Growing, Changing, And Noisy Meal Times

Wow. A month. I’ve had her a month, although a short month, because February. It’s amazing how much Hilda has grown in just a month, and how much she’s changed. She makes less noise for less time in the crate now, and she’s mostly decided that I’m not a chew toy. When she decides to pay attention to me, she’ll sit, at least some of the time. She’s mostly got that parking happens outside, and all the accidents have been full bladder or too much excitement and an emptying bladder. I’m starting to catch on, meaning that I’m pretty much catching her right after she’s done the deed. And, usually, it isn’t much she’s let loose either. i call this a win. No puppy poopy in the house since the second day either. Definite win. I wonder idly, however, if puppy poopy is usually softer than adult dog poopy. Hilda’s is, though it’s still able to be picked up, but yeah, pretty soft. One friend opines that GSD’s have softer stools than labbies, a thing on which I have no opinion.

I’ve had a lot of this and that to do this week, and today was the first pretty nice day that I could go out for a walk around the block with Hilda. I don’t know if it wore her out or not (I suspect not), but it sure wore me out! Pretty exciting stuff for a puppy…she was over here, and over there, and behind me, and circling behind me, and getting kicked in the nose from being right behind one foot or another, and hey, what’s that over there, and jumping. We’ll get the hang of this sooner or later.

Mealtimes. Oh, mealtimes. My goal is to have her sit for a second or two waiting for a release phrase before she eats. I’ve been having her sit, and then immediately giving the release as soon as the bowl hits the ground. This week, mealtimes are getting a little harder. Now, I want her to sit, and stay seated for even just half a second before the release. The first time I introduced this, she barked and yowled like someone pulled her leg off. And I thought, mealtimes are going to be noisy for a while. We’ve got things down to a little whine, only four days later, and she’s actually sitting with a minimum of restraint. I started with having the bowl up, then when she sat, I held her back as I put the bowl down. If she jumped and carried on, we started over. Eventually, once I got a sit, and relative quiet, I’d let her go. I think she’ll have this down shortly.

Vet check at 12 weeks has her at 19 pounds, 8 oz. She’s getting tall! The teary eyes are probably just from dirt, since puppies get into pretty much everything, and the vet sees nothing to worry about. That left ear is starting to stand up straighter again most of the time. I’m also noticing that her fur is starting to change, being coarser down her back and tail, and longer on her chest and the backs of her hind legs. She’s still got a lot of downy soft puppy coat too, but I can definitely see that that will be on the way out. Also, maybe I’m crazy, but her head is changing shape, too. Earlier, it was more round…hard to explain. Now it’s getting longer from back to front, more like what I usually expect for a GSD head.

I’ve also discovered that, while you can definitely handle her feet as much as you like, the clippers make her a little nervous. And she wants to try to take the brush in her mouth. However, a bully stick (yes, I know what those are) makes everything better. You can brush or clip or what have you as long as she’s got one of those to chew on. If that will help with positive associations, well, all right then.

Puppy kindergarten starts on April 10.

And that’s about all I’ve got to say about that.

The Last Few Days

There really isn’t a lot to say about the last few days. Progress will probably be incremental, rather than in leaps and bounds. Still, progress is progress.

Not at all incremental is how Hilda is growing. Stepping on the scale with her Saturday tells me she’s something around 18 pounds. And probably needs her food intake increased again. Which we’ve done. As predicted, her coat seems to be lightening, according to Alena anyhow. She still has soft puppy fur. And, since Thursday, her left ear is drooping at the end again a little, but that’s coming back up, too. We’ve also noticed watery eyes, so we’ll ask the vet about that on Friday when she gets her 12-week shots and they see a stool sample.

Thursday, we had visitors. Heidi, who has another of Sharon’s dogs, came over with her family to help with annoying paperwork and to play with pups. They even brought pizza. They did a nice job of wearing out the pup, too.

Hilda is definitely not attempting to chew on me or her leash as much these days. She also seems to be a little more tuned in and attentive to me. Also more willing to sleep, or rest, in the crate, and more quietly most of the time. I think most of her complaints are to do with “I don’t want to take a nap!” And “Hey, where you going?!” And of course, the ever present “Ooh! Cat!!!! Want!!!!”

Sunday, I had an activity with Alena, which meant I was going to be gone longer than the usual or recommended time. All together, we were gone for over five hours, so I opened up the big crate and stuck some newspaper in it. Yeah, all that junk mail is handy. She was sure to express to the newspaper her displeasure at being penned up, as we found lots of shredded newspaper thrown out of the crate. Fortunately, however, we also found soiled newspaper where we expected to find it, so all was well. I think taking her around the block helped to tire her out for that, at least, I hope so, because it sure tired me out! She of course wanted to go here and there and check out dogs she heard behind doors. She jumped. She stepped in front of me, and consequently got stepped on more than once, but she’s no worse for it. We’ve definitely got a long way to go before walking with Leno will be fun and easy. We did, however, make it the whole way around, if not exactly gracefully.

