A Pet-Parent's Routine.
Developing a routine is one of nature's best indicators of survival. If you know what to do, where to do it, and when to do it, you eliminate so many variables that could lead to your demise. A lot of animals love going through a day-to-day routine, us humans included. Now that Maui has settled in, we have made it so that he's part of our daily routine.
That routine starts around 6 AM, where Maui would sometimes claw on the door. I leave his crate open at night so he can go out walking around the house, potentially scaring off any would-be intruders, not that we have a dangerous neighborhood, instead to scare off the tiny ones, as sometimes have small mice around. He still has a bit of a barking issue, but that will be dealt with soon.
When I open the door, he goes all puppy eyes, excited at what we are about to do. As my wife prepares breakfast, my daughter, Maui, and I go out for a jog. Sometimes me and my wife switch, either way, Maui and my daughter get their morning exercise, and Maui gets to update his pee posts. He still has leash problems, one that doesn't seem to be largely impacted by any of our training. I sometimes just let Maui reach wherever he diverts, so that way, we can get on our job faster. I still wonder if doing this will cause further leash behavioral issues. So far, we haven't hurt ourselves, so I hope it stays that way.
As we head back home, Maui and my daughter are warmed up, but I'm tired. Curse my sedentary lifestyle. I prepare Maui's food and he eagerly waits close to the bowl As per our house training, I have him sit and wait until I give the go signal. I switch between three different kinds of quality puppy food and I hope he likes the variety. He has eaten all three heartily, so I'll take that as a yes.
After breakfast and a few morning chores, I head out into my garden farm where I mostly spend my time tending to the plants and staring at them in a thoughtful manner like most gardeners. I sometimes let Maui out in an attempt to get him desensitised to the cat's presence. So far, our gentle giant Saturn is at least trying to be friendly but Maui has other, more rambunctious plans such as chasing them for fun. That fun ends when it gets the attention of Mars, who probably sees Maui as a giant rat that needs hunting. His cowardly side shows when Mars begins stalking and dashing at Maui with his fat paws and sharp claws. My third cat just disappears when Maui's out and about.
It's at this point where I make Maui wear the shock collar. I have no plan of training him just yet, I have to give him plenty of time to get used to it, and make sure he doesn't think that shock collar time is obedience time. The shock collar I bought had these plastic bumps to replace the metal prongs, so I placed them on just to prevent any accidental shocks. The collar is on because I'm using the beep function for our training.
Then, it's off to work. I go back to the office with Maui, and let him inside the crate. I close the crate at this point and he curls up on his doggy bed inside as if he already knows this is quiet time. When work becomes a little dull, I let him out and we play for a short bit, sometimes he's the one who wants to play and I oblige. In some cases, my daughter is the one who wants to play with Maui and they do so. What's great is that once he's satisfied, he goes inside the crate and I close it. Crate training was surprisingly easy for Maui, perhaps he likes the idea of being safe inside a structure where he can still see his owners.
When the time comes to cook lunch, I take Maui out in case he wants to hang out with me in the kitchen. I never feed Maui table scraps, but I noticed that he whines when he's left alone in the office, not all the time, but I feel sorry for him so I let him hang out with me while I cook. If there's food left on his bowl, he uses this time to eat what's left.
At just 7 months of age, Maui is large. My wife loves it because she likes big dogs and she likes the idea of deterring potential human intruders with the sight of a large dog. This, however, furthers the amount of food I have to feed him. I was prepared for this, and I just hope the price of dog food doesn't increase too much.
With our big puppy happy just hanging out while I cook, we continue on with our lunch. When we eat, Maui likes to go under the table, perhaps he likes the idea of being under some kind of shelter where all his family members are hanging out. Either way, he has fun and I make it a strong point never to feed Maui table scraps, although my daughter's small dining mishaps end up in Maui's mouth.
After some chores, I take Maui out for a potty break. He usually goes to the other room, but now I'm doing it outside as it I don't want to stink the house up. Potty training outside was difficult, as I had to take Maui out with leash on and lead him to a choice area close to our outside drain. I had to put some newspaper there for a while just for Maui to understand that this is the place to do his business. I'm glad he got the point quick as newspapers starting to become a rarity here.
