2012  HIKING, CYCLING,

& RV TRAVEL ADVENTURES

 

   
 
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   BUSY, BUSY, BUSY:  LIFE WITH A PUPPY IS
HARDER (& MORE FUN) THAN WE REMEMBERED
!
(third in a three-part series)

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 2

 
"In order to really enjoy a dog, one doesn't merely try to train him to be semi-human. 
The point of it is to open oneself to the possibility of becoming partly a dog."
 
~ Edward Hoagland
 
 

Life with Casey has been very interesting so far. She's been very busy and so have we.

We're nine years older than when Cody was a pup and we kinda forgot how much a young puppy wears you out if you're doing everything you should to train and care for it right.


Quiet moments like this don't last long with a two-month-old puppy.

We're still learning about Casey's personality and temperament, which is developing before our eyes. I think we should have named her "Busy" instead of "Casey!" (Ironically, her dam is named Easy, short for her AKC name of Belquest Deep Run Easy Peasy. The breeders have another dam named Busy. I joke that Casey must have come from Busy's litter, not Easy's, because of her high-spiritedness.)

So far Casey is exhibiting more exuberant American field Lab characteristics than the more laid-back English Lab characteristics we were seeking but from what I've read that's typical at her age. She has  so much to learn about her environment and our expectations. Everything is new and exciting to her.

Like most pups I've had she's either "on" or "off." She's always busy when she's awake, and can sleep through just about anything when she's not:


Zoned out: Casey is sound asleep in her large day crate while the TV is on
nearby (the blue reflection on the hardwood floor).   (10-31-12, age 11 weeks)

Casey showed more hesitation about new sights, sounds, and smells the first week at our place than the second week. Lots of things were new to her. At first she followed Cody and/or Jim and me very closely, especially when we were outside in our yard and woods.

It took her only a few days to become much more adventuresome, sometimes just impulsively taking off into the woods when we took her out to potty and play and not wanting to come back until she was good and ready to come back. Evading us was as much fun as playing "catch me if you can" with Cody.

Until she learns to obey "come" every single time we'll have to keep her leashed most of the time outside, even on our property. She wants to explore as far as she can see -- and farther. I can identify with that but she's already hard to catch when she's off-leash. Busy, busy, busy.


"I'm often just a blur of activity, too fast for Mom or her camera."  (Casey, 8 weeks old)


"Sometimes I can be still for five seconds so Mom can
take a less-blurry picture of me."  (Casey, 10 weeks old)

It's a joy to watch her explore her environment inside and out. She chases anything that moves like leaves, bugs, and Cody's tail (poor Cody!), already listens/smells/digs for moles (one of Cody's favorite activities), and loves to jump up, over, and down obstacles like steps and tree trunks lying on the ground. Busy, busy, busy.

I think she'd love some agility equipment like a tunnel and steps. Cody enjoys those, too. Casey could just follow him and learn how to negotiate the equipment with minimal training. That would be a constructive way for her to burn off some of her energy.

We have to watch what she puts in her mouth because almost everything goes in -- acorns, leaves, bugs, and tiny twigs outdoors, anything loose, dangling, or protruding (like knobs on cabinets and furniture) inside the house. Busy, busy, busy.


"Something moved.  I have to get it!"  (Casey, 10-22-12, ten weeks of age)

Casey doesn't miss much, either. She's very observant of anything new to her or objects that have appeared in a place where she didn't see them previously. Busy, busy, busy.

She's aware of movement on the TV, pauses in the front yard to watch vehicles drive slowly past our house (probably hoping to meet someone new!), barks at her reflection in the sliding glass doors that lead to the deck, and knows when we're fixing her meals.

She usually eats slowly and deliberately, diametrically opposite the way Cody inhales his food. That might make it easier to control her weight when she's an adult. The best way to get her to eat in a timely manner is to add some yogurt or canned pumpkin to her dry kibble. She still chews the pieces but she doesn't take forever playing with them first. Busy, busy, busy.


"Where'd those pieces of kibble go?"   (eight weeks old)

Puppies from this breeder get more socialization and training than most puppies from back yard breeders or even hobby and professional kennels receive, partly because they remain there for at least eight weeks, not six, but mostly because this breeder wants her pups to make as seamless a transition into their new homes as possible. Casey absolutely loves to meet new people.

