Day 55 – May 31, 2023: a busy day! Dropping by the old neighborhood and a new human friend for little Chais.

To sort out some bureaucracy things at the old apartment, we went back to Plaza Copilco one more time.

I got there before the building administrator. Game stayed in the car crate and I practiced walking past the Pits and getting video of Chai doing so to kill the time. (The whining you can hear in the video below is the Pitbull, not Chai.)

Once the admin arrived, I tethered Chai to the car and she did a great job just hanging out and waiting (in a familiar, yet public) environment while I was in the office doing paperwork stuff for 15 minutes or so.

Game, Chai and I then went to Las Islas. It was at least the third time we went there thinking it would be the last time in a while – but hey, here we are yet again!

The dogs got to check out a student market at a part of the UNAM campus we hadn’t previously been to!

At Las Islas, Chai had SO much fun in the mud today!

It’s becoming a theme for us that when Chai moves into a new place, one of the first things that need to happen are a shower for the Border Collie!

SO much fun in the mud! I’m the kind of person who’ll have a good laugh and cheer them on, or get out their camera and take pictures rather than spoiling the good time the dogs are having. What type of person are you?

Back home, Chai and I took a shower (sorry, Border Collie).

Then both dogs went to the supermarket with me and did a great job waiting outside. With this being more of a fresa (posh) neighborhood, Chai saw her first Afghan Hound (and was weirded out, but bravely walked past them twice!) and her first two Basset Hounds (again, they seemed weird to her but she quickly got to a point of greeting them on leash).

On the way back to the apartment, we passed through a park and met a tricolor BC puppy Chai’s age: Juana. Juana’s human agreed to let her off leash and the two played themselves tired chasing each other through the park. Chai was faster – I suspect that’s becaise Juana (don’t tell them I said that!) is a little overweight which likely slows her down.

So much going on today and even more adventures await! Tired dogs are good dogs.

I like how neatly the dogs put their sea creatures on the blueish (ocean) cover of my bed. It’s like they purposefully wanted them to swim together, the hammer shark a little ahead of the dolphin.

Chai went on an evening walk by herself and then stayed home alone for Game’s evening walk. She is being a home-alone rockstar. I am glad I started getting her used to this right away!

Her ability to stay home alone and relax is partly me because I have and continue to put a lot of thought and practice into this, but there also is a genetic part. Some dogs have a STRONG genetic disposition to develop separation anxiety. Part of the reason we know there are hereditary factors is that it is substantially more prevalent in certain breeds (for example Weimaraners) than others. We also know that parents (of any breed) with separation anxiety are more likely to produce offspring with separation anxiety than parents without separation anxiety. Unsolicited advice: add this to your list of things to ask your breeder (if you are getting a puppy from a breeder or any other puppy with known parents!)

A new human friend for little Chais

Tonight, my friend Zane who’ll stay with me for a month made it from the airport to the apartment. Game was VERY excited to see him again and Chai, following Game’s lead, immediately wanted to be his friend as well.

Today’s pee tally

+ Shower: 1
+ All other pees happened outdoors because we were hardly home at all.

I also managed to get TWO poops outdoors – that’s new record! Both happened after I did the belly massage my Dad had recommended to stimulate the digestive system. I’ll have to repeat this a few more times to see if making an indoor/outdoor poop difference really is THAT simple, but for now: thank you so much, Papa!

The coping dog, day 2: home alone

We stayed home alone on day #1 for 10 minutes and on day #2 for an hour. No problem for this superstar puppy! I wasn’t too concerned about it because I knew she had already been able to stay home at her previous home – otherwise, I wouldn’t have gone straight to an hour.

With new puppies, I try and leave them for at least 10 minutes every day until they are about a year old. (Unless there is separation anxiety in the puppy – in that case, I would slowly work on it.)

For most puppies I have worked with, staying home alone, when started early and integrated as a normal everyday event, won’t be a problem. The trick is to start on the very first day you’ve got them – when they aren’t yet attached to you! – and then stay consistent. Your value in their life increases with every interaction, which is why you’ll have to keep leaving them home alone every day (or most days): this is how we increase criteria!

