Bury for later

We crate Loki at night less and less now. He's well-behaved at night, and so we crate perhaps only once a week now. (Just so he is always used to the crate.)

The crate remains open and he's free to sleep there, but he usually doesn't. He likes to really sprawl out and the crate isn't large enough for all of his limbs to fully extend. We've put down a blanket outside of his crate for him to sleep. We give him a treat at night when he goes to his own spot (rather than make himself comfortable on our bed).

But yesterday night, he didn't want to eat the treat right away. He wanted to save it for later. So he jumped on our bed (while we were already in bed), and began digging.

He wanted to bury the treat in our comforter! He was perfectly content as soon as his treat was sufficiently buried in the comforter. I was so surprised and amused that I couldn't get mad at him (I don't like food in the bed.). He is such a funny little guy!

Overcoming Fears

For many months, I've been working with Loki in getting him to overcome his fears, which include:
  • Manholes & sewage/water covers
  • Smooth/different surfaces (like the floor in the laundry room)
  • Children
  • Anything new or out of place
Yesterday, we had a breakthrough in overcoming Loki's fear of this:

I took my clicker with me and tried a slightly new technique that worked wonders. I walked over the covers and coaxed Loki to cross. I waited for him to cross by himself (no pulling) and clicked just as he crossed. The treat was waiting for him when he got to me. Then I would immediately cross again. This was the key difference in my technique. Previously, I would continue our walk maybe 10 feet down and then turn around to repeat the exercise. This time, I didn't continue our walk at all. Instead, within a foot of the covers, I immediately turned around to cross again. Repeat about 15 times. Today, we were able to cross this spot without any hesitation at all! Yay! Success in one day's work.

Another manhole that Loki is afraid of is this one.

I have not yet tried my new technique of immediately turning around. We've encountered this spot on our daily walk for months now. The frequency of passing it once a day does not work at all in teaching him not to fear it. Everyday, he freezes right before it. It is possible to drag him through it by the leash, but he'll never walk across on his own that way. You'd have to drag him through it every single time you passed it.

I've tried doing some training repetitions with the clicker. I've always just walked across, coaxed him to cross (click & treat as he crossed), and then continue walking for about 10-20 feet before turning around to repeat the exercise. But apparently, repetition in this manner does not work. I will have to try the technique of immediately turning around.

Another one of his fears is the laundry room.

Now, you might be tempted to think that he's afraid of the noise of the washers and dryers. But no. Not at all. It's the surface that scares him. It's smooth, although somewhat similar to our kitchen floor, which he is somewhat fine with. (He obviously prefers the carpet, but can deal with walking on the kitchen floor.)

I've been trying to throw treats on the laundry room floor to lure him in. He will put his front paws in, but keep his back paws out.

Look at how much he will strain to keep his back paws outside!

Uh-oh! Somehow I lured him all the way inside! But then, he started to panic and shake with fear. I tried to keep him inside and hope that he would calm down once he learned that nothing bad was happening to him. But he really was shaking with fear and I also ran out of dog treats at that point. So we left. Repeat again tomorrow.

Sometimes people who rescue Shibas think that their Shiba must have been abused because it's so skittish. Most of the time, I think that it's probably not true. Loki has been with us since he was 7.5 weeks old. He has all of the above mentioned fears and also becomes skittish whenever he encounters anything new or what is out of the ordinary for him.

We did our best in exposing him to many things when he was younger. And so, he's fine with trucks, motorcycles, lawnmower, adults, and other dogs. He's fine with parked cars and motorcycles. But today, we came across a parked motorcycle with a cover on it! Oh boy, that cover was really scary to him.

The thing is, once he's encountered that new thing a few times, he learns it won't hurt him and it's no longer new. I'm not so sure I can really teach him not to be afraid of new things. As we encounter more stuff, there will be fewer new things, but you can't encounter everything. There will always be something that is new.

Shiba Pottery

Tetsuya posted this Shiba Pottery site on Dogster. I found it to be so adorable that I decided to post it here. The artist can draw your Shiba on a bowl or cup.