When we got her Casey had already been introduced to a crate, collar, leash, and game birds, had ridden in a vehicle, had gone swimming in a pond, had begun to retrieve objects, and knew how to sit when told to sit.

She wasn't potty-trained yet, however. That's a work in progress. She made some mistakes the first two weeks because we weren't trained yet to know when she needed to go out.

POTTY TRAINING

Puppies this young have very small bladders and minimal sphincter control. When they gotta go, they gotta go -- quite frequently. It's amazing how many times Casey can pee and poop in one day! Her potty training keeps Jim and me very busy.


This wall plaque pretty well sums it
up, even after they are adults  . . .

It's our responsibility to anticipate when she needs to go and take her outside to do it -- each time she wakes up from a nap, before and after she eats, before and after playtime and short training sessions (come, sit, down, heel, etc.), before she goes back into her crate, before we go to bed, and once during the night. Whew!

From age eight to eleven weeks Casey's bladder can hold urine for only four to five hours during the night. I get night duty because my bladder can't hold it for more than four or five hours either! (That's not just because I'm in my early 60s; I've always been that way.)

I usually wake up at 2 or 3 AM to go to the bathroom. Then I take Casey outside to pee. If I'm lucky she'll also poop and not just want to play. Then she's good till I get up at 7 AM to take her out, feed her and Cody, and let them play for about an hour. It's important to maintain the routine we've established for her (she eats about 7, 11, and 3). Consistency is the key.

Jim's very good about taking Casey out during the day (or middle of the night, if I don't wake up). He's very attentive to and patient with her:


Jim on potty patrol with Casey in our front yard  (10-30-12, eleven weeks old)

Fortunately, Casey's getting very good at letting us know when she has to go if we haven't anticipated each time correctly. I think that's pretty remarkable for her tender age.

If she's in her day crate she's got a special piercing yelp for "I gotta go!" We take her out the front door because there are only three steps vs. a whole flight of deck or basement steps to take her to the back yard.

It was a Red Letter Day about a week ago (at ten weeks of age) when she suddenly began running to the front door during play sessions to let us know she wanted to go potty. She usually sits quietly at the door so we can attach her leash, then leads us to her preferred spots in the front yard to potty.

Yes! That's the idea, you smart little girl!! Here, have a little piece of Yummy Chummy as a treat:

Yummy Chummies??  Ummm. Good stuff, according to Casey and Cody. They'll do about anything I ask of them for a little Chummy treat.

We learned about Yummy Chummies in Anchorage, Alaska, where the company is located. Chummies are dog treats made from salmon, originally manufactured for hard-working sled dogs. The company makes seven or eight different varieties. You can now buy them from Sam's Club, Petco, and other local retailers in the Lower 48 states, as well as online sources.

Little pieces of Chummies work more effectively as training rewards for Casey and Cody than pieces of their kibble and they're more nutritious than many other kinds of dog treats. (We have no financial interest in the company, unfortunately.)

CRATE TRAINING

I've already mentioned Casey's crates a couple times. She's got three of 'em now.

We had so much success crate-training Cody that we're doing the same thing with Casey. I wish I'd done that with all the other puppies I've had throughout my life. It would have saved a lot of chewed household possessions and carpet puddles.

There are many good reasons to use a crate with a puppy or even an adult dog, from safety to training. One of the best reasons is to expedite a pup's potty training.


Casey sprawls on her back in one of her crates.  (10-14-12, age 8 weeks)

We had some problems with Casey's potty training the first week because we had her in Cody's 36-inch long crate (in picture above). It was too large and she could pee or poop at the far end of it without soiling herself. She did that only a few times when we didn't anticipate her needs and she either didn't whine or bark to let us know she needed out, or we misread the meaning of her vocalizations.

Even though it was relatively easy to clean up the urine or little piles of poop on the towel in her crate, "a few" times were too many times for Jim and me -- and more importantly, Casey wasn't learning the concept of going outside to potty.


Does this pose look familiar? This is Cody in his small 
borrowed crate when he was about Casey's age.

We needed a smaller crate. One solution was to make a partition for the crate we had, then remove it as she grew. We decided, however, that two crates would be handier than one (we could have one upstairs and one downstairs in the van or outside in the yard), so we bought a smaller one to use upstairs in the living area for a few weeks.

