Leia is almost 7 months old, and over the last week I’ve been noticing subtle shifts in her behavior. She seems to be settling down indoors and starting to grasp the idea of “chilling out” while not in her crate.  If I’m in the kitchen, she will lie quietly nearby with occasional breaks to annoy Heidi.  And in the evenings, she’s been more relaxed and not on the move every minute.

She’s growing up.

While she still retains her mischievous streak and still steals, her kleptomania seems to have waned slightly.  Now, when she disappears, and I make a dash to find her, she will often be lying in the family room or sitting in her crate. 

She is almost as tall as Heidi, and I’m guessing she weighs between 45-50 pounds. Amazing to think she’s been here five months already.

I continue to train and reinforce. When there are no distractions, she focuses on me and responds beautifully.  However, it’s typically more challenging if there are distractions, so I usually insert mini-lessons into our outings.

Leia had a beautiful recall as a puppy, but with the onset of the teens and a newfound confidence and independence, her recall has regressed.  I’m not surprised by this.  If Leia is focused on me, her recall is still way above average, but if other dogs, people, or distractions come into the equation, her recall regresses.  So, I’m back-tracking and working on rebuilding the foundation of getting and keeping Leia’s attention, regardless of what is happening around us. 

Along with reinforcing attention and recall, I have also had to address Leia’s tendency to jump on people when she first greets them. When she arrived home at the age of 8 weeks, I immediately did not permit her front paws on my legs in any way, shape, or form.  She persisted, and so did I. Eventually, after a few weeks she resigned herself to not jumping on me. BUT, for some reason, the concept did not transfer to other people. 

I’ve been working with her on leash and doing controlled meet & greets.  She’s improving and understands, but finds it extremely difficult to contain her exuberance!  She adores people and wants to be with them.

I’m hoping that Leia’s lessons in controlled meet & greets will eventually help her understand that keeping four paws on the ground is also required when she greets people off leash.  

This challenge has been exacerbated by the Covid quarantine and the inability to do close contact training.  KPT was terminated after one class, and group obedience classes are still not being offered. Obedience classes with an instructor, other people, and dogs is invaluable. There are no hard fast rules in training because each dog is an individual. The skill lies in understanding canine behavior, breed traits, and having an arsenal of techniques to apply. Some of the successful techniques I’ve used in the past have not produced the desired results. I find myself researching new approaches or ideas that may help me communicate with Leia more clearly.

In spite of the training challenges, I am enjoying Leia’s puppyhood. She makes me laugh every day, and she has the sweetest nature.  It’s all about believing in her.

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