By the way. Long-lasting bully sticks? Don’t believe a word of it. Leno finished one in five minutes or less. Hilda took a bit longer, but still made short work of it. Fiona got one today, and she was not well pleased when I took it away after about 10 minutes. These things must be like doggie crack, because all the dogs just love them. I find this vaguely disturbing, considering what they’re made out of. There’s probably a subtext in there somewhere which I don’t really care to examine.

No Fear, And…The More Things Change…

I swear she grew overnight. Seriously, Hilda’s collar, which has her name and my cell number on it, was maybe a little big for her, but not so much as to not use it. It’s less big this morning than it was yesterday evening, I swear it’s true. Also, Alena tells me she’s more brown than black. I should get another picture to compare between today (well, OK, tomorrow) and earlier pics. Sharon did say her coat would lighten before darkening again. It’s kind of interesting really. It’s especially interesting to see such drastic changes so quickly.

Still getting the hang of this puppy park break schedule thing. That would be both of us, but more me than her of course. Still, it’s better, and when there’s peeing on the carpet, it’s not a flood or anything like that. I think we’re both getting the hang of this thing.

I think I might have found something that gets her attention. At least, it does today. Tomorrow? Who knows? But Leno has several of these plush ducks that quack. There’s a little box in there that, when pressed juust right, quacks. No doubt it runs on some tiny battery that will die eventually. Anyway, besides the ducks, I got a frog that croaks, and I pulled that out. When it croaked, Hilda came to see what it was. I’ll reserve that for helping to get her attention to teach her to come to me. Which sounds like a brilliant plan today, but will maybe not work tomorrow. I also wonder at what point she’ll decide that it’s a lot more fun to disembowel such toys.

We also confirm that Hilda is, in fact, fearless. While she did bark at the vacuum, with the same bark as she used to call out the cats, she took a treat that I sat on it, and, while she did back away from it a little when I turned it on, she also approached it shortly after. Then later, when I had it going in front of the crate, I let hereto of the crate, and she casually walked over to the toy basket, grabbed a bone, and started chewing on it while I vacuumed the floor just a couple feet from her. I’m not sure how much more clearly she could have said, “Nope, couldn’t care less about that thing” than that.

Cat Chasing And A Walk

Something I heard this morning put it all into perspective. A puppy is like a toddler. Needs lots of sleep but doesn’t want to take a nap, and will thus complain a lot when you try to put her down for one. Yeah, that analogy works for me.

She sure is headstrong though! She wants to chase the cats. Very badly. My cats are unfortunately too nice, however, and she has now pinned both of them, and neither of them gave her a “Listen here, we mean business, now stop it already” snootful of claws. I really wish one of them would though. Or that I could convince her that chasing down the cats is not in her best interest.

In order to try to get some energy off her, we went for a short walk. No problem with the cane, she didn’t seem to pay that any mind much, but everything else was dead interesting of course. We were able to keep her mostly moving in a mostly forward direction about halfway around the block, then when she started stopping to, I don’t know, eat dirt or something and not moving in a forward (or any other, really) direction, we figured she was getting tired, and, like a toddler, didn’t want to admit it. Don’t let anybody tell you that 10-week-old GSD puppies ain’t heavy. I got maybe another 1/4 a block around before I had to just walk and hold her in both arms and pray I didn’t trip over something, which I didn’t, because it was the sidewalk on my side of the block. No loose dogs out, so it was all OK. I know there’s some concern about her getting something before her final shots, but she did just have her second round not long ago, and she’s going to have to see some of the world besides our driveway. Also, I hope she’s tired, because I sure am.

What a couple days…

It’s been an eventful couple days. First, thanks for the encouragement on pretty much everywhere…facebook, twitter, comments, it’s really helped a lot to know this is all pretty normal.

This morning on Pet Life Radio, a rerun of one of their shows, in fact, one of these, talked about how your puppy can be interested in lots of things more than you, and how puppy being interested in dirt was a real blow to the ego. Yeah, that was kind of appropriate. There are a couple of shows I really like on Pet Life Radio. Teoti’s is one, another one is It’s A Doggy Dog World, and of course Working Like Dogs. Other interesting stuff there too. But I digress.

Yesterday was a water day, I guess. Water coming out of a dog, water on the floor. Hilda peed a bucket in the crate. Twice. My timing appears to be a little off. But that’s even getting better, because accidents today were very minimal and I got it together. She also dumped over a full bowl of water. Twice. Two different times. I’m here to tell you, that’s not a whole lot of fun.

