It’s been an interesting week and a half with Gus. Let me start by admitting it’s been eight years since I’ve had a puppy and I’m quickly being reminded how much work, but how much fun they are. I’m eight years older too, which means I have a lot more patience, but my energy can run a bit low at times. In all fairness I also have two very energetic herding dogs, so there is little time for idleness.
Gus has been doing great with most things; he’s adapted well to our household routine and rhythms and we’ve made a few adjustments to accommodate his puppy needs. Gus is quickly learning how to accompany the adult dogs and I as we do our daily outside chores. Right now that mostly entails some sort of garden or yard work, which Gus either gets totally into the thick of, or plays nearby. He’s entertained me with his goofy puppy antics and I have the mindset that no matter what kind havoc he wreaks, my gardens are dispensable at this point. I have a huge Siberian Iris garden that has a dozen or more large clumps of long, leafy foliage and Gus just loves running around in that. It’s like a giant puppy maze and he all but disappears as he zooms around the clumps in a mad frenzy. Every few laps Gus pops out of the flower bed and zips over where I’m weeding or watering the vegetable garden, then dashes off again to get lost in the Iris maze.
I love how this puppy entertains himself. None of my Cattle Dogs ever played by themselves or with each other and have always required my input to expend energy. Not Gus! This silly boy will play with his toys or look for something to do on his own, yet he’s no so aloof that he ignores you. Gus likes to be in your eyesight if possible, but he’s content to go play in the living room while I fix dinner. He especially loves his toys, which is another thing my ACDs were never that keen about. Oh sure, they like anything that squeaks (and still do), but only for as long as it takes to de-squeak the toy, which is about five minutes. At ten or twelve weeks, my ACDs were power chewers, capable of destroying just about any toy you put in their path. Gus is less destructive at this age and while he definitely goes into “killer” mode with some toys, his main purpose doesn’t seem to be to annihilate everything he encounters.
Overall, Gus seems to have a nice temperament. I’ve never raised a Rat Terrier and I’m not sure what to expect at every stage, but I suspect he’s going through a bit of an adjustment and is a little bit fearful of strangers right now. Gus warms up to people quickly, but his initial reaction is one of alarm and wariness. So with that being a bit of a concern, our new #1 goal is to meet a stranger a day. Yesterday I cut up some hot dogs (a pretty high value treat right now) and we went to a local pet supply store where we could meet and greet some unfamiliar people. It didn’t take long before Gus was walking up to strangers on his own and looking for his treat. I was very pleased with that and we’ll be doing something of that nature daily to make sure he gets comfortable around different kinds of people. I’m home alone with him most of the time and so this is a really important thing to do. It’s not my nature to interact with strangers (yes, I tend to run a bit shy initially), but it’s necessary for his development. Ideally, I want Gus to be a dog who can handle …. no, who enjoys being around other people and dogs.
Housebreaking is going well as long as I keep Gus on a routine and stay one step ahead of him. I wouldn’t say he understands doing his business outside yet, but he’ll perform wonderfully if I just read him correctly and follow a schedule. He can be VERY stubborn if I try to encourage him out to his potty area and he doesn’t need to go. This boy knows what he does and doesn’t want and he makes that pretty clear! Likewise, crate training has gone pretty well. Gus seems content spending a part of every morning and some of the afternoon in his crate. I usually try to time his crate time with his nap, but not always. If he’s awake I usually give him a Kong stuffed with frozen peanut butter or something good to chew on to keep him occupied. The only time he really fusses is when we eat dinner. I’m not exactly sure how I’ll fix that, but we’ll figure it out.
This morning we slept in until almost seven. Well, I was semi-awake from 6 AM on, but I forced myself to stay in bed to see if Gus would wake up on our weekly time schedule or sleep in a bit longer. I finally decided to get out of bed when Neena started her usual, pushy, time-to-get-up yapping, and when I opened the bedroom door I was greeted by a wildly excited, uncrated puppy. Oh dear! Yes, Mr. Gus escaped from his crate. I suspect he was only on the lam a short while, but still. And yes it was my fault. I didn’t buy the most expensive crate and I’ve since discovered this crate needs a small clip fastened to the two doors to prevent them from being opened by an inquisitive puppy. Apparently last night I forgot to clip the side door. My bad! That won’t happen again!
My adult dogs are doing OK with Gus. Not perfect, but OK. The most difficult time is when Gus wants to play with them or play with a squeaky toy. Squeakers are put in toys to grab the dog’s attention. Unfortunately, that means they grab the attention of any dog that’s within hearing range of the toy. And being ACDs, my dogs become totally fixated on that sound. Hazer, especially. Hazer also has trouble understanding why he can’t have access to Gus’s toy box and will stand and whine at it (and me) for hours. Literally, for hours. Ug. He’s worse than the puppy sometimes. OK, most of the time. Poor Hazer. So far neither ACD has come down too heavy on the puppy for anything. That’s good! I’m on them like a hawk whenever they’re all together, especially inside. The ACDs don’t have much access to Gus (yet) when we’re inside because Gus doesn’t understand things like, “Leave it” and, ‘That’ll do.” When Gus has better self control (LOL) I’ll start letting the dogs have more togetherness, but for now unless Gus is asleep they’re not together much indoors.
Today Gus and I are going to a small family picnic. I’m a bit nervous because two family members who will be attending have small dogs. One is a female RT/ Chihuahua rescue, the other is a male Chihuahua. The female is a bit older than the male and has manners, but the last time I saw the male (a year or so ago) he was not very well trained. Word has it he’s much improved, but still. Needless to say, I’ll be very cautious. I’m taking Gus because in the future my sister-in-law will (hopefully) be a good candidate to pet sit him on occasion. Today should be a good opportunity to let Gus meet her and little Angie under my supervision. Yeah, I’m a Nazi mom. I’m hoping this visit goes well because if it does it would kill two birds with one stone: it would allow me peace of mind if/when I go away and it will satisfy her puppy craving!
Well, the beast is awake …. time to take a hike!