Archive for December, 2011

Well the puppies had their first outing yesterday … a brief exposure to gravel footing on the driveway, and their first car ride, maybe ten minutes. Two crates, 2 or 3 puppies in each. All were calm, quiet, and patient for the trip. All also engaged in lively tug play with us …. Another great sign that they’ll engage, team up, and play with their humans.

Puppy Development – Fear Periods
Periodically I hear casual mention of "fear periods" in puppy development. I decided to try to understand them better and attempt to determine whether there are valuable action items associated. Fear periods are said to be developmental times when any traumatic, painful or frightening experiences will have a more lasting impact on your pup than they would if they occurred at any other time. It is recommended that puppies be protected from negative and frightening experiences during those times when they are so much more impressionable. That is not the time to introduce a puppy to intimidating new things. Somehow everyone seems to know fear periods exist but the information is so spotty (and now I’m finding it to be *conflicting*) I’ve had trouble figuring out how it can be useful. I’m leaning toward the idea that fear responses need to always be handled in a relaxed, confident, cheerful manner and no more pressure put on the dogs … no matter the dog’s developmental situation.

In my web search I came upon this page which is said to be from information gleaned from "The Handbook of Applied Dog Behavior and Training", Steven R. Lindsay and from "Instructor Training Course – Dr. Ian Dunbar, PhD". These are resources which I most highly regard. Dr. Ian Dunbar was the founder of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers APDT, in 1993 which certifies dog training instructors. Steven Lindsay’s work is a three volume review of the scientific literature which I own, was expensive, and is far from an ‘easy read’ but is the gold standard in comprehensive material on dog behavior. So… although I have no evaluation of the quality of the "compilation", given that I don’t want to write a compilation myself, here’s the reference I choose to cite on puppy development which mentions the fear periods: http://www.diamondsintheruff.com/DevelopmentalStages.html

The above article lists 8 to 11 weeks and 6 to 14 months as two fear periods. [The other stages are worthy reading too!] My interpretation is that individual puppies go through those fear periods during those time frames, but they’re not "in" a fear period for the entirety of those periods. That could explain why other sources have a longer list of time frames. They’re perhaps just broken up into several. I’ve seen as many as five fear periods listed. Trying to figure out whether a puppy is going in, coming out, or in one could be a trial. The various listings is probably attributable to the fact that individuals and breeds mature at different rates. So from a puppy’s age, you can’t deduce what stage of development the puppy is in, nor whether the puppy is in a fear period. What is important is to remember that it will pass, and to respond to the puppy’s reactions calmly and cheerfully. Deciding whether a dog is in a fear period or not, isn’t what is important. Except that seeing fear responses from a puppy probably should suggest taking some of the pressure of new and challenging situations off for a while.

This article from Ian Dunbar’s web site explains better what is happening and gives an example and some suggestions for how to deal with fear: http://www.dogstardaily.com/blogs/fear-dogs

Here is an illustrative statement from http://www.doberman.org/articles/puppy.htm "… Your dog may suddenly become reluctant to approach something new or suddenly become afraid of something familiar. This behavior can be very frustrating to the owner and difficult to understand because its onset is so sudden and, seemingly, unprovoked. If you notice this behavior, it is important to avoid the two extremes in response: Don’t force him to do or approach something frightening to him and don’t coddle or baby him. To get through situations that make your dog fearful, be patient, kind, and understanding. Desensitize him to the object or situation by gradually introducing him to it and using food rewards and praise to entice him to confront the fearful object or situation. Do not coddle or reassure him in any way that will encourage his fearful behavior. Do not correct him either. Simply make light of it and encourage him, give him food rewards as he begins to deal with his fear better. Make sure you lavishly praise his attempts! This phase will pass."

Potty Training

By the way, in my research on development and fear periods, I came across this: "By seven to nine weeks they’re refining their physical skills/coordination (including housetraining) and full use of senses." This is reassuring because at 5 weeks, the puppies have already been almost perfectly reliable in using the puppy potty pads for poop. It’s been the peeing that isn’t reliable … You can see them search out the potty pads and use them to pee, but only part of the time. They are getting there, but there are still plenty of misses with pee. So, based on that article, we may even be ahead of the game. As they age, the trick is to move the potty pad closer and closer to the door and use the puppy’s approach to it as a signal to let them out. That and the practice of taking them out at key times and rewarding their performance… praise and even giving a treat for their elimination when and where you want it … will ensure progress toward shaping and controlling the dog’s elimination habits. As I previously mentioned, we will be well rewarded over the life of the dog if we can do this with the puppy on a leash and on command.


