First Day of Puppy Class

Today was our first day of Puppy Class!

I had spent quite a bit of time looking for a good trainer. A good resource for finding trainers near you is the Association for Pet Dog Trainers (APDT). I sat in on puppy classes of three different trainers and met with a total of four trainers in person before deciding on one. The prices of these four trainers ranged ranged from $20/class to $38/class. Although it is time consuming, I highly recommend sitting in on classes when you choose a trainer. Every trainer is different, and you should find someone who matches your own training philosophy, learning style, and dog.

I selected Heather O'Neill of Pet Solutions Unlimited for the following reasons:
  1. She was confident, and in turn, I had confidence in her.
  2. There were two trainers at the class I sat in on - herself and an additional trainer. This proved to be very useful when one dog needed help on 'down,' which all the other dogs had already mastered. The additional trainer was able to help that dog separately, while the rest of the class continued. I had not seen multiple trainers at any of the other classes I sat in on.
  3. She offered information on dog training that was new to me. As someone who avidly reads about dog training from online sources and books, I did not want to pay a trainer to tell me what I already know.
So what did I learn today that I didn't already know?

Manage and Replace
When people get a puppy, they achieve desirable behavior by managing the dog's environment. For instance, I put Loki in his exercise pen so that he will not pee or poop in the apartment. If a puppy likes to chew on shoes, the owner might stow away all shoes in a closet. If a dog steals socks from an open laundry basket (as Loki used to do), the owner might buy a hamper with a lid. These are all examples of managing the environment. By not letting Loki go anywhere except for his exercise pen and outside, he never has the chance to pee on the carpet. So I achieve the desirable behavior of no accidents by constant management.

Managing the environment works, but it requires a lot of effort and attention. Furthermore, the puppy never gets the chance to learn otherwise. If Loki is never allowed to roam freely, he doesn't have the opportunity to learn not to pee or poop on the carpet. Similarly, a dog who likes to chew on shoes, doesn't get the chance to learn not to do that if the shoes are never out. And for a dog who likes to steal socks from the laundry basket, he doesn't get the chance to learn not to do that if you have now purchased a hamper with a lid.

The advantages of teaching replaced behaviors are obvious -- the human doesn't have to work so hard managing the dog. I don't have to keep an eye on Loki all the time to make sure that he doesn't pee on the carpet. I can keep my open laundry basket and know that Loki won't steal socks. I can put my new shoe purchase on the floor without fear of them becoming a chew toy.

Managing the environment does not teach the dog, while replacing the behavior does. Managing the environment only avoids bad habits, while replacing the behavior creates good ones. The transition period between managing and replacing is gradual and takes baby steps, but it is definitely a goal to work towards. Honestly, I had always figured that I would have to manage the environment for the rest of Loki's life, but now I see that I don't have to.

Another Sunday at the dog park!

I love the zoom on our new camera. It has a 12x optical zoom. I was able to capture some really nice portrait shots of Loki. He's really starting to look full grown, isn't he? He is exactly 5 months old today. He weighed in at 15 lbs three weeks ago at the vet and my best attempts to measure his height puts him at 13.5" tall at the withers. Shibas never cease to surprise me by how small they actually are.

Butt-sniffing! Like all dogs, Loki loves to sniff other dogs' butts, but he's a bit shy about letting others sniff him. However, every time he goes to the dog park, he gets a little bit better about it.

Loki is not in this picture, but I thought it was a really great action shot. These two dogs had a blast with each other, running around the entire park, and chasing the same stick. They even completely wiped out a boy in the middle of their crazy run.
Loki's making friends with a Maltese, which is a mere 6 lbs! The Maltese had such silky soft fur.

What a pretty play bow! Loki's making friends.

And here is Loki fighting it out with that same dog from last week, while the other dog acts as referee.

Happy ending

Well, Anastasia is no longer listed in the Animal Shelter's database (If you click on the link from my previous post, you'll see that it no longer works). I assume this means that her owners have claimed her. Shelters must hold an animal for at least two weeks for the owners to come claim it before they make it available for adoption. So it looks like Anastasia only had to stay at the shelter for a couple of days. Yay!

Anastasia at the shelter

Anastasia is listed at the animal shelter in Camarillo. They do not have a picture for her yet, but hopefully they will soon.

I wonder if her owners are looking for her or if they purposely abandoned her.


While I was having lunch in the park with Loki, an unleashed Husky ran up to us and started playing with Loki. It was a very friendly dog and the two of them played very well together. Unfortunately, there was no owner in sight. I asked everyone around the park and even asked some of the nearby residents.

Okay, so then I checked her tag - Anastasia. Ahh, it's a girl. Better yet, there was a telephone number too! I dug around for my cell phone and called. The grumpy old man who picked up said that I had the wrong number and that was not his dog. Hm... okay. Now what?

I called 411 to get connected to Animal Control. Apparently, Animal Control is useless, completely and utterly useless. The receptionist took down the information, but was unable to tell me when someone would be able to come to get the dog. Well... I don't have all day to wait, and I didn't want to leave this poor dog alone.

Unfortunately, I only had one leash - the one on Loki. So I couldn't take Anastasia anywhere. I hoped that she would stay in the park, while I walked Loki back home. After I dropped Loki off at home, I drove back to the park with a lead and some dog food.

Luckily she was still there. I lured her to me with some food and she got into my car very easily. Now where to go? I had no clue where the nearest shelter was. I drove to a nearby Spay & Neuter Clinic. They weren't much help. They gave me a number to a Pet Care center, not a shelter. But the Pet Care center gave me the correct phone number to the shelter.

