Posts tagged Pflouff

General critter update

The household is settling quite a bit, and Miss Pflouff is gaining more freedom. I set up an x-pen at the base of the basement stairs to keep her downstairs, but more and more I’m leaving that open now. We have a dog door, and she is using it reliably to go outside, both to potty and to play. She’s sleeping through the night most nights now. If she needs to go out, she’ll whine and sit up. Otherwise, she’ll toddle into her crate, crash immediately, and emerge sometime around 7:15.

Aslan is adjusting well, though part of that is careful observation on my part. If I give them new bones or new toys, I separate the dogs, and I’m careful to remove the bones/toys prior to feeding or sending Pflouff out to potty. I’m also careful with space, because that can be one of Aslan’s triggers. I’ve found that he’s better in the morning, but by evening, he’s starting to get tired of her. (You’d think he was a crotchety old dog!) I give him a break then and close her in the basement with me.

The three dogs have been playing together really well. Pax, as much as I love him, lets puppies treat him like a chew toy. He’s way too permissive, so I have to intervene and redirect. Pflouff is far more respectful of Aslan. He’s AWESOME with her when they play, but when enough is enough, he draws a strict line — and she doesn’t push it. Good!

All three dogs are sleeping the whole night in the bedroom. Pflouff sleeps in a giant crate next to my bed. Pax and Aslan sleep on the bed. (Both can come and go as they wish, though in reality, it’s only Aslan who does so.) Aslan has been completely fine with my moving Pflouff in and out of the room during potty breaks.

Pflouff’s crate is WAY too big, and it’s really in the way. I’d like to get rid of it, but that poses a different problem. There is NO WAY we can let a third dog of that size on the bed. So we have to phase the crate out in a way that she chooses to sleep in the bedroom without getting on the bed. And, we have to do all this without Aslan getting protective. Eventual goal is for her to be able to sleep anywhere she wants (except on the bed), just like Pax and Aslan do.

Other update… The reason you haven’t seen more pictures of her is that she broke my camera. I ordered a new one today though, so eventually there will be more Pflouff pictures.

Puppy class #3

We went to our third puppy class last night. Miss Pflouff was awesome for the first half hour. I was using these new treats we picked up at Sam’s, and she loved them. The class had a couple of new people, so it started off slowly, but we were in our corner just flying through various behaviors. She was amazing.

Of course, it didn’t last forever. At about the thirty minute mark, she pretty much stopped cold. The treats were tiny, so I don’t think she filled up, but they may have been sitting heavy on her tummy. She went from focused maniac to unfocused, distracted puppy. 🙂

The class worked on name recognition, polite greetings, sit/down, stay, and drop it, and we had a couple of puppy play sessions. I’m getting less comfortable with her play style. First of all, except for the Labradoodle, she’s the only large puppy in this class. The others are young puppies of tiny breeds — definitely not animals you want overwhelmed by a pup used to playing with Aslan and Pax! When she’s home, she very much has to keep up with the big dogs, and that makes it hard for her when she’s around little dogs.

I very much like being able to close the panels in our “area,” at puppy class, but at the same time, I’ve realized I’m using it as a crutch. Rather than teach her to focus in a distracting situation, I’m just closing her in her area. That won’t do her any favors when she attends a different class. I haven’t been training her “on the road” either, which compounds the issue.

SO. We’ve got three weeks left in this class. I’m going to make a point of getting her out of the house a minimum of twice a week OTHER than puppy class, so she can learn to focus in more distracting situations. (This would be easier if we lived somewhere sunny.) And in class, I’m going to start opening the screen more. I don’t want her to be overwhelmed in her next class.

Speaking of, I’m planning to sign her up for Beginning Obedience at The DogWorks in Monroe. Class starts in early January, right after this one ends.

Nice morning

Aslan and Pax have had ups and downs in their relationship in the past, and so, not surprisingly, Pax isn’t often willing to play with Aslan. And when he does participate, Aslan’s play style isn’t particularly fun for him. Aslan plays very much like a lion — grabbing at back legs and other moves that would be practice for later hunting and fighting behavior. This makes sense, since Great Pyrs have, for two thousand years, guarded sheep flocks from bears and wolves.

Today, however Pax and Aslan really played — and they played in a way that was clearly fun for both of them. It’s not often that you see Aslan willing to roll over on his back, but each of them took turns in that vulnerable position. Their play was quiet and — for them — remarkably gentle. It was truly PLAY.

Pflouff very much wanted to be part of it, but the other dogs didn’t want to play with her right then. Since letting her continue to try to butt in would have ended the play session between Pax and Aslan, I held Pflouff at the sidelines and tried to convince her that she wasn’t being abused by being left out.

