Akira & Shiro tagged us!

Rules: List out 7 things that you never mention in your blog, then tag another 7 victims.

(1) Loki usually doesn't care for TV. But when Jordin Sparks was announced as the American Idol, Loki sat in front of the TV to listen to her sing for a few minutes.

(2) Loki is terrified of those large metal manhole covers. Well, I'm not sure what they are called. They aren't manholes, because they are not little and round. They are large and rectangular, often seen in cities. I was scared of them too when I was a child.

(3) Loki loves to lick us after we step out of the shower, never before.

(4) Loki recently changed food. He's now on Flint River Ranch, and loves that stuff. He gobbles it all up and is always looking for more.

(5) Loki lost his "fur dent" after he shed off his puppy fur and grew in adult fur. (Don't know what a "fur dent" is? See this post.)

(6) Loki's favorite toy is:

We only have one - the red and green one.

(7) Loki is snobby about treats. Sometimes when other puppy parents give him treats, he just turns his nose up at them and refuses to eat it.

Your dog looks like a...

Whenever we take Loki out for a walk, people always ask what breed he is. Oftentimes, we are asked,
Is that a ....
  • Husky... No, he's not a Husky. I've even had one person insist that Loki was a Husky. Uh... I think I know the breed of my own dog.
  • Chow-chow... Okay, uh, no offense to chow lovers, but really, Loki is SO much cuter than chows.
  • Akita... In my opinion, this is the most forgivable offense.
  • Shar-Pei.... (?) Yeah, I was confused by this one. At the time, I didn't know what a Shar-Pei looked like. Then I looked it up on Wikipedia. I'm pretty sure that the person who said Loki was a Shar-Pei must not have known what a Shar-Pei looked like either.
Other times, people say,
That looks like a
  • Fox... Very common comparison.
  • Cat... Yeah, we think he acts like a cat too.
  • Teddy-bear... Well, when Loki was younger, he definitely looked like a teddy-bear, but not so much anymore.
  • Wolf... I guess this must be true of all Spitz dogs.
  • Coyote... Uh... I don't see the resemblance, but sure. I mean they are similar to wolves, but coyotes are just plain ugly.

(All above photos were taken from Wikipedia without permission.)

Lastly, let me finish off the post with a couple new pictures of my growing pup.

What's a good caption for this last photo?

Collar Issues

In the entire past week, our whole family (okay, it's a small family, but a family nonetheless) has been greatly affected by Loki's new lashing out because of his collar. Fortunately, Yun has been making great progress and today he got the new Lupine martingale collar on Loki twice!!

So what happened?
On Monday, the new Lupine collar and leash arrived, so I wanted to test it out. We took his old collar off and that's when all the trouble began. Loki absolutely refused to let us put any collar on him. He barked, growled, ran away, and bit us whenever we tried to get the collar on. This was new behavior. Although Loki never particularly liked having his collar taken on or off, he certainly never protested this much.

My first instinct was that he was afraid of the collar. One hypothesis was that he may have been choked too much during last Saturday's BBQ while he was on the tie-out. Anyways, I posted my concerns on Dogster's message board and also on a Shiba email list that I belong to. The Shiba owners by and large replied that this was a dominance issue and not a fear one. My breeder also thought it was a dominance issue.
Okay, so I went with the dominance theory.

Dominance training
With my own fear of getting bit and reluctance to hurt Loki, I wasn't about to try a dominance approach. (Well, actually, I did try picking him up by the scruff as a correction, but Loki let out his Shiba scream. After that, I lost all confidence in myself to correct Loki in this way.) Enter Yun. After a very long time with Yun taking a dominance approach to the problem, it was pretty clear that it wasn't working. Yun ended up getting bit quite a few times, the collar was still not on, and on top of that Loki had become fearful and skittish. Great, we're moving backwards.

