonderful opportunity to bring an adorable golden retriever puppy into the family and...well, Ernest now has a little brother.
Our first day together.
Family portrait. Does Ernest look a little worried? Don't worry Ernest, it will be okay.
 After all the sadness we've gone through the last few months, we think a little puppy energy is just what we all need. Of course, we plan to keep on rescuing senior goldens, too. For sure for sure.

So please welcome Petey!

Welcome to the family, Petey!
Check back later to see how Petey is transitioning into the family, the first few days/nights, housetraining, and how Ernest is doing with the new addition.

p.s. Since no one guessed the correct answer, I will randomly draw a winner from all the guesses.

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