When Pax and Aslan took a break, Pax lay down with a toy called a Kong Wubba (which is my favorite name for a toy EVER). That was Pflouff’s invitation. The toy can be both a chew toy (with an awesome squeak) and a tug toy. Pflouff grabbed one end, and they played a delightful game of tug. Pax doesn’t always want to share his toys with her that way, but he was totally into this.

After a couple of minutes of tug, Aslan came back. They tried to all three play together, but without the tug toy, Pflouff was going for Pax’s ears. At the same time Pax was trying to “defend” himself from Aslan. It really wasn’t fair to Pax, so I took Pflouff onto the sidelines again (much to her vocal dismay). Another round of gentle, fun play between the big dogs ensued.

A couple minutes later, Aslan went outside. So Pax and Pflouff played together again. When Aslan came back this time, I took Pflouff upstairs for a drink of water — Hey! She learned how to drink out of the toilet! My, she is a big girl! — and her first heeling lesson.

Now we’re all downstairs, and everyone is crashed out at my feet. I do love it when there are happy dogs in the house.

Goal: Newfoundland National Specialty

Yesterday Jenni asked me if I’d considered going to the Newfoundland National Specialty next year. It’s in Frankenmuth, Michigan, April 28 – May 2. It sounds like a lot of fun, and my birthday is April 24, so I told Jay I would like to plan to do it.

It would be a major trip. I despise flying with a passion that burns with the heat of a thousand suns, so I’d have to drive. It’s a four day drive each day, plus five days at the Specialty itself. And since I’d have to stop and visit my firend Ashley on the way… it’s a very solid two week trip, minimum. Add car rental, motels, food… and it gets very expensive very fast.

I also suggested to Jenni that I bring Pflouff and she bring Inky (Pflouff’s yellow-collar sibling), and we enter them in conformation and obedience. They’ll be just shy of eight months old — smack dab in the middle of the worst of adolescence — but it’s still a good goal to shoot for.

Eek! A real goal! Commitment!

Can I do it? Can I get her trained for both conformation and AKC Novice Obedience?

Puppy class #2

My little angel went to her second puppy class last night. In class we did name recognition, down, stay, polite greetings, nail trimming/husbandry, and free play.

The free play sessions are interesting. Pflouff is a body slammer. She wants to use her weight to push other puppies to the ground. There’s a goldendoodle pup who has a similar play style to Pflouff, and you’d think they would play together. Um, no. Pflouff is attracted to the toy poodle who runs pell mell zoomies around the room. Pflouff chases her and pins her over and over.

Obnoxious? Well, not if Nina, the toy poodle, has anything to say about it. Split them up, and she runs right back to Pflouff. No whines or cries from her either. I think Nina is having a blast! And I know Pflouff is. Still, Pflouff outweighs her by a good 20 pounds already, so we have to watch them carefully. It’s kind of neat though. Pflouff doesn’t put all of her weight on Nina. She’ll crouch over her — just enough to hold her down but not enough to hurt her.

I expect, though, that this is why, when she went to daycare, they had her playing with the big dogs, rather than the puppies. I have to say, too, that although probably rougher than they’d like, her play with the puppies in class is more gentle than her play with her siblings. They were mean to each other!

Anyway, class was great fun. Pflouff was much more distracted this time, so I was very glad I had the screens to keep her from focusing on the others. I really, really need to get her out more, so she can learn to focus in distracting environments. I’ll try to run to Sam’s (pet supply store) today or tomorrow — that will be a good place to train.

I teach some things differently than they do, but that’s totally okay. For example, they teach stay by using a verbal “stay” cue plus a hand signal, and they feed during the behavior a little differently than I do. I, on the other hand, would prefer to have the position cue (sit, down, stand, mat) mean “and stay there until released” rather than having a separate stay cue. Those differences are minor, and it doesn’t matter if I teach their way during class. Believe me — there are a million different ways to teach any particular behavior and any number of them are effective!

I need to really buckle down though. Since she was sick part of last week, I missed several days of training because she was eating only that gross canned food.

Best part about puppy class? It wears her out! She slept on the way home and went to bed as soon as I could get her upstairs. Slept like a log all night too. I pottied her a couple of times not because she asked but because I was up for other things and figured, if I didn’t take her, she’d just wake up and ask to go a few minutes later.

(Really, is it any wonder that my fantasies involve pitch black rooms, no interruptions, and long hours of sleep?)

Training update

Shocking, I know, but I actually have been training Pflouff. I’ve worked on some behaviors more than others — a few I haven’t even started, actually. I’m mostly emphasizing the behaviors that we’ll be doing in class.

So some updates:

Targeting with nose — Accomplished first goal. New goal: The dog touches the marked end of a touch stick with his nose with only one voice cue.

Targeting with paw — Haven’t started. (Need to get target!)

Recall — Believe it or not, I haven’t started this. Bad trainer! I told Jay that every time he takes a break today, we HAVE to do some puppy recalls. They are way too important to ignore.