Gradual desensitization
Since dominance training moved us backwards, we tried gradual desensitization. The next day, I put the collar and leash on the floor in a non-threatening way and put food around it for Loki to eat up. He seemed perfectly fine with that. Then later on, I held the collar and leash in my hand while feeding him. Additionally, over the course of a few days, Loki noticed that he wasn't getting any walks. Finally, it was Yun who made the real progress in the past two days. Yesterday, Yun created a make-shift slip collar with our leash and was able to get that around Loki's neck. He promptly took Loki out for a walk, since this was what Loki really missed. Today, Yun was able to lure Loki through the Lupine collar and slip it on over his head. Yun held out a piece of cardboard (yes, Loki loves cheap destroyable toys like cardboard) in the middle of collar. Loki bit down on the cardboard and then Yun slipped the collar over Loki's head with pretty minimal protest.

Cheers for Yun
I'm so glad that he figured out how to get a collar on Loki with minimal protest. Now we just have to do it often enough so that Loki won't give a second thought about it anymore. And lastly, I have to be brave enough to try getting that collar on Loki too.

BBQ at the Balboa Lake

We had a BBQ at Balboa Lake this afternoon. Ribs, Steak, & Corn on the menu. Yum! Yum!

What's that? What's that? Corn! Dogs don't eat corn silly. Where's the meat?
Wait a minute? Where did Yun go? His head has become a giant hairball!

Sixteen Weeks Old

Loki is exactly sixteen weeks old today.

He got his fourth set of Parvo/etc. shots today. I thought that was the end of it and now he was safe to go out and about. Much to my disappointment, the vet said Loki needed a 5th set in another three weeks. What?! Everywhere online that I've read said four sets and you're done at 16 weeks of age. Some even recommend fewer than four sets.

So I sought a second opinion. I called Banfield Pet Hospital, which is the vet clinic run by PetSmart. They only recommend two sets of Parvo/etc. shots. Um...okay. Then I called another local animal hospital, they recommended four sets. However, the receptionist that I spoke with said that Parvo is fairly prevalent in my area, so a 5th set isn't a bad idea.

Boo... I was looking forward to this day being the final set of shots. My vet told me that after 4 sets, Loki is about 98% protected, but he did not recommend allowing Loki to be out and about. So now, I'm kind of torn. Obviously, parvo is a very deadly disease and apparently, it is prevalent in my area, and I don't want a dead dog. But at the same time, 4 sets is sufficient by another local vet and 98% protected sounds pretty good to me. You're never going to reach 100% anyways. So do I take Loki out or not? I think we'll stay away from dog parks until the 5th set, but otherwise, let him out and about.

And in other Loki news, he had a peeing accident tonight - right next to the balcony door too! Boo... He was accident-free for 2.5 weeks up until today. Now the count begins all over again.

Puppy Accessories

Loki got his ID tag today. I bought it off of eBay from the seller boomerangpets. I think it kind of looks like he's wearing a bow tie. The problem with having a dog is that I want to buy more puppy accessories. And I don't want to tell Yun, because he'll just yell at me for spending too much money on a dog. But really, I think he should be glad that we don't have a girl puppy, because then I'd really want to dress her up!

I'm thinking about getting Loki a Lupine brand martingale collar from the
Midwest Shiba Inu Rescue since proceeds go towards that rescue group. And if I get the collar, then obviously, I have to get the matching lead: I also have my eye on this collar from 2 Hounds Design: Martingale type collars may offer a more humane method of controlling your dog and prevent pulling, but what about a harness? Harnesses seem to be the most humane way of leashing a dog, but I think that it usually doesn't prevent pulling and in fact encourages it (think of sled dogs - harness is for pulling). PuppiaWorld has some really cute harnesses, but most of them are girly. In fact, the more I shop for dog accessories, the more I realize how few masculine designs there are. Maybe a male Pomeranian can wear a baby blue harness with white polka dots, but I don't think Loki can. What other accessories do I want? I'm thinking about getting a retractable leash or a tie out. Right now, he only has a 4 foot lead, which is good so that he learns how to properly walk on a loose leash. But if we take him for a BBQ at the park, I'd want to have a tie out for him.