Once, she got away from me in the kitchen when i didn’t have ahold of her leash, and she went after Jasper. She wrestled him to the ground, they rolled around some, somehow got back to me, I rescued Jasper, and he ran off. I’m not sure what he thought of the encounter, but he didn’t make any noise at all. No yowling or snarling or spitting in protest. I suspect if she got into it with Abigail, Abigail would be a lot less likely to be intimidated by her antics, anyway.

In good news, she’s chewing on me less, and also trying to chew on her leash less. My fingers are thankful. So are my toes. Also, it looks like she is capable of climbing stairs. She went about halfway up before I picked her up. I’m pretty sure she’d have made it the rest of thew ay. Sharon doesn’t recommend letting them go down for a while yet, to help ensure good hips. I did let her go down the front steps, just to see if she would, and she did, hesitantly, but without any problems.

I guess it’s also safe to say Hilda still thinks I’m OK, even if my role lately has been “the guy who puts me in the crate and pulls stuff out of my mouth”. She definitely came over to me more and lays down to relax and chew on a bone next to me.

I’m amazed at how she’s growing, too. Her head is up to my knee if she sits up her tallest. She’s got to be getting past 15 pounds if not closing in on 20, but I’m not sure. I’ll have to see.

Just for fun, I let her run and chase Abigail. Again, wrestled Abigail down, Alena said Hilda was beating Abigail up. No complaints from Abigail. The palayed chase, Abigail ran into the basement, Hilda waited for her to come back up, and off they went again. I don’t think they’re going to have a problem.

A Bit Of Overwhelm

So I found myself thinking, “What made me think this puppy thing was a good idea?”

Make no mistake, this isn’t Hilda’s fault. Maybe not even mine. It’s just been one of those days. The thing is, I kind of thought about not writing this entry at all, but then, thinking about it some more, I decided that it would be disingenuous of me to leave it out. What good is documenting an experience if it’s all positive and whitewashed?

The thing is, if not for just a bunch of things stacking up today, this probably wouldn’t be anything at all. The whole keeping on top of an active puppy (one who just had some nasty diarrhea this morning, besides) combined with a bunch of runaround and what not with melanie’s care, I sort of started feeling like the guy juggling plates, or better yet, flaming torches, and being just about to drop one. So as Hilda and Leno and Fiona barked and growled and played and had a high old time, and then as I spent lots of time telling Hilda she couldn’t chase the cat, and oh…did she just pee?!, And no, you can’t go there, and ouch, here, chew on this instead, and no, don’t eat that, and Hilda, over here, this way, c’mon, there’s a girl (as she stared fixedly at a cat, or Leno, or god only knew what and blithely ignored me), and Sorry Hilda, you have to go in the crate, yes again, I thought, wow…this dog thinks just about anything is more interesting than I am! Where did I go wrong?

Yes, today was a day with a bit more crate time than usual. Some of that was having to do stuff that wouldn’t allow me to give Hilda proper attention. Later, some of it was as much to preserve my sanity as anything, because really, I just didn’t have the energy for one more “Off” or “keep the puppy from chasing the cats” or whatever. In short, my brain was in serious danger of going into meltdown. Which then of course made me wonder if I was well on my way to breaking the puppy. You know, everything on the critical puppy periods stresses how, well, critical it is that puppy’s experiences are very positive, and how some mistake or other could scar your puppy for life, or…well…just lots of ways things can go very, very wrong. So had a brief chat with a couple of folks, both of whom assure me that puppy is just being a puppy, not to worry, everything is fine. Which helped a little, anyway.

The awful truth? I don’t have a clue what I’m doing! You know how they say that kids don’t come with a user’s manual? I guess puppies don’t either, although there’s lots out there that is supposed to be helpful. It probably is, but, like kids, I guess puppies don’t come with user’s manuals either. I guess, about like everyone else, I’ll muddle through the best I can.

What made me think this was a good idea? I’m not sure, but I’m sure it was a good idea anyway. This is just a bit of a rough patch. Puppy is just being a puppy.


I guess it was bound to happen sometime. After eating only most of her breakfast, we went out, and I heard the sound no one likes to hear. No, the other sound that no one likes to hear. Twice. No wonder she drank so much right before. I think maybe we’ll take it easy today. Though, fortunately, no more happened since this morning at around 7.

A Little Setback…

Looks like it might be one of those days. That is, if so far is any indication.

I’ve got the spare room so that there shouldn’t be anything that Hilda can get into (umm…yeah, good luck with that, right?) So we may do some stuff in there without a leash and see how it goes. That may, however, be tempting fate. Last night at about 12:30, I woke up to loud Hilda complaints. I thought, well…she didn’t go much on our last trip, maybe she’s got to go. Well, turns out she done went, and the crate contained the contents of a pretty full puppy bladder. I’m not sure from where, since she hadn’t had water for quite a while. So out we went, we got another park, crate got cleaned up, back to bed we went.

