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Abby talks back.
Greeting guest: Hanna the girl next door is helping us train good manners when greeting guests. Hanna knocks on the door and we ignore Hanna. Of course Betsy freaks out so we do do the basic sit, drop, up until she settles down. We use the clicker for this. When Betsy is a bit settled, we open the door and repeat. Again, when she is settled we let Hanna in and repeat. Hanna knows not to pay any attention to Betsy- no looking, no talking, no petting. Betsy isn’t very good at accepting pets, even from us, so we are not allowing Hanna to pet Betsy. When and only if we have a good session we allow Hanna to sit down on the floor in Betsy’s bubble and do her basic training exercises- sit, drop, up.
Bark/Quiet: very much beginning stages.
It’s a joy to witness your new puppy developing their own personality. From the beginning they seem to display breed specific personality traits, but the older they get the more you notice them become their own individual.
We’ve progressed in training quite a bit. Currently we have a rock solid sit, drop, and up. Stay is about 45 seconds duration, distractions are minimal, and distance includes leaving the room.
Stay: duration is about 60 seconds.
Betsy’s 14 weeks old and we decided to take her to the park.
I dislike most Delaware parks as they have very strict leash laws. The state parks have rangers that hide in the bushes with binoculars and jump out when they see a dog off leash. Then they proceed to give you a $75 ticket.
Our county parks are nicer by far. They have the same leash laws, but the county police don’t prowl the area looking for offenders. They also provide poop bags and trash cans, whereas the state parks are all carry in / carry out.
We have a few nearby off leash dog parks, but they are all what I call ‘city people’ parks. They are small and attract complete idiots. In addition, my vets have all informed me of the extremely high incident rate of contracting an illness from these parks.
Our first visit on Saturday we went to the state park Bellevue. It’s off leash but they do have some trash cans. We followed the rules and kept Betsy on the leash. We didn’t meet any other dogs but she did say hi to some people. We worked on her commands, especially ‘close’ She did so great that the next day we went to the county park Carousel. That was always Ky’s favorite park. The off leash area is about 10 acres and has a pond. It’s a tad hilly so it’s easy to get out of sight of other dogs that might not be compatible with your personality. We found a great puppy when we first arrived but they left early. Most of the other dogs were too big, too old, or too unruly. She still got in a good bit of running and exploring, and even got her feet wet in the pond.
The very next weekend we visited Carousel both Saturday and Sunday. She had a blast. She ran, explored, and socialized with many other dogs. There were a couple of puppies with which she very much enjoyed playing. Of course there were a couple of dogs that had a tad of aggression issues that tried to bite Betsy in a not friendly way. I had to kick one and yell and stare down another. One owner was friendly and spoke with me about what happened, the other was rude and never said a word.
We might have over done it as we stayed each day for more than an hour. One hour was always our average time with Ky as I could tell she got tired if we spent more time than that. We noticed on Monday that Betsy had the sneezes. Well, not sneezes as much as reverse snort where she tried to expel mucus. She was also not her usual self during our play time in the house, acting a bit lethargic and losing interest more quickly that usual.
We got in to see the vet on Tuesday and sure enough she had a slight fever. The vet said she had a cold and gave us 10 doses of antibiotics to administer for the next 5 days. He said he usually might not prescribe anything and just let her fight it off but just last week he had a puppy with pneumonia. I looked it up and although rare it is extremely contagious. If a puppy is exposed to it, they most likely will catch it. It takes about 10 days to incubate, so it doesn’t seem like it came from the visits to the parks. We interrogated the vet assistant but she admitted it is extremely difficult to figure out where they caught it.
If that wasn’t enough, we dropped off a stool sample and got a call on Wednesday that she had ring and round worms. Back to the vet for more medicine. We noticed the breeder had dewormed 3 times when Betsy was with them. The vet assured us that is normal and not an indication that she had worms but was probably done as a prevention.
A nasty side effect of the sickness or medicine is the odor. Ky was an amazing dog. I swear she smells good and almost never got a bath. Betsy was never smelly either until this happened. She hasn’t had a bath since the breeder gave her one the week before she came to us.
Betsy has been on her meds for a few days now and is getting better. Less sniffling, more energy. But the vet told us no walks and limit the outside time so we’re having some cabin fever now. The weekend is here and no dog parks are allowed. Oh well, we’ll get through this and get our sick girl back to health. And give her a bath!
