Monday, August 22, 2016

The No Good, Terrible, Really Bad Idea. But...

Have you ever read the mommy blogs, where they pose their baby with a sign saying how old they are, and what their likes and dislikes are? (I don't read these on purpose, because I can't relate, but a couple of blogs I like of triathlon competitors have turned into this type of blog.)

Here is my update. This is Ruby. She is three months old. Likes: Having her humans in sight all day long. Squeezing herself into the smallest place possible. Food. Sleeping on her back. Sleeping in general. Chasing cats (we are working on this). Dislikes: Exercise in the afternoon. Being left for one second. Not being able to chase cats.

Yep, this project makes me want to snooze also. (Actually not, co-workers!)
I know, a dog is the ultimate anchor. We were down to one, easy dog and three cats, and pretty much whenever I wanted to take off, I could. The house was relatively clean and I could leave the animals inside without any worry of what I might find on my return. While going on fire assignments or long trips still presented the need for pet sitters, I had some lined up. My life was simple.

What was I thinking?

But look at her (Sorry she is sideways, I couldn't get the picture to cooperate)

I regret to say I sort of bullied my husband into getting her, although now he loves her. Her name is Ruby, after the peak that we can see from our windows, the first peak J and I climbed together. She's going to be a fast, fast dog.

The reality is that puppies can't  hike very far. Or they can, but you aren't supposed to take them far. This little thing has really curtailed my hiking recently. I miss an all day hike (although I have another PCT section scheduled soon). Also, you can't just leave a puppy and expect her not to get into trouble. The other pets aren't super pleased with her either. But...

I've backpacked and run with friends with dogs. It's been a mixed bag. Some of the dogs are well trained and will run behind us at our heels. Others disappear and you have the sinking feeling that something bad is about to happen. I don't think dogs belong everywhere, every place. But I am looking forward to a well-trained companion. Someday.

Her outdoors training has begun. Any dog of mine needs to be able to swim. I brought her to the lake and she met some kids. (One of the little boys was shoeless in the rocky lake, and I asked him if it hurt his feet. His response: "I'm a tough dude.") Ruby isn't crazy about swimming, but she can do it. Next up: sleeping in a tent without destroying it (better use my old tent).
Gah! Another sideways picture! Something to do with my tablet and the computer. Sorry!
"That's a fifteen year commitment," my friend said when I got my kitten two years ago. You could say the same for this little creature. However, after a lifetime of avoiding commitments, I seem to be piling them on. 

Anyone with puppy training tips? How to get them to stop lunging at cats (not to hurt, but wanting to play)? When did you start doing longer hikes with your dog?


  1. I have no training tips to offer, but came to say that Ruby is gorgeous! She looks like she'll be an amazing buddy once you two get to know each other and agree on expectations. :)

    1. I think so, I've wanted a dog to hike with! Maybe people will stop asking me if I'm alone and saying it's unsafe!

  2. Nancy Tanner in Bozeman MT is an awesome trainer & resource. Read her blog, especially articles like this: Puppies are a crazy beautiful frustrating amazing thing!

  3. Replies
    1. I love her, too, and I haven't even met her yet. Sort of glad I don't have to train her but you have amazing adventures ahead of you...and her.

    2. She is pretty good already, and we are starting with the all important Leave It command.

  4. Let her play with a cat who is dog-wise. I used to have malamutes (they tend to have a really strong prey drive) who did play with cats and very small dogs, as long as I didn't freak out and start screaming at them they were fine. I envy you your hiking partner.

    1. Arrgh, people keep telling me about the prey drive. We successfully introduced three older mal/huskies to cats and they were fine, though a puppy is a different story. They are able to hang out in the same room as long as the cat doesn't move, so I consider that a good sign.

  5. I think the love is going two ways by the look in her eyes.
    How could you not love that face. Now looking forward to the adventures of two.

    1. It's going to be some work, but I think she is pretty smart.

  6. Oh she's adorable! Huge congrats. I have no tips but am happy to see you got another hiking/running companion. I'm sure missing mine.

    1. We miss our two, and I am hoping the remaining dog accepts her as a buddy. I think he will.

  7. Beautiful pup Mary.
    I think it's so awesome that your beginning a long wonderful adventure with a new hiking partner by your side. It's so much fun to hike with your dog and they love it. My little Abby girl started hiking with us when she was 6 months old, she's swam in so many lakes, streams and mud puddles in the Wallowas that I've lost track. She's ran through meadows full of wild flowers just for the joy of it, chasing that doggie dream and she's been content to just sit by my side taking in all the beauty that surrounded us. But sadly, as your beginning your new adventures with your pup I'am saying Goodby to my beautiful hiking partner of 14 years, we had a lot of awesome times together and she will be missed. Enjoy her Mary, she will bring smiles to your face and together you will make some great memories. So happy for you......

    1. Oh I am sorry, it is so hard to lose them. Glad to hear that six months is ok for them to hike. The vet seemed to think that I could take Ruby on hikes. I took her to Wallowa Lake and she wasn't crazy about swimming though!

    2. Awesome! Cats usually are pretty good at training pups. A well placed swat usually results in a more cautious dog. Or, get a male kitten of roughly the same age! Worked great for me! They are great friends and have epic wrestling matches, even a year later!

