Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Day of Many Time-Outs

Kai was being such a pill yesterday!  I'm realizing that we do need to discipline him more when he acts out.  It's hard to do it with such a cute, happy puppy, but I know that if we let certain behaviors go unchecked now we will regret it in the future, when he's bigger.  I am fairly certain that aversive training won't work with Kai, so we are trying this:

1.  saying NO very loud and sternly
2.  after several NOs, if he's still acting up, we say "do you want a time out?"
3.  if he doesn't immediately stop, he gets a time out.  At least one minute in the boring bathroom, more if he's screaming to get out.
Kai with his Kong brush.  I'm ok with him nomming on that.

Between Chris and I, we probably had to give him at least ten time outs yesterday for various offenses:  trying to chew shoes, harassing the cat, pulling things off the table and other areas of the house, tugging on the duvet cover, chewing on furniture, and mouthing.  Sigh.  It was a long day.  The good news is that he did seem to understand (finally) that I don't want him biting me when we play.  He didn't mouth me once this morning during feeding and play time.  So I hope that the discipline will work with him.  I guess I know how parents feel now when disciplining their small children.  Part of me feels really bad, but the other part knows that it needs to be done, that this small being needs structure and boundaries in his life, and that both he and I ultimately will be happier if those boundaries can be firmly established.  I also realize that Kai is only a puppy, and a Shiba at that.  I don't expect him to immediately come when I call him.  He just needs to learn to live by our rules.

I can't wait until we can start taking him out on walks.  I think that getting out more would help with his energy.  As for now, we'll take him to the gym again tonight, and I have no doubt that he will get tuckered out there!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

First Week

President's Day, Feb 20, was the big day.  We met Lori (Kai's breeder) at a park in Natomas rather than driving up to Marysville, since she was coming through town anyway.  Kai still had his floppy ears and sausage body, although he had grown and lightened up a little since we last saw him.  Lori said he was a good boy and slept in his crate during the car ride.  We brought our own crate and took him home.

SO many people wanted to visit Kai on his first day!  It was hard to say no.  I was worried, though, that he might be overwhelmed by so many changes.  However, he did great.  My parents came over first.  Then some friends.  Then Chris's parents.  Then more friends, and then Chris's sister, Katie, and brother-in-law Phil.  Kai wasn't scared of any of the visitors.  He behaved perfectly and was really tuckered out by the end of the day!

Lori said that Kai could sleep through the night in his crate without needing a potty break.  She said if he whined, we should ignore him, and that he'd learn quickly.  I was a little worried, but he did great.  No whining, no pottying in the crate.  Even now, one week later, he has yet to have had an accident in the crate (knock on wood).  Sometimes he whines a bit when he first goes in, but it generally stops within a minute.  I try to remember to treat him when he goes in, anyway, just to reinforce that the crate is a good place.  We've been feeding him in there, too.

 Chris and I each took a couple days off work to stay home with Kai.  The day after he came to us, we both were off work.  We took him to the vet, and all was well.  That night, we took him to a friends' place (they had invited us for dinner) and he did very well.  No pottying in their house.  Yay!  (He did have one accident in OUR house that afternoon... I guess we didn't let him out in time.)

On Wednesday, we decided to try taking him to the gym with us to meet more people (we both really want to be on top of the socialization thing) and that went really well.  Katie and Phil were there, too, and between us all we were all able to get some rock climbing in without leaving Kai by himself.  He was sooo tired after meeting so many people.  Being admired is tough!

The weekend was tricky.  We were in our final weekend of Pirates of Penzance, in Davis.  Saturday was a two-show day, so we either had to bring Kai, or drive back home to Sacramento in between shows, which wasn't appealing.  So we decided to try bringing Kai on Friday night and see how he did.  The cast, crew, and orchestra all loved him.  He got to meet some kids and tons of new people.  I think he had fun.  We ended up bringing him on Saturday, too.  He did great, sleeping in his crate in Chris's dressing room during the performances, and coming out to eat and play between shows.  By the end of Saturday, though, he got weird all of a sudden after playing with everyone.  I took him into Chris's dressing room for some water, and noticed he was shaking.  Chris thought it looked like Kai was limping, as well.  We got all worried and took him straight home.  Once home, he was fine.  I think maybe he just got a little overwhelmed.  But due to that, we decided to not bring him on Sunday.  We took separate cars to the theatre, and I came right home after the show to let him out.

This week is our first "normal" week with Kai, with Chris and I back to our full-time work schedules.  I will be going home for lunch every day to feed Kai and play with him, and we have our schedules set up so that he won't be crated for more than 3.5 hours a day.  I wish I could shorten that time, but he seems to be doing ok with it for now.  If it doesn't work out, we'll have to come up with a new plan, I guess.