1 tsp/day or 1 tsp/lb/day
garlic is fine, onions are not
Betsy was born on June 28th, 2015 at Stirling Collies. Her mom is a pure AKC German Shepherd and her dad is an AKC 1/4 German Shepherd and 3/4 Collie. We’ll get Betsy’s AKC papers after we prove we’ve spade her.
We picked up our new girl on August 24th 2015 at 10:54 PM. She flew in on Delta flight #1624 from Stirling Collies in Minnesota. We had to fill up some paperwork while she looked on still locked away in her carrier. We finally got her into the van and drove to a grassy spot in the parking lot. We put her on the leash and had our first meeting with our new pride and joy.
She was very alert but a bit timid in our first meeting. She stayed timid for about a month. I forget Ky’s first months which is one of my main motivations for starting this blog. The books and internet articles have helped me remember much. I forgot how new puppy’s seem like they learn everything perfectly and stay right next to you. And then they become more curious, confident, and stubborn. Multiply that by 10 for a German Shepard. It does make training more of a challenge but the fully trained dog is an absolute delight to have around. From the articles and books I was questioning if Betsy might be a dominate dog. After reading the exact signs I realized that no, she does not have a dominate personality. She’s just a German Shepard with a strong personality and with proper training she won’t have any problems with aggression at all.
She was so distressed at being placed in her crate that we waited for about a month until we started using it. We let her sleep in bed with us for a few weeks too. Once we transitioned to the crate I was once again amazed at how quickly a dog takes to having their own personal den. As a human I want to think it would be a terrible experience to be locked away and confined. But a dog takes to it like a mouse to cheese. She hardly ever whines or complains, and she totally runs to her crate when we say ‘go to bed’. Of course the behavior is always followed up with a treat.
Speaking of treats, this is a complete change from how I taught Ky. I only ever used treats for one command- come. Praise was the only reward I used, and she turned out great. I admit I also used some of the more compulsion training techniques like a choke chain to teach heel. Our entire technique has changed after reading the book Let the Dig Decide by Dale Stavroff. Also the internet has a plethora of videos and articles about using positive motivational techniques. Sure Ky was consistent while still being observant and ultimately deciding how she would behave. Maybe I just got lucky with Ky. I want Betsy to turn out just as smart and let her decide the proper course of action just like Ky would but we’ll do it using this new kinder gentler approach. Now we just have to learn how to keep from over treating and letting Betsy get fat (so far she’s not as she seems to have a growth spurt whenever that belly starts to get a bit big). Intermittent rewarding seems to be the answer. Possibly some clicker training might also help, but we haven’t started that yet.
The first command we tried to teach Betsy was ‘look’. It wasn’t as easy as I remembered with Ky. She didn’t like to make eye contact and even with many treats, the response was inconsistent. Our next commands were sit, drop, up and free. I like adding ‘up’ in there as it is a nice transition from drop and back to sit. These commands continue to be our primary focus. She had them down in the first month but not consistently. Even at 4 months we continue to work on consistency and ‘stay’. I want to stop using stay eventually as sit and drop should mean ‘sit and stay’ and ‘drop and stay’ without the need to say the word stay. For consistency training we are adding distractions, distance, and duration. We got about 30 seconds of stay in the house and varying degrees of consistency in the back yard, front yard, on walks and at the park.
If you check out the vocabulary page we have worked on every command except for heel and yard. We use ‘close’ on walks to mean stay close and no pulling. She does nicely and mostly does not pull. Patience and turning around / changing direction has kept her paying attention to us and keeping the leash loose. I’m saving heel until we’re ready to focus on it and ensure we’ll get success right at the beginning. I think she’s still a bit too young for a formal heel and I just want her to enjoy her walks for now. Later she can learn ‘heel’ perfectly from the beginning without learning any bad habits. I absolutely loved how Ky could heel off leash and am hoping for the same from Betsy. We are also saving ‘yard’ for later. It’s a bit advanced for her to learn her boundaries just yet. Right now we just call her to come and make sure she does when she approaches a boundary. Yard is such a nice command though when you don’t really need them to ‘come’ but rather to just stay in a boundary. We could go to somewhere new and I could call out to Ky ‘Yard’ whenever she approached a boundary. Within a few minutes she knew just how far this new yard extended and would stay within the limits.