    3. I hope she and the cats become friends.

  8. Does one of your cats like to play/hang out with the pup? If so, you could leash the pup to a chair or such so the cat can control the amount of contact.

    If the pup isn't easily scared, letting a strong headed cat correct him is good--but you don't want Ruby to be scared of all cats.

    A friend with lots of sleddogs and some house cats had a dog that was often inside. One of her cats hated the dogs and wanted to be left alone and would swat a dog that got too close. Another cat was fine with the dogs.

    This one dog didn't seem able to tell them apart. He'd get swatted and be wary of all the cats for awhile. Then he'd have some good interactions with the "nice" cats and let his guard down and get too close to the "mean" one and get swatted again. Poor, confused doggie!

    Another musher friend had an outside cat that enjoyed tormenting the dogs that were scared of her. She could drop down off a tree onto one particular dog house and swat the dog when he stuck his nose out. So when the dog heard the thump he'd cower inside. The cat would patiently wait until the dog decided it was safe and stick its nose out, swat the dog then high-tail out of reach.


  9. PS: It's great that he's so young and around cats. You might try other things like feeding them together--again with Ruby on a leash. The more positive interactions the better, but always trying to anticipate and control problems. --Tom, Fairbanks

    1. Thanks for the tips. One cat is better than the others. They touch noses and almost play. The others want nothing to do with Ruby. I am hopeful--I need to find a signal like Leave when she gets too excited.

  10. I just need to say, that I LOVED this post.

    We adopted Dory *about* 4 months ago now. She is slowly turning into a fabulous, well-trained dog. I feel like every dog though is a work-in-progress...inevitably you forget how much work the one before was to turn into "the dog you now have." Pepper was a hot mess when we first got her, for various reasons.

    However, Pepper was always an easy trail dog. I never trained her to do what she does, she just adopted this position of hiking right behind my right heel. Dory? Dory killed a chipmunk this weekend on our backpack around Broken Top. I felt AWFUL. She's doing, for the most part, fantastic off leash, but her recall when something fuzzy and small darts in front of her is rough. My fault. Lesson learned. Still sucks.

    After 4 months, I finally *walked* her past a cat on the street (on leash, sigh) the other day, so I have to keep reminding myself of how far she has come. AND she ISN'T a puppy. Adolescent, yes, which may be worse. :)

    I have a friend who, after a YEAR, finally has harmony in her 2 cat, 1 prey-driven adopted shepherd mix, household. The work she put in was incredible. I think, with puppies, it's easier to put the work in up front than with adopting high prey drive adults. Just my experience.

    I have never had a puppy, so I can't offer amazing training tips there. We have always adopted adult/teenage dogs which I think can be both better/worse depending on the circumstance. I keep reminding myself that it takes time. Dory has been (in some aspects) so frustrating that I have kept a journal of her progress to remind myself of her improvements.

    First week we had her a 2 mile *jog* took 60 minutes because I couldn't so much as walk her past a squirrel without her completely FREAKING OUT. Absolutely LOST her mind. If you so much as looked at her wrong, she would fold over on her belly in super submissive mode. Poor girl. :(

    I can call her off a squirrel off leash in the backyard. And with enough cheese (lol) I can walk her past a squirrel or bunny or cat on a "run" (we are down to 10 min miles...plodding along here). We went to the dog park tonight, and I am able to get her to come when called {or do a sit and maybe even some tricks) after being hyper-aroused by some activity going on in the park. This, to me, is major progress.

    So, looooong story short, I commend you for being brave enough to brave puppyhood. :) I think Ruby will do fine. But I have found new dogs are always a reminder, and nice refresher, on how much work goes into true behavior modification. She will do fine, with time, I am sure.

    Keep plodding along.... :)

  11. Love your blog! I've been reading a long time but rarely comment. Of course I had to comment now you have a PUPPY!!!

    I have had good success with and highly recommend crate training for puppies. I had a mixed breed husky type dog and he loved his crate. It is great for so many things.

    As far as a safe word for being around the cats - I would train a "go lay down" or "kennel up". Redirecting commands are often easier to teach. Also good to keep in mind that dogs don't generalize very well so "leave it" can be confusing if it's used for lots of different things (ie don't play, don't eat, freeze, etc). Of course it depends on the dog. They may just get it right away!

    If Ruby does end up having a high prey drive I have dealt with that in my older husky and could give you some tips. Your best bet is just to start working on recall as soon and as often as you can. If her recall is solid you'll be fine no matter her prey drive.

    A game we've played with our puppies before to reinforce recall is "catch". 2 people stand a little ways apart and take turns calling the dog and giving a treat. Basically the dog is running back and forth from one person to the other with a treat every time. They catch on fast and love this game since they get lots of treats and it's easy. I play it whenever I'm out with another person often a couple rounds maybe 2-3 times per walk.

    So excited for you!

  12. A British woman, whose name escapes me wrote a book called THE DOG LISTENER. It's quite good. She encourages dog training as based on wolf pack socializing. Interesting curriculum surrounding food and feeding I remember. You might find something there.


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