Wednesday, March 31, 2010

I like ducks. I don't like water.

I was at the park with my people mom the other day. It was awesome! Lots to sniff and pee on. But... the ducks! I wanted a duck. The ducks were in the pond though and in case you didn't know this, ponds are WET. Finally, I had to make a decision and I decided to go for it. The results were mixed: I proved to my mom that I can swim but the duck escaped. And I was WET after. I will use Shiba Mind Control next time to make the duck come to me.

 Ready, set.. LAUNCH!

SEE? I can swim!

Duck escaped! Now get me outta here!

-- Posted by Prince Zuko. I do not appreciate you laughing at my attempts to get the duck. You know who you are....

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Essentials: Things learned early - Potty Training

Zuko had great bladder control early on. Books said puppies would need to go out every hour and he easily was more like every 2-3 hours from the beginning. We found his patterns quickly: after playing, after eating and after napping, he would need to go out. Any time he was in a new area with other dogs (the dog park, puppy class) he would have to poop after about five minutes of playing. It was a little embarrassing - we'd take him for walks and he'd poop, then get into puppy class and there he would go again. I remember reading somewhere that the smell of other dogs will "stimulate" a puppy to go. Ugh.

He also slept through the night early on - somewhere around four months he was able to go eight hours without trouble. I probably was more paranoid than I needed to be - I would often wake him in the middle of the night, drag him out of his crate and carry him outside in the cold. He'd stand there and stare at me. We did crate train, but after he was about five months old we ditched the crate and now he hogs our entire king-size bed.

We also worked on a potty command "go potty", saying these words EVERY TIME he did anything. He's now 18 months old and frankly - he's a Shiba so I'm not sure how well this works. Sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn't. Clearly Pavlov did not run his experiment on Shiba Inus.

I assume most dogs do this, but it impressed me that early on he made the association that he was not to go potty in places where his people were hanging out. We realized he had made this association when we were eating lunch at a cafe and he was still under about six months old. He kept whining, so my husband took him over to a grassy spot - and sure enough, he had to go. I have no idea if this was the Shiba in him or what, but he has never gone in the car, the bedroom, while we are with him at a cafe, in a store - nothing. When he does go on walks, he will go to the furthest end of his flexi-leash and then poop. The exception to this is pee-ing. He will mark every thing within sight on walks if we let him. He's also always been great in stores - not just pet stores, but clothing stores, hardware stores - anyplace that will let him come in, he's been. And never peed!

We also learned (the hard way) that when he is really, really tired he just does not have to go. He had a longer than usual day at doggie daycare one day when he was about eight months old. I brought him home around 5pm. He roused himself to eat about 6pm, and then sacked out again. He didn't go potty that night and I was worried. The next morning - nothing. So I fed him and he FINALLY went outside and took care of all his business. I was so worried when it happened again on another night when he was super tired. I called the vet and asked if it was normal that my dog didn't go to the bathroom for 18 hours straight. While it isn't exactly "normal", it isn't something to panic about either. He's good about telling us when he needs to go, so I tend to just trust him now. Being a paranoid new-puppy mommy, I really stressed about this for a few months. What I slowly figured out was he (literally) poops himself out at daycare sometimes and has got nothin'. Just nothin'!

When we have to "force" him to go, we have a couple of games we play which cause him to jump around alot - after about 10 minutes of this, he's ready to go outside.

My two biggest lessons learned:
1) Keep a routine with feedings. This helps you predict when and how often your puppy needs to go.
2) Once you have a routine, know your dog. For example, Zuko likes to pee on bushy plants to mark and poop in sand. I know this and never go to the beach without at least 2-3 poop bags.

-- Posted by Prince Zuko's pooper scooper

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Agility Class Part II

We finished up our sports sampler at the SPCA this past Monday and it was pawesome! We learning "weaving" and tried some new jumps. The tire jump was new and Zuko sailed through it without issue. He and the other dog in class were both being a bit contrary this week and tried to short-cut the tunnels (fastest way between two points is a straight line - not a bendy tunnel!) and Zuko escaped TWICE. On the first escape he got what our trainer calls the "zoomies" and we call "demon dogging". He tore around the classroom and the other dog snarled at him. Zuko being Zuko doesn't back down and he snarled back - the other handlers knew their dog though and things were back under control pretty fast. On the second escape Zuko went and took the A-frame by himself. Little dog continues to amaze me.

Here's the video of us running the course! He was actually tired by this point. Notice me grabbing his collar at each stop. No "demon dogging" allowed!

-- Posted by Zuko's treat dispenser

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

I met my brofur at the beach!

