Echo’s Endeavors: 9-weeks-old
This is the second blog in the Echo’s Endeavor’s series. The intention of this series is to be used as a reference point as to what one can expect or do with their puppy at each stage of development. All puppies are individuals, so this should be used as a guideline and not a rulebook. To see all posts in this series, click here. To see all posts in the Maple Media series, click here.
Weight: 9 lbs.
Introduction to other dogs: Echo has met quite a few dogs in the past week! She met a few client dogs, dogs at the kennel and saw a variety of dogs on our outings. I want to reiterate that it is really important to set boundaries at this age and to advocate for the puppy to keep them safe. There are many adult dogs that do not appreciate having a puppy around (like Harley). It’s important to respect that and to not push them to interact with the puppy. If you notice that the adult dog doesn’t seem to be enjoying the interaction, such as them trying to leave the situation or the puppy is pestering them by biting on their ears or constantly licking their face, then take the puppy away from the adult. Some adult dogs will give appropriate corrections, but most won’t. So what you end up with is a puppy that hasn’t been corrected enough and learns that being annoying and acting inappropriately is okay, or a puppy that gets hurt because the adult was too intense in their correction.
Again, the same goes for the reverse situation. There are many times when I have a puppy running from an adult in fear, but the adult (with good intentions) thinks it’s a game and will continue to chase the puppy. That’s obviously even scarier for the puppy, so be sure to recall the adult back to you to allow the puppy to get a comfortable distance away and settle.
I hope this goes without saying, but please don’t ever take your puppy to a dog park. Dog parks are often full of ill-behaved dogs that will set a bad example of what appropriate behavior around dogs looks like. This is a great way to create social issues or get your puppy hurt. Most people don’t understand or recognize dog body language and they allow very scary behavior that could or will get your puppy hurt. Along with that, I don’t allow any of my dogs (puppies or adults) to ever greet other dogs on leash. This is a tense situation and even the most social dogs can be reactive in this scenario. I do not allow any of my dogs to greet dogs that I don’t know and if I am introducing dogs, it’s always done in a relaxed environment (like off-leash in my yard) where I can monitor and advocate for everyone. If you are lacking dog friends, please reach out to a local trainer who can set you up with calm, stable dogs that are well socialized and can give your puppy the positive, safe experiences they need.
Crate Training: Crate training has gotten significantly better this past week! Echo is spending a lot of time in her crate in my car, and in our house, with very little protest. If she’s tired, she goes right in and sleeps. It is so, so important that puppies learn as early as possible that their crate is a comfortable, safe place where they can relax. Regardless of what your future plans are, there is never a time when crate training appropriately is a bad idea. If you have a bird dog that you plan on hunting, training or testing, crating is absolutely necessary. To travel to hunt, to be in the car during training/testing days, to stay at a trainer’s, etc., they will have to be crated. It makes the experience so much less stressful if they already have positive experiences with the crate prior to being put in more stressful situations (like going to a trainer’s) and having to get accustom to a crate there. Even if you just have a pet that you plan on leaving loose in your house as an adult, the ability to crate your dog calmly is invaluable. If you go on vacation, if they get sick/injured, or if they would ever need to be rehomed, they are going to be so much more successful and calm in a variety of situations if you have taken the time to properly crate train them as a puppy. It’s likely to be necessary at some point for one reason or another, so you might as well make it a positive experience on your terms.
Potty Training: Echo is still struggling with potty training, but is making some improvement. She certainly understands that she should go outside, but she still lacks the ability to hold it for any duration. When she is having free time in the house, she needs to go out every 15ish minutes, regardless of if she acts like she needs to go. She’s doing much better with not pottying in her crate, but she did have two accidents in it over the past week. Our overnight routine is fairly consistent: she’s going out around 10, 2 and 6:30/7 without much issue. If she does need to go overnight, she’s not good about letting me know by whining, she just goes. So I try to make sure I am letting her out before she really needs to go so that she makes it outside.
Training: I am still not doing a whole lot of food work with her. She knows her name, she understands her recall work, and I’ve lightly introduced some concepts just as place, touch (put your two feet on it) and spin. I am still doing a lot of toy and personal play with her, so I haven’t been focusing on working for food like I did with Maple. I have decided not to teach sit or down yet, simply as an experiment. I haven’t had any issues with Blitz and Maple knowing sit and down prior to being exposed to birds, but I’d like to try something a little different with Echo and see how it goes.
She is definitely showing a lot more interest in toys than either Blitz or Maple did and I am seeing some real benefits in that. I have been doing a lot of tugging with her and she’s really starting to enjoy it. I’ve noticed a few times she has sought me out to engage in play with her. I focused so much on food with Maple that she really didn’t have any toy drive as a puppy. She would chase a toy, but didn’t want to posses it (even pick it up or hold it) and certainly wouldn’t bring it back to me or even begin to engage in tug. This carried through to her bird work and it took a lot time for her to want to pick up a bird, let alone begin to bring it back. I am already noticing that Echo is starting to naturally want to head back towards me with toys and birds, which is really great for her age. She could have more natural retrieving desire than Maple, but I would bet that the all the toy play we’ve been doing is certainly helping.
Socialization: We have taken a few trips to stores (Lowes and Tractor Supply) and she is doing excellent in those environments. She is super bold and curious which I love, but I am also working on focus games for some engagement in those environments. She would be perfectly happy to leave me at the door and go check out everything herself, which is an excellent quality but while she is young, I would like to build more handler-awareness.
I am really thrilled with her confidence and boldness; I am excited to see how she matures but am enjoying the sweet puppy phase for as long as I can!