Everyday Adventures in Havachon Heaven

The Good, Crazy, & Adorable Life of One Havachon Puppy

Spay Stitches FINALLY Removed!

These last two weeks have seemed like an eternity, first with Daisy’s post-spay suffering, then trying to restrict her movements so she wouldn’t tear her stitches out. Which proved to be an impossible task.

I'm back to my silly, happy self again! Boy, am I glad that's over!

Have you every tried to keep an energetic young puppy calm and subdued? It’s like trying to hold Jello in a clenched fist!

But on Saturday the vet removed those stitches in less than a minute, and now she can go back to her crazy little self. And she wasted NO time in doing so!

We were told to wait two more days before bathing her, so tonight’s the night we get our floral-fresh puppy back. Her full blood work-up showed that she has no genetic health problems, so we’re very relieved to know we have a happy, healthy dog.

Oh yes, and as to her post-spay misbehavior issues – my cousin had a great thought – Daisy could be going through a sort of induced menopause, the type women go through when they have hysterectomies well before menopause sets in. Women who have hysterectomies in their 20s, 30s, and 40s suffer escalated menopausal symptoms after surgery, so why not animals as well?

Our vet and online information say that dogs don’t go through menopause because they don’t have the whole estrogen issue, but we’ve already seen that Daisy experiences things very acutely, so how do we really know what they’re reallyfeeling inside? It’s not like anyone can ask them! Daisy’s behavior seemed to fit many of those same erratic, unpleasant symptoms, and half way through the second week, they lessened all by themselves…a little coincidental, and I’m not a great believer in coincidence. Once we saw the glimmer of her old self, we immediately brought back a full return to Jan Fennell’s discipline techniques, and it only took a couple of days before we got our sweet puppy back!

What do you think? Do you think it’s possible for dogs to feel some kind of symptoms after spaying that are similar to menopause?

Glad that’s all over with!

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Learned Fears

I don’t think most dogs – or people, for that matter – are born with fears, I think for the most part fears are learned reactions to specific events. We may not remember what it was in our ever-so-impressionable youth that set our fears in motion, but those incidents certainly can have a lasting impact.

So it is with dogs too, it seems. Our Daisy was so tiny when we first got her that we could only use two fingers to stroke her little head! To a puppy that tiny, everything must seem so big, and loud noises must be awfully intimidating. Now, at 4 months old (we can actually pet her head normally now that she’s all of 6 pounds LOL!), she still doesn’t like loud noises, but her reaction now parallels our reaction directly, which means we can get past that knee-jerk reaction of fear in minutes.

It all started when she first came home with us. As luck would have it, this shy, cautious puppy happened to be in the kitchen when I dropped a frozen ice pack from the freezer onto the hardwood floor. What a racket that made! Well, she turn-tailed with her ears plastered to the back of her head and ran at top speed out of the kitchen and into the family room, straight underneath the footstool, which was her favorite safety zone. It took a long time for us to get her out of there, but wouldn’t you know it – a short time later I dropped a pan lid on the kitchen floor, which now confirmed in her mind that the kitchen was one SCARY place! Same reaction from her, but this time she stayed under that footstool….period.

After that, she refused to come into the kitchen at all. She’d sit at the edge of the family room doorway, staring longingly inside at us, whining pathetically for us to keep her company. But no matter how much we coaxed her, she wouldn’t set foot in that kitchen.

I’m not really one to have the “dropsies”, but for some reason, I continually dropped noisy things on the kitchen floor for the next two weeks! The fear of loud noises really set in, and it carried through to other places and sounds. We couldn’t take her outside when the guy next door was mowing his lawn; she’d be scared silly, tremble, and bolt back into the house. Other loud noises would make her jolt, and you could practically see the decision-making process going on in her head: “Should I run? Is this scary?”

In reading Jan Fennell’s book The Dog Listener, we discovered that dogs look to their leader – hopefully, that’s us – to take cues as to whether to be frightened, trusting in new situations, etc. Jan said her dogs were scared of fireworks, so one night she took them out into her back yard during a fireworks show nearby and just talked to them in a calm, normal voice while watching the display, paying no special attention to them or coddling their fear. In no time, the dogs started calming down and finally just ignored the fireworks altogether.