So... first week went better than I expected, over all.  Potty training was... done by the breeder!  And crate training too, apparently.  So those two big jobs that I thought we'd have to focus on were nonexistent.  People socialization is well under way, and if we keep it up I am sure we will have no problems there.  My concerns at the moment are:

1.  mouthing.  Kai wants to put EVERYthing in his mouth.  He bites gently, but I am sure that this habit will get more annoying as he gets older.  I've read so many different things about how to deal with this.  I've been trying to squeal and ignore him if he bites too hard, but I am starting to think that this is not enough.

2.  dog socialization.  Kai really has only spent time with one dog so far:  our friends' Golden Retriever, Dylan.  Dylan is the most gentle dog ever, and Kai was so annoying with him, pulling at Dylan's tail fur and nipping at his muzzle.  Dylan just stood there and took it.  I don't know if we should be worried.  We have a few other dogs we know that are safe for Kai to meet, so we'll have to take that one step at a time.  I looked into some early puppy classes (10-16 weeks old) at PetCo, so that's an option.

3.  cat socialization.  Kai wants to chase my cat, Molly, about 65% of the time.  Molly has been very tolerant of him, occasionally smacking his muzzle when he gets too out of hand, but also she does tend to run from him... and that makes him want to chase her even more.  If he starts barking at her, I've been telling him NO, and then if he continues, I put him in a time-out (the bathroom).  I hope he gets the message that harassing Molly is unacceptable.

Another annoying thing, although not really a huge concern, is that Kai HATES it when we put his collar on.  He screams.  Once we can start trying to walk him, I hope he will realize that the collar is his key to freedom outside the backyard.  But for now, he just wears it around the house.  He has gotten pretty used to wearing it, though.  We have had him drag a lightweight lead around sometimes, to get used to that feeling.

 He certainly is an adorable little bugger, though!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Here Comes the "Stuff"

Our $280 worth of doggie items are arriving from Amazon.  Here's what we have so far:

(the treat bag on the right is for my cat, Molly.  I didn't want her to feel left out.  I don't usually give her treats, but she may need some after Kai arrives!)

Still en route is a crate, doggie playpen, bedding, food and water bowls, and more toys.  I can't actually remember.  I ordered so much stuff.  SO MUCH STUFF.  Exciting!

And we are getting some work done around the house to prepare for Kai's arrival.  The biggest thing we are doing is installing an iron gate across the driveway so that our backyard is completely fenced in.  I am super excited about this gate-- it's something I've wanted to put in for a very long time.  We also hired gardeners to clean up the yard and remove a bunch of unwanted shrubbery.  They started work yesterday, and the yard already looks 100x better than it did. 

Of course, all of this costs more money, not to mention the $1200 we are forking over for the puppy himself! 

You may notice that all these dog items are displayed on a piano bench, and if you're really observant you might see a hint of what is a double bass in the right hand corner of the photo.  These instruments are some of my other "babies" and I really, really hope that none of them fall victim to a teething puppy!  I vow to NOT let that happen...

Thursday, February 9, 2012

The Crate Schedule and "To-Do" List

There's so much to think about in getting ready for the pup!  I created Google docs to help keep it all together in my mind.  Things that are on the list include:
  • buy crate, food bowls, leashes, toys, food
  • move Molly feeding area (move printer to spare room)
  • figure out feeding/potty schedule
  • find vet and make first appt
  • puppy-proof house (electric cords, trash cans, move bass?)
Molly is my 3-year-old tabby cat.  I've already moved her food from a spot on the kitchen floor to a raised area in the dining room where the printer used to be.  The printer... is homeless for now.  We need to get more shelving so that we have a spot for the printer.  (Our house is a small 2 bedroom/1 bath, so it's always a challenge figuring out where to put stuff.)  

Chris made a vet appointment for Feb 21 (the day after Kai comes home) with a vet that our friends use. 

