Benefits of dog ownership thus far:
- I'm playing a lot less WoW
- I'm getting a lot more exercise
- I'm spending more time outside
Morgan has been here for nearly three weeks now, and we're all learning a lot more about each other. We've had two sessions with the dog trainer (and a third scheduled today), which has helped enormously. She's very smart, and quick to learn. At this point she understands sit, down, stay, release, come, leave it, take it, and drop it. (Understanding does not mean 100% compliance, but it gets a little better every day.)
We've also figure out what kinds of toys she really likes, including soft-but-sturdy stuffed toys (the kids' old stuffed animals were too flimsy, so we've stuck with things made for dogs), sturdy tennis balls (also from the pet store), anything with a rope for tugging (which is a little risky because she likes to grab close to where our hands are). She's not a big fan of things too hard for her to sink her teeth into (like sterilized bones).
We've taken to putting her meals in toys that are intended to slowly dispense food, like Kongs. This allows us to feed her while we eat, since it takes her 15-20 minutes to get the food instead of the 30 seconds it takes to inhale the food from a bowl.
She's got an enormous amount of energy, and an insatiable desire for interactive play. The trainer thinks she's probably younger than the 2 years the shelter estimated, and says she's exhibiting very adolescent behavior. Lots of inappropriate acting out to get attention--jumping, barking, chewing on everything in the house. She has to be supervised all the time, because when she's not she'll grab papers, eyeglasses, books, or anything else on the tables and destroy them. I'm really, really hoping that she'll outgrow this, and that emphasizing the obedience training will help. Also, I find that all that negative behavior is greatly reduced if we take her for several walks a day and play with her in the backyard. I now understand why so many trainers use the mantra "A tired dog is a good dog."
On the plus side, she has no problem with sleeping in her crate, or in hanging out there during the day when we're around. (As I type this, I'm sitting in bed and she's sprawled on her back in the crate, fast asleep.) Happily, she is 100% housetrained. She's also learned very quickly how to walk with a loose leash--that only took a day or two of training to master. So, given that we're not even a full three weeks into dog ownership, I think we're doing pretty well.
I'm going out of town next week for GDC (Game Developer's Conference), but the boys are on spring break and will be responsible for her while I'm gone. Then I'm back for a week, after which the whole family will head out on a Bahamas cruise (to replace the Alaska cruise we had to cancel last summer). My mother has very generously offered to keep Morgan while we're away, so she won't have to be kenneled.
I apologize for the lack of "professional" content here since Morgan arrived. Between the dog and the strep throat, I haven't had much time for anything else. But I suspect that a week in San Francisco will change all that...