Mia's entire additude has changed since the day she walked into the house and met her new pack. She is calmer, walking around wagging her relaxed tail with her head low. When people walk into the house she often grabs a toy and brings it to them turning in half circles in a submissive manner. She is still vocal, but instead of barking in a demanding way she "woooowooooowooo's" as she shapes her body like a U, tail wagging fully from one side to the other.
She used to be worried about how she was going to get everyone else to listen to her, but not anymore. She still loves her big brothers Bruno the Boxer and Spencer the Pitbull, but instead of sassing them around, she follows them, watching their every move. She pays close attention to see what the pack is going to do next so she can do it, too.
Mornings used to be crazy as she ran around trying to wake everyone up to play, now she joins her brothers in the morning sleep.
And at night she crashes with them. She is much better at respecting the times when they do not wish to play and joining right in when they do.
Housebreaking has been going very well. When Mia has to go she walks to the front door and stares at the door knob until someone comes and opens it. She then jumps off the step down onto the porch and walks off to do her business. When she is finished she walks back to the door and makes a whining sound. We open the door and she walks back into the house with her tail wagging very wide from one side all the way to the other.
Mia goes for a walk at the park. She has three sweaters on to keep her warm. This kind of weather calls for layers.
Mia needs the mental exercise and socialization, but she is too young to walk as far as her brothers. She has to be carried a lot of the time. She is put into a dog back pack to help support her weight. She's not so small anymore. She's getting heavy, but she's still just a puppy. She likes looking around and smelling the air. She gives snorting-type kisses all over the chin of whoever is carrying her. "Baby-Mi! You're getting me all wet!"
Sit, Stay, Come for Steak
We had just gotten back from dinner with a big doggie bag of steak for the pack. They had smelled it through the container and boy were they happy. Everyone "Sit". Mia learned this command very fast. she copies what her brothers do.
"Good babies! Here is a piece for all of you."
Mia graduated to her third crate. I tested out a larger folded crate bottom as a temporary bedding until I found something else. I didn't think this would work and I was about to take it back out, but Mia proved me wrong. She crawled into the crate looking very happy and comfortable. Spencer walked over and tried to get in. You silly boy, you're all grown up now and that crates too small for you.
I thought we had that settled. Mia was in the crate. Spencer didn't fit. The next thing I knew...
...Mia crawled out and Spencer went in.
"Hey Spencer I don't think we both fit in here."
"Let me try anyway. Nope. I don't fit with you in there."
"I think I'll just go sleep with Bruno."
Spencer settled in and went to sleep. Um, this is all wrong. Spenser-Puppy, I know we call you Puppy and all, but dude, you're a big boy. Baby-Mi is the one who needs to be locked up at night. You got to come on out of there boy.
Oh my goodness. Bruno not you, too. Mia I'll get Spenser out soon. It's time for bed. You dogs would all love it if we had a room lined with dog crates. Too bad this house is too small for that.
"Yeah Bruno. I don't think we all fit."
Spencer time to come out of the crate. I am going to bed and Mia can't have unsupervised free roam of the house just yet.
I'm sorry Spencer, but the kids got to be in there not you. You can sleep in there tomorrow morning when I let her out.
Sure enough the next morning when Mia was let out of the crate spencer went back in...
...and Mia went to sleep with Bruno.
Bruno and Spencer watch Sara walk into work...
...as Mia sniffs the air. I had put the window down and she smelled food.
Speaking of sniffing the air, this pup is always using her nose. We were walking in a towncenter past some restaurants when Mia suddenly stopped. She turned around facing down wind from Outback Steakhouse and the nose went up in the air. "Steak! How do I get me some of that?"
I am working on teaching Mia to be calm and behaved in public. She does excellent in ideal circumstances. When I say ideal circumstances I mean that the humans around us have respect for not only me as the handler but for the dogs. Unfortunately a very large percentage of the time there is always one or more humans who do not. For instance when we walk up to the check out line at a pet store and I have all three dogs on lead. I ask them all to sit, stand or lay down calmly as I pay my bill. They all ignore the people and other dogs around them. Even Mia will sit there calmly looking up at me for direction.