The feeding/potty schedule... I'm sure that will have to semi-play out by ear.  The breeder said that Kai should be able to get through the night in his crate without having to potty.  I really hope she's right!  For daytime, I created this tiresome schedule:

6:00 AM    V:  puppy outside
6:10 AM    V:  feed puppy in crate
6:40 AM    V:  puppy outside
6:50 AM    V/C:  puppy in playpen
7:45 AM    C: puppy playtime and final potty break
8:00 AM    C: puppy in crate
11:30 AM    V: puppy outside
11:45 AM    V:  feed puppy/playtime
12:20 PM    V:  puppy outside
12:30 PM    V:  puppy in crate
4:10 PM    V:  puppy outside
4:20 PM    V:  puppy in playpen/playtime
5:30 PM    C:  feed puppy
6:00 PM    C:  puppy outside
6:10 PM    C/V:  flexible, include some playtime, crate if needed
7:00 PM    C/V:  put water away for the night
9:30 PM    C: puppy outside
9:40 AM    C/V: puppy playtime
11:00 PM    C:  final outside for puppy and then crate for night

Chris nearly had an aneurysm when he saw this!  I'll admit that I am sort of Type A about this stuff, and he is more like Type Z.  But I just really want to try my best to start the pup off on the right foot.  This schedule doesn't have Kai crated for more than 3.5 hours at a time during the work day.  Chris and I both work full time, so we can't always be at home to watch Kai.  I'll be coming home for lunch for as long as needed, to let Kai out and feed him.  I'm already having to change my work hours (not to mention going home for lunch) so I really hope this schedule will work out.

Ok.  I am tired just looking at that schedule.  (But I'm really tired anyway because I'm in the middle of tech week.)

On a different note, the breeder sent me this photo of Kawaii and Nobu (the father, standing on the right).  Nobu is owned by a different breeder, and we have not met him, so it was nice to see the photo.  He's quite handsome, imo.

And here is Molly.  I hope she will be nice to her new little brother.  She is a very sweet cat, but I have no idea how she'll react to having a new presence in the household.


Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Preparing for a puppy!

What?  A dog?  zomg.

I decided to start this blog because I know that raising a puppy will be a unique adventure in my life.  It's a big decision to get a dog.  I know my life will never be the same.  I also wanted to share my experiences, because I read lots of other Shiba blogs to help me learn what I was getting into.  They've been really helpful, so maybe I can help someone else with my experiences as well!

In what I now think of as my "past life" (in a previous relationship) I really, really wanted a dog.  But my partner wasn't really into the idea.  We visited some dogs at the SPCA a couple of times, but due to his reluctance over it all, I eventually gave up the idea.

Fast forward about seven years to my "new life"...

My sig o, Chris, somehow decided he wanted a dog.  I have no idea where this came from.  He saw a Shiba Inu at our gym, did some research on the breed, and decided that THIS was the dog we needed.  I was very skeptical at first.  I mean, we have a nice life already, and a cat.  Everything is easy.  Why bring something into the house that will mean tons of extra work?  Not to mention a somewhat loss of our freedom.  We won't be able to just stay out all day and night anymore.  Every time we travel, we will have to figure out what to do with the dog.  Etc, etc.  But Chris has a way of talking me into things.  And from my previous experience in my "past life"-- well, I didn't want to do to him what my ex had inadvertently done, which was squash something that I really wanted.  So I gave in :)

 Chris found a Shiba breeder that lives about an hour north of us.  We visited her in early Dec and met the mother, Kawaii, who was two weeks pregnant at the time.  We also met several other Shibas that she had.  They were beautiful dogs, very sweet and well behaved.  I was sold. 

The pups were born on Dec 24:  one boy and two girls.  We were anxious to visit, but the breeder likes to wait until the pups are around six weeks old.  In the meantime, she sent photos.

We finally got to visit them last weekend and we needed to choose which we wanted.   The breeder is keeping one girl, but she hadn't decided which of the two she would be keeping yet.

I admit, I went in thinking I'd want a girl.  I hate it when male dogs mark everywhere, hump your leg, and stick out their red rocket.  Ha.  But the boy somehow managed to grab my eye.  He was the most responsive out of the three for me.  And he was adorable!  So fat and sausage-y!  Chris really liked one of the girls, but since the breeder hadn't decided which girl she would keep, we didn't know if the one Chris liked would be an option for us.  

Since then, we thought nonstop about this choice we had to make.  Should we wait and see if we could get the girl that Chris liked?  Or should we go with the boy?  After a couple of days and endless discussion, we finally decided:  it's a boy!  We are naming him Kai.  It's a good Japanese name which, loosely translated, means "ocean".  I wanted a Japanese name that wasn't too hard for the average American to pronounce.  Chris likes the name because it's also the name of a favorite radio personality of his.

The next step is getting all the stuff we need:  crate, toys, etc.  I have about $300 worth of dog stuff on an Amazon wish list and we'll order it all this week.  Ahhhh!  I can't believe this is happening!  I am so excited and terrified at the same time.  This is some crazy shit.  We are in the middle of a theatre production of Pirates of Penzance (Chris is in the cast, I'm a musician in the pit) so there will be a lot going on!  FSM please smile on us...