Saturday, February 17, 2007

Howie is playing with his bean-bag chair. Ripping it apart hasn't occurred to him yet, but that's just a matter of time. He's here because I'm here, and he can't stand to be alone. It's not separation anxiety, it's the pack-animal in him. Dog's need to be part of a pack, and we're his.

The Monks of New Skete recommend tying a new puppy's leash to your belt-loops while inside, so the dog gets used to following you around. That seemed odd to me, but now I think they're probably right about that, too. "Too", because we've taken their advice about a number of things with Howie, and they've all paid off.

Something I've learned this time around is the value of socialization. We got Phyllis when I was seven months pregnant. Does that seem stupid to anyone? I swear it didn't to me at the time, but then again, I was hormonal and wanted a baby I could actually see and hold. At 7 weeks old, Phyllis fit the bill nicely. We bought an outdoor kennel for her so she'd always be able to got outside whenever she was bored. It turns out that was mistake number two.

Dogs love being outside. Howie has become a pain in the arse because he knows when I get home from work, he gets to go up to the woods for his daily run. And heaven forbit I should want to change clothes or use the bathroom or *gasp* sit down for a minute first. But that's not my point. My point is dogs love to be outside with their family. They hate to be outside by themselves. I somehow missed that with Phyllis. After a while, we started to leave her in her kennel when we were at work (if the weather wasn't too hot or cold), so she wouldn't tear the house apart. Tearing the house apart was something she tried to do at every possible opportunity. She was a puppy, a normal, chewing labrador puppy, but I was hormonal, remember. I took it personally. One day she chewed through a wall to get out of the area we tried to corral her into.

Anyway, leaving her outside seemed like a good solution. She could see what was going on in the neighbourhood so she wouldn't be bored. She had enough room to excercise a bit, she had toys, water, a shady doghouse. And after a while, she didn't seem to mind.

The Monks say not to do that. They say to keep your new puppy with you all the time. All The Time. That's what we've done with Howie. It's easier now, of course. My kids are teenagers, not newborns, and they can take on some of the responsibility. (They could take on more responsibility, but that's another blog.) As a result, Howie has been in the kennel maybe twice in the seven months he's been with us. We'll probably sell it.

Having him always underfoot can be a pain at times, but it has paid off. While Phyllis grew independent in her kennel, Howie has grown needy. I mean that in a good way. He's almost 8 months old, well into the "wandering away" stage of his development, but he doesn't wander. We can still play with him in the backyard off his leash, and he never runs away. We could never have done that with Phyllis. She would have sensed freedom and been off like a rocket. Not Howie. When we're done playing, all we have to do is go to the door, and he's there, ready to come in with us. He loves the snow, he loves to be outside, but he wants to be with us more.

And that's my best tip for someone getting a new puppy. Keep your puppy with you at all times. It'll be worth it.

21 comments:

rdl said...

What about crating? i'm sensing the monks are against this maybe? I think it's a good solution even tho it didn't work for us. Our,Jackson, did have separation anxiety for sure. He didn't mind the crate, would actually go in there on his own, if we were there. but when we left, he went ballistic. Houdini dog. I gave up after the 3rd crate.
We made it out of puppyhood tho, he's now almost 3!

Sabine said...

Hi rdl. The monks are very much in favour of crating. We didn't use one with Phyllis because I thought they were cruel. Mistake #3 we made with her. Howie loves his crate. He's not crated at night anymore, but often goes into it voluntarily.

What kind of dog is Jackson?

Indigo Bunting said...

A friend of mine just got a German shepherd puppy (not from the monks, who are nearby, although she considered that option) and she did the leash-on-the-beltloop thing, maybe for a week. (She's retired, for the record, and devoted the first couple of weeks 24-7 to the puppy.) The puppy is VERY well behaved. She thinks it was totally worth it.

Susan said...

Is Howie in his crate when you're all out of the house (at work and school)? Do the Monks have anything to say about adopting an older dog? A friend of mine is planning to do that, and I'm sure he could use some advice...

Sabine said...

Does she attribute his good behaviour to tying him to her beltloops? I'm sure it must help enforce her alpha-dog status. Maybe next time I get a dog I'll be retired. If so, I'll try tying it to me.

Susan - yes, Howie is in his crate during the day. It sounds horrible, doesn't it? Yet he goes in quite willingly. The monks have two books, How to be your dog's best friend and The art of raising a puppy.

I have both, and I'll go through the first one again tonight. I paid more attention to the puppy information, than what they had to say about older dogs.

Susan said...

That book sounds good. Maybe I'll buy it as a "dog shower gift." I've heard some really bizarre dog training advice on the radio, and I hear it's even more extreme on TV. I can relate to the monks (about dogs).

Susan said...

And no, it doesn't sound horrible. What would be horrible is leaving a dig to his own devices all day, and then coming home and screaming at him for ripping up the sofa.

crystal said...

Hi M. I think this is good advice for kttens too. I made the mistake of not socializing my cats from an early age - I was actually afraid of the responcibility of having them depend on me - but I slowly got more used to them and keeping them indoors all the time helped. Howie is a lucky puppy to have a mom who cares so much about him :-)

Sabine said...

Shoot - I forgot to pull out that book last night, Susan.

Crystal! I've had a couple cats, but they were always pretty independent. I wonder how much of a difference early socialization would have made with them. Dogs are by nature social, but aren't cats by nature loners? (Hope that doesn't sound like I'm anti-cat. I'd have one in a heartbeat if my son weren't allergic to them.)

crystal said...

I'm not sure what their actual nature is. I think in feral communities, cats often live together.

All the "babies" - Kermit, Data and Spot - really loved Grendel, their mother, and loved to be around her, to groom her, sleep with her, even as adults.

They were all affectionate with me too and Data would follow me around, nibble on my legs, poke me with his foot. Kermit gets upset if I leave her alone too long :-)

Maybe the more attention we pay to them, the more they respond? I had a friend who had a pet fish who was affectionate!

Sabine said...

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You should join!

Indigo Bunting said...

I should have my friend check out your blog. I know nothing about training dogs, but I think you're right, the beltloop thing would enforce her alpha-dog status and everything else she's doing to train. Such a foreign world to me...

Indigo Bunting said...

I talked to my friend about the leash thing. She says she still does it, intermittently, often when she's doing things and can't watch him (like laundry). She says keeping him with her also means he's "on" all the time while it's happening, so he sleeps well!

Jona said...

Hi mm, I wanted Kobi to be more independant than Ryker, and I have my wish - but I'm sensing that it won't be long before he's brave enough to take off without me! Having said that, he's not a v.naughty boy for me, just everyone else ;o)

Nice to hear about Howie

Sabine said...

Thanks, Indigo Bunting - I'll definitely do it if I ever get another puppy.

Jona - You're still alive! So good to hear from you.

Deloney said...

Hasn't Howie done ANYTHING interesting lately?

Happy St. Patrick's Day. *urp*

Susan said...

Boy, Howie's been playing with his bean bag chair for an awfully long time...

Helen said...

He's very focused...

Deloney said...

Merry Christmas, Maureen.

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Doug said...

Happy New Year, Maureen!

Doug