Sunday, February 15, 2009

Basie's First Week at Home

We brought Basie home on Friday, February 6, just over a week ago. Elly took a week off from work, and I am between jobs, so we both got to spend the week with the new puppy. We've taken about a zillion pictures, of course. I've uploaded some nice ones to this Picassa album. Lots of captions.

Basie met Dr. Byers at Westside Animal Hospital on Tuesday, where everyone made a big fuss over the new puppy. Dr. B was impressed with how healthy he is and all the health certifications Susanna Joy had gotten for each puppy.

Basie has been the center of attention at home for the first week, needless to say. He has had a lot of firsts, learning to sleep in his kennel and spend time in it during the day when we are too busy to play with him or keep a close eye on his activity. Basie has razor sharp little teeth and can chew things up in a surprisingly few seconds. The kennel is a great solution. He is wearing a collar now and has gone for several walks. We're going to start him in a puppy class (to help socialize him with other dogs) as soon as possible.

Basie is a smart puppy and is learning to do his business in an area set aside for that purpose in our backyard. Several times when we have been playing with him outside he has stopped to run over to his pottie area to relieve himself. He has also learned to run to the back door and pat it with his paw when he needs to go out.

He is eating three meals a day (3/4 cup per meal) until he is three months old, when we will shift down to two meals a day. We've noticed that Basie goes into a "power squat" stance when he is eating. I included a picture of this in the Picassa album. Basie is one of the largest puppies from his litter and learned he could push other puppies out of his way to get more food. He has let us know in no uncertain terms that 3/4s of a cup is not as much as he would like to eat. He tries to jump up on the box where the dog food is kept after finishing what is in his bowl. Also, he tends to be more aggressive after meals.

Surprisingly, for as cute and sweet as he looks in his pictures, Basie is a much more aggressive dog than our Rottweiler, Samba, was. Samba looked intimidating, but the truth is he wasn't overly confident and wasn't very aggressive. He had a very strong protective instinct, but when he was away from home he was usually a quiet dog. Basie is much more confident, which is a good thing, and we have enough experience raising puppies to respond properly to his temper tantrums. We pointed this out to Dr. B, who couldn't help rolling his eyes. It is true, though. One thing that contributed to Basie's dominant behavior pattern, we suspect, is that the one male puppy in his litter who was more aggressive than Basie, had a mild inflammation problem and had to be separated from the rest of the litter. After that, we suspect Basie more or less got to take over and it really went to his head so to speak.

An advantage of having lots of toys for new puppies like Basie is the toys are a convenient distraction from things they shouldn't be chewing on, including us. Basie was used to rough-housing with his litter mates, which included biting naturally. This is part of normal puppy development. When a new puppy comes home and is away from its litter mates for the first time, it's natural to transfer the behaviour to the new family. This involves lots of playing, of course, but the puppy has to learn it isn't acceptable to bite his or her new family members and that certain rules must be followed. The trick is to help a puppy learn this without being overbearing and overusing the "no" word and other strong corrections. It is easier to do with a puppy like Samba, who we could basically correct with a stern glance. Basie's attitude is more like "I'm having fun -- screw you!" This isn't a bad thing. Basie's confidence will enable him to be more relaxed in new situations and around people and dogs he doesn't know. At present, however, he does need a loving, firm hand.

Basie likes to have lots of toys in his kennel. too. At first, I thought it would be too hot and crowded for him. But he was obviously upset to be in a nearly barren kennel so we tossed in lots of toys and a small sleeping mattress and he settled down immediately. We think it reminds him of sleeping with nine other puppies. He also likes to sleep on our feet and our laps. Especially Elly's.

Somewhat surprisingly, at nine weeks Basie has no problem sleeping through the night. We take him out during the night if he whines, but he hasn't done that too much since the first few nights. We're consistent about when he goes in his kennel for the night and when he gets up in the morning. The kennel is in our bedroom (where he will sleep when he is full grown). The important thing for the happiness of pets (dogs and cats, especially) is to have a regular, predictable routine so they know what to expect and can establish a regular pattern of behavior.


Lori said...

Basie is a terrific looking boy. I know that you must be having a ball with him. Zena gave birth on Valentine's day to 8 puppies. The only 2 black ones were male. So we will be getting a yellow girl. Susanna says they are big with beautiful heads. Now if we can just manage to wait 8 weeks!

Fiske said...


Congratulations! That is great news. Thanks for letting us know about Zena's litter. You can visit the puppies after they are three weeks old. Susanna encourages people to visit because it helps socialize the puppies. We visited each weekend until Basie was ready to come home.

Basie is terrific. We just love him. He is everything we hoped for, plus a little bit more -- more ornery than you would think such a cute dog would be... ;-)