Saturday, July 2, 2011

Hey guys, I'm just 7.5 weeks old!

And I've only had you, Orent, for 36 hours!

Lots of other CCI & assistance puppies have blogs (Ansel, Beto, Ruby, etc.)... Of course, we've been checking them out for cute pictures, tips, and stories. They have lots of stories and even some tips! Most of the stories, of course, are about puppies being good and trainers doing a good job. None of the blogs I found are from first-timers.

Hopefully, this blog can tell some stories of the scariness of first-time puppy raising. It's been hard to remember that Orent's only been on the planet since May 9th, and even more, I've only had a puppy since July 1! There are so many things I just don't know how to do, so I keep doing the "don'ts" -- repeating commands, giving commands I can't guarantee success with, inconsistent rewards, etc. And there's no one here with a squeaky toy and cookies to reward me the second I do it right!

The only reward I have for doing it right is that Orent really does seem to learn quickly. Here are some things I did right:
-Didn't give in to his crying over the stairs. I just told him calmly, "I know you can do this." He is now a grand champ at hopping up stairs. Remember, this all happened in one day! Down still freaks him out but each time I think he gets a little bit braver (and a little bit surer that I expect him to practice and won't swoop in).
-Had a really good training session using the first half of his dinner. I'd seen all these videos of 12-week old puppies with perfect, full-attention sits. I know there's a lot of steps to get there, but I didn't get how you really could master them one tiny puppy step at a time. Today, for the first time, I noticed how he actually can get better at being lead. I saw that as we got good, together, and leading him into a sit, I could start slowly pairing it with the word "sit" and soon he'd be anticipating and sitting on "sit" just like he now anticipates and sits about 1/2 the time I hold a treat near his nose.
-Remembered to make him "wait" before "OK"-ing his dinner and, because he's a distractable puppy, it actually worked. I think he forgot about his dinner until the "OK" reminded him to do something...
-Left him home alone for an hour (while he was sleeping -- he didn't even know we were gone).
-Most important: made friends a little! He's making more eye contact, doggie-smiling more, snuggling a little more, tolerating more kinds of petting, relaxing into a cradle for a few more seconds, etc.

So... a lot of the time it feels like, "how is this little guy every going to learn all that!" and sometimes like, "he's learning so fast, and so many wrong things!" but every once and a while I remember, "his tiny brain is only 7.5 weeks old! And my puppy raising experience is 36 hours old! We have *lots* of time to figure this out, and we won't be very good very quickly, and that's ok."

I know for sure Orent's not in a hurry and doesn't hold anything against me. I'll aspire for a more Orent-like demeanor.

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