Puppy Socialization Diaries – Day 31

We celebrate two wonderful milestones today!  Drum roll, please….

2 weeks since our last potty accident in the house!

Stair mastery – Cuba is now going up and down a number of different stairwells unassisted!

These are both very exciting milestones for us.  While I am not deluded into believing that I can relax supervision and routine on Cuba’s potty training, I am proud of the progress he’s making.  I have seen Cuba make some nice decisions in this regard – I have called him up the steps, thinking he didn’t have to potty, and he would look at me, look at the yard, quickly pee and then run up the stairs.  He has also begun wandering out toward the back door when he needs to go, so if I see this sign, I can generally always get in a perfectly timed potty opportunity.

This has given Cuba a bit more freedom, in that as long as he is in the same room as we, he can go untethered.

As for the stairs, let’s just say that Cuba is not a “tiny” puppy anymore!  He is growing quickly, and isn’t much smaller than Mokie now.  He looks less like the roly-poly puppy and more like a devastatingly handsome, leggy young man.  He’s getting heavy, and I definitely was hoping he would learn this behavior sooner, rather than later.  He does so nicely now that I think I might try to make a video of him this weekend, reviewing the steps we used to teach him to go down the stairs.

We did a very brief but very productive socialization outing today.  Not far from my house is a county park that is beautiful.  It is very well-used, always busy, and in a town that does not have a dog park (thankfully!) is the closest thing we have.  Although the dogs must be leashed, there are always dozens of them walking around the park (or pulling and choking their way through the park) with their handlers.

Because Cuba is not yet fully vaccinated, I have avoided bringing him to this park.  There are so many dogs there constantly, and dog events as well, it is nearly inevitable that occasionally parvo may make it’s way to the park.

I wanted to take advantage of the socialization opportunities this park had to offer while making sure I kept Cuba safe.  The solution?  Crate at the park!

I brought Cuba over around lunch time and set his crate up with a frozen Kong and some nice cold water in the shade.  I know this is a time when the park is generally crazy with dog walkers, especially on such a glorious day. We pretty much just sat at the park together for about half an hour.  Probably 20 people asked if they could meet Cuba.  I told them that he’d be staying in his crate but that they could give him treats through the side of the crate.  Twice, I did bring him out and hold him so that people could pet him and give him treats.

This was a great opportunity to play lots of “look at that” with other dogs walking by or around his crate.  This will be a valuable life skill if we are ever to have him enjoy being at a dog show.  I also practiced biofeedback, clicking for relaxation behaviors like sighing, rolling onto either back hip while lying down, resting his head, blinking, etc.  The nearest dog came about ten feet away.  Cuba was happy to play look at that and received about ten clicks as this dog walked by.

After a half hour of this at the park, Cuba was sleeping contently in his crate.  I put the crate in the van and quickly took him down to the Susquehanna River to splash in the water and cool off for a minute before heading home.

Later, Cuba and Mokie both accompanied me to orientation at the classroom.  Cuba relaxed nicely in his crate when I did demos with Mokie and shone like a star when it was his turn to work!  The new students were very impressed with what a well-behaved, smart, sweet puppy he is.  We all laughed because if, at any time during orientation, I dropped my rate of reinforcement to explain an exercise, Cuba would immediately run across the room and into his crate, where he would lie down looking at me as if to say, “will THIS earn a click and treat?”  Sometimes it did, other times I’d call him back to work with a hand target.

I’m very proud at how wonderfully this young man is coming along.  What a fantastic puppy he is!