We’ve survived the first three weeks and of puppy training. Rastas is now 11 weeks old, and has been with us for three weeks. What a roller coaster of a three weeks that’s been.
He’s had his second lot of vaccinations. His third lot are due in around ten days time. It’ll take about a week after the third vaccination for him to fully protected against the deadly Parvo virus. Some web sites say he’s reasonably safe two weeks after the second vaccination, and some say definitely not until after the third one. The vet says after the third one, but we’re figuring vets have to advise on the side of extreme caution.
Speaking to other dog owners, the general consensus is that life is very difficult with a puppy kept in the confinement of their own home. Apparently this age is the most important time for puppies to be learning socialisation skills, and if puppies aren’t exposed to other dogs, and a variety of people at this vital stage of their life, they are likely to develop social problems. So, a bit of a dilemma!
We will enrol him in the next lot of puppy school, but that’s not for another couple of weeks yet. In the meantime we’ve decided on a pathway of exposure to the big wide world somewhere between almost total confinement, and a moderated introduction to the great outdoors.
We walk him down to our local beach, but keep him in the middle of the road on the way there. The road gets very little traffic, so cars aren’t difficult to deal with, and by sticking to the middle of the road we keep him away from the vegetated curbsides where other dogs have left their marks. It means he doesn’t get to enjoy all the sniffing around that he’d otherwise be able to enjoy, but at least he’s getting out and about, and he’s loving it.
We pick him up and carry him down the narrower pathway that leads to the beach. He doesn’t get put down again until he’s almost at the water line, where hopefully the tides have done a good job of washing the shoreline clean. We avoid most dogs, but let him greet, or by greeted by any people who look interested in making his acquaintance. He’d lick them all to bits if he had a chance – he’s a very social little puppy. He’s meeting people of all ages, and he’s loving it. He’s a different puppy since he’s started getting out and about. And I must admit, Paul and I are happier too. I think I was getting ‘post puppy blues’!
There are quite a few dogs on the beach, but all are far more interested in their own beach walks than checking out a puppy who isn’t presenting a bottom to sniff, or isn’t interested in sniffing theirs (as seems to be the way of one canine greeting another). Whenever a dog comes near, we pick Rastas up – no bottom sniffing allowed yet.
A couple of days ago though we did stop and talk to another Labradoodle owner. After quickly establishing, Jimmy, was fully vaccinated we stopped to discuss our dogs, and to let them check each other out. We had thought we were stopping to talk to the owner of a fully grown Labradoodle. We were shocked to find out Jimmy is still a puppy, and in fact, is only two weeks older than Mr Tilly. Wow, he must be at least four times bigger….. Jimmy’s owner was equally as shocked to note the size difference.
Rastas with his first ‘beach friend’
Jimmy is a standard Labradoodle. Mr Tilly is a medium sized Labradoodle. As well as that, Jimmy, like Mr Tilly came from a litter of seven, but Jimmy was the biggest of his litter, Tilly was the runt. We each took out our phones and snapped photos, as we exchanged stories on the delights (or not) of puppy rearing.
Jimmy and Mr Tilly (two weeks different in age)
Jimmy’s owners had been contemplating adding to their human family, but instead opted for a puppy. Apparently, the realisation that a puppy isnt easy has hit. In her words, she thinks the puppy is actually harder than their human counterpart, and had she known how hard it was going to be, perhaps a human baby may have been the easiest option after all.
Now though with the first three weeks behind us, and now that Mr Tilly is getting a lot of outside stimulation, he’s showing signs of becoming a terrific little dog. The house training seems to be well on track. It’s been a few days now since he left any puddles inside the house, and about a week since he did any of his other business inside the house. I imagine there could still be an accident or two yet, but as the weather warms up, I should think these will be less and less.
He sits as a ‘yes please’ for his meals, or for any treats on offer, and he sits (although not very calmly) when we’re putting his lead on him for a walk. He walks on a reasonably loose lead, more so for me though than Paul I think with that one. That’s because I insist on it, and if he pulls I stand still. Once he realises he’s not actually getting to walk anywhere unless he stays at my side with a loose lead he obliges quickly.
He loves playing tug, and he’s starting to chase a ball and bring it back.
He settles well into his crate at night, which we put at the entrance to our bedroom. As soon as we start getting ready for bed he heads into his crate. He goes out the pet door to do his business through the night, and stays quiet until around 5.30am. Then he seems to think it’s time for us to wake up – we’re usually awake then anyway, and I think he’s only reminding us he’s been on his own long enough. We make a cuppa and take it back to bed, and he’s then allowed up on the big bed. He seems to appreciate that’s a bit of privilege, and snuggles down between us and goes promptly back to sleep while we enjoy our cup of tea.
So far, so good as far as any unwanted destruction. Not having children makes that easier. Paul and I are aware that anything left around is fair game for him to cut his teeth on, so we keep everything out of his way that he’s not allowed, and we make sure he has plenty of allowable chew toys within his reach. As well as chew toys, we give him a raw chicken neck every second day. He loves them, and I’m sure they’re doing wonders for his sharp little puppy teeth.
If you’d asked me a week ago what I thought of having a puppy, I’d have said it was awful. Now though that we’re taking him out and he’s getting the stimulation he obviously needs, he’s not even hard work anymore. He’s shaping up very well, an absolute pleasure!