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I have the puppies’ six week vet check scheduled for Friday at 1:10 pm at PV Pet Clinic. I don’t know whether there will be anything interesting about the vet check. I think I’ll load them up in their two crates and I should be able to handle them OK. (And I’ll take a bed pad to put them on for the exam!) I learned yesterday from the woman that loaned me the whelping box and who is a retired Vet Tech of many years that she does fecals at 6 weeks and never worms them if they come back clean. The one fecal I did before they started solid food came back clean. From the ancient history I was familiar with, people routinely wormed at certain intervals. … duh… they obviously didn’t have fecal exams done or else they had lots of exposure to intestinal parasites and consistently found positive exams. I have done one fecal exam on them which was clean, but I’m planning another for the Friday visit. It looks like I’ll never have to poison them with worm meds either … these could be the cleanest little poison free babies imaginable. But knock wood … there are a couple parasites puppies can get from livestock and we have livestock.

And, maybe wrangling them around for a short car ride today would be fun!!! I confined them 30 minutes in the crates yesterday… but I made the mistake of putting them in there thirsty. Green raised holy hell and when he didn’t potty when let out, I offered water and several drank down a lot. Live and learn. But they’d slept peacefully locked in the crate previously. Crate time between 1 and 4 pm is what I’ve heard recommended… for whatever that’s worth. The puppies had visitors from Flagstaff yesterday at 12:30 who were well entertained by lively puppies for quite a while before they all crashed.

It’s about time to start with a clicker and treats. They just ate so I have to wait a while. They’re sleeping right now. Going to need to give some thought to not upsetting their tummies. I think either the mozzarella cheese sticks or rolled dog food in modest amounts should be OK. The milk replacer is almost gone, so the cheese sticks won’t be a double whammy on calcium and fat if I quit with the milk replacer. I haven’t done clicker training with babies in a litter. I expect I have to separate them, and that will put us in an unfamiliar place … attention could be a challenge. Exploration could be their priority. I think Ian Dunbar’s expectations for obedience training in the litter aren’t reasonable unless his criteria for what he’s suggesting are really low, and that is what I think is the case. I think just following a lure/hand-signal really well, is a good goal. Solid on voice commands seems to me to be a stretch for such little babies and I expect he wasn’t really suggesting that. We’ll see what happens. Keeping in mind they’re being offered food they’ve never tasted, I can’t predict.

My husband, Kell, and I each held Pink and Yellow today to compare their behaviors. It was evident that they knew the difference between him and me. I don’t think we’d observed that before. It is surely important for puppies to have experience with men. My husband is a good choice, BTW. He loves puppies. And I didn’t notice anything with the fellow that came yesterday. But Kell was scrutinizing and comparing … he’d been claiming that Pink was more friendly to him and Yellow seemed more standoffish. Now he’s saying that what he is noticing is how much more at ease they are with *me*. After all… I’m the one who slept on the floor next to them for three weeks 🙂 I guess they surely ought to recognize me! This session confirms what is being said about socialization starting at about this age…. now is when they perceive differences between people and take notice.

I have six new videos uploading right now on my You Tube Channel. I accidentally video’d yellow twice thinking I’d video’d purple. (Oooops.) Here’s the url for the first one:


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Seven New Videos

Puppies following this morning:

This Morning greetings:

and five more videos in my YouTube Channel from yesterday and the day before …. currently being uploaded.


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Yesterday everyone took a nap while the floor was mopped… this time in the crate *without* Mom. It didn’t take but a couple of minutes till they were all sound asleep but they voiced plenty of objections for the video 🙂


This morning almost everyone could climb out to eat….. didn’t take long to recognize the food drill.

About general training … It really never ceases to amaze me when I see someone who has done unusual training with dogs. The fact is that our training limitations are as much the confines of our own imagination as they are about any *real* boundaries.

As an example, I have a friend who has trained both her intact adult male German Shepherds to squat to pee. She said she has a lot of beautiful flower beds and doesn’t want the dogs marking them. I couldn’t have imagined doing this and making it work without seeing it for myself. How she does it is that when the young males begin to lift a leg, she puts her hand on the dog’s loin and rocks him over onto the leg he’s trying to lift. Then she praises him for relieving himself when he finishes. She keeps it up till the behavior is solid. Now, obviously, she must be with those dogs 24/7 and otherwise I don’t think that would work. But it still boggles my mind.

I have another friend who has managed to train her male dog to pee on leash and on command with her standing still anywhere … the surprising one being in the middle of an asphalt parking lot … splashing and all. Her dog also squats to pee. Hers, however, was neutered young so as I recall, she didn’t train that, it just happened. This is actually very useful if you travel with a dog where there is no where for a potty walk, or doing it is horribly inconvenient. I have had experience trying to get a dog to relieve himself on the mico-lawn at an airport. By comparison, my efforts, although successful, to train my shelter dog not to pee on patio posts and patio furniture or the side of the house were pretty trivial. I haven’t taken the dogs I have now on planes. And I don’t have them on leashes 24/7 as I would when traveling. So I’m still having to be vigilant. But male dogs don’t need to be allowed to mark when on leash. I got my lesson from the guide dog training… the dogs should be asked to relieve themselves in a particular spot, and then stopped or corrected for trying to mark thereafter on a walk. Ian Dunbar has a video devoted to this topic, I believe.