Wow - how cool iz that? We were walking along and I was taking care of bizness (pee-pee, sniff-sniff, scratch-scratch) and we see another Shiba up ahead! We stop to sniff (people were talking) and the humans figured out what me and brofur already knew - we wuz half brofurs! We were both born at C and L Showdogs in Campbell, CA and have the same doggie dad: Gunny (Top Gun).

So, nowz the time to say a bit about my "pedigree" I guess. I am AKC registered and have some cool parents and grandparents. Gunny (full name Flashpoint's Top Gun At C And L) is a big Shiba Inu - he weighs 30 pounds and is an AKC Champion! My doggie mom is Raptor (full name C And L's Little Red Raptor) and she's an AKC Champ too. My brofur is only six months old and almost as big as me but has a different doggie mom. I weigh 28 pounds and I think I am lean and mean. People mom says I'm a bit chunky and need to get back down to 27 pounds. What-ever. How is that possible when I iz starving all the time?

-- Posted by Prince Zuko who is totally awesome and wants some cheese - now!

Essentials: Things learned early - Food and Treats

Food and Treats:
When we picked up Zuko, the breeder suggested a raw food diet mixed with Eukanuba kibble. After the pet-food fiasco a few years ago, I just couldn't get on board with Eukanuba. With our cats, we were feeding them Wellness crunchy and wet food. The concept of raw diet was a new experience for me - our vet even said that when he was in college, he would have told us "no way" on raw diet - but now, through experience, he has seen many "mysterious" problems just go away on a raw diet. The food the breeders used came from a local source near them in the South Bay and wasn't easily accessible to us. After asking around and listening to the local dog community, we switched him over to Primal nuggets and Wellness kibble. I like the idea of having a kibble he is use to for those days when we are traveling or for emergencies (earthquake kit). However, something with the Wellness didn't sit well with him and we finally moved to Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Diet and have stayed with that ever since. He loves the Natural Balance enough that I can use the kibble as treats!

For daily good-dog treats, we buy the Natural Balance crunchy treats and Zuke's salmon treats. The Zuke's are great training treats and he loves them (because they are stinky I suspect). I also buy these dried salmon strips I see in the local pet store and when we come across a dog bakery, he gets a special treat now and then.

Food Allergies:
Shibas are known for food allergies and while we've never done a full scientific process to prove it, corn and wheat in large amounts seems to give Zuko squishy poos. As a puppy, it didn't take much for him to have soft poopy. Too much cheese in training class, a cornchip found on the floor, etc. In general we avoid all corn and wheat products and limit cheese to some of the treats used in training. Soy seems to come up as an allergen in dogs, but Zuko likes edamame so we go with that as a treat when we have some. Must be the Japanese dog in him!

Training treats:
I am so going to get flaming emails on this one: we use Hormel turkey pepperoni as the "dog crack" for Zuko. He will do ANYTHING for turkey pepperoni, even - on a good day and when he is hungry enough - recall and come back to us at the dog park. I know processed food, especially something like pepperoni is B-A-D for dogs. That is why it is used only when Zuko needs the highest possible motivation. Our heirarchy of training treats:
  • Kibble. Yup, his daily kibble.
  • Zuke's salmon treats
  • Cheese - usually part-skim mozzarella but the vet bribes him with spray cheese.
  • Turkey pepperoni
In training classes, I bring all the above and as he gets more tired or distracted, I switch to a higher power treat. When working on recall, I go straight for cheese and turkey pepperoni - this is just one area where I do not want to fail. 

Table Scraps:
When I was growing up, dogs got true table scraps - fatty pieces of meat, gravy, mashed potatoes - anything and everything. On a recent trip back to Ohio with Zuko, I caught my grandmother trying to feed Zuko raspberry cheesecake! (I caught it in time - thank goodness). So in the traditional sense, Zuko does not get table scraps.

However: He gets carrots when I'm cutting salad (after doing a sit, down or something - he works for his food always). He gets bits of hardboiled egg, plain salmon and tuna, smoked salmon, plain steak (not the fat), a bit of a hamburger and even duck salami once. I have heard both sides of the argument: this is bad - period ... or by letting him have bits here and there, he gets use to a variety of foods and should he ever eat something off the ground or has to switch food, it is less traumatic. We do it because we love our little guy and share our life with him - and that includes our food, within reason. We strictly avoid all the deadly foods and keep everything in small amounts only. He does NOT get pizza, even though he swears he can handle it!

Feeding Schedule:
Zuko works for all his food - always. He is feed twice a day: first thing in the morning and about 6pm in the evening. We learned early that a standard routine is essential to knowing his potty times. He's pretty darn predictable and when he is not, it is because his big meals have changed times. He is asked to do a "sit" and "wait" for his food bowl. We started this day one and he has never been food aggressive or snatchy with his food. With treats, he must always do something, even if it is just a simple sit.