I know that Yun's going to say I'm crazy and that he's just a dog and doesn't need all this stuff. But in my defense let me say that at least I don't want to get Loki this $24,266 bed from The Quintessential Pet:

Dead Dog

No, he's not really dead. He just picks some of the funniest sleeping poses.

Puppy Social

I took Loki to a Puppy Play social this morning at Send Rover on Over in Ventura, CA. There were about seven dogs there. He was a bit shy with the dogs, but loved meeting all the people. He played most with the dog pictured below.

What a happy dog! Look at that tongue hanging out!

Do you know what the name of the black and white dog is? Oreo! How perfect is that name! So cute.

A day in the life of Loki

What is a day like for Loki? Everyday, he spends a few hours sitting on our balcony as a dutiful watch dog. We just let him out to pee there, but he takes his watch dog job very seriously. He patrols the maintenance men out there every morning, making sure that they are doing their job. He watches all passerbys very intently. He doesn't usually bark at anyone, but he does bark at dogs that are too excited, crows, and Yun.

When both of us are gone, we leave him in his exercise pen. Loki has his own ideas about the flooring of his pen. Obviously, bumpy and rolled up make it much more fun and interesting to chew. What were we thinking, trying to keep it flat?

Next, item of the day, is trying to paw at stuff on the other side of the bars. It doesn't matter what side he is on. If he's inside, he wants to paw at stuff outside the pen. If he's outside, he wants to paw at stuff inside the pen. The fact that the door is open hardly matters!

Lastly, no day is complete without wrestling with the towel by the balcony. I put it there to serve as a door mat when Loki comes in from the balcony area. But for Loki, it serves as a wonderful toy to pounce, attack, and kill.
Ah, the life of a puppy sure is fun.

Marley & Me

Marley & Me is a delightful read. I highly recommend it as a fun, summer book to read while sitting at the beach. Since the author and his wife got Marley when they were newlyweds and before having children, I could relate. I cried in two separate parts of the book, laughed in many more, and secretly thanked the stars that Loki was not so misbehaved. The ending was a little bit too sappy for my tastes, but what can you expect from a book about a dog?

While it was enjoyable to read, unfortunately, it solidified my decision against ever getting a Labrador Retriever. I used to want a Lab. They are adorable as puppies and rank number one on the AKC list of most popular breeds. But I'm not sure I could handle a big, playful, energetic dog. Would I even be able to walk such a lumbering animal? I can't imagine the property damage that a big dog would make versus a small one. And I'm quite happy with Loki -- happy with his small size, his independence, and his intelligence. Maybe we will just stick with Shiba Inus in the future.