The idea is to have the crate large enough inside for the pup to sleep, stand up, and turn around but small enough that it is unlikely it will soil its bed. It's just a natural instinct for dogs to potty as far away from their living quarters, especially their beds, as possible.

Even outside, Cody and Casey instinctively know not to pee or poop close to the house. They both prefer to go out into the woods to do their business. When given the opportunity, Casey began doing that at the tender age of nine weeks. We didn't need to train her to do that. It just came naturally.


Casey changes positions frequently when she sleeps; she often lies
on her back and/or draped over her toys.  (10-15-12, eight weeks old)

When Cody was tiny we borrowed a small plastic Pet Porter crate from a friend. To my recollection he never peed or pooped in it. When he outgrew it we returned it to our friend and bought him the larger 36" plastic crate we now have. He hasn't used it since he was about six months old.

The new 28-inch long crate we got for Casey is designed for 20-30-pound dogs and small enough that she hasn't soiled it. When she outgrows it she'll graduate to the larger one until we're convinced that she's fully potty trained.

In the meantime we use the larger plastic crate outside or put it in our van so she can go on rides with us. It's too big for the back seat of the truck but the little one fits there, if needed in the next two or three weeks. We anticipate she'll outgrow the little crate pretty soon. At eleven weeks she already weighs in at 20 pounds.


"I have plenty of room in Cody's old crate when I get to go for rides in the
van.  I'm safer this way and can't get into trouble or cause a wreck. There's
room for my buddy Cody nearby, too."  (Casey, 10-31-12, eleven weeks old)

Casey shouldn't be going out much until she's gotten all the shots she needs (at approximately four months of age) but I've taken her to Goode Park and the unpaved Wolf Creek Greenway several times to let her walk in the grass where other dogs don't often roam. She gets all wiggly when she sees people out walking and running on the trail. Ditto with neighbors out for a walk past our house.

She absolutely loves to meet new people and be petted. So does Cody, who tries to wedge himself into the mix.

I don't remember any of my previous Lab pups being so friendly so young. This is probably a result of all the socializing that occurred at the breeder's farm with the various family members who visit and staff members who help run the business.


"Please pet me!" Casey notices the little chime when my camera lens opens.
Sometimes she looks at me expectantly, as above, but usually she's too "focused"
on what she's doing to pay any attention to the camera.  (10 weeks old)

Her little crate, now just used for sleeping at night, is set up near Cody's dog bed in the family room, which is open to the living room, kitchen, dining area, and family room. When we initially had her in it during the day she could see what we were doing most of the time and not feel isolated.

She can also snore right through whatever noise we're making. She sleeps as hard as she plays.

Now she's got a larger wire "day crate," too. I forgot we had it until Jim cleaned it up and brought it inside about a week ago. It's so big 75-pound Cody can fit into it (48" long, 30" wide, 36" high):

We used it outside in Billings during the summer of 2003 when Cody was small so he could be nearby while I was working in the yard. It's like an enclosed doggie playpen, impossible for a pup to chew its way out (Cody wasn't devious enough to figure out how to unlatch it, and Casey hasn't tried that yet).

Now we put Casey in this kennel during the daytime between her frequent meal, play, and training sessions.

When she's loose in the house during those times she has to be under very close supervision. She can be out of our sight and chewing on an electrical cord in about three seconds. We put her back in the kennel when she needs to nap and/or we can't watch her closely enough. When she's in this wire kennel she can see and hear everything we're doing and is content to remain inside for one or two hours before letting us know she needs to pee (or play).

This is the only way we can get anything done while she's still so young and prone to get into trouble.

She still sleeps in the small, more enclosed crate at night for warmth and security -- until she either outgrows it or we're certain she won't potty in one of the two larger crates.


Camo Kid -- it's hard to see her when she lies on the tan-colored fleece throw. (11-2-12)

Casey has adjusted well to all the crates. She isn't so fond of them yet that she voluntarily goes inside when she needs a nap (read: when Cody, Jim, and I need a break!) but she no longer does a quick 180 to try to escape after we entice her inside with a treat or toy. 

