Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Tinkle Tinkle Little Star

Raelyn is a great puppy, don't get me wrong, but like everything she isn't perfect. Her big issues stem from the main problem that she is a "bit" headstrong and independent and wants to do whatever she wants and gets unhappy when her demands aren't met to her satisfaction.

Whining: She still LOVES to whine when in the crate or on tie down when she doesn't want to be or if we left the room. She will make sad puppy dog eyes and will keep trying to convince us that we left her to be eaten by a nasty troll. She doesn't work herself up into fits, but she is very persistent and will keep at it for a while. She still hasn't figured out that the whining isn't going to get her what she wants, but she attempts it anyways. Eventually she will stop. By now, Dale and I are total pros at ignoring it and it doesn't even phase us. Kind of like an annoying car alarm that keeps learn to tune it out. Luckily she doesn't do it ALL the time. Just most mornings and some afternoons.

Pulling on leash: Raelyn has great leash manners when she wants to behave. If there is something she is more interested in, then she will make an attempt to go for it. She is WAY better on a headcollar than the flat collar, which is something we will have to work on and transition to, but for the moment the headcollar is plenty to keep my hands full. She has trouble walking right next to you as she wants to be out in front. She REALLY wants to meet birds and other dogs we pass by. She will turn and look back at them as we move passed them. Sometimes she will make eyes at people, but that is pretty rare. I correct her and bring her back into the correct position and try not to make any forward progress when she pulls, but it is giant pain and she still pulls. We'll keep working on it.

Potty problems: As a working guide dog, Raelyn will need to go potty on command and ONLY on command. Well being more than 5 months old, she should be able to figure this one out by now. Unfortunately, she isn't having much of it. She will go on command, but if you don't give her the command, she will go when she wants to go and wherever that happens to be! In a store, on the Caltrain waiting platform, in the house... She also doesn't like to relieve when there are distractions around. Duh, who wants to go potty when there are interesting things to look at. And she is REALLY resistant to going poo in new places. Well, we are tackling one issue at a time and with the help of our club's puppy buddy, Mardie, we have come up with a plan to get Raelyn back on track and make her get with the program.

I was taking her out to relieve about every hour which is sometimes how often she would want to go, but we know she can hold it for more than 8 hours, so she is just being high maintenance. Now I am taking her out 2 hours apart minimum, so she learns to hold it for long time periods. To keep her from going sooner than that, she had her house roaming privileges revoked and is constantly in her crate or on tie down unless we are physically interacting with her. She now has only 1 potty spot that is downstairs. A pain for us, since we have our living area upstairs, but we'll deal. After she relieves on command in her potty spot, she gets lots of praise and is rewarded by playing tug with her favorite toy. Hopefully she will quickly associate fun times if she goes on command in her potty place. To help cut down on her frequent peeing, we are monitoring her water intake and only allowing 16-20 oz per day with only 4 oz at any 1 time. This should help us control her relieving schedule.

Silly puppy. Wish us luck!

Choo choo!

Last week, Raelyn and I went for a ride on Caltrain (kind of like Amtrack) up to the city with Amity with Sandy and her grandchildren in tow. We caught the train at Millbrae (where Raelyn felt the need to leave her mark on the waiting platform...) and rode it all the way up to the last stop at the SF Embarcadero. We walked along the waterfront and stopped in at a diner for a snack. Then to the grandkids chagrin, more walking! All the way up to the Ferry Building. We spent some time wandering around the neat building and browsing the shops on the lower floor. Raelyn took in the crowds with ease! Although she did feel the need to leave her mark in the Ferry Building bathroom...

We were pretty tired of walking, so we caught the T back to the Caltrain station and were able to run right onto a train reving up its engines! The conductors on the train were so friendly and wonderful. It was a fabulous outing. Raelyn did great at socialization as usual!

Problems that cropped up: Relieving issues (going when she feels like it, not when she is told to) and pulling on the leash pretty bad even with the headcollar (too many interesting people, pigeons, and other dogs to make friends with)

Solutions: More about the potty problem later. Going to keep practicing good leash manners by only allowing forward motion when the leash is loose and keeping her in the correct position and not letting her wander out ahead. We'll get it eventually!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Raelyn at 5 months

Well Raelyn has made it to 5 months already! It is crazy how fast the time has gone by, but she has been a part of our family for 3 months now. Raelyn is doing amazing. She has made so much progress since she was 4 months.

Her biggest achievement is that she is now allowed to walk around our large common room without being on a tie down or in the crate! She doesn't chew on anything, she doesn't try to play with kitty toys, and she is very calm and well-behaved. However, she is not allowed to go in the kitchen still because she sometimes confuses that with her potty place, so she is still learning not to do that. We just keep the kitchen blocked off while she is loose and are trying to get her to realize that the kitchen isn't a place to go potty by playing with her and feeding her there.

Another one of her big achievements is that we take her to restaurants now! We were a little afraid at first, so we waited since she was so fidgety and had trouble calming down. We finally bit the bullet and tried it and she did fantastic! She will walk in and sit down under the table and lay down and then stay there. She will either sleep or just watch people as they walk by. She is interested in food on the floor, but doesn't try very hard to get it and she gives up and ignores it after a while. Yay puppy!

She is super friendly and wants everyone to pet her. She doesn't have any problems being poked and prodded by strangers big or small. A little boy behind us in line was enamored by Raelyn and kept petting her and playing with her paws and Raelyn didn't care one bit. Raelyn loves being puppy handled and will let anyone turn her over and pet her belly. So cute!

Now that she is 5 months, she has graduated from her weekly Baby Puppy Meetings. She will definitely miss them as now she won't get to see her friends as often. Raelyn is really excited about other dogs and thinks they are all her friends who want to wrestle with her. Crazy dog. She does okay if she just walks by, but if you let her greet and meet the other dog then she will get all excited and try to jump on them. She really wanted to wrestle with the life-sized plastic dog at Old Navy the other day. Needless to say, that dog wasn't very interested in playing, but Raelyn didn't care!

Raelyn loves to play around the house and will tire herself out quite easily. She loves to play with her jolly ball, ice cubes, a kong with a rope through it, and her ultimate favorite toy: thick plastic bottles/jugs.

She has been growing like a weed, but has finally seemed to slow down. She weighs about 38 lbs and is about 20 inches tall at the shoulders.

She is doing great and is a fun puppy to have around. She is very well-behaved and has great manners. She doesn't bark. She still whines when she is in her crate and she doesn't want to be, but that isn't too often and she will calm down after a bit. She relieves on command, but will still go when she wants to go if given the opportunity. As long as she figures out she has to hold it and cannot go in the house, we will be okay, but that is slow going. The silly puppy whines to be let out of her crate, but not to be let out to go potty. She just sits there quietly by the door and if we don't pay close enough attention, she'll just go pee. Argh! We'll eventually figure it out.

All is well and we are looking forward to Raelyn's next month! :)