The first week with Nakyla, I spent all my time with her. We used this time to bond.
On her first adventure, we went to the lake. It's a short trip and I didn't want to overwhelm her.
I use a 20 ft light nylon leash. This is just for safety. Young pups can be spooked very easy.
I let the leash drag. It is ok if it occasionally snags on something, this teaches awareness. Simply fix it and go on. I let her explore and walk at her own pace. It is really important that in the beginning, all experiences be good. It's also important not to talk very much to her. I don't use her name unless I am praising her. I want her to think about what she is doing. I want her to become independent. I want her to become confident.
Nakyla stepped off a rock and basically fell in the lake.
It was important for me to NOT REACT
Because I did not react, this forced her to deal with what happen and she did not panic.
I didn't panic, so she didn't either! She actually went out about three feet then turned and came back. So instead of panicking, all was well.
She learned it was ok and she could actually swim. When she came out of the water, I praised her for doing a good job!
Following the same as above, letting the leash drag. She stopped and explored. She continues to build confidence. I did have to encourage her to cross the creek. She did not like the first step but was ok once she was in the water. Again, building confidence. If they don't do it, they don't learn. They won't get used to it and then later on, anxiety!
On our way back, she went right to the door of the jeep and waited!
GOOD GIRL !
Exposing her to different surfaces
We spent quite a bit of time just sitting along the water edge, she kind of fell in once but jumped out fast
So I decided to try another area. After about a half hour, all of a sudden there she goes ! All on her own !
She had a great day playing in the water !
Nikki's next adventure was the Golden Cruise in Golden, Colorado season opener.
This was her first time being around a lot of people and very loud cars. She did great !
** Car pictured is FATKATT
This is a blown corvette that my brother built - 1200HP
When my brother ( Steve ) was getting ready to leave for a short cruise, I held Nikki kind of tight. We were right next to his car and it is loud so I did expect her to get scared. So I held her tight and she did good. She didn't panic. When he came back, she was sitting at my feet and she didn't even move. I am so impressed with her.
This is not because they are mean or have an aggressive behavior. They are puppies. Puppies use their mouth for everything, its like our hands. They use it to learn. They eat with it, taste with it, play with it, smell with their nose at the end of it. It is like their hand.
In their first wks of life, when they are still with littermates, they use their mouths to play. Puppies in a litter start to play around 4 wks old and usually leave at 8 wks. During this time they learn biting. When they bite their littermates, they learn what is too soft and what is too hard. They will learn if they bite their sibling, they usually get bit back.
Discipling is important and be consistent and don't worry about hurting them. When mom disciplines the puppies, she is pretty hard on them. When she tells them no, she means it the first time. This is how they learn. When a puppy bites, mom bites back on the bridge of the nose. This is also how wild animals teach their young. So for best effects, do the same. Curl fingertips in ( like teeth ) and hold firm. If you let go before they let out a whimper or other noise, they win !
To get the point across to them, you must be firm, strong, consistent and do not give up. It takes time for them to learn and you have to keep reminding them.
She wasn't in trouble, she is being a good model. I took this picture for teaching.
While squeezing the nose, say / repeat NO BITE
Teaching her JEEP
When we are heading back, I am teaching her to look for the jeep. When she gets a head of us, she does go to the jeep when I say it.
This is the bridge she is on. It is pretty high off the water and on the right side is the dam. She has no fear.
Socialzing with other people and dogs
She is on a 20 ft leash. This is a park that requires a leash. But at this point, she no longer pulls on it. If she gets to the end of the leash, she stops and waits for me. There are a few things that will still spook her so best to keep the 20 ft on. She has not been on a shorter leash yet. This 20ft or no leash is all she knows to this point.
This was a quick stop at a familiar place. I think she recognized it and showed confidence. It was a busy day, and I took advantage of it to help socialize her.
This was a rough 4 wheeling trip to above timberline. She loved the snow !
More socializing !
This is a really important step in her progress, she was afraid of waterfalls ( the noise ). Here she is on top looking over a waterfall.
More socializing. This was a friendly but kind of aggressive dog that played rough. Nikki was great! She wasn't quite sure at first but quickly figured it out and did great. This dog was a rescue that has some minor issues. Maybe Nikki sensed it ?
Spending time with the big kids too :)
Today, I mixed it up a little for Nikki and took Nashoba with us. We went to several different areas to get her used to getting in and out. This helps her associate with getting in means adventure.
Nikki learning the river current. She did great and had a lot of fun.
This is my son, Kurtis. He is Rya's owner ( Nikki's mom )
Learning deeper water with strong waves - not quite swimming yet
A fun filled day with Nikki's friend Hana, a 4 yr old Newfie.
This included a few different locations. Beaver ponds with tall grass and water is always fun. Normally this is a busy place but we were lucky and had it all to ourselves.