Here is the video of The Beautiful and Terrifying Nature of Things’ first entire hour home alone – no Game, no Chrissi:

Apart from starting early, another trick for leaving puppies home alone is to make it a habit to always close the door behind you when you leave a room: go to the bathroom? Rather than letting the puppy follow you, close the door. Same with the kitchen, bedroom … any room that has a door. Do that from day #1, and staying home will come easier to your partner!

The Little Rascal Files 2: Crate Training

I got to watch Hadley yesterday, while Tom was at work. I used this opportunity to work on a few things I consider important. One of them is crate training. This is how I started the process:

I let Hadley explore his crate first, clicked and treated for stepping inside and settling inside, then closed the door and gave him a dried cow’s nose to chew. He chewed himself tired. Then I treated for relaxation (first for sits, then for downs, then for lying relaxed in his crate – gradually increasing the time between the individual treats, as he got more tired and relaxed.) When he did get up and made a fuss, I ignored him until he was quiet (which usually went hand in hand with sitting down). Then I slowly counted until 3 (1 quiet puppy, 2 quiet puppy, 3 quiet puppy), then treated for being quiet again, then chuted-and-laddered my way up to longer and longer periods of relaxation. Now, for example, he’s sound asleep in his crate. When he wakes up, I’ll take him out to pee before he starts making a fuss in his crate. We’ll have a little adventure outside (either having a few minutes of positive experience with the neighbors’ kids or playing beginning recall games for a few minutes), then he’ll come back in and go back in his crate, and hopefully be ready to relax even faster. Rinse and repeat.

Indeed, in the course of a day, I had a puppy who happily walked into the crate whenever there was nothing else to do and sat down, waiting for a treat to happen. He also retreated into the crate after Phoebe startled him, and at night, he went into the open crate and fell asleep. Success!

In the morning of day two of crate training, he settled quickly after I put him in. Inspired by Emily Larlham, I marked with his marker word for quiet behaviors (“Top!”) whenever he was not thinking about the treat for the first few minutes. Using a special marker word for quiet behaviors is something I learned from Simone Fasel.

In the late morning, Hadley got to join Phoebe and Fanta for a few minutes of off-leash fun on the field across the street. Afterwards, he found it more difficult to settle – especially since I was stuffing Kongs with smelly tripe and potatoes, and he was stuck in his crate and couldn’t come check it out! However, Phoebe, Fanta and the little Rascal got to lick tripe goop off my fingers whenever they showed signs of relaxation, and soon, everyone was happy. Hadley also got a little lesson in frustration tolerance whenever I waited him out for the next calm 1 calm puppy, 2 calm puppy, 3 calm puppy moment. I learned from the Phoebe experiment that

a little bit of extinction is not only acceptable, but even beneficial – as long as it is part of a DRA or DRI protocol.

I took this video on Hadley’s second day of crate training. Once he had learned to comfortably settle, I combined the crate training with leaving him alone for short periods of time. One of the big advantages of using a crate is that your puppy can’t get into trouble while in his crate – he cannot destroy your furniture, and cannot hurt himself, and won’t have accidents in the house when you’re not looking. Since Hadley moved in as dog number 3, I want to make sure that he is okay even if Phoebe, Fanta, Tom and I are gone. About half the clients who contact me with puppy problems have puppies who cannot stay home alone – and I want to make sure Hadley doesn’t become one of them! Once you’ve got a full-blown case of separation anxiety or isolation distress, lots of patience and training is required. Better to start early, so separation anxiety and isolation distress don’t even have a chance to develop!

On day 2, Hadley relaxes in his crate while Phoebe, Fanta and I leave for 3:15 Minutes. We’ve gradually worked our way up to this amount of time, starting with no more than a few seconds, and starting with only me leaving, then only me and one dog, then only me and the other dog … As you can see, systematic training pays off! Hadley hasn’t even had a moment of fear of being left alone, and I’d like to keep it that way, working our way up to a few hours.