SIGNS OF PROGRESS

A few days ago Casey got sleepy while she was with me in the study, far from her crates. That's a first. She's usually wide awake and in a state of perpetual motion when she's out of her crate.

She tried to nap on one of Cody's beds near my computer table, at my feet under the table, then on the carpet under a chair behind me. It appeared she was looking for a secure place to sleep, so I led her toward the big wire kennel at the other end of the house in the family room.

For the very first time she walked right in, hopped up on the thick folded fleece throw in the back, and fell right to sleep. Good girl!!!

Even though she's not in an enclosed space she apparently now identifies this as the place where she's supposed to sleep during the day.


Oblivious to the open kennel door

When Jim came inside later he very quietly opened the door to the kennel. We waited for almost an hour before she woke up. She had the most surprised look on her face when she realized her door was open and she could come out when she wanted to! That was also a first for her.

We'll do that again only when we're able to watch her, though. As soon as she wakes up she usually has to pee.

Jim found another way to amuse himself this evening when he suggested we put Cody in the crate and watch Casey's reaction:


What's wrong with this picture??  (11-2-12, eleven weeks old)

Cody played along like a good sport while Casey kept circling the kennel, trying to figure out how to get inside with him. I have to admit it was very funny.

This big wire kennel is a very handy thing to have. I suppose we could take it outside when we're doing yard/garden work like we did when Cody was a pup but that's a chore in itself -- take it apart, lug it down a flight of stairs, set it up, and do the reverse a couple hours later.

Not likely to happen very often. While Casey is this little it's easier to just keep her on a long cord and stake in our unfenced yard:


Busy, busy, busy   (10-17-12, nine weeks old)

We still have about three acres of the yard and woods wired for our Invisible Fence system but we haven't used it for five or six years. Once Cody and Tater knew their boundaries at this house they were compliant without having to wear their fence receiver collars all the time. The system is so old and out of date it doesn't even work any more. I got it in the 1990s when I lived in the Atlanta area and have used it very successfully at homes in Georgia, Montana, and Virginia. 

It's a great concept if you have a dog that can be trained to stay inside the fence at all times. The main disadvantage is that it doesn't keep other critters from coming into your yard.

Since we'll be traveling most of the time in our RV we'll have to decide if it's worth the expense to update the Invisible Fence system or just train Casey to know her boundaries in this yard.

ADAPTING OUR ROUTINE

Until Casey came into our lives three weeks ago Jim and I had comparatively little routine. Our RV traveling lifestyle is anything but routine, although we tend to sleep and eat about the same times no matter where we are.

A new puppy in the household requires more routine, however -- not as much as a baby human being requires, of course, but sometimes it seems like it.


"I'm glad I got Mom and Dad trained so fast!"  (Casey, ten weeks old)

The more consistency in our schedule, the faster Casey will learn how to become a good family member and canine citizen. We've settled into an eating-sleeping-training-playing routine we can all live with. The routine will gradually change as Casey matures and doesn't require so much attention. It'll be nice when she's as low-maintenance as Cody.

Meanwhile, Jim and I aren't getting as much sound sleep as we like. Nor are we getting as much done in or out of the house, except in relatively short sessions. The crates help considerably but we still spend a lot of time with her outside of them so she can get the exercise, socializing, and basic training she needs. 

At most, whoever is at the house can leave Casey in her crate for only one to two hours at a time before she has to potty, eat, and/or get some exercise again. We usually go away to bike, hike, or run errands separately because until a few days ago it was too hot to leave Casey in the car while we're doing those things.

We know this will all become easier as Casey gets older.


Casey walks down our little road with a stick in her mouth, just like Cody often does.  (11 weeks)

We have high but not unrealistic hopes for our new puppy. She has tremendous potential and she's already given us a lot of joy, just as Cody has for all of his life.

We intend to do the best we can to raise her into a healthy, happy, well-mannered companion for all of us.

"He is your friend, your partner, your defender, your dog.
You are his life, his love, his leader.
He will be yours, faithful and true, to the last beat of his heart.
You owe it to him to be worthy of such devotion." 

~ unknown author, but a great quote

We'll keep you posted occasionally with more canine stories and photos.

Happy trails (and tails!),

Sue
"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil, Cody the ultra Lab, and Casey-Pup

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2012 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil

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