Here are some of the designs that remind me most of Loki.
In a down position, if Loki's hips are to the side, he's just relaxing. If his hips are tucked straight under him, then we say he's in hunting mode.

Loki doesn't look as regal as this picture when he scratches. We always say that Loki looks like a weasel when he scratches.

Loki loves a good stretch after sleeping.

Laying on his side seems to be Loki's preferred sleeping position.

Lastly, who doesn't love a play bow?


I don't know if all dogs do this, but Loki will stare very intently at me.

If he stares at me at close range, it means he wants to either play or go outside. Usually, I take him outside just in case he does have to pee, because I think it's useful for a dog to be able to communicate the fact that it needs to go pee. But I've definitely noticed that Loki's testing me to see if he can get me to just take him outside for fun rather than for a pee. Sometimes he gets away with having his regular walks earlier than usual; sometimes I say, but I just took you out! No play!

But what does it mean if he's staring at me from a distance? He'll be sitting by the sliding door to the balcony, while I'm at my computer. From time to time, I glance over at him and there he is staring intently at me. It's a little bit unsettling to know that he hasn't been looking outside at the world at all, he's been just staring at me for who knows how long!

Happy bath time

Just about no one believes me when I say that Loki actually seems to enjoy bath time. So today, I took a picture. He doesn't start out looking happy. He still is somewhat nervous when we begin the process. But here is what he looks like during the rinsing phase.

More Loose Dogs

What a miserable morning! When I took Loki outside this morning, we encountered two loose dogs. What a headache! The white one ran directly towards us and was very dominant. After sniffing Loki, he tried to hump Loki and then also proceeded to pee on every tree and bush around us. The smaller dog growled at us. She seemed more fearful than dominant though. No owner was in sight.

I hate dealing with loose dogs when I have Loki. Still, I tried to get Loki to pee. I knew there was no way he would poop with so many distractions, as pooping is already a very time consuming process.

Slowly, the dogs became more friendly. The white one offered a play bow and Loki reciprocated. Apparently, now they wanted to play chase. Well, no play for Loki - he's on a leash and we're not at the dog park.

The two dogs followed us everywhere we went. They even followed us all the way home! So then I leashed them, and called up the number on their tags. I gave them some water and a handful of kibble. The owner came in an hour and took them home.


Loki has always been very skittish around children. To him, they are the biggest threat to his life. He's never had a traumatic experience, but everything about them shoots off warning bells in his mind:

Their high energy level, their high-pitched voices, their unpredictable movements, their running around at all speeds and in all directions, their clumsy hands, and their uncoordinated movements.

From the first day that we brought Loki home, we have wanted to get him used to children, because we hope to have our own someday. And yet, despite our intentions and hopes, this proved to be a rather difficult task.

At the first sight or sound of children, Loki tenses up and begins barking furiously at them, desperately trying to tell them to back off. Because his intense barking usually made the kids even more scared, I tended to walk in a different direction and away from the children. Attempts to correct his barking were always futile.

The problem was that as Loki grew older and as the months passed, he hardly ever got the chance to learn that children were not dangerous. We did have a few rare occasions when a girl (it was always a girl, never a boy) behaved in such a calm and unintimidating way that Loki stopped barking and sniffed her. However, these occasions were rare and Loki wasn't really learning that children were not dangerous.

In the past week, I've taken a much more proactive approach in combating this problem. I only wish I did this earlier in his life. I take him out for a walk sometime between 4:30 and 7 pm. The timing ensures that there will be some children playing around our apartment complex. Sometimes I try to get him to sit and not bark at a distance. I try to get him used to their sounds and movements at a distance. Invariably, they become interested in petting him. Typically, when that happens, Loki jumps on to all fours, backs up, and starts his warning barks. Depending on the intensity of Loki's protest, I tell the kids to leave us alone or to approach us very slowly. I give them all treats to offer him. I instruct them to put their hand on the ground and not to shove their hand in his face. Loki stops his barking when the treats come out. I've now done this exercise a total of 4 times with improvement each time. So far, I've told the kids not to pet him, as he is still very skittish around them. But he is more and more willing to take treats from them and is more curious about them. Today, he sniffed their toes, sniffed their shoes, and even licked one child's leg. The kids seem to really love feeding him treats even if they cannot pet him. Still, he is even skittish when I try to pet him in that situation, so obviously, he's not ready for them to do so yet.