Socialization & Handling

Any and every puppy book & trainer & breeder will tell you that proper socialization is crucial for raising a puppy. Sounds great in theory and I was very enthusiastic about making sure that Loki received proper socialization during the formative stages of his life. Unfortunately, in reality, this is A LOT of work! Here's a checklist of our progress.
  1. People
    • Since he is not yet fully vaccinated, we walk him at a shopping strip. I figure that the risk of other dogs at such an area is relatively low. Yes, there still is a risk, but the benefit of walking him there is that he meets a lot of people. For the most part, he loves to meet people. He almost always wants to meet women; I speculate that this is because women are usually the ones who dote on him and get all excited about the cute little puppy, whereas men are not so giddy.
  2. Children
    • Children are a bit more difficult. They tend to be clumsier than adults. The young ones stick their hand into his face, practically poking his eyes out. One time, a boy accidentally stepped on his paw. It's difficult to show him that he won't get hurt by children, when oftentimes they themselves are clumsy and not as well-mannered as adults.
  3. Cars
    • From the first day we had him, we've never had problems with car rides. Lucky us! He goes on car rides a few times a week. For awhile, he was going practically every day.
  4. Bikes & Skateboards
    • They certainly grab his attention, but so far, he's not fearful of them nor does he care to chase them either. So far, so good.
  5. Other Dogs
    • At first, he wasn't very friendly with other dogs and growled at them. But now he's become quite friendly with other dogs. I took him to a puppy social, where he successfully held his own against a large five month old Lab mix. At first, Loki was very successful at being the dominant one, but then I guess the Lab learned that size matters.
  6. Resource Guarding
    • So far no real issues with resource guarding, though I've heard that it may develop in later stages of development. We hand feed many of his meals and hope that it helps with resource guarding and also do develop trust.
  7. Going to the vet
    • First time was a breeze. Second time wasn't so bad. Third time he had a delayed freaking out attack. After we exited the vet's office and as I was carrying him to the car, he let out his Shiba scream and peed on himself and me. I hope next time will be better.
  8. Being picked up
    • We picked him up all the time when he was real little. But now, he hates being picked up and tries to run away or bite us. So I need to practice picking him up and giving him a treat.
  9. Paws & Nail cutting
    • Eh, what dog likes to have their nails cut?
  10. Muzzle & teeth
    • Hm... need to do more of this.
  11. Separation
    • Some days are better than others. We try to have peaceful departures and arrivals. Most importantly, we try to ignore him when we return and keep him as calm as possible. As I said, some days are better than others.
  12. Baths
    • We give him a bath roughly once a week. He's surprisingly pretty good about it. We give him a few treats throughout the bath. Sometimes he likes to drink the dirty bath water.
  13. Hair dryer
    • After the bath comes the hair dryer. It terrified him at first, but it seems that he's slowly getting used to it. I put him up on the counter, so that he cannot run away. And we also give him a few treats throughout this stressful ordeal. So far, so good.
  14. Vacuum Cleaner
    • He's more or less terrified of the monster. Last time, I turned it off and left a trail of kibble from him to the cleaner in hopes that would help his fear. Who knows if that'll work?
  15. Floor surfaces
    • Mostly okay, but he's a little bit scared of the kitchen area.
  16. Brushing
    • For the most part, he hates being brushed. We still try to do it anyways, but probably not often enough.
(SIGH) What a long list! So troublesome! No wonder I was never properly socialized as a puppy; it's too much work.

Life Lessons from a Puppy: Fear

What do you fear? spiders? flying? making mistakes? looking stupid in front of others? social rejection? or perhaps the unknown?

For a puppy, everything is unknown. There is much to potentially fear about the world around you. So you approach new things with caution and sniff a lot. When we first took Loki for a walk around the parking lot, we walked at a normal pace and the puppy kept up with our speed. Then all of a sudden, he stopped dead in his tracks. Why? It took us humans a few minutes to figure out -- it was the speed bump! He was afraid of the speed bump. Why is there a yellow bump protruding from the pavement? How strange! At first, I let him go around it. Okay, that's fine. We avoid what we fear. If we avoid the speed bump, it can't hurt us. For the next few speed bumps, we did try to get him to walk over it, but upon his resistance, we succumbed and let him walk around it. Finally, at the last speed bump of our walk, we paused and let him approach it with caution and let him sniff it as much as he wanted. It took some patience to just let him explore on his own, but he eventually learned that the speed bump won't hurt him. Now, he never gives a second thought as to why there are random yellow bumps in the road. He can walk or run on them without even the slightest pause.

But he might never have learned that lesson if he continued to avoid the speed bump. In my own life, I've become an expert in avoiding what I fear. Fear of social rejection? Okay, I won't socialize much. Fear of making mistakes? If I don't start the problem or task, I can't make a mistake! The only problem with avoidance is that I never even give myself the opportunity to learn that socializing doesn't always result in rejection and to learn from the mistakes you made.

Even with the puppy, I caught myself avoiding what I feared. All puppies nip and bite. Unfortunately, it really hurts! They have some sharp teeth! So fearing the puppy bites, I ended up avoiding playing with him at all! How terrible is that? An owner who is afraid to play with her cute little puppy. But if I avoid playing with the puppy, of course, I won't get nipped, but I also miss out on playing with the cute little critter, and the puppy misses out on the opportunity to learn bite inhibition.

So the life lesson for me to avoid less of what I fear, have the patience to approach it with caution, and learn that the speed bump won't hurt me.

Fur Dent

Because Loki's tail curls up most of the time, it makes a dent against his fur. Isn't it funny?
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