We headed up the trail to another spot to play. This offered a great variety. Nikki still off leash did very well. There was a small wooden bridge, many rocks and hills and creek that offered waterfalls and shallow ponds. She is still a little unsure with waterfalls but she is doing a lot better.
This spot had a family that was camping with several kids and a golden retriever.
I did put the long leash on her just before leaving. I don't want her to forget what the leash is, so I did put it on her for a few minutes. The family campers joined us for a few minutes of conversation. Nikki did great !
Nikki is growing pretty fast. She is as big as the Golden Retriever at just 4 months old. Right now, she has very long legs, she will balance out soon. It is common for malamutes or large breed dogs to grow like this. Over the next few weeks, I expect her to put on more body bulk.
It's important to be careful with their diet as it is not good for them to grow too fast but at the same time, it is not good to short them on food either. In this group of pictures, she does look thin. She is actually eating quite a bit. Unlimited food is offered 3 times a day right now.
Some people believe it is best to limit food to prevent them from growing to fast. Some also believe that it is best to limit activities for the first year. I completely 100 % disagree with this.
They will grow according to their DNA, not food provided. I believe it is best to keep up and make sure they have enough nutrients to keep up with their growth.
As for activity, they should not be allowed hard physical activity, hard jumping or pushed to the point of exhaustion. Limiting too much will only result in weak muscles, ligaments and tendons. Good healthy activity will keep these strong and will help avoid accidents or injuries.
While off leash, every time she comes to me whether I call her or naturally comes to me, I tell her what a good girl she is. Anytime we walk to or stop at the jeep, she gets a small treat. This creates a positive experience with the jeep. Sometimes I just go to the jeep and give her a treat then go back to hiking and exploring. She does not see the jeep as "leaving".
At this point, I have not taught Nikki sit, stay, down or anything similar. She has learned " let's go" which means to follow me. She does pretty good with coming when called. She is learning to jump in the jeep.
I think the most important thing to teach in the beginning is boundaries, to stay close and follow. No one likes a dog that runs off or runs away. Because I started with the 20 ft leash, she already knows what it is to have a leash on but does not see the leash as something that restrains her.
Now that she is 4 1/2 months old and I can keep her attention, I will be starting short leash commands.
Since I started Nikki early with water, she went right in when we got to the lake.
Because there were so many people, paddle boards and other dogs, Nikki was on the 20ft leash. This was also a State Park.
I got into the water and gently pulled her out of her comfort zone. She protested but trusted me. I held her by her tummy so she could get a good feel of the water and her feet not touching. She wanted to go back to shore so I let go and she would swim back to her comfort zone. She was not graceful at this point and splashed everywhere. I repeated this several times and within a short time, she got it figured out. Within a half hour or so, She was swimming without splashing and coming to deeper water on her own when called. Always leave a new experience on a good note.
To get her more comfortable in deeper water, with me in the water, I would very slowly pull her out. First she would be in just her legs, then the bottom of her tummy. With the 20 ft leash, she could still move and do her own thing, but I controlled the depth of the water. When she got used to her tummy touching, I would pull her out so she was halfway up her rib cage. I gave her time to process the new experience each time. Patients is important.
my friend Sue and her Newfie, Hana
This other dog is Rya, she is Nikki's mom
This was a 4 wheel drive adventure. I didn't get very many pictures of her. The trail was Tin Cup
We had outside seating since we had Nikki with us. While waiting for our food, a large group of people came up and waiting in line to go inside. It was very entertaining; Nikki was not impressed.
She did great ! Obviously remembered the lake and walked right in and started swimming.
She retrieved her "ducky" and grabbed the leash to pull me in. Both needed to learn and train for water rescue - which her friend Hana does with the Newfie Club
As of today, Nikki knows her name, comes when called, sits to be petted, up, leave it and stay on the trail. She is polite and mannered with strangers and children.
She is crate trained and can be left alone in the fenced yard. She also rides very well and gets in and out of the jeep on her own. At 5 months old, she is a real pleasure to be with.
Nikki is at that 5 month old " I am going to do what I want to do " stage!
For this reason, she spent a good part of the day on leash.
She stays close but will go a little bit too far and isn't coming right away when called.
This is normal behavior for a puppy. Just because they know what is expected doesn't mean they do it every time, they are still puppies at this age. It is so important to keep on them, reenforce those commands and be extra firm!
The first four pictures, the lake, is a beautiful natural shallow snow melt lake. To the right, a little higher up is another smaller lake. To the left, it drains into a tight rocky canyon.
Continuing up the 4x4 road takes us to the top of the mountain. The top point is 13,905 ft
The view is incredible 360° . We usually find some crystals on top along with some other gems.
small cluster of crystals ( not cleaned yet )