This is the 2nd blog in the Life With a Lab series, featuring Ember. 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. For more posts on puppies, check out our Resources sections.
Ember's second and third week have flown by! She's been such a great puppy; it has been an absolute blast having her around. We’ve continued to do as much positive socialization as possible and foundation behaviors!
Crate training and potty training are going really, really well. She's had a few pee accidents inside while loose in the house, but that has been my fault. She's been so good about going outside that I have been giving her too much freedom and too much time between letting her out. She still hasn't had an accident in her crate and has been super about going in without protesting. This week I rotated between 4-5 hours between let outs overnight and she did fantastic with that. She isn't waking me up to potty (I set alarms) and is doing such a great job holding it, I will continue to increase the duration between let outs overnight.
For socialization these past two weeks, we tried a few new things! We went to Lowe's for the first time and that went really well! She has been super confident and environmentally sound, so I felt comfortable taking her to such a busy/noisy environment. I want all socialization to be positive experiences, so if I was worried about her being overwhelmed or nervous, I would have taken her somewhere more low-key. I always take puppies to new environments on an empty stomach (such as lunch time) and use their kibble as rewards for engagement in those environments. This is a great way to help them focus on more on me than the environment around them!
Ember also had a bird introduction as part of her socialization! Many people ask me when the right time is to introduce a puppy to birds, but there is no "one size fits all" answer. I think it's more important to do it at the right time for the specific puppy than it is to do it just as soon as possible. If your puppy is still settling in/is a little unconfident or shy, I think you're better off to wait until they are more bold and curious about new things. Don't be in a rush! A positive experience is much more valuable than an early experience.
For Ember's bird intro, I showed her a beat up (from a bigger dog) quail with it's flight feathers pulled. I didn't want it to spook her; I want her feeling powerful and excited about birds. With the flight feathers pulled, it couldn't fly away so she'd have the opportunity to chase and capture it. She did a fantastic job, showed no hesitation, and happily carried it around. At this point, she can do no wrong. She might see a few more of these this spring, but probably no more birds than once every two weeks. Slow is smooth and smooth is fast.
Ember also went with me to a NAVHDA event and her first field trail! Both of these events entailed a 2 hour car ride there, hanging out in the crate for a good portion of the day, and another long car ride home. This will be part of her life with me, so it’s important for her that idea now. She spends time in my car every single day, but long car rides are important, too. I obviously want these events to be positive experiences for her, but I also don’t want her assuming as soon as we go somewhere, she gets out and gets to do a bunch of cool things. Sometimes a long car ride means more time hanging out in the car and that has to be fine, too. These experiences have been great for her to see more people and dogs, to get comfortable in new environments, to potty on a leash, and so on.
Ember got her first title at just 10 weeks old! This week I submitted her Trick Dog Novice title through Do More With Your Dog. This title required her to complete 15 tricks with less than 50% of them being lured. Since she already knows so much, I went ahead and filmed it and she passed! Super proud of my little smarty pants!
Finally, Ember has is officially registered as Gray Light’s Golden Embers. This name has special meaning to me (check out the song Golden Embers by Mandolin Orange). She is named in loving memory of my mom, making her extra special.
These past few weeks have been absolutely fantastic with this sweet girl! I am enjoying every second with her and looking forward to all of the fun to come!