Road Trip


I took Riggs out to our family acreage for his first big solo adventure since arriving. He’s still not a big fan of the car hollering most of the way out. While Tess loves to go out there for a good romp, I wanted to take Riggs on his own to see how he would be. Most of his adventures in the real world so far have been with his littermates or with Tess, so I wanted to see his reaction. He was a little unsure of this new world.

It’s interesting to see the personality differences, when I first took Tess out, she loved it. Exploring everything, checking out every scent, searching for sticks. In fact I hid on her so she would learn to keep a better eye on me! Riggs on the other had stuck very close, jumping on my legs whenever he had a chance, and sitting and whining whenever we stopped. He definitely had an opinion and wasn’t keeping it to himself!


I can’t say I’m shocked at this, he definitely seems much more people driven, while Tess always seemed to have her own plans in mind. So what did this tell me? Well when I first introduce him to water I’ll make sure I bring Tess along so she can show him the ropes. And I think for Riggs’ solo trips we’ll do more training and play sessions when visiting somewhere new. Since that seems to relax him more and make him happy. That said, I still think he enjoyed the trip and his chance to get out and explore.

I’m sure he will come to love solo outdoor romps as well with time, we’ll just warm up a little more before attempting again. He also got a quick trip into the cabin, again he didn’t care to explore too much. But it was good for him to visit another place with lots of different furniture, different flooring, open backed stairs to get in, etc.


He whined for a few minutes going home then crashed in the crate. All in all, a good trip for him and gives me some more info to help with his socialization plan.


First Training Session


I took Riggs out for his first training session today. He’s still upset in the car, so I wanted to stick pretty close to home. This park is maybe a 5 minute drive away, is not off leash – despite the second video I’ll post! Though I see he is “off leash” in the photo above, so who am I to judge.

I wanted to work on some leash walking skills on his own, so potty walks with both dogs are a little easier, and quicker. I’ve kept these sessions really short, the video I post below is the whole session. Just a couple minutes long.

Loose Leash Walking Video

You can see in the video above I start with Attention. After struggling so much with Tess with this I wanted to work on this pretty quick, and enjoyed Jane Killion’s training Attention video so used her method (basically just shaping). There is no sound in the video, but I am not giving a cue, just waiting for him to offer it. Then we work on some loose leash walking. Cathy and Mark introduced the pups to the leashes so they have done some work already; and Riggs has joined Tess and I on a few short potty walks, but otherwise he hasn’t done any of this. I was so proud and happy with him, he did great. This was his first walk by himself, so no other dog to follow. And you can’t see it in the video but there is a father and son playing catch off to the left of the screen, and we are joined by a dog on the right playing fetch at the end of this mini-session. He offers sit a lot, I don’t know if this is something Cathy worked on or just him, but he offers so I encourage it a lot. At the end he starts offering sit as he gets his treats – awesome! And we do a “Front” which again I haven’t taught but I’ll sure reinforce!

Good Boy!!!

Attention Video

The second video is just another really quick “Attention” mini-session, here the other dog makes its appearance. This is supposed to be an on-leash area, and not really a dog or walking park…grrr! So I am SO pleased with how he did, that was a tonne of distraction for his first session and he rocked it! I think he is much more people oriented than Tess was, but I’ve learnt more since she was a pup. So maybe I just notice more of the good things he is doing now.

We finished with a fun tug/chase session (again not much longer than you see in the video).



And he happily crashed as soon as we got home!


Day 2


I was starting to get a little worried Riggs might be a little too perfect, and something might be wrong – so thank goodness the biting machine started up today. Whew, no sick puppy! He kept me pretty busy following him around redirecting all the biting. His motto today was “if I sees it, I bites it!”

We had a fun day, and it felt a little more like back to normal. Tess got some alone time for a big girl walk and I think enjoyed the break from the pup. Riggs got to play on a metal baking sheet before our trip to the vet’s. Just to see what behaviours he would offer to try to earn some kibble, and get him used to standing on metal for at the vet’s later in the day.


