Saturday, June 6, 2009

Puppy Socialization and Exercise

We took the puppies to a pet-food shop, one of those nice places that lets you bring in non-people-eating dogs, yesterday. It was something of an adventure.

Bruce is bold about new places and things. He happily browsed toys, smelled the smells, helped Wanda dig a stray cookie out from under a display, and was all kinds of confident -- except with new people.

Wanda is a little shy about new places, worried about cars in the parking lot, and anxious about stairways. However, new people interest her, especially little new people. For whatever reason, our little Dingo-bat likes children entirely out of the goodness of her heart. This is a good thing.

Both of them back-trailed to the car -- through a door, across an underground lot, lots of cement, about 20 minutes after we'd gone in. I was impressed with their noses. This is variable-surface tracking waiting to happen. However, if Bruce wants to use that nose for a living, he's going to have to learn to like what he finds with it! I intend to take him lots of places and carry along a stick of cheese. "Here, will you offer this to my puppy?" If strangers equal cheese, and cheese tends to lead to friendship, then strangers will be potential new friends instead of scary, scary monsters. He liked the cashier who was feeding him goodies just fine.

Wanda demonstrated a new talent this morning. She jumped on the bed. That doesn't sound like much in a casual mention, but the height of the bed is roughly three times the height of her shoulder. It only took a little scrambling. I'm thinking that her ancestors probably include a Jack/Parson Russell Terrier or something equally springy. Since she's so springy and Bruce is so comfortable hanging out on the rocking ottoman, I'm inclined to say either one would be dandy at agility. I'm hoping to knock some basic equipment together soon so that they and Dustin can start using it with me. Great exercise for them, running up ramps and such, while I get to hold still once they're doing it right. I call that a plus.
Wanda has also made a great cognitive leap: she has learned to fib. My longest command is "No sticks in the house." I usually enforce it by closing the door in front of the puppy until the stick is dropped at the threshold. Bruce has figured this one out and leaves his twigs and things outdoors. Wanda, on the other hand, wanted to keep her stick a couple of days ago. She looked at the closed door, looked at me, and then stared ahead with an expression of concentration as she worked the twig entirely into her mouth. Then she looked up at me again with an innocent expression that said plainly, "Whut schtick?" I cracked up -- but didn't open the door. Eventually she realized she hadn't put one over on me and spat it out.

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