Tuesday, November 18, 2008

four months old in puppy world

Last Saturday was November 15th and Ezri's four-month birthday. She's thoroughly out of the infant/toddler puppy stage and is probably pushing the late child / early pre-teen stage judging by her behavior. Physically she's slimmed down a lot due to growing and has completely lost the puppy pudge she originally had, and looks more like a small dog than a baby puppy. She's got a waist already, from both side and top views, and her tail is flagging out more each day. Her nose has lengthened and her ears are fully pricked, leaving her looking so much like her sister Indigo it's a little surreal. As for coloring, her merle is darkening more thus making it much more visible, and her eyes have held steady at the light honey top / light ice blue bottoms, which is a very striking combination. All in all, Ezri is quite a pretty little girl.

Last Monday (11/10) was her last puppy kindergarten class, and she passed with no issues and is approved for Intermediate Puppy if I choose to take that option. It has been interesting to watch how she interacts with the other puppies, as she seems to be unsure what to do with them and is much more comfortable around adult dogs. If she wasn't getting enough attention in class (say while the instructor was talking), she would yip to get attention, so we spent a lot of time working on "good quiet" and "treats from heaven" for lying quietly. Command-wise, Ezri has a firm grasp of sit, wait, and spin (both directions) and is improving her down, beg, come, and bang commands as well. She still needs more work on leash to walk politely, and attention work outside especially with Curzon around to learn that she needs to pay attention to us and not to him. It's handy to know that she will follow him right back to us if we are working offleash, but that's not a crutch I want to keep for much longer - she has the habit of watching him exclusively while ignoring us, which is not good. Curzon has always watched Jadzia more than me, but he will watch me if I ask for his attention, and that's where I want to get Ezri. Of course, it is amusing to think of the border collie chain - Ezri watching Curzon watching Jadzia watching me!

As for useful behaviors around the house, Ezri has fully mastered the "sit and wait" for her dinner, so that we can have all four dogs sitting quietly and waiting for release to eat their meal. She also understands that she has to sit (and sometimes wait) before going outside, and she's now sitting and waiting quietly with the other three when I open the garage in the morning before releasing them to run out into the kennel. We can now confidently let her potty offleash in the front yard, although I wouldn't leave her completely unsupervised just yet, and she hasn't had any avoidable accidents in the house for a couple of weeks. Last Monday she did have an incident where I had let them out of their crates and gone directly to the front door (as per our morning SOP), and she just couldn't wait for me to get downstairs and peed a little in front of the door. That is a physical housebreaking issue and not a mental one, so we aren't counting that as a major problem. We are still gating the dogs close to us to cut off any avenues of sneak potty attacks, but I almost prefer doing that and may continue to do so even after Ezri is fully trained and trustworthy.

We had flyball practice for the first time in four weeks on Sunday, due to two tournaments and a scheduling conflict, so Ezri needed a little reminder to go over the jumps before she was running happily again. She needs more work on her baby boxturn on the board, so I plan to work on that a lot next Sunday and maybe borrow the board again to work at home. She definitely has the idea down of going over the jumps, getting a ball, and returning over the jumps to her tuggie toy, so that's great! I do need to have other people handle her, as she's bonded strongly to me but also needs to respond better to Chris as well as other teammates, so I think I'll work on that next week as well. Training is neverending, after all!

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