July 26th 2012 7:02 am
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It's hard to believe Ziggy is four and a half months old now. I keep having to
remind myself he's still a puppy because he's grown so much since I got him.
I've looked back at my blog pictures of when I first got him and it's *amazing*
how much he's grown since May. He even can go up and down the small flight of
stairs by the front door now--a big accomplishment for a puppy. And thank
goodness I no longer need to carry him up and down the stairs.
His personality is very sweet (he loves to give kisses when I pick him up) but
high energy and he is at the stage where if something isn't nailed down and he
has access to it, he considers it his. I suppose he'll grow out of this
annoying proclivity in time; most puppies are laundry basket sock thieves if
given the chance. Meanwhile I spend a lot of time thinking to myself, "Why's
Ziggy so quiet?" only to find out he's taken a skein of super-expensive yarn
under the couch in order to disembowel its contents ;-).
I do have to watch him around my knitting project especially (I'm working on a
blanket, the pieces of which are blocking with t-pins on the living room floor).
After a few initial attempts at chewing on the blocking board and fussing out a
couple pins (none of which he swallowed, thank goodness) he's largely left it
alone, but I don't ever leave him in the room with it by himself and always have
one eye out if he happens to wander over there. (You can imagine what a
thrilling life I lead, tethered--figuratively speaking--to a puppy and his
whereabouts all day.)
While he doesn't appear to have any separation anxiety issues when I leave for
work (I expect having my SO around some of the time and the dog walker 3X a day
helps)--when I'm home, 90% of the time he follows me *everywhere*, including the
bathroom when I take a shower ;-). He's actually underfoot more often than not,
always "supervising"/trying to figure out what he can get into next.
He stands up and leans his front paws on the tub and tries to get my attention
with "Aroooing". I can't figure that out. I once made the mistake of taking him
in the shower to clean him up (this was back when I first go him) and he really
freaked out. But I wonder now if he'd be ok with it. You'd think he'd steer
clear of the bathtub after that incident, since he was miserable when I took him
the shower! Still, I let him follow me in to bathroom when I shower because
then I can keep an eye on him without putting him in his kennel--and the poor
dear spends a great deal of time in the kennel while I'm away at work.
He's kennel trained and has been for some time, and it's a godsend he likes his
kennel since he hated his Xpen so much. Infrequently at night he'll whine to go
outside in the middle of the night, and he's an alarm clock and wakes up right
around 530-600am asking to go out. Since the kennel is by my bedside at
night--I don't even need to set my alarm for morning ;-).
He still has pee accidents in the house--not on a daily basis, but I keep
getting disappointed that he isn't completely housebroken yet--then I have to
remind myself he's still a fairly young puppy, and accidents will happen. I'll
be glad when he is more reliable with his house training, but in the meantime,
patience and management is the key. I'm grateful for the dog sitter who comes
three times a week while I'm at work; it gives me peace of mind.
We still have trouble with him balking on the leash--especially at the beginning
of a walk. I have no idea why this happens at he beginning of a walk nearly
every time, but it's a real pain, especially since several blocks into the walk
he stops balking and does pretty well. Yesterday I took my clicker and bait bag
and clicked and treated every few steps, and we largely got over the
balking-at-the-beginning-of-a-walk, but I don't always like to carry my bait bag
and clicker on a walk, either, especially if we're going on a really long walk.
Now that I've realized in full what a strong-willed, smart puppy I have, I've
been devoting a few minutes a day to training exercises. The sessions are short
and sweet. I let practicing exercises with him lapse after I went back to work
full time since I was so busy with work (still am, actually!) but it's clear he
needs some more obedience training and I can't let it slide. Ziggy is pretty
sharp and catches on pretty quickly to new stuff, though I worry he gets overly
excited about the treats (I use his kibble ration most of the time). He's a bit
sharky-toothed when he takes his treats, so I've been trying to teach him the
command, "Gentle" and only release the treat/kibble if he's licking my hand
instead of indiscriminately chomping at whatever he can to get at the treat.
(He still also occasionally mouths my hands or feet
I bought the Control Unleashed Puppy Program book and am trying some exercises
out of that, too, hoping to build his attention span. of course, all that goes
out the window when we go for a walk. When he pulls on the leash to sniff
something or balks because he wants to investigate (he generally doesn't pull,
though) I try giving him a command like "come" (meaning to come back to my side)
and afterwards, tell him to "Go sniff!" as his reward for obeying a command.
That way--in theory--I don't have to compete against the environment as much for
attention, and he learns (hopefully) that by doing a simple obedience command,
he's rewarded with doing what he wants to do in the first place.
I'm trying to use the Premack principle with the above scenario, but it's
probably a very hamfisted version of one. Still, it takes the battle royale out
of practically dragging him down the street because he wanted to sniff something
in the grass two blocks back. All bets are off when it comes to cats,
squirrels and birds, though--it's in his Westie DNA to go after them, and he
totally checks out on me at that point. I figure this is normal for his breed,
and since I never plan to have him off leash in an outdoor area--I'm not a fan
of dog parks for young puppies, and I don't want him to have a bad experience
and become fearful or aggressive with other dogs--I'm not terribly concerned
about it, and since he's so checked out once he spots them, I just kind of coax
him along until we're out of range of the other animals.
