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Ruffie: Week 3

Posted at age 35.
Edited .

Our new dog Ruffie has been adapting pretty well to life at our house. He’s still getting used to the cats and we’re barely started with training, but overall it’s much less stressful now than it was the first couple of days. Thanks to a prong collar, he’s easier to walk along with Remi. I’ve walked them both myself half a dozen times already, and Alan did as well one day when I stayed in SF.

I’ve not spent too much time specifically with desensitizing Ruffie to the cats, but he has spent several hours on multiple occasion in the same room as one or the other cat, usually while I’m working and the cat is either on my desk or on the tower in my office. He’s spent much more time with Kiko than Nori, and he still gets triggered right away when first seeing Nori. Kiko doesn’t set him off as much now unless Kiko is moving around a lot, as cats do.

My main focus has been on starting training. Ruffie seemed to already know sit, come and apparently paw, which I noticed because he often tried to raise his paw after doing a sit. I don’t think he knows any other commands, and even those ones are quite unreliable.

Following the method in Lucky Dog, I’ve been working on down 2-3 times a day for 10-15 minutes for about 3 days so far. I’ve been mostly using his regular food for the training and doing it right at meal time, but sometimes use treats during other times. The first session on Sunday, we started with the double leash lockoff indoors. Getting him to go down under that restraint was pretty straightforward. We moved outside to have less conflict and distraction with our other dog, Remi. Ruffie was able to do down outside pretty well with the double leash setup, so I removed the anchor leash and started just relying on the main leash. He got up and walked away quite a bit then, but not so much I decided to just stick with the one leash, stepping on it to keep him from going far. Anyway, he’s getting better, but progress is slow. He gets very distracted by noises from dogs, birds, other animals and the city in general. But inside it’s also hard due to the other dog wanting to take part. So I’ll keep sticking with it for a few more days and see if we reach anything like an instinctive reaction. Currently Ruffie is clearly having to think hard and decide to obey, though I think he does know the command and what to do. He just doesn’t choose to obey right away yet.

Other notable things of the last week:

  • Ruffie often tries to instigate play with Remi outside, but Remi doesn’t seem to want to anymore. Remi is more likely to make a somewhat aggressive biting correction to Ruffie if Ruffie tries to run at and around him to get Remi to play.
  • They sometimes have little skirmishes that we need to break up. In the first days this happened sometimes when they both wanted to smell a spot, or when Ruffie accidentally steps on Remi. Remi also accidentally steps on Ruffie sometimes, but Ruffie doesn’t care. More recently they only seem to have issues when one of them in guarding a toy, usually Remi. Sometimes Remi’s general growling at things going on, such as my leaning back on a chair, can trigger Ruffie to growl back, since Ruffie seems to assume Remi is growling at him.
  • These little fights have definitely caused Remi to be more cautious around Ruffie, but they still get along fine generally. Mostly Remi just won’t run after a thrown ball now or rush outside when I open the door and Ruffie rushes out first.
  • Ruffie escaped the house twice when Alan briefly had the front door open. One time we caught him in the driveway, and the second time he ran a block away before I caught him as he was distracted by a house with several dogs in the yard. He clearly wants to go running and doesn’t seem to listen to come at all when he’s engaged in that. But thankfully when he is in the yard, he has not seemed to make any efforts to escape or even explore the boundaries (aside from the first day when he did find several ways out, while leashed, that I have since fixed).
  • He sheds a lot of course. The more annoying thing is I am constantly picking grass seeds out of his coat. I don’t think they are harming him usually, but they can be sharp and align so that they would poke into his skin potentially. Yet another reason I can’t let the grass go to seed in our yard next year. But he also picks up grass seeds from our walks, too.