I wish I used more treats earlier in his life in dealing with children. I used to wait until he calmed down first around children. Well, that just about never happened, so we always just walked away. And even during the rare occasions when he was calm around a girl, I didn't use any treats. I now wish I did. But regardless of the past, I'm pretty happy with his progress so far, and hopefully he will learn that children are not life-threatening.

Can you read Japanese?

Dressing up dogs seems like so much fun! Look at all these cute Shibas in clothes! I found them on http://www.idog.jp. Unfortunately, I don't know how to read Japanese.

I love this one! So cute! You can tell that this Shiba is very indignant about looking so silly.

If I were to actually buy Loki an outfit, I'd probably go with something like this one. It is a happi coat worn for festivals and by sushi chefs. Click here for more information about happi coats.

This shiba looks kind of miserable in that dress. But that's what makes it so funny!

The Shiba 500 (Take 2)

Here is a better clip of Loki's Shiba 500.

Collars & Harnesses

In a world of feminine & girly pet accessories, a couple of Lupine's latest designs are pretty masculine.

Not that I really think that these designs would go well with Loki, but I'm happy to see more masculine designs that are not scary (like skull & bones or little spikes).

I think we should get Loki a harness. It'd be useful for tie-outs and as part of a car restraint. Loki doesn't have a seat belt or any other car restraint. When he was really young, I would crate him in the car. But it's such a hassle to crate him every time we go for a car ride.

This one would match his current collar & leash set.

But this one would come with the Champion Canine Seat Belt System. This one is specifically designed for car safety. Unfortunately, Champion only has 3 colors choices: Red, Black, and Blue.

Dead Pig

This little piggy went to market...
This little piggy stayed home...

And got attacked by the Shiba...

Loki looks so very proud of himself.

The Shiba 500

From the first few weeks that we got Loki, I've always wanted to capture on video his running around like crazy in our apartment. I gathered from Shiba owners that this must be what they called the "Shiba 500". I'm not convinced that this running around like crazy is Shiba-specific, since it seems like other dog owners call it the "zoomies". But every single time I got the camera out, he would stop running. So finally, today I caught the very last bit of his run. I wish I could capture how intense, how fast, and how crazy it really is. But that is just so difficult for me to capture on video.

Loki and the yellow ball

I realized that the green ball didn't really show up well on the video from a few posts ago. So here is a new video of Loki figuring out how to retrieve his yellow ball!

Like the biased pet parent that I am, I could just always show all of Loki's successes and never mention his failures. But to be fair, he wasn't successful at the can trick. I took this trick from an online dog IQ test. You show your dog a yummy treat like cheese, and then put it on the ground and put a soup can over it. Then see how long it takes your dog to figure out that he can knock over the can to get the treat. Loki-boki didn't figure it out at all. He just sat there. We tried repeating the action and we tried encouraging him to get the treat. But he never did figure it out. Maybe he will when he's older.

Destoyer of Toys

Up until very recently, Loki was not much of an aggressive chewer. He always liked to shake and kill his toys, but this didn't ever actually damage them. Most of his toys remained intact. But now at 7 months of age and with all of his adult teeth in, he's started to destroy his toys. The seams are coming apart on a couple of his plush toys. His teething key ring is now C-shaped rather than a ring.

This used to be a plush Frisbee with a squeaker in the middle. Loki tore out that squeaker the within a few hours of being given the toy. Soon it will become a doughnut.
This used to be a rope giraffe with a tennis ball as a body. Well, no more tennis ball.

In the world of dog news

I just read in the NY Times about a dog that inherited $12 million.



What in the world is a dog going to do with $12 million! And what happens to that money when the dog passes away?

Leona Helmsley died on August 20, 2007 at the age of 87 and left $12 million to her maltese dog. Two of her grandchildren got $10 million each. The other two grandchildren got nothing. Imagine that, more money to a dog than your own family. Now that is an insult!

What is wrong with this world?

NY Times
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