Sit — I’ve done a little with this, but not much. Most of her sit training was done by Jenni. I use it mostly for polite greetings, before opening the crate, or before putting down the food bowl. I need to work on a formal sit and get it on verbal cue and hand signal, but I just haven’t done so. Sit has a tendency to get overworked and turn into a behavior-halting default behavior — annoying during training sessions — so I’m swinging to the other end of the spectrum and ignoring it.

Down — I’m working on this. I prefer to teach a foldback down from a stand initially. I don’t want to teach a down from a sit until Pflouff has good cue discrimination between sit and drop.

Walk at my side — The goal for this one is different from the method used in my puppy class. I’ve done more with the puppy class method since that’s what will be requested of her over the next few weeks.

Name recognition/Attention — Accomplished first goal. New goal: The dog finds partner’s face and holds eye contact for 10 seconds with no more than two voice cues. No body language or touching other than looking at the dog.

Retrieve — Accomplished first goal. New goal: The dog takes and holds two objects in his mouth (one at a time), one of them metal.

Grooming / Nail clipping / Husbandry and conformation stack — I worked on this one time and didn’t review my goal before doing so. I totally jumped ahead and rushed her, and we both ended up frustrated. So I’m starting this one over!

Crate training — I haven’t worked on this behavior formally. She sleeps in a crate, and she willingly walks in on her own, both at the beginning of the night and after pottying during the night. I need to test it during the day though. I think Jenni already trained it though.

Stay on a mat — This behavior is so much fun! We’ve done three sessions, I think, and she’ll run over to the mat and plop her little butt into a sit. So CUTE. I haven’t increased distance to five feet though, so the first goal hasn’t been accomplished yet.

Scent work — Haven’t started.

Zen — Just started this one yesterday, but it’s definitely coming along!

Husband brag

I have to rave about what an incredible husband I have. I don’t do that nearly often enough, but he truly is the absolute best husband in the world.

You know what he did for me yesterday?

First, when Pflouff whined to go out yesterday morning, he offered to get up and take dogs out and feed them. (I declined that one, because feeding the beasties is a little tricky right now, because Pflouff is still learning the routine.)

After breakfast, I took Pflouff into the basement to train and entertain her. When I got there, know what I found? The CUTEST, SWEETEST card — absolutely apropos of nothing. It was absolutely perfect for us too.

Next… Jay and I were supposed to do some work in the barn, and my plan was to turn Pflouff out in the yard while we did that. Jay got up and went out to the barn without telling me. He got it almost all done before I even knew he was out there!

Then he did the laundry. And the dishes.

And THEN he took over puppy watching duties so I could have a couple hours of puppy-free sleep.

I am, without any exaggeration, the most blessed person in the world — for many reasons. But my wonderful husband tops the list. I don’t deserve someone as amazing as he is, but I’m grateful every day that I have him. I love him dearly.

Colitis… I hope

Poor Pflouff got sick and spent the day at the vet yesterday. Monday evening, she wasn’t terribly enthusiastic about her dinner (at 4PM), but she ate tons of tuna brownies at class (at 6:30PM). She seemed all right when she came home, but she was whiny and restless ALL night Monday night. (I know this because she kept me awake!)

Tuesday morning, she wouldn’t touch her breakfast. All she wanted to do was lie down or cuddle — definitely not the puppy I’m used to. So off to the vet we went. She was so lethargic by the time the vet saw her that the vet was sincerely concerned and ordered bloodwork and x-rays, fearing a blockage.

The initial x-rays were inconclusive, but Pflouff was dry heaving and wouldn’t touch food or water. The vet gave her barium and kept her at the clinic all day so she could take x-rays throughout the day to see if the barium went all the way through. There was a spot on the x-ray that she was concerned about, but by Tuesday evening it had dissipated, and I was able to bring her home.

Pflouff had moments of energy last night, but overall was still somewhat lethargic — and she still wouldn’t eat or drink. (The vet had given her subcutaneous fluids to ensure she wasn’t dehydrated.) I moved her from the small crate to a big crate, and she walked in and crashed without a complaint. That sort of worried me, frankly!

In the middle of the night, she threw up.. but it was yellow bile, and I had a feeling it might be because she was hungry. I wasn’t allowed to feed her yet, but I gave her water, and she drank well. This morning I had an energetic, starving puppy on my hands! The vet prescribed that disgusting, easy-to-digest canned food for her, and she was so hungry, she ate every bite and came looking for more.

We have to go back to the vet this mroning for a final x-ray, but I’m pretty sure it will be clear. I know from experience with Pax that the symptoms of colitis can come and go for a while, so I don’t think she’s 100%, even though she’s acting totally normal right now. But I think she’s going to be fine very soon.