Friday, October 27, 2017

Sweet, Precious, Adorable, Loving, and Naughty

Just look at this face. He is Mr. Charming, or so he wants you to believe so. As his owners, my husband and I believe this to be true 95% of the time. He is most definitely sweet, precious, adorable, empathetic, and loving. We can't imagine our lives without him. Trust me. This is a very good thing for when he has those intense moments of sheer naughtiness.

Both of us have been dog owners before and knew that at some point we would be again. Our jobs just did not allow the time and energy that is required to be a proper dog owner. After giving myself some time to adjust to retirement, the day had come to research the dog that we wanted to come and live with us.

Actually, my husband came up with a name before the dog. Having the last name of Miles and being music lovers, the quirkiness of mixing up Miles Davis to become Davis Miles seemed perfect. Therefore, Davis would be our new household member. I had researched dog breeds, rescue dogs, animal shelters, etc. and there were good and not so good stories of getting a dog from a place that has either questionable or no history of what that dog has been through as a puppy, both from a perspective of health and socialization. On the other hand, no way did we want a puppy from a puppy mill type of place. It is my belief that probably many of the dogs in shelters actually came from a puppy mill environment. 

Once I found out about goldendoodles, we knew that this was the dog for us. Several wonderful qualities impressed us about them. They are good for anyone who has allergies, they do not shed (more about this later), they are very intelligent and social. Definitely, not an outside dog unless his humans are with him. It took quite a bit of searching, but we found a breeder nearby who invited us out to where the puppies were born and being kept. Both the mother and father were on the premises, which was a bonus.
The puppy that continually came up to us without shoving others out of the way is the one that we chose. He also had the cutest little question mark shaped tail. Davis rode home in my lap wrapped in his little red fleece blanket. We knew that he would not be this small for long, in that his momma was a 40 pound standard poodle and his daddy was a 70 pound golden retriever. (Now at 11 months, he is a 62 pound goldendoodle.) He does still believe that he is that little 15 pound puppy, even today.

Through the puppy years that we have experienced so far, we continue to watch him go through the playful, investigative, and exploring stages by smelling, tasting and chewing. I have purchased and read The Dog Whisperer and many other articles that I can read about puppy behavior in general, as well as goldendoodle characteristics. I continue to be in contact with the breeder and some of the owners of the brothers and sisters of Davis. They definitely have their shared special little characteristics.

First, let me say that this litter of puppies all shed furballs. You look down and see black tumbleweeds here and there. A brush called the Furminator and an IRobot vacuum cleaner have become our best friends here in order to keep the house clear of furballs. Apparently, this is not the usual for goldendoodles. All of this litter are black like their mother but seem to have more fur on them like their father. 

This is something that he can't help. What else can't he help? The fact that he has a sense of humor and can usually amuse us with his antics. I learned that dogs really do laugh with their tails and wow oh wow, does Davis have that question mark tail wagging as he is laughing not only at us, but also with us. You see, the puppy stage is most definitely still in him. I have learned that it probably will be until age 2 -3 years of age before he grows out of some of his antics. This means that in order for us all to have a harmonious relationship, we just have to know that Davis is going to do naughty things. The trick is to figure out why and how to stop him from doing them.

Chewing things that he shouldn't is still a problem. It is getting better, I will admit that much. Then a day like today comes along. You see, he knows how to work 'the system.' He can turn on the charm with those soulful eyes, a tilt of his head and a wag of that tail. He wants to please us so badly and when he gets hold of something that he should not have, he wants to entertain us and make it a game. You can almost hear him as he prances around with whatever he has in his mouth as he is singing, "Tra-la-la, catch me if you can." There is our first clue. STOP! No game. No chasing. No laughter. No cuteness. No big scene. It is a matter of offering what is his for what he has taken that is not his.

The other trick is to try to outsmart these intelligent dogs by keeping things out of reach when you can, or else never leaving him alone where he will have opportunities to chew what he should not. Just as you would child-proof your home for a new baby, you must puppy-proof your home for his safety.

I also know there are levels of being naughty for puppies, just as there are for children. It is an small problem and a smaller cost when your puppy chews your slipper. Who is the human who left it out for him to sniff, taste and chew? If he does get hold of it with you there, simply try gently repeating the words no or leave it and trying to do a trade of a toy of his. Not a reward treat, just something that he can chew. Dogs need to have things to entertain them. We can pick up a book, a puzzle, watch a movie  -  dogs? They need toys around to stimulate them, as well as a playtime and exercise.

Today, on our way to Doggie Day Care, he became very quiet. Steve turned around and he had chewed his brand new leash handle off in record time. He rides with us all the time in the car and never, ever has he chewed on his leash. Lesson learned? Put him in the car, put the seat belt on him and take off his leash. 

Another level of being naughty is chewing a pillow vs. the settee.

Our dog is fast, however, this had to have taken more than a minute to destroy. Crate training is very effective for this kind of behavior.  Our puppy continues to steal a pillow off the settee and shake it. Although, with constant reinforcement of quietly taking it from him and putting his chew toys down for a trade off is beginning to work. He actually takes a pillow off while in the study with me. Sometimes, I believe he just needs me to take a break from writing and give him some attention. 

Then there is the level of dangerous naughtiness. We are very aware that our dog is not ready to go to a doggie park that is not fenced in. He can't go out in our front yard without being on a leash. If a squirrel or a leaf blowing by caught his attention, he would take off running with full steam ahead, forgetting that he graduated top in his class of all the basic commands of, "Come, sit, down, and stay," not to mention knowing his name when called.

Davis is a great communicator. He rings jingle bells hanging from a door when he wants out or if he needs his water or food refilled. One other thing that I know he is aware of...the time of day it is when the sun shines on a window of the door that opens to his play yard and reflects on the side of the house. When this happens he sometimes goes into the zoomie stage.

Neither one of us have ever had a dog who goes into this stage. Not all dogs do it. Scientists have a name for it called frap(frenetic,random,activity,period). The first time I witnessed this I did not know if I should be laughing or running for fear of my life. Once I researched some, the word zoomies fit perfectly. Frap, to me, sounded more like a bad word that I wanted to say outloud when he did it. If you have never had the pleasure of witnessing a dog in a zoomie, it is where he usually bows down on his front elbows (if dogs have elbows) with his rear end up in the air, eyes go crazy looking and then he goes from zero to eighty mph in 5 seconds. He is flipping and turning and zig zagging every which way. Obviously it is best if this happens when he is outside. There is no way he is dangerous. He is just releasing energy and seems so happy within himself for having gone through it. Luckily, it does not last long. There is no point in joining in. Just move out of his way and let him get on with it.

To keep us all happy, Davis goes to Doggie Day Care once a week for exercise and socialization with other dogs. He gets walks, has play time with balls, has special chewies that are good for him and his teeth; plus we continue to work on his training, as well as our own. To avoid counter surfing in the kitchen, it requires us to keep any item, foods, tea towels, wiring, etc. all out of his reach. We know these things call to his exploring nature and the only way that he knows how to explore is with his nose and mouth. Fair warning!

Owning a dog is a lot of work. It is work that pays you back with so much love and affection that your heart will melt. Not something to be taken lightly.It is important to remember that a puppy is sweet, precious, adorable, loving and naughty in perfect proportion.

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