So we put Jan’s solution to the test with kitchen noises. When something noisy happened and she bolted away, we would laugh (she reacts very well to laughter and always wants to join in the fun!), calmly saying things like, “It’s no big deal. What a silly noise that was.” in plain conversational tones. Well, guess what – within a couple of days, she started inching her way back into the kitchen! And within the week, she no longer ran from the room where she’d hear a loud sound; in fact, we can even get her to play in the back yard when our neighbor is mowing his lawn!

When she hears a loud noise now, she jumps but then stops and looks at us to see just how seriously she should take that sound.

The key was to act like we’re not affected by the sound, which, in turn, shows her there’s no danger and she needn’t be affected by the sound either. Jan says that showering a scared dog with the type of affection that we would a scared child who just had a nightmare only instills the irrational behavior in the dog; because their minds translate our behaviors differently than human minds do, they see our affection as praise for their behavior. Therefore,  their fears will continue and even escalate over time.

Makes sense to us – we certainly can’t argue with proof! 🙂

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Jan Fennell is a Training GENIUS!

One thing we learned very quickly about our little Havachon – she’s as challenging as she is cute. After all, she’s descended from two breeds known to be smart, and she picked up every last one of those genes. If you ask me, she’s a little TOO smart – outsmarting us at every turn seems to be her forte. Sometimes you can practically see those wheels turning in her head as she assesses a situation and decides on her response!

Jan Fennell’s training is based on a simple theory – become the Alpha leader in your home. Makes sense, right? Jan studied dogs in the wild to see what traits Alphas exhibited that kept the rest of the pack in line, then translated those lessons into human-to-dog relationship training. Completely non-violent, no hitting, pushing, or yelling involved. Sounded excellent and worth a try.

Our little puppy thought she was queen of the land. Although she could be sweet, shy, and loving, she could also be demanding, hyper, and nippy. We were already frazzled to the core after only having her three weeks – among other things, she absolutely refused to use the wee-wee training pads; when we’d lead her to the pad every 20 minutes (all the experts said this should have her trained within a week for the most part), she’d sniff around, walk off the pad, and look us straight in the eye as she peed and pooped all over the carpet. Very deliberate. And that stubbornness overflowed into other behaviors as well. We thought she might be untrainable, but Jan says that no dog is untrainable and she’s worked with seriously scary dogs!

The next weekend we took a pile of dog training books and CDs out of the library and went hard-core studying them all so we could implement some form of training and get our little monster under control. Among all of the experts, we found Jan Fennell’s techniques the best and most logical, and we also liked the fact that the result would be a respectful dog, not one who is always in a state of submission like Cesar Milan touts. I’m sure his outcome is great for many people, but it wasn’t for us. We also found Paul Owens’s CD good for teaching things like stay, sit, down, heel, etc. to be a wonderful visual accompaniment using a fun technique, so we narrowed our methods down to those two. First, though, before any command training, we needed to for Daisy to accept us as Alpha leaders and to trust us implicitly.

I can’t even begin to tell you what a difference Jan’s techniques made in our pooch. We used her book, The Dog Listener, like a daily Bible of Dog Training, referring to it every time we needed assistance with some new type of rebellious behavior Daisy tried. Immediately, we could see that the difference in our behavior toward her was having an impact. We did make some minor adjustments in consideration of the fact that we were dealing with a young pup and not a grown dog, but those were very minor adjustments.

The most important aspect of her book, I think, is that it taught us the workings of the dog mind so that we could understand better why Daisy was acting the way she was and also how she was interpreting our responses to her actions. VERY big differences in how the dog mind processes things from the way the human mind works! This helped us deal with any new challenges she threw our way. With serious adherence to Jan’s techniques, we now have a wonderfully respectful, loving puppy who responds to our commands and behaves very well. And Paul Owens’s techniques have her sitting, staying, and lying down by hand signals alone – that worked immediately as well.

Of course, Daisy is a 4-month old puppy, so she’s still testing here and there and tries to get around us sometimes, but because Jan’s method laid the groundwork of establishing a hierarchy, she realizes very quickly from our response to her misbehaviors that her little rebellious attempts aren’t going to work. And we learned that consistency is key in maintaining the right balance in our human-to-dog relationship. 🙂

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