I have been meaning to write a blog post about Millie, but I am so busy each day, that there just hasn't been time! Millie is my poodle terrier cross that is currently 5 months old. I have had her about 7 weeks now and I will be honest, it is tough work raising a puppy correctly!
Millie came to me as a client's board and train dog. She hadn't been with the client long and was exhibiting massive separation anxiety in the crate, tormenting the client's small breed dog and wasn't fully potty trained. I had her 3 days and we got through most of her crate issues and separation issues and had started working on her rambunctiousness with dogs when my client and her spouse came to the conclusion that Millie just wasn't going to fit into their schedules. They made a very wise choice knowing that they couldn't give her what she needed and we had an unexpected opportunity to take her on ourselves!
I will be honest, Millie was a job, a client job I was performing. I wasn't attached to her, but my kids were and it was lovely seeing them have a positive relationship with a dog that reciprocated the feelings! My father kept saying how it would be HIS dog seeing as Harley was gone. My husband kept repeating that 3 dogs wasn't a good idea, but he never said no. So we decided to keep her and she got spayed (against my wishes so early, but had to do as rescue contract said) and chipped and tested for a UTI while we went shopping at the pet store....
Her spay went OK, though I did have to pay extras for "normal" comfort measures and dissolvable stitches that I still ended up needing getting taken out! She did fine with her cone, came to be her normal self in a few days time and took pills like a champ.
The dark cloud though was the potty training and my husband. In his defense, he didn't raise Lucy and I kind of did all the work when we got Lex. So he didn't really have the most realistic expectations of a puppy. He kept saying, "you are a trainer, train her." I was, but potty training doesn't happen overnight! Millie did quite well, too well that I would forget she was so young and I wouldn't put the gate up. Low and behold, she would urinate in a different room we weren't occupying. It wasn't until I consistently had the gate up in whatever room we were in, did the accidents stop. Then I started expanding her areas slowly. I took her out on a rotation of potty, physical play, training, mental games, training, chew time, potty, crate time and repeat. She could only be out of her crate 3 hours before needing to go out and needing a rest. Now she can be out longer, but she still gets crate time during the day as well as time in the yard with the other dogs or alone. After 2 weeks of being consistent with the barriers, she began to "tell" us she needed out by waiting at the door! We only use the gate now upstairs during kid bedtime when I am busy with them for a while and can't keep track of her.
Once she was potty trained, I saw my husband like her more. He likes that she doesn't shed. He likes that her and the kids are close. He sees she makes me happy and sees the value in her being my demo dog as Lucy has retired. I do catch them playing occasionally, but he still makes jokes asking our friends if they want a puppy!
As for training, at the begriming, I worked with Millie on all the basics several times a day in 5 minute sets: sit, down, sit, stand, leave-it, stay, heel, off. I added tricks; high five, paw, spin, other way, bear, bow, crawl. I started doing indoor socialization to boxes, toys, pots and pans, treats on novel things, lots of brain games. It wasn't until she could heel indoors and was good with the harness and leash (2 weeks after having her) that I even took her off our property. We went on a short walk up and down the street rewarding good heel with the clicker every 5 feet! I am really glad I invested so much time in her walking well.
Then I began arranging doggie play times in my yard. At first, I was very selective in making sure it was the right size, the right temperament. Now she is good with all the dogs and we do our doggie play dates 2-4 times a month! I also took her to some other ones and into the small side of the dog park once with some clients. She loves when we have friendly day train dogs too.
We still kept up with crate games and go to mat work and then I began using her for private client sessions, then group class.
She barked a lot during her first group class, crated. Thankfully, it was all very good clients of mine that understood the process and now she stays quiet and I have figured out how to secure her crate so she doesn't unzip it!
So all and all, she has been a good fit for our family. She is a high maintenance dog though and I am glad she has us because I don't know many others that could handle the stimulation and training she has needed! We have had yucky days of poop messes, muddy dog running in the house, fear of the nail trimmer, fear of the bath, suddenly getting reactive toward people. It is just part of the package.
I plan to write more in Millie Part 2 about where we are in training now and how we are dealing with her human reactivity and fears.