We went out in the morning, she didn’t seem to want to do much. Got another park eventually, but she didn’t want breakfast. OK, I’ve heard of this, so we’ll just eat later. All good. After futile attempts to chase the cats, back into the downstairs crate so I could take care of Leno and feed the cats, and of course the whole time keeping an eye on Alena as she got herself together for school. Off to let her out, and again, the contents of a puppy bladder. Now she’s waiting upstairs, since I just cleaned the downstairs crate and now need to take care of my breakfast.

First week down, Slow Learner

Me, not Hilda. I’m a slow learner. Mark the following lesson well:

If you’re walking, and the puppy stops for no reason, there’s a reason.

OK. Pretty obvious, right? Well, like I said.

Today I got leashes and the training collar from Handcraft Collars. All made out of black tubular nylon, which isn’t tubular at all, so I’m not sure why they call it that…someone explained it but I still don’t understand. Anyway, Debbie at Handcraft tells me that this is the stuff the mountain climbers use, and it doesn’t burn your hands the way standard nylon webbing can do. The training collar is an adjustable Snaparound Training Collar, the so-called (but not really) Volhard collar, popularized by the Volhards, who have used it in training for ages. While it’s true she’s still young for a training collar, and this one’s a little too big for her, it won’t be too big for her for long. I really want to know what the snap they use to close the collar is called, as I think it might be the perfect thing for a removable harness handle, provided it can be welded to the ends of a harness handle to keep movement to a minimum. The shortcoming in most commercially available guide dog gear I’ve seen, or seen descriptions of, appears to be the handle and its attachment points, in my opinion. With traditional bolt snaps the way they’re often used, there are way too many spots where something moves…but I digress. The leashes are the exciting thing. The short leash, I got them to make up like a standard guide dog leash, meaning it can be folded in half to make a short leash for working, and then unclipped to make the leash longer for parking or what have you. However, instead of using two rings, I just had Debbie use one ring for the short leash position, then put the handle through a second bolt snap, so making a long leash involves only unclipping the bolt snap. One step instead of two. She’d never made one like this before, but it’s exactly right. The other leash is a standard 15-foot long leash, which will be nice to give Hilda a bit more freedom but still have some control or at least knowledge of where she is.

The long leash may help address my next challenge: getting (and keeping) Hilda’s attention. The stuff I’ve read suggests that getting your dog to come to you can be easily accomplished by running (or anyway, moving) backwards, away from your dog, which will theoretically make your dog follow and come towards you. This isn’t exactly easy to do with just four feet of leash. Still, getting her attention when she’s fixated on, say, a cat, or pretty much whatever isn’t me, is my next challenge to overcome.

Besides “Sit” and “Down”, and she’s really getting “Sit” nicely, being that she is expected to sit before I put her meals down, I’m teaching her to touch my hand with her nose. I figure this is maybe good substitute for people who have a command to have their dogs look at them. Clearly that won’t work for me, so I have to figure out some other thing.

Panic, twice, both today. Once, I had Leno out, and I had Hilda out at the same time. This was because I had to take Leno out, but I didn’t really want to put Hilda in the crate yet, because I figured she’d have plenty of time there. Anyway. Dropped her leash by accident and had an OMG you idiot moment, but she didn’t go far. A similar thing at the crate later. Took the collar off, let go of her, she walked off, I called her, and she came running back. Whew…can’t count on that just yet though!

Crate yowling is calming down a lot. Now, it’s a lot more periods of quiet, some loud protests, but mostly just a little whining. Just as y’all said 🙂

Progress Continues

The first full week is almost up, and we’ve come a long way.

The big thing we’re working on is chewing on toys, not on me. She still really, really wants to chew on me, but she’s starting to get that I’d rather she didn’t. She’s also stopped trying as hard to chew on the leash.

I’m also seeing lots more quiet periods in the crate. It could be that those are happening while she naps, but at least she’s comfortable enough to fall asleep instead of just expressing her displeasure full time.

She’s also sitting for meals, which is great!

Housebreaking is just super. Each accident was very definitely my fault, and those have been very, very rare. One poo in the crate yesterday, and pee today, but! With the pee today, she was very definitely trying to rush outside. It was I who was slow. She was seriously trying very, very hard to get to the door. Proud of her! And it wasn’t very much she got out either.

We’re still exposing to “sit” and “down”, and adding “Off” to the mix, because she’s started jumping onto the food buckets. And the chairs. And jumping at me and Alena sometimes.

For a first week, she’s sure learned a lot and made a lot of huge adjustments. This dog is just full of potential, I can already tell that!