Friday, August 8, 2014

First Days With Leia

We're closing in on the end of our first week with Leia, and we've made good progress on some fronts, less so on others.

The main things we've been working on for the first few days have been (1) leash walking; and (2) potty training. Leia didn't have a super great foundation on either of these skills when she arrived; I suspect her previous foster pretty much just let her out into the backyard to do her business and didn't spend a whole lot of time walking her on leash or working on a structured potty training routine.

After five days, Leia is much much better at leash walking, although she does still occasionally pull toward other dogs, discarded food on the street, pigeons, and squirrels. She's shown some surprising bursts of athleticism when it comes to pouncing on dead leaves and skittering bugs, which makes me think that she might turn out to be an unexpectedly good backyard hunter (mice and low-flying birds beware!).

As far as pets inside the home go, though, she's very sweet, and has shown no signs of predatory behavior toward my guinea pig or aggression of any kind with my dogs.

Potty training remains a work in progress. The main difficulty here is that Leia's not completely confident about the noisy bustle of city streets yet, and as a result she can be reluctant to potty outside, plus she doesn't have a ton of experience pottying on leash, so she just holds it and holds it and holds it until either she gets a chance to potty somewhere quiet off leash (which means: in my house, unless I am ultra vigilant about not giving her even the tiniest opportunity to do that) or she absolutely can't hold it any more.

This means that she's spending her entire day either in the crate or outside on the street with me holding her leash and trying not to look super creepy or awkward as we hang out beside some random semi-grassy patch for 20 minutes and I try to will this dog into peeing by sheer telepathic force.

I finally got a pee and a poop outside on leash within the past 12 hours, and of course both of those landmark events were celebrated with major parties and treat showers, so I am hopeful that we'll have a breakthrough pretty soon and this stage will be put behind us. Once I get that breakthrough where the dog realizes "oh! this is what I'm supposed to do!", the rest of the process tends to be fast and easy. I just don't know if we're quite there yet. It might be another few days.

Anyway, because I can't really trust her in my house just yet and Leia doesn't have the focus to work outside without getting distracted, we haven't been able to do a whole lot of training beyond those two issues. She does have a decent Sit on verbal cue (possibly from her previous foster, possibly innate, I can't tell) and so we're working on reinforcing Sit as a default behavior. She's picking that up pretty quickly.

Everything I've seen from Leia so far indicates that she'll be a super pet for someone. She is great with kids, great with other pets, crates quietly overnight, doesn't show any signs of resource guarding or other obvious behavioral problems. She's sweet, gentle, sociable, extremely affectionate (this dog loves cuddling and has the most enthusiastic "welcome home!" spasm-of-joy routine I've ever seen), tolerant of body handling, and has a profound people-pleaser personality.

Once we get the potty training stuff knocked out, it shouldn't take long at all to find her a great home.

No comments:

Post a Comment