Puppy Socialization Diaries – Day 15

Day Fifteen turned out to be a pretty interesting day for young Cuba.

Because of his exploits in the sand, muck, and lake yesterday, he was a fairly dirty boy today.  I took advantage of that and decided it was bath time!  Our afternoon was spent doing “show dog day.”  This meant a nice bath (which he did fairly well in, comparatively), blow drying and brushing post-bath, dremeling nails and brushing teeth for the first time.  We also practiced poking, prodding, pinching, and grabbing various body parts for treats – he loves this game!  It was the first time he’s been introduced to the dryer, dremel, and fingertip toothbrush, and he accepted all of them readily.

Despite his early spic-and-span appearance, after swimming in his water bowl and running around in the back yard with Mokie, you’d be none the wiser that he’d had a bath unless you noticed my completely soaked sun dress.  Oh well, at least he smells good and is ridiculously cute!

After he got clean and then dirty, I crated him for a while, so I could get some work done.

Later, it was time to go to class!  I brought Cuba along for both of my classes tonight.

The first class was supposed to be a loose leash walking class but since I had relatively advanced dogs attending and the owners wanted to work on CGC walk-throughs, we practiced the exercises from the CGC examination.  Cuba got to practice his heeling skills, name response, sits, polite greetings, handling by strangers, and was introduced to a variety of distractions including –

  • umbrellas opening within three feet of him
  • dropped chairs
  • a rolling cart
  • a funny noise-making gun
  • this crazy toy we call the “roborat” which moves around and makes ridiculous noises
  • doorbells ringing
  • stomping sounds from the restaurant upstairs
  • new dogs entering the classroom

We also practiced crating at the classroom, with:

  • other dogs walking close by his crate
  • me training exercises with the other dogs while he remained relaxing in a down position
  • biofeedback for relaxation (click for blinking, sighing, resting his head on his paw or the crate floor)
  • me leaving the room for brief intervals

In his crate today, Cuba had a variety of toys as well as a bully stick and a Kong stuffed with Nature’s Variety raw lamb patties.  Nom!

At my second class, Cuba finally got to play with clients Annarose and Kelly’s Westie McKenzie.  Cuba met McKenzie last week but because she was still recovering from her spay surgery, they were unable to officially play together.  That changed today, when they got to romp and wrestle unhindered by leashes!  McKenzie had the speed advantage, but Cuba had the size advantage (at 12 lbs, McKenzie is smaller than Cuba was two weeks ago at his 8 week veterinary appointment).  They took turns – she running circles around the uncoordinated puppy and he tackling, lying, or sitting on her when he wanted to wrestle.  They did very well together, and I look forward to seeing their friendship mature and develop as Cuba and McKenzie grow into adulthood.  Since McKenzie’s favorite dog at the classroom is a Harlequin Great Dane named Riley (arguably the tallest dog I’ve ever seen), I have little doubt that she will continue to love Cuba, even when he is 4, 7, or 10x her size!

We did a lot of intro to agility equipment at class tonight.  Cuba got to:

  • go up (and down) the A-frame
  • play on the buja board – we got all four paws on!
  • get onto and lie down on the pause box/table
  • go through a beginner tunnel (a garbage bin with the bottom cut out)
  • walk through a ladder for foot-placement awareness
  • walk through very basic hoop jump (very high-tech, expensive training equipment here – a motorcycle tire covered in electrical tape and bungeed to a wooden frame)

Because he is a growing giant breed boy, it will be quite some time before Cuba is allowed to do any “real” jumping, so at this point he was pretty much just walking through the tire, which is approximately four inches off the ground)

Of all these, the Buja board was certainly Cuba’s favorite!  Whenever I’d look away for a second, I’d turn around and find that he had sauntered back to the Buja board and put a paw on it, staring at me as if to say, “Didja see this?  Huh?  Huh?  Didja?”  Once, he even laid down on the Buja board!  At the end of class, Cuba was lying on the floor next to the Buja board, resting his chin on it.  I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a puppy take so readily and completely to the Buja board, and must make one at home for him!  Luckily, this is easy and inexpensive to make.

What is a buja board?

A Buja board is a piece of plywood with a spherical object attached underneath which makes the board wobbly.  A Buja board is also an introduction to the agility obstacle “teeter” or “see-saw,” and teaches a dog that it is ok to have an unstable surface under his feet.  You can make a Buja board easily at home.  To do so:

  1. Measure your dog from nose to tail
  2. Purchase a piece of ply board which is 6 – 12″ larger than this measurement, square
  3. Find a sturdy ball
  4. Cut a hole in the bottom of the board that is slightly smaller than the diameter of the ball.  You want the hole big enough so that the ball is not sliding around willy-nilly under the board and small enough so that the ball does not pop through the hole.  Alternatively, you can take an athletic sock, insert the ball into the sock, and use a staple gun to secure the ball to the underside of the Buja board.

You can shape interaction with the Buja board or use targeting to get your dog to interact.  With Cuba, I used a hand target to create interaction three times then went into capturing and shaping.

McKenzie’s owner Kelly took lots of pictures tonight (and is a fabulous photographer), but so far I only have one of them, which is a shot of McKenzie and Cuba playing.  Rest assured, when I get the other pictures, I’ll share them with my readers!

Until then, there are lots of pictures of Cuba’s adventures available on my FB page. Here are the albums, for anyone craving more Sainty goodness.

Trip to (and from) Oregon to bring Cuba home!

Cuba and Cub, 6 August 2010

More Puppy Goodness

Cuba Loving Life!

Adventures with Friends at Cole Park