Saturday 20th October’12 at about 2pm Anna arrives holding Dana, although at that stage her name was still ‘Miruna’. I had decided to call her ‘Dana’, shortened form of the Romanian name Bogdana, which means ‘gift from God’.
At 4 ½ months old and sporting an alarming purple ear, she ran around my back garden with considerable confidence and energy, especially bearing in mind that she had just been driven to the U.K. from Romania!
She was born around the 1.6.12 and lived in a rescue centre in Romania, after being found abandoned, thanks to the fantastic work of LoveUnderDogs http://www.loveunderdogs.org/ ,Dana and 14 other dogs who came over on Saturday, are now residing in the U.K.
Because of her history, although she certainly looks like a Carpathian Shepherd Dog, I have no way of knowing for certain what, or even, which mixture of breeds she represents. However that is certainly not a concern to me, as I watched I could see she is very inquisitive, and she soon worked out which shed contained the dog food. All of which, bodes well for her training.
She joins a family of ‘Tas’ my 9yr old female Malinois, ‘Leo’ a 6 yr old GSD, me & the missus. Bit part players include my son, currently on leave having just finished a tour of Afghanistan with the Royal Engineers, and my daughter who is at Portsmouth University. My daughter is very unhappy with me (nothing new there!!), for getting a new puppy whilst she is away.
The purple ear is antiseptic spray used by the Romanian vet, but before we did anything else a good bath was needed, talk about rinse and repeat, and I am sure she actually has changed colour!
Her first meal was one of fish and rice, I had thought that after the stress of such a long journey, a light meal would be appropriate. In retrospect, I think I was doing her digestive system a disservice, since arriving it certainly appears to be very robust!
So the first order of business is to get her to recognise her new name, and to come when called. In the house I need to den (sounds better than crate) train her, and use that to help with the toilet training.
For puppy training you can’t go far wrong following the advice of Dr Ian Dunbar, (please e-mail me for free e-booklets of ‘Before & After Getting a Puppy’ by Dr Dunbar). I had the pleasure of meeting him recently at a seminar hosted by the excellent ‘Dog & Bone’ http://www.dog-and-bone.co.uk/ . Introducing an exercise by luring, then using a whole gamut of rewards to achieve your objectives with minimal compulsion. I also need to charge the ‘good girls’, (just as you would with a clicker ) I reward the phrase so that it becomes a conditioned reinforcer.
Den training (so far!) has been easy, Dana is on three meals a day, plus treats as she is, unsuprisingly, underweight and each of these meals is fed in the crate. At night and when left, she has a small kong with treats in. In the morning I am business like with her, letting her out into the garden, but becoming more animated with praise and reward as soon as she has an ’empty’ outside.
Her den, which I hope will be a temporary measure, is in our dining room. Tas has her bed in the kitchen, and Leo is in a wooden compound in the garden. I am very conscious that I need her to fit into the group, however, she must be treated and trained as an individual within that group.
The key to toilet training is hypervigilance for the first few days, when the pup assumes the position, take her straight out, then reward the correct behaviour when it does occur. I also close off rooms to the dog, so that I can keep an eye on her and she doesn’t disappear out of my sight.
The most likely times the pup will urinate are;
After waking up.
After eating & drinking.
If it hasn’t been out for a long time.
It is not a quick fix, I find myself spending quite a time out in the garden, whilst she looks on, with nothing happening but the dog does eventually learn what is expected and, more importantly, that rewards go with the correct behaviour.
Monday morning and I pop into my local vets, the staff are very good and recognise that we are there just to create some good associations. However, I have been a bit concerned about some nasal congestion, so I book an appointment for that afternoon. After the examination and armed with a course of antibiotics we return home.
This is actually not that bad a deal, because it does force me to slow down with the training. I can be a bit too enthusiastic, so I keep it simple just reinforcing, when possible, the recalls, sits & toilet training, and generally just giving her time to settle into a routine. Once the course of tablets is complete we can then crack on.