Puppy Socialization Diaries – Day 30

More beautiful, hot summer weather.  I am absolutely loving it, but have to be diligent about keeping the pups cool in this heat.

Day 30
Day 30 was a different type of day for Cuba.

Relatively few of the hours I work are actually spent training dogs.  The bulk of my working hours are spent developing training plans, writing up client reports, sending reports to veterinarians, writing handouts, blogs, or articles, working on the KPA course I’ve been developing this summer, responding to emails, scheduling, answering phone calls, and accounting.

This is both a gift and a reason for caution in puppy raising.  I love being able to spend much of my day with my dogs, but at the same time realize a time may come when I can’t spend all day with them.  When I travel for seminars or conferences, my dogs will be home during the day while my husband is at work.  Granted, he can let them out on his lunch break during the day, but nobody will be there to take Cuba for multiple walks, training, and play sessions throughout the day.  Sometimes, a puppy just has to have a “crate day.”

That is not to say Cuba spent all day in his crate.  However, he did spend large blocks of his day in his crate, broken up by thirty minute breaks (for potty break and play) approximately every three hours.

Cuba is really wonderful about going in his crate on cue.  However, he is growing into himself and is now trying new strategies to find out what works to get attention.  This experimentation includes, you guessed it, barking in the crate.

Our first three hour crating session, I was actually in the room doing some work.  After making sure that he had done all his morning bathroom business, I put Cuba in his crate with a breakfast Kong and went to work.  He finished his Kong, took a nap, and woke up, barking.  I have worked really hard already to teach Cuba that only quiet dogs get out of crates, so today I decided to employ a little reverse psychology – every time he barked in his crate, I left the room.  If he’s barking for attention, I’m responding by removing my attention.  I would return to the room after a couple minutes of quiet and go back to work.  The barking reduced in frequency and intensity quickly, so we were both able to relax.

We took a brief break for Cuba to have a trip out to potty, a short game of tug, and a three minute training session.  Then it was back in the crate for Cuba.

This separation period lasted about 2.5 hours.  I took a 2 and a half hour “staycation” and went out back to soak my feet in the dogs’ kiddie pool while reading a favorite book.  I could hear Cuba from out on the back porch.  He whined and barked for about five minutes, then settled down.  He did bark again when I came in to grab a glass of water, but I ignored him and this time, he quit barking within ninety seconds.

Then we went outside for some splashing in the kiddie pool and out with Mokie for a twenty minute walk.  Cuba was a little sleepy when we came back to the house.  Our next crate separation lasted for about 2 hours.  I left Cuba with a marrow bone with a Through a Dog’s Ear c.d. playing quietly.  He did bark probably five times during these two hours, but each time the barking fits were of relatively short duration – three to five barks then he’d down and relax.  To end this session, I returned to the room quietly and ignored him for about ten minutes.  I waited for him to lie down in his crate before going over to release him.  Because I am trying to stave off separation anxiety with these exercises, I made our reunion very low key, not really engaging with him until he had relaxed a bit.  Then we went out for a potty break, followed by more playing and kiddie pool splashing.

Later that evening, we went out for a walk.  For as nice as it was, we saw fewer people than I’d expected we would.  Only seven new people today!  We also spent time reviewing some of Cuba’s new behaviors, and I did my first shaping session on “back up,” a behavior that will come in handy when we embark on our carting journey together.