Then, it's back to work. Maui automatically comes back to the crate to rest. I think he knows what's coming in a couple of hours. He sometimes busies himself with his toys and loves to chew his leather chew bone. After two hours of work, it's time for some training sessions. I take the stinky dried liver out of the fridge. Maui perks up when he smells it.
It's my turn today, in some days it's my wife or my daughter. I prefer the mix so that Maui learns to listen to all of us equally. I've heard from my friend that their dogs only listen to him, so he ends up being called whenever their dog is doing something bad.
For today's training, we're are going to reinforce his basic obedience training. Right now I only have positive reinforcement with me, soon enough I will be using the e-collar. We go out so I can somewhat increase the number of distractions for Maui and start the training.
It starts with reinforcing the simplest one, "Sit" and "Stay". With varying levels of intensity and difficulty. I start by calling his name, then as soon as I have his attention, I command him to sit. No treats in hand, as they are inside my little bag hanging on the back of my pants. When he sits, I quickly say "Stay!" and just stare at him while I'm grabbing a treat from behind. After counting roughly five seconds, I say "Good!" then give him a treat. There's this brief moment where his eyes widen with an expectant expression when he hears the "Good!" sound. It's perhaps the remnant of his adorable puppy days and I wish this sticks. I do this process a couple of times as fast as I can. As soon as Maui eats the treat, I quickly call his name and do the entire process again.
After about 6-7 times, we change up the process. Now I step back five steps every second. Sometimes, Maui stays put, sometimes he has the urge to step forward. When he moves, I clearly say "No!" and restart the process. The neat part here is that if he succeeds, I get to toss the treat towards his mouth and he tries to catch it. He's really good at catching food, even when I throw it fast, provided it's in his general direction.
After another 6-7 times, I switch to the last step. I stay close to Maui, order the sit and stay, then with the treat in hand, I slowly place it close to his mouth. The goal is for Maui to keep still until I say "Move!" that's when he should break the stay and get the treat from my hand. Unlike the part where I step back, Maui is very good at this. He would sniff at the piece of liver, but not bite it. Sometimes, I would wait past five seconds, ending up with Maui and me having a staring contest until he grumbles. I make sure I give that release command and treat it in the middle of the grumble or after.
The key element in this training is really just trying to make Maui focus. Sometimes, when something catches his attention, it's impossible to make him listen, especially outside, where all my training is thrown out the window and his doggy nature prevails. That will change soon.
With training done, I leave Maui free inside the house where he usually goes to play with my daughter, or chill out in the office while I continue my work. This is his free time and it's like this until dinner time where he once again hangs out with me in the kitchen as I prepare food, but this time I also prepare his food. Depending on the meal, I sometimes leave a few scraps of fresh meat or non-bony parts of fish mixed in with his food. Oddly, he doesn't like fresh, uncooked liver.
One thing I like about mixed-breeds is how they don't have many health issues compared to pure breeds. Hopefully, since Maui is half-mixed-bred, a healthy and varied diet would give him an illness-free life.
After dinner, it's wind-down time. It's either game night or video game hour, or just planning out the rest of the week discussion. Maui loves to hang out when we're all gathered, although he still tries to nab any snacks should we have any, and there was one case where he took the rook from our chessboard when we weren't looking and had a mild chew with it. No amount of scolding got it out of his mouth until I had to rescue it.
Then after some mild nightly chores, I start to turn lights off and Maui sees this as an opportunity to quickly go to our bedroom and perhaps strongly suggest sleeping inside the room since he tries to lay down close to the bed. This was sadly a no-no for me, as I like the bedroom to be free of dog fur and other stuff, as I have a sensitive nose for these things. After practically dragging him back to the office, I place him inside the crate until he decides to lay down. That's when I go back to the bed and lock the door.
And so that ends the day. What's amazing is how Maui seems to know when certain things happen, as his body clock is just as accurate as our clocks. Sometimes, he's the one giving me signs that it's time for training or time for our jog. As a pet parent, I hope that the life I'm giving Maui is one that he finds fulfilling.
When I gain enough confidence in his obedience, he'll soon be a part of our park and beach visits and with the shock collar with me, it should be much easier to manage him.