-- Posted by Fuzzbutt's people

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Intro to Agility class: Fuzzbutt impresses me!

A few weeks ago we signed up for a Sports Sampler class at the San Francisco SPCA consisting of two classes of Rally, and two classes of Agility. Zuko's strengths are NOT heeling and being off leash. So, I figured this would be a good experience to see just how much we could accomplish.

Rally was pretty fun! Since it could be done on leash, Zuko was pretty good as long as I held bits of turkey pepperoni behind my leg so he'd stay in heel position. His biggest challenge was me not being able to read the sign, figure out what I needed to be doing and then interpret that for him. Poor guy. Handicapped by his handler.

We had our first Agility class this week - Zuko posted a video already showing his awesomeness. I was nervous about the "off-leash" part, but he was great! He was so focused on me and the pepperoni in my hand, that he never strayed. It was a small class, so there were only two other dogs, but I was still impressed. Granted, a warehouse sized room is much less distracting that a wide-open field, but he was focused and with me the whole time.

The first piece of equipment we tried was the jump. This was FUN for me! Zuko is a smart dog, so as long as I backed over the jump and called him to me, he sailed over without issue. When I tried to stand to the side and lure him over, he wanted to take the shortest and easiest route (around the jump) to the pepperoni. We worked on that and he and I both got better!

Next came the tunnels - weird textures and sounds - scary, right? Nope. After checking his footing on things, he raced through the tunnels (to turkey pepperoni) at the end. Our trainer, Diane, even added a bend to the tunnel, making it an elbow macaroni shape - still no issue (give me pepperoni).

Then came the A-Frame. Wow, OK - I'm even scared of this one. The height in the center was about five feet! Zuko charged up the ramp (give me pepperoni, give me, give me) and after checking his footing on the downslope, came right down and stopped on target (because the pepperoni stopped moving) with his two back feet on the target and his two front feet off.

I'm so excited about the next class and ready to sign up for the full course! I'd better stock up on pepperoni....

--- Posted by Zuko's treat dispenser 

I totally rocked that Agility class!

Check me out: I am so pawesome! That A-frame had nothing on me and the tunnels were fun!

-- Posted by His Awesomeness, Prince Zuko

Monday, March 8, 2010

My brofurs - I luved them!

When I first came home, I had two brofurs. A black kitty named Lucifer and a white kitty named Abyad. I luved them bunches. My people said they were old and I had to be nice to them, but you can see in these videos how much they luved playing with me!

The both went away while I was still a puppy and me and my people are still sad about that. I try to play with all the kitties I see but they don't like me so much. :-(

-- Posted by Zuko, via using Shiba mind control on his people

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Prince Zuko comes home!

Finally, the day came for Zuko to come home! He was just over seven weeks old and it was right after Thanksgiving. We drove down to the breeders' and picked him up. Chuck and Lynn did a great job of going through everything with us, packed up some of the food he'd been eating to keep his diet consistant, showed us samples of the deadly foxtails to watch for and were just really fantastic.

We found quickly that Zuko doesn't like car rides. He didn't get sick on the way home since the breeders had skipped a meal for just this reason - but it was a long hour ride back home for a little dog.

After all the research and studying, I had an exercise pen and a crate set up for him. We brought him in, introduced him to the backyard, fed him and let him crash out in his crate.

We had two cats and we didn't have to worry about introducing them. They avoided Zuko like he was a four-legged plague. Which, to two 17 year old cats, I imagine he was a plague. They had their refuge, the huge window seat where Zuko couldn't jump. Eventually, they decided the puppy was not going to own their house and they checked him out. Zuko loved the kitties. They were definately his brofurs and he wanted to play with them always. They wanted to smack him around, hiss at him, then retreat to their window seat. Poor puppy.

Other than that warm welcome from the kitties, Zuko settled into the house nicely and immediately wrapped us around his little paw!

-- Posted by Zuko's people

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Learning / Studying: How to raise a Puppy!

After we had found Zuko but were waiting for him to grow up enough to come home with us, the homework began! I had dogs as a kid, but so much has changed since then. Also, living in San Francisco, there are many more things to think about - you just can't let the dog out into the huge fenced in back yard to run and play and take care of business!

Several of the blogs listed on the blogroll were a huge help. In addition, there were three books that were a critical part of my education:
 If you are familiar with these books, you'll notice they have very different styles - which was part of the plan. I am not a good "one size fits all" kind of person, so it seemed a good idea to study several approaches.