Riggs had a big day, met the neighbours next door, and had his first visit to the vet for his check up. All went well! He was a real trooper! He also met a few new people at the vet’s office, which is great. He also went on some quick walks, both by himself and with Tess. He’s such a talker when walking and isn’t sure about this leash thing. But he has been very good about it considering I haven’t worked on anything with him yet.

Just another fun quiet day trying to get him settled, and get my cuddles in.

The great thief at work…


Formulating his plan, the great heist, and “Who me? No big sister, I would never steal your toy…don’t know what you’re talking about!”

Home Sweet Home

He arrived!


After all the planning and anticipation it was so exciting for yesterday’s flight with my new puppy to arrive! He is an absolute doll; and I can’t thank Cathy enough for giving me this lovely boy. I can’t believe how much effort she puts into every litter she raises, and each and every puppy; going far and beyond to make sure they get to the right homes for them.

His flight took a little longer than planned, so he had a bit of a long slog from Ottawa to Calgary, and a big drive to get there. He was very good in the crate when I picked him up – quiet as a mouse. Was a little unsure who this person was poking their head in the crate; and wasn’t quite sure he was ready to come out yet. But some yummy cheese and bison quickly convinced him it was worthwhile. We took a few minutes for introductions and a potty opportunity (nope!) then headed home. He was good to get back in the crate, but whined a bit once I started driving. A few moments of nonsense stories quickly had him settled and quiet…more than I can say for Tess at that age!

He’s been such a superstar at home so far. Very lovey and kissy. Just wants to please and be loved. Offering to sit a lot – love it! I wasn’t sure if he’d be an orangutan when I got him home, or totally exhausted and overwhelmed, but he was middle of the road. We played a bit, redirected some Bitey McBiteyface, took some pictures, and cuddled – a lot!

Hungry boy ate some dinner, did his business outside…mostly. Then off to bed. He whined maybe 15-20 minutes then crashed didn’t hear another peep till this morning. Winning!!! Still trying to figure out his gotta go signals.

He is currently crashed on the dog mat near the computer so thought I better get this written and post some pictures while I had a chance.

Since he came in so late (with some brainstorming with friends) we decided it would be best to do the introduction between the dogs this morning. I wasn’t sure what he’d be like, Tess was overwhelmed when she got home. And we thought it might be better for everyone to have a fresh brain to try to help things go smoothly between the dogs. So Tess had a sleepover at my sisters (did I mention I have the best sister ever!), and I got a chance to cuddle and bond with Mr. Riggs one-on-one. Fingers crossed all goes well with the introduction this morning…after meeting this guy I’m feeling a lot more confident in that!

Now breakfast time for me!

PS. Thank you Natalie for Lamb Chop, Riggs loves him. Was biting/suckling on him this morning while kneading my legs (sitting in my lap). Very cute!

Socialization Tracker

I did have a chance today to sit down and write up my Socialization Tracker. You are welcome to use it or share it, if you think it may be helpful. However, I would exercise some caution when working through these. I’ve listed a lot of different ideas and options, some are important to me and I will make sure I do them a few times, others really aren’t. So I would prioritize what is important to you and your family; but be sure not to overdo it!

If the puppy isn’t having positive experiences with the socialization activities it can cause a lifetime aversion or fearfulness – just what we are trying to avoid. So proceed with caution! If you find your puppy is shy, nervous, or hesitant about some or many of these activities I would absolutely recommend you seek a professional trainers help right away, whether that is during puppy class or outside of it. A few tips now can save you a lifetime of management and frustration.

