The 4th of July holiday falling on a Wednesday this year turned it into a weeklong celebration. We have enjoyed relaxing, eating, and drinking all week long at our cabin. Crispy bacon, eggs, and biscuits to start our day, and tangy sweet barbecued ribs and cherry cobbler to finish it. Lounging in the shade with our toes in the baby pool with the puppies. Napping inside the air-conditioned house watching Animal Planet snuggling with Koda and Summer. Our healthy diet and exercise routines are on hiatus and will resume when we return home.
This relaxed vacation state of mind is not just about our meals and our activity. It is also about the puppies. The difference is that their vacation started the day we brought them home, it’s called the honeymoon. That initial time when your new pups are young and innocent, sleeping more than playing, and staying close-by. You are so smitten with their cuteness, nothing they do is wrong. “Awe, look at how they chew at the corner of those coffee table books,”or “you little silly, you can’t eat the remote control.” One piece of advice that I read and did not heed was “the training begins the moment the puppy enters your house.”
For me to strictly follow that advice, it would have meant crating them separately from night one. Didn’t do that. Taking them out to play separately, nope. Working with them individually on name recognition and follow me on the leash (with treats in my hand), kind of worked on but definitely together in the yard. I will say that we have been 95% successful at the house-training. Poops and pees are done outside, not on a special pad by the door. We never opted to put those absorbent pads inside, as we wanted them to learn it was outside where they did their business. However that did mean a few little accidents happened on the welcome mat.
So if they are sleeping well, eating on a schedule and playing nicely together, what’s the problem? It is that the honeymoon is coming to an end. Their independence is increasing each time we take them outside to potty. At our cabin our lawn is surrounded by woods. The pups initially sniffed and walked in circles close to where I stood on the front stone path. As the week has progressed, the perimeter of exploration has widened. I’ve been able to shake and rattle the crinkly bag of smelly meaty treats to entice their return to my feet. Until yesterday.
Summer gave a look back at me as I called out to her and shook the treat bag. Koda came running. Summer looked forward then back again, and then clearly defying me, she took steps off of the lawn into the woods. As I drew closer she skipped off a little faster. I caught up to her and scooped her up. Too late, she had now broken that invisible barrier. Every time after that first escape she has wanted to bolt over to those woods.
The honeymoon of them being shy and eager to follow my energetic calls is coming to an end. The dog handler had advised me about using positive happy energy to attract them back to me when I need them. My “happy-come-back-to-me-little-sweethearts” energy is now shifting to, “get the hell back here Summer, I mean it. Do not take one more step into those woods.” So I realize that my vacation is over and the work is beginning.
Something I have mastered is the settle hold. Koda is the easiest to calm, which says a lot since he is the most rambunctious of the two. He is always jumping on his sister wanting to wrestle and play. When Summer has had enough she lets Koda know. It is a little harder to get Summer to relax in the settle hold, she shows her strong will, the same that she exhibits when she dashes into the woods when I call to her.
Summer, this honeymoon is over. Training is about to go full-throttle. You are sweet and cute, as is your brother Koda. But it is time to focus and learn the house rules. So when you are done with your nap on the sofa, it is on.