Friday, August 21, 2015

First Week With Anica

It's been almost a week since Anica came to stay with us, and she's beginning to relax into showing us a little more of her personality. We've started foundational clicker training, she's making good progress on a default Sit, and potty training is going quite nicely. Anica had one accident a day for each of her first three days here -- although she did make it a little closer to the door each time (to be fair, she never actually peed inside my house; all three accidents were in the condo foyer or stairwell on her way outside) -- and since the third day she's had no accidents at all.

This is a really, really nice little dog who will make a wonderful pet for some lucky owner.

At this point I feel safe saying that Anica has no major behavioral issues. She did cry a little in her crate on days 3-5 when I left to go to work or took the rest of Dog Mob out for a walk and left Anica alone in her crate, but it wasn't particularly intense (lasted maybe a couple of minutes, didn't escalate beyond whines and whimpers) and it's vanished now that she's gotten more comfortable in the house routine and confident that I'll be back eventually, so I would not categorize her as having separation anxiety or isolation distress. She's just a normal dog who worries a little when she's left alone in a semi-strange place without her semi-familiar person around. Once she gets settled in, I wouldn't expect her eventual adopter to have any real trouble with this.

She doesn't resource guard anything (food, toys, attention) from either people or other dogs. She does like to pick up random bits of garbage while out on walks, but she always drops them when given a gentle "no," and she's happy to trade her garbage treasures for cookies. My expectation is that if her adopter is consistent about not letting Anica keep her garbage treasures, this behavior will diminish and eventually disappear within a few weeks. I might have time to do that while she's here for fostering, and I might not; it mostly just depends how long it takes her to find a real home.

Anica's easily motivated by food, toys, praise, and personal play -- she likes playing the clicker game and she's willing to take rewards across the board, which makes for fun and effortless training sessions. She picked up Sit almost instantly and has it on a verbal cue already.

I'm doing a little clicker shaping instead of moving straight to Down and Stay, because that's more fun for me, but also because I'm hoping that Anica's adopters will continue to do tricks or recreational sport training with her, and in that case they'll probably be better served with a dog who's had some experience with shaping, rather than just lure-reward learning. So we'll see how that goes. Right now Anica doesn't quite seem to have grasped the concept, but she's got a good attention span and is willing to try as long as I'll let her.

Outside, Anica is playful and energetic. Inside, she's perfectly happy to sack out with a favorite toy on the dog bed. She has a great on/off switch, which is always nice to see and makes it much more likely that she'll do well in a pet home.

She continues to display excellent social skills with Dog Mob. I'd be comfortable placing her in a home with just about any kind of reasonably social resident dog. Anica is very easygoing when it comes to other dogs.

I'm a little less confident about cats or small pets, because Anica is a terrier and she does have a strong hardwired chase instinct. She'll go after squirrels and cats that she encounters on walks. However, she's also pretty easy to redirect and quick to shift her attention back to her person, so I think she could learn to live with a resident indoor cat as long as her owner was comfortable with doing a carefully supervised introductory period and the cat wasn't too skittish (a stable/confident cat should do just fine, but I don't think it would be fair to subject an extremely skittish cat to that stress). What I've seen so far is enough to keep me from making a blithe blanket statement that "oh she'll be fine with all cats ever," but I honestly don't see any reason that Anica couldn't live harmoniously with most cats, given a reasonably savvy owner and appropriate support during the adjustment phase.

All in all, so far Anica seems like a near-perfect dog. She sheds very little (I wouldn't say she's no-shed, but she doesn't drop much hair at all), she's not a barker, she's extremely affectionate and loves to cuddle, and she's happy and playful and likes lots of games. She's just an easy, fun little girl.

I'll post some videos of our training and play sessions next time.

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