Then a human comes up from behind and stands out of leash range and very excitedly exclaims "OH MY GOSH!!! Look at them. Come here! I would love to pet all of you." They hold their arms open wide and kneel down in a come gesture to the entire pack. As I am reaching to swipe my card all three dogs bolt to the person who just invited them over to say hello. Of course the person is usually out of range of the leash and the struggle begins. I try and stop the dogs as the human says, "Oh I don't mind! I love dogs!" They are oblivious to how they just turned a well behaved pack into a bunch of out of control dogs. They are also oblivious to the fact that I am now struggling to pay my bill and control all of the dogs at the same time. In the middle of it all we have a puppy who I am trying to train to have good manners in public who is now getting conflicting signals. This happens no matter where we go including when we are just walking down the middle of a sidewalk. A lot of people actually sit down on the ground in the middle of all of them and invite them to climb all over them all while claiming they do not mind if the dogs knock them down and push into them with their bodies as they lick their faces all over. In other words, they do not mind if the dogs act like out of control beasts, as long as THEY get their cuddle time.
To fully train and socialize dogs to be well-mannered and behaved in all situations you need to take them out in public. Training the dogs is the easy part. Controlling all of the humans who do not have proper dog etiquette is almost impossible since it's a different person every time. Even the store workers including the in-store dog trainers who walk around the store do this. They carry a bag of treats pinned to their hip, ready to show you how to "treat" a dog with food, but most have no concept that it is rude to over excite a dog who is being asked to behave. This also happens on the streets and sidewalks. There is no where to go with a lot of action that humans do not come over and reverse what a dog in training is being taught, all while announcing they do not mind when the dog goes from behaving to over excited and no longer listening to the handler.
I have discovered that if I put a matching vest on the dogs people tend to behave better around them. These matching blue vests work really well for controlling the humans. I ordered Mia a vest, too.
I cannot wait for it to come in and try it out. My hope is I can control the humans to resist her cuteness enough that I can properly train her. When the humans behave I have been able to successfully communicate to Mia to use good public manners. She shows excellent progress and potential to become the model dog in public. She loves humans and we like saying hello to humans, but just like you would not want a stranger to tell your toddler it was OK to bolt across the parking lot for a lollipop, I do not want strangers telling my dogs it is OK to pull me on the leash and forget all they have learned. I am hoping the vests make people think about being a little more respectful.
When the handler asks a dog to stay and a stranger asks the dog to come it confuses the dog. Those dogs who are born people-lovers have the hardest times resisting. Sadly there are so many untrained dogs out there that it is more normal for a dog to be out of control than it is for them to behave, hence no one thinks anything of turning a dog who is behaving into a dog who begins to act like a nut case.
Some may think that asking a dog to behave and handle situations with good calm manners is over the top and cruel, but if the pack can't behave they will have to stay home, joining the ranks of the majority of other dogs who are bannished to a life of rarely leaving the house. Dogs are social animals and it's actually the opposite. Its cruel to not take the time to train a dog and never take them anywhere, because they cannot be controlled in public.
Mia will now sit and wait by her food dish for the "get it" command before eating. Good girl, Mia!
Good girl Mia. You have a cat meowing above you and a peahen honking in front of you and you're ignoring both of them.
It was late at night and Spencer and Mia were on the dog bed. Spencer was exhausted and trying to sleep. Mia decided it was time to chew on Spencer's face. I heard a low leave me alone grumble come out of Spencer. I was sitting at my desk and had to move backwards to see past the chair next to me. I said nothing, I just rolled my desk chair back a little and looked over.
Mia looked up at me and very quickly turned her head away from Spencer's face laying her own head between her paws like a kid who just got caught with their hand in the cookie jar. If they get it out fast enough maybe, just maybe no one will know. As if she had been doing nothing at all. Not a darn thing. See mom, I just been laying here the whole time. I don't know what Spencer is talking about. I remained silent. No words had to be spoken.
Mia! Trash cans are not puppy toys! "Get out of there!"
Mia! What are you chewing on? Give me that! Let go you little pup! It looks gross!
A dead bird that has been most likely killed by a cat and then flattened by a car.
No, you cannot have it back.
Raising a Puppy: Mia the American Bully (Bully Pit)