The items on the Handling tab are important to work through, especially if you have a touch sensitive breed. I don’t think the Curly is especially difficult, so while it is important for all dogs to go through these exercises I’m not too worried about this. The daily exercises I will try to do 4-7 times a week. For these handling exercises it is important to have other people do them as well, since the puppy needs to be used to having strangers handle them (vet, groomer, or judge). If you don’t have friends or family willing to help you, visits to the groomer, vet, doggy masseuse will cost you a bit but can help acclimatize your pup to being handled by strangers. It is important when doing these exercises to make sure the puppy finds this enjoyable. Try feeding the puppy some treats or one of his meals while doing these. It’s also important that you are in the right frame of mind, if you’ve had a bad day or are rushed to get somewhere and aren’t in a jolly mood, wait for another day.

The Feeding Games are important, again Curlies don’t have a particular reputation for being resource guarders so this isn’t something I will spend a lot of time on, though most of these games are pretty quick and easy to do. If you have a breed that has a tendency to guard more you may want to do these games more often. One of the most highly recommended resources on this topic appears to be Jean Donaldson’s book “Mine!” I haven’t read it myself but it is on my book list, and might be worth picking up if you have concerns.

I call sound desensitizing “Novel Sounds” for this next tab of the spreadsheet. Again I have listed a lot of ideas, but I’d focus on what is likely to be important to you. I plan on using this to help with socialization/desensitization with children. One way I’ll do this is leave Children’s shows on in the background while at home. I’ve found a few videos that have child actors (so actual children’s voices), think Home Alone, Olsen Twin movies, Goonies, etc (I am dating myself!). I’ll likely also put on one of the pop music radio stations since the DJ’s (in our area anyway) tend to have higher pitched voices and be younger themselves.  Not children related, but one I found funny from my past experience with Tess was Star Trek –  she hated the sound of the transporter machine and some of the beeping and shooting phasers! So I’ll play that for the puppy as well.

The New Locations tab is more of an idea board for me when I know I need to find a specific type of person to socialize the puppy with, or experience to have. I’ve also made it filterable (on the spreadsheet) so I can quickly look up some ideas after work when I want to work on something, or pick a park to go to. If you are using my tracker as a template feel free to delete what wouldn’t apply to you (likely most), and add locations and ideas of your own.

The Novel Surfaces tab should be pretty easy to work through about 90% of it. There are a few that might be more challenging so I’ve put some thought into where we can locate some of them. Again some of these are more important than others, even if you were just to hit 7-10 of the common ones it should help your new pup quite a bit.

The New Experiences tab again is more of an idea board. Will I do all of these? I highly doubt it! But it gives me a bit of a running list so I make sure I hit the important ones, or ones that have caused me trouble with Tess.

I’ve also set up a Daily Tracker and Weekly Tracker, again this is just to keep me on track and (hopefully) to help me document and remember the trials, tribulations, and great fun of puppyhood. It goes by so fast and I don’t want to miss a bit of it! Eventually some of the stories or issues might make there way into a photobook of the pup.

I doubt I will populate these completely, especially some of the daily items like house training and feeding; but I think initially tracking potty times will help us get on the right schedule for the puppy, hopefully reducing accidents. The feeding info is to help remind me to do the feeding games, and ensure the puppy isn’t getting too many treats. Since it won’t change that often or rapidly it isn’t something I’ll note everyday, but likely if something is out of the ordinary or when I make a change.

Is this overkill? ABSOLUTELY! And there is no way I will make it through everything on these lists. Again, it’s an idea board to help me take advantage of the 8-12 week old puppy’s socialization window. It is meant to be a cheat sheet I can reference to see what I have and haven’t done that are important to my life and the future activities of the pup.

To come up with these lists I have leaned heavily on a few sources:

Dr. Sophia Yin’s Perfect Puppy In 7 Days

Some Thoughts About Dogs (Blog) – Puppy Socialization Checklist

Dr. Ian Dunbar’s Before & After You Get Your Puppy

Softmaple Curly Coated Retriever’s (Cathy Lewandowski) Socialization Webpage

High Tails Pet Resort Blog (Jade Zwingli) – New Puppy, Now What?