Here’s how the first 2 months have gone

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I've officially had my herding mix pup for 2 months now. She's 17 weeks old. All dogs are different, but I figured it might be helpful to hear an anecdote about how the first 2 months have gone, what we struggled with, and what we've achieved. Feel free to share your progressions too.

Week 1: I had this week off work and spent every moment being extremely stressed out. This was the worst week for me by far. My appetite was awful and I was constantly busy and worried. I had been preparing for this for months. I went through a ton of resources and I'm sure I had put hundreds of hours into learning everything I needed. It still wasn't enough to really feel like I had a handle on things at first. Looking back, I think the pup was relatively low key this first week though, since we had