After a long summer away from the city, it's nice to be finally back on east ninth street. What's even nicer is that foster number 12 has arrived – a three/four-month rottweiler mix weighing in already at 27 pounds, named Wilson after my favourite House character and the basketball that is a loyal companion to Tom Hanks when he is stranded on a desert island.
Wilson arrived two days ago, having been found wandering the streets of Harlem, and is a little handshy and nervous around dogs.
I spent some time talking about puppy training with Lee Charles Kelley and have started some gentle socialising exercises to help him get over his nerves.
We're spending an hour or so in the dog run which he was initially very tentative about. One tip is to move a step away from him every time he tries to sit on my feet or hide between my legs so that he gradually becomes more comfortable with feeling on his own in the run. He runs for cover under the nearest bench though when dogs seems a little too interested in him. It takes a lot of will-power not to try and comfort him when he's scared, but lots of "good boy!" and little by little he'll find his feet there rather than becoming over-reliant on an owner.
One tip for getting him acclimatized to all those hands that keep coming his way to pet him is to put some butter on your palm and let him lick it off. Then, putting a treat in a closed fist and smearing butter on the knuckles, he is learning that licking the outside of the hand gets the treat inside. Hopefully this will prepare him.
I also took Wilson out today to Stuyvesant Town where there are lots of children so he can become comfortable with little legs running past him and seeing a human at eye level. He passed with flying colours, letting children gently pet him without the usual puppy biting.
Above all, I'm trying to follow the natural dog training methods that mean not inhibiting his puppy bite (as with Daisy) and allowing him to explore a little on his own without fussing over him. He's a little independent anyway so fingers crossed he is going to grow up to be brave and well-adjusted rather than suffering from separation anxiety down the line.
Oh, and we also tried water today! Making every new experience positive is the best thing to do for a puppy. Skateboards, bikes, squirrels, cats and showers all become chances for playtime or treats and lots of praise. Bless him, he jumped into the shower to join me on his own accord. He's going to be a 120 pound heartbreaker when he grows up!
Here is a blog by Trisha Selbach who is raising her puppy purely as per Kevin Behan's natural dog training book. http://hero.naturaldogtraining.com/