A German Shepherd / Collie mix has a huge amount of energy. Our goal is to teach her fetch (go get it) to help with expending that energy daily. I never wanted to teach Ky fetch. When we’d visit the dog park I’d witness the other dogs playing fetch resemble crack addicts. Nothing else in the world mattered other than the fetch toy (like an addict with their pipe). I loved how Ky was so aware of everything going on around us and I’m hoping to figure out how to give Betsy that same awareness while still learning to play fetch.
Betsy has done well with fetch in the house. I’ve learned that the toy and the game are the only reward and no treats are offered as they are just a distraction. She does great with tug, she does great to bring back the toy, and ‘leave it’ is getting better. We have designated certain toys as the ‘tug’ toys and others as the ‘leave it’ toys. Consistency outside the house is still a distant dream. We decided not to worry about that too much right now as winter is coming and we won’t be able to get outside much soon and we might as well wait until spring. We’ll focus on a rock solid leave it in the house for now.
I did formal training with Ky 3 times per day, morning, noon and evening. I waited to even get a dog until I knew I could devote my time to her, and my circumstances had changed to where my job was just 2 miles from home and I could come home everyday for lunch. I’m doing the same 3 times per day training with Betsy along with informal training all day long. Jenny is doubling that as she is also doing formal training 3 times per day. At first Jenny was disappointed as she thought Betsy obeyed me better than her. I pointed out that Betsy obeys some commands better for Jenny and others better for me, and most are about exactly equal.
We had very few accidents in the house in the beginning. We have only had one #1 accident in her crate when we left her for 6 hours which was way too long. Most of the time she does very well and we blame ourselves for not supervising her or reading the signs. #2 accidents are rare but #1 happens more often than I’d like. Sometimes we’ll let her out and she doesn’t go and then 5 minutes later she goes #1 in the house. From my research it seems like it’s just bad training. We need to be more consistent with the crate. If she doesn’t go when we let her out, then it’s back in the crate for 20 minutes and then try again. If we are not actively supervising her then it’s back in the crate.
On August 3rd, 2015 our faithful friend. Kyodai passed away after of 16 wonderful years. She was a truly wonderful dog and we miss her dearly. Ky was with me since she was a puppy. When she first came to me she knew nothing, not even the word no. Jenny met Ky when she first came to America and enjoyed her for 8 years. Ky really helped Jenny adjust to life in America and stave off loneliness. She would follow Jenny from room to room and keep her company whatever she was doing.
After about a week of true depression, we decided to get a new puppy. Jenny was a bit hard to convince as she was concerned it would damage Ky’s memory. I told her that Ky wasn’t sad up in heaven, we gave her a good life, and Ky wouldn’t want us to be sad either.
I knew exactly the breed of puppy I wanted. Ky was a German Shepherd and Collie mix, with a bit more German Shepherd, and that’s what I wanted. I also wanted a newly weened puppy who hadn’t learned the bad habits taught by a negligent, ignorant and/or abusive owner. Call me selfish. The search began.
The internet was my tool, and I knew how to use it. The first thing you read is from the ‘save the world, don’t promote mutts, don’t buy from pet stores’ people. I delved into the rescue’s and the pet finders sites. Finding the breed I wanted was impossible. I didn’t just restrict my search to nearby, I was ready to drive cross country.
Thank God I finally found Stirling Collies, a breeder in Minnesota. Low and behold, they even had a mixed litter almost ready for placement. They had an AKC lineage and were 5/8 German Shepherd and 3/8 Collie- exactly what I wanted. After a very pleasant exchange with Diane over at Sterling, we had puppy female #6 on hold. Our new puppy had her first airplane ride and on August 24th and we picked her up late that evening.
Our journey had already begun. We’d already gone to the library and picked up a couple of books on dog training. I’ve trained before but it’s always a good idea for a refresher and to learn new ideas. Ky was an amazingly good dog who I swear understood English, and I knew with dedication my new puppy could do the same. We’d already purchased her food, supplements, and treats online using the brand the breeder used. Shipments from Amazon had rolled in the entire week before with training treats, chew toys, human grade vitamins, and more chew toys. The dog crate was setup and a divider installed to accommodate a tiny puppy. The house was puppy proofed. We were good and ready.
Our first meeting with our new puppy in the Delta cargo parking lot was divine. We met our new puppy, buddy, and companion and she met her new owners, masters, friends, and parents. She was wide eyed at the big world and the new surroundings in a grassy spot next to the roar of the airplanes. We had a quick visit and packed her up for the short drive home.