I'm also trying to teach him to "go to his mat", and he got the idea in a few
tries, but I think the idea is for him to settle down on the mat, and the treats
(I use kibble mostly for indoors stuff) just makes him more excited.
I'm trying to decide what obedience class (if any) I will enroll him in next.
There's "puppy catch up" for puppies who are older that want another go-around
with the puppy class, and then puppy jr hi, which is advanced training for
puppies who have mastered the basic commands. On the one hand, since Ziggy is
nowhere near mastering the basic commands, he's probably not a good candidate
for the puppy jr high class.
He was so distracted by all the other dogs in puppy kindergarten, that even
though 50-60% of it was socialization with people and puppies, when it came to
the training exercises, he really checked out after just a few minutes, and I
found that frustrating. On the other hand, I really don't want more of the same
with puppy kindergarten class--he needs more obedience training and and less
socialization at this point, I feel, though I do think the opportunity to play
with dogs of similar temperament and size is good for him, too. I think I'll
have to call my training center and see what they recommend.
Ziggy, my SO and I take long walks when we can, and Ziggy keeps up like a pro.
In fact, it takes a lot to wear him out nowadays. Several times we've walked at
least 3 miles and he came home and played afterward. (You see what I mean by
I also have to figure out when I should take him to the groomers for the first
time, as I do a lousy, lousy job of grooming Westies; they end up looking like I
tried to groom them with a child's safety scissors. I'm thinking maybe at
around 6-7 months? I didn't pluck his baby fur so he kind of has "feathers"
growing out, but it's not like his coat is long and needs high maintenance
grooming at this point. I do brush him frequently (which he hates; he squirms
around and tries to nip at the brush) but that's about as much as I can handle
without the dog ended up like a shorn sheep ;-).
I'm also wondering at what point I can feed him twice a day instead of three
times a day. Right now he gets fed three times a day--two bowl meals of kibble
and wet food and a kong filled with kibble in the middle of the day--it's more
of a snack than a meal, but he's a good healthy weight for his age. I thought I
read something about the age for going down to two meals a day was 6 months, but
I'm not sure.
Well, this turned into a novel! Hope everyone is having a good Thursday.
July 18th 2012 6:47 am
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Jamie here, filling in for Ziggy again.
Ziggy went in for his neuter and microchipping this weekend and did well with anesthesia--just a little hoarseness from the breathing tube--so he kind of mewled and squeaked rather than barked and "aroo'ed" for a couple of days. But he was chipper and spunky as ever when I took him home, with a great appetite, as usual.
He escaped the dreaded e-collar because he was so miserable looking in it and he didn't bother the surgical incision site at all. We go back to the dog-tor for a check up this weekend but I think he'll be just fine.
We'll post with pictures soon! Ziggy is growing like a weed and finally can go up the stairs outside of the house (we're still working on going down the stairs with confidence). Love him to pieces. Bark at you later.
July 4th 2012 7:03 pm
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Jamie here, filling in for Mr. Ziggy.
Ziggy will be fifteen weeks tomorrow and is truly capturing my heart more and
more each day. He's adjusted well to staying in his kennel while I am at work,
and having the pet sitter come and take him out instead. This week I am working
12p-1030p.m. so it's late when I come home and Ziggy zooms around the living
room in sheer delight after I release him from the kennel. I feel badly that I
then have to turn around and crate him again in an hour or so when I go to bed,
but he rarely complains about being put in the kennel any more, and if he does,
it's short and sweet... but I figure many dogs are confined to their crate all
day long and they, too, adjust.
He's a very vocal puppy who likes to bark when he's playing (even by himself
with his toys) and barks particularly hard at the Kong Wobbler once the kibble
is gone. It's as if he's mad that he's pushing it around and the toy isn't
producing kibble anymore--drat it! "How dare the Kong Wobbler defy me and not
produce kibble?!" Ziggy seems to be saying. I guess Ziggy's just a socialite who
loves a good running banter between you, him, and the food dish you're preparing ;-).
He is (knock on wood) doing better in the housetraining department than last
week, when he had a few accidents. While most of it is still management, he
does ask to go outside some of the time, and I think it's starting to sink in
that outside = potty area since I take him to the exact same spot time after
time. No accidents in his kennel this week, either (there have been a couple
over the course of time, but in general he doesn't mess in there).
I've ratcheted down my puppy kindergarten expectations a great deal and mostly
see it as an opportunity for him to meet other people and other puppies and
socialize, with a wee bit of training thrown in as a side benefit. I know some
puppies are able to do amazing amounts of things at his age, but Ziggy is Ziggy
and we're just happy he's his bright, cheerful, optimistic and opinionated
self--the obedience stuff will sink in later, though of course we're setting the
Also, he's growing like a weed. I had to buy the next size up harness for him,
and he's already had to have it loosened around the belly once. I also had to
buy him another collar as he was outgrowing his puppy collar.
To celebrate the Fourth of July, we're taking him down to the near the water,
just for the treat of taking him on a long walk (with my hours and the
weather competing for walk time, he's been sadly short changed this week). He hasn't
had any reaction to the random fireworks shot off in anticipation of the Fourth
around the neighborhood, so I'm hopeful he'll remain calm and unflappable during
the fireworks tonight, though of course we won't be bringing him to see the
fireworks. I probably won't even go, as traffic is likely to be a nightmare and
And that's Ziggy in a nutshell at fifteen weeks. Can't believe he's going to be
four months old next week... where did the time go?