This video, below, was entitled Free Running Sled dogs but??? why??? they don’t look like sled dogs to me. Anyway, this is a joyous dog pack, it isn’t about tricks, the training and control of these dogs is unusual, and the video clip is a lot of fun: http://www.youtube.com/watch_popup?v=qFP28ANXLLA&vq=medium


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Doggy Dental Health

Dogs simply need to chew. Although we can nearly train them not to, that’s not a good idea. We want to control it, not eliminate it. Bad dental hygiene, and the toxins released by bacteria in gum infections, has been linked to several organ failures. But there are lots of things we don’t want chewed. Chewing preferences are developed early along with food preferences. Therefore it is important to plan early-on for things which you want them to chew and they will accept (with some help from you if needed.)

Today I ordered one of these for each puppy. http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0002AR178 [In the past, the ropes have been chewed off in no time by my dogs, BTW. Don't worry about that!] They are a Kong product and may be stuffed. Ian Dunbar is a big proponent of stuffing Kongs. Stuffing them could help develop a habit of chewing them and has the added benefit of keeping puppies busy. But whether or not ultimately you stuff them, Kongs also can make good chew toys. The ones I’ve ordered have been accepted for chewing by my dogs better than the other shapes. [One of the other Kong dental shapes was chewed up by my dogs!] I check our dogs’ chew toys regularly. And whenever I see any significant sized ‘chunks’ taken out of a toy, I dispose of it. Kongs, and any chew toy for that matter, which are left outside in the sun long enough will begin to break down and get brittle and become unsafe. Dogs will swallow all sorts of things which can cause bowel obstructions even including rocks. Hopefully providing safe alternatives will help prevent that.

I also regularly buy Nylabones for our dogs. I buy the big ones at WalMart which I can usually get for about $8. The dogs chew them down into nubs and I replace them. My daughter is a vet tech and says that aggressive chewers get nylabone shards stuck between their teeth and gums. I haven’t had that problem so I don’t worry about it .. besides, that’s not a life threatening issue. Natural bones are quite abrasive, wear down your dogs’ teeth, and much more brittle and likely to crack and be swallowed in sharp pieces. If you have really nice fresh marrow bones, they’re quite a treat, but they get blood all over your carpet (speaking from experience!). And you certainly need to watch them and remove them as they get small to prevent the dog’s swallowing dangerously sized pieces. I like the gumabones but they have not been accepted well by my dogs at times in the past, and then when the dogs started in on them they were gone in a flash. But for puppies those should be good. I would caution against getting small ones. The dogs don’t like them very well when they can’t get a good grip on them.

In conclusion regarding Kongs and Nylabones … There are very few toys which are safe as chew toys. Most toys should not be left with dogs which are not being watched. But if you don’t offer acceptable chewing options, you may not like how creative puppies can be.

For dogs good health, as they age, dental health becomes quite important due to the toxins that plaque releases, not to mention bad breath. Vets will recommend regular tooth cleaning under sedation. I avoid sedation when I can. My dogs will lie on the floor and put up me lying on top of them and doing a tooth scraping whenever I see tartar building. If the gums themselves become red, you’ve waited too long. And vets probably should not do dental work on dogs that have problems otherwise. The cleaning process itself can put bacteria in the blood stream. And certainly there is always sedation risks. You can see plaque and tartar which needs to be removed, but if it gets bad enough, the dog can have bad mouth odors.

There are a couple things which can be done to stop or slow the progression of dental infections. There are enzymatic tooth cleaners. There are dog foods which have that in their formulations. [I've heard those being highly recommended by a vet.] And there are edible ones like Freshies brand. I personally don’t think much of the edible ones. My dogs are competitive and will eat them up fast without much chewing…. looks like a waste to me since all the benefit is in the chewing, not swallowing in huge chunks. And by the way, when we raised a guide dog, the trainer forbid us from giving any rawhide treats. They are not digestible. So they come back up, or go straight through with poor control. It raises issues for dogs being taken to public places (or in your house!). The enzymatic cleaners are also in the doggie dental toothpaste. It is recommended that our dogs’ teeth be brushed regularly. How often is a personal decision. But getting a puppy used to at least occasional brushings and cleanings is a good idea and not that hard. I’ve uploaded a short clip of me brushing Chance’s teeth with doggie enzymatic toothpaste. I apologize for the video quality but I did this alone and had the camera propped on a table: http://youtu.be/WWXrtIWjfXQ

I’ve uploaded two new puppy videos. One was yesterday … the opening of the Xpen for the first time http://youtu.be/bG-WSgLDOMg
the other was this morning with their second taste of solid food. http://youtu.be/0FZGBxDdWPw

They were four weeks yesterday


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This is a link to a $1.00 off coupon for Simple Solutions potty training and odor&stain removal products. Simple Solutions odor and stain remover is a fairly well known and respected enzymatic odor remover which helps to prevent repeat performances of mistakes in a specific area:


There are some other similar products. Nature’s Miracle comes to mind.

This is another Simple Solutions product which I haven’t tried, but is an attractant. It probably would be useful for getting started in homes where another dog hasn’t established an area for elimination … or for attracting a puppy to an indoor potty training aid.



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