Tuesday, February 15, 2011

My First Month Raising a Toy Poodle Puppy

Sorry I haven't been updating my blog as frequently as before.  Life as a new-mom really is tough - but well worth it!

Curly has grown a lot since I took him home a month ago.  Here's a rough bio of my Curly based on my observation:

Temperament:  Excitable, but stubborn.  Short-tempered.  Persistent.  Friendly with strangers. 

Physique: Super active and energetic, very good with physical challenges (jumping/ climbing up and down).  0.81kg on Feb 12.

Appearance: Thick and curly, reddish brown fur.  Big round bum :)  Pouty face. 

Favourite Food: His regular diet, Hill's Pet Small Bites.  He is too young to be given any other food/ treats, except a really tiny bit of cheese treat.

Favourite Spots in the House: (1) Kitchen - he keeps going back there to stand on his hind legs and stare at his food bowl.  (2) Living Room (Rug) - he loves munching on the rug - which makes me quite worried.  (3) Under my bed.  There's all these mesh container bags for clothes that are just so fun for him to bite and play with. 

Skills Mastered: (1) Sit to indicate he is a good boy and deserves food.  (2) Sit and Stay (still struggling a bit with extended stay) to be given food.  (3) Jump up the sofa with help of one cushion below the sofa, and further making his way to top of my sofa.  (This skill is now discouraged by me as I learned that it could be very dangerous for him.)  (4) Whine to earn some sympathy.  (Works sometimes but I try hard to discourage it even though my heart melts.) (5) Pick up his toys with his mouth to run around or play fetch.  He can manage picking up a stuffed toy bigger than him in size, and a heavy set of chewy rubber keys.  (6) Come back when called - except when over-excited or fully engaged with something (e.g. the thought or sight of FOOD). 

Other Positive Behavior: Curly, like all dogs, loves to eat.  He is very healthy and always has great appetite for food (and other chewable things - which to me aren't edible).  Despite such love for food, he isn't overprotective of his food/ food bowl - which could be a sign of insecurity/ lack of trust/ aggression.  In fact, when he is eating, I can not only pet him, but also lift BOTH of his hind legs up (like handstand)!  (Of course this is not recommended - probably bad for digestion.) 
Unless provoked, he is otherwise very affectionate, and always checks on me - even when he's playing in another room, he'd drop his favourite toy to see what I'm doing. 
He fully respects my space when I am in my bedroom, and during bedtime - he doesn't bark much when I am out of sight in my bedroom. 
When eating from my hand (I sometimes use his dog food as treat) - he is gentle and doesn't bite or snatch.  He manages to relieve himself in the right spot (wee pad in his crate) 80% of the time when he is outside of crate, and 100% of the time when he is inside the crate. 
While he isn't crazy about being wiped down by me (with wet wipes) after he poops - since I usually hold him only with one hand and that doesn't always feels the most secure to him - he doesn't bark or resist too much.  He's quite used to me cleaning his paws and bum (very very thoroughly), and inspecting his bum up close (haha, yes).

Bad Behavior - to be corrected: (1) Human biting - Curly is still learning what he can bite and what he can't.  He does have several biting occasions: (a) play biting (b) aggressive/ frustrated biting (c) teething pain relief biting.  Play biting generally appears to be improving - he is slowly refraining from biting when playing, or bites with much lighter pressure than before.  Still, I disapprove of it and lightly tap his mouth and walk away.  When frustrated he still sometimes try to gain control of my body part by grabbing it with his paws and trying to bite.  Of course, I give it a firm no, brush him off and walk away.  Sometimes he bites to help relieve his teething pain - which I try to redirect with a rubber toy and he usually settles for it.  (2) Barking - this has been a major cause of stress.  It's not just about the noise level itself - I am used to having a very quiet home and I am a quiet person  at home - but knowing that he is anxious/ upset when I am out of sight in bathroom or kitchen.  He'd bark very loudly non-stop.  I haven't yet figured out a way to stop it.  Some books/ forums say it's best to ignore the barking to avoid reinforcing it.  Some say that ignoring it could make the dog get used to be unstable emotionally.  Others say that one should shake a can of coins to redirect his attention, or use a spray bottle to startle him.  I've tried most methods and really don't know what is the best way considering I can't do much when I am physically away from him.  I even tried singing in the bathroom, saying NO while taking a shower.... nothing worked.  In fact, I even tried letting him join me in the bathroom, but he got anxious when he got separated from me by the glass shower door!  When he is outside of his crate, he rarely barks though.

I have to admit it has been a lot of more work, effort, patience than I had expected based on what people had told me.  A lot more stress too, from worries, from failure to correct his behavior, from the noise level, etc.  But, like everyone told me, it was well worth it.  Watching him learn new things each day, showing even the tiniest progress changing his "bad" behavior, licking my face, sitting in front of me spontaneously while looking at me with eyes saying "please give me some munchies, mommy"..... my heart melts right away.

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