Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Dreaded Biting of the Tail

Basil has an amazing tail. It's his most distinguishing feature and he gets compliments on it all the time. Even as a kitten, during his first vet visit, the vet said he had a "prominent tail". How flattered we both were!

Over the last year and a half, we have richly admired Basil's fine attribute. He loves to flick it and saunter it as he rests and while he walks. A friend of ours swears he has Persian kitty in his background in order for him to have such a magnificent tail. At this point, I think you get it - the cat has a rockin' tail...AND we love it.

You can imagine when we decided to expand our family and accept a puppy we wanted a docile breed with low prey drive and sweet personality to decrease the likelihood of Basil getting hurt. So...enter the doodle pup.

For the past two weeks, I've been diligent in ensuring there is no chasing of Basil and lots of praise to Briar when Basil runs about the house and Briar doesn't follow. Things were looking promising.

Today was such a sunny day - I wanted to allow Basil a bit of time outdoors on his leash. Leash, you say?! Yes, he's declawed so I protect him from getting into trouble by having him on a long leash so he can run about freely and should he go too far, I have a better chance at catching up with him with the leash dragging behind him.

Anyway, off we went with Basil scouting the 5 acres we live on and Briar on the leash with me. As Basil grew excited and began to run - I'd hold Briar back on the leash and say slowly and have him sit until he calmed himself. We did this for about 15-20 minutes and he soon began to give Basil his space and not bolt after him each time he picked up speed. Ahhh...I thought to myself...this may not be too bad!

Then, Briar took a mental turn and got too excited over Basil's flickering tail. He lunged for it and had it in his mouth and bit poor Basil's tail. With a strong "No!" and a jolt on the leash, I then placed Briar on his back in the submissive position. His mouth was full of Basil's beautiful fur. I was livid and devastated. Poor Basil did not even defend himself. I tell you, this kitty is so very sweet - he just does not fight back.

Briar calmed down and I reached for Basil and carried him back towards the house so I could give Briar some time to calm down in his house. I filled his house with toys but did not give him attention - keeping things stale and bland so he didn't feel as if I was pleased or mad. Just nothing.

I came to blog to release frustration, mostly. This is what I didn't want to see happen, but I'm glad I was there to intervene. It goes to show that cats and dogs need lots of supervision to get them to respect each other. I feel so bad for Basil, but he's okay. His tail is fine. I think it hurt me more than anything.

Briar has been very sweet and quiet in his house so I'm going to let him out and see how the afternoon goes. Wish us luck!

Goldendoodle Pup Briar: 10 weeks crate training

Well, for the most part we have done quite well crate training our Briar; however, there still are some reminders that he is just a pup and that he's not totally perfect!

Briar is able to be put to bed by 10pm for the night. He is crated overnight in the living room away from the bedroom (our way of training him independence and self soothing to hopefully decrease chances of separation anxiety disorder as he matures). This morning he was taken out by my husband for his morning duty of pottying outside. He did very well! He was crated once again while my husband finished getting ready for work. Having the day off, I wanted to see how this routine would work as it is indicative of his future days once I return back to work from holiday next week.

Oh dear! Where did the wonderful Briar go? Once my husband left - Briar has been crying and scratching in his crate (lovingly dubbed his "house" when we refer to it while training). It has been 30 minutues of high pitched cries and whines. It nearly sounds like an animal is getting slaughtered it's so bad.

As a good mama, I must not reinforce his behavior by releasing him from his crate while he's crying and carrying on. I must allow him time to self soothe and once he's calm and quite for at least 5 minutes, I will release him and praise him and give him a trot outside.

For all of you new puppy parents out there, hang in there! The hard work you put in now will certainly pay off later once your pup gets used to the expecations and structure.

We have been doing very well offering time in his "house" for an hour at a time during the day while we are home without any cries or whines. This is something we worked through during his very first days. We filled his "house" with toys and only offered his very favorite treats when he was being crated. This allowed him to understand this is a good environment for him and good things do come to him while he's in his house.

Ahh...he's been quite for 5 minutes now...I must go and let him know what a good pup he is.

Integrating the Goldendoodle pup with the Cat: Week 2

"Leave it" flies out of our mouths quite often when it comes to Briar!. We have been successful at times and yet, there are a few times where he simply cannot help himself and wants to chase and play with Basil. Basil is tolerating him more than he did last week. The hissing has decreased and is only resorted to when Briar gets too close and is not welcomed in Basil's space. Oddly, Basil has been given opportunities to strike at Briar with his paws and never resorts to that. Basil is a very docile cat and resorts to running away rather than standing his ground and fighting. My husband assures me he can defend himself if he had to but in my eyes, I never want to put Basil in the position so I take it upon myself to constantly supervise them while Briar is roaming and playing freeling in the house.

Basil stalks and watches him a lot of the time...rarely going near....but watching from behind a corner up up high from a counter or furniture top. There have been a few times (mostly when Briar is napping) that Basil comes in close for a sniff. Basil will sniff Briar's nose and then sleek away.

When Briar barks while crating, Basil seems undisturbed by the new noises. this is a vast improvement from last week when Basil would appear frazzled with the new noises. Basil, for the most part, tolerates the new pup in the home and enjoys his time alone during night time when he gets to be just with us in the bed.

My goals for Basil have been to allow him his very own space that the dog is not allowed in where he can find peace in eating and using his litter box. We have a nice sized laundry room so this is Basil's room and we all respect it. Briar, on the other hand - would love nothing more than to tear in there and romp around.

At night, while Briar is crating, Basil stays in our room and gets his own special attention. I think it's important for each to get their own special time with us and to also invest in time where they can both share time with us without threatening each other.

I like to offer treats while training Briar and soon I'll see Basil right next to me, too. I'll offer Basil a treat and instruct Briar to "leave it" and praise him for staying calm while Basil enjoys his treat. Next, I'll offer Briar to sit or to give me his paw and then give him a treat for his cooperation while Basil sits and watches. I'll go back and forth like this for about 20-30 minutes. This is telling both of them good things come to them when they are near each other.

Doodle Pup "Briar" the online love affair


How we got here: Saying Goodbye to Buddy