Finally, I dropped Anastasia off at the Animal Shelter in Camarillo, CA. I hope they will be able to find her owner; I hope that she was microchipped. At the very least, they should be able to adopt her out very easily. She was extremely gentle with Loki, all of the adults and children at the park, and me. She was a beautiful dog and really well-behaved.

This experience is very new to me. Maybe I am naive and young. I'm not quite sure why I took it upon myself to ensure the safety of this loose dog. One woman at the park just told me that Animal Control will eventually come, that I shouldn't worry, and that the dog would be fine on its own. Maybe she was right and maybe I'm just a worry-wart. But at least now I know that Anastasia will have a place to sleep tonight, will get some food and water, and hopefully will be reunited with her owner.

I am also aware that my decision was entirely influenced by the fact that I am a dog owner. Having a dog has made me care about them so much more. Had this happened a year ago, I probably would not have given a second thought to a loose dog.

PS. I know blog readers would love to see a photo of Anastasia, but getting a photo of her wasn't high on my priority list.

Funny Shiba Designs

I stumbled on tonight. I haven't heard of this site before. Apparently, you can create designs to be printed on various products like t-shirts, bumper stickers, coasters, calendars, etc. I guess that you can then sell these items and get a portion of the profits. Anyways, here are some funny Shiba designs:

Dog Park

Today was Loki's second trip to the Camino Real Dog Park in Ventura. We've decided to bring him there once a week. Upon entering the park, Loki was super excited and could hardly sit still enough for me to get the leash off of him.

Loki loves to play with the big dogs, but that also means he gets trampled over.

Loki looks vicious in this picture, but really it was the other dog that came into the park charging. Loki got beat up pretty badly today by this little fellow.

This time I brought Loki his own water.

Doesn't he look like a happy puppy? Look at that tongue!
Today's visit to the dog park was pretty different from last week's trip. Last week, he ran around a lot. Today, he got trampled over and a bit beat up by the other dogs. You could definitely tell that Loki was always on the defense.

Awww... I admit I felt sorry for Loki. But rationally, I think it's better to just let dogs be dogs rather than to intervene. Loki did not seem fearful or hurt in any way. His tail remained up and he never ran away.

A New Camera

We bought a new camera today (Canon S3 IS), and who else better to test it on than Loki!

Potty Training

It is with great disappointment that I admit Loki is not yet fully potty trained. He's almost 5 months old.

This is partly due to the fact that Yun & I feel guilty about confining him to his pen when we are home. That's when accidents occur - when we are both home and let him roam freely.

This is also partly due to the fact that we had to potty train him to go on the balcony first. Then after he finished his vaccinations, we had to re-train him to go outdoors.

For the first couple of weeks of re-training I let him pick his spot to go potty, except that he's not allowed to pee on plants or the sidewalk. And I've taught him the commands pee-pee and poo-poo, which he has learned reasonably well.

Today, we're raising our expectations. He's now supposed to go on the patch of green that is right next to our apartment, not the farthest patch of green on the other side of the apartment complex.

Doesn't he looks so sad in his pen?
But if I take him to the patch of green nearest our apartment and say either pee-pee or poo-poo, this is what he does:

Stubborn pup! The only way to get him to go on that patch of green will be to give him no other options and wait him out. That was the only way to get him to go on the balcony - to wait him out.

Poor puppy... his life will consist of his pen and that patch of green until he goes. Ack! Okay, no more feeling sorry for the pup.


How bad is it if you call your husband, "Loki-Boki"?

Camino Real Park

Loki had his very first visit to the dog park today. We went to Camino Real Park in Ventura, CA. We felt like parents bringing in their child to the very first day of school. Entering those double gates, I anxiously wondered,
Would he come out of his shell?
Would he make friends?
Would he play with all of the other dogs?
The first thing Loki did was greet all of the humans! He loves attention.
He was pretty shy and timid at first with the other dogs, but after some time, he got around to sniffing the dogs. Finally, he felt comfortable with them and began running around like crazy. I guess he decided that it was his job to exercise all of the other dogs by giving chase. He kept going and going and going!

Look at Loki go!

After all of that running, you'd think that Loki would drink some water. Now, the dog park has a water fountain for the dogs, and all of the other dogs had no problems drinking from it. Loki, on the other hand, refused. What?! He's too good to drink out of a common pool of water mixed with dog drool? Maybe, we've spoiled him with the bottled water that he gets at home.

This little guy is definitely not camera shy. He (or she) came right up to me as soon as I pulled out my camera.

The only bad, terrible thing that happened at the dog park was I stepped in dog poop. Grr! Although I guess the probability of that happening is pretty high in a dog park. The problem isn't so much that the adults are not responsible pet owners, but rather that unless you are literally watching your dog every second, you wouldn't even know that your dog just pooped. It only takes a few seconds for a dog to poop and the adults are usually socializing amongst themselves.

Nineteen Weeks Old

Our pup is growing up! He doesn't look much like a little puppy anymore. He's finished all of his vaccinations. We've been taking him outside to poop & pee now. He's been really good about not going in our apartment, but goes in all of the "wrong" places outside. For instance, he likes to water the plants with his pee. Now, if we were intent on killing all of the plants, then I guess this would be a good plan. What a silly puppy!

Loki's New Favorite Game

Loki has discovered an amazing, new, terribly fun game. It's called, Make the Human Fetch! It begins innocently enough, playing with the colored squeaky balls. Then with his front paws, he sticks one or more of the balls under the couch. Then the fun part begins! He scratches and paws at the bottom of the couch until Vi comes along to fetch the ball out from under the couch. And we all know that Vi will fetch, because she doesn't want the couch to be all scratched up. Then repeat! And repeat! And repeat! Until Vi gets so fed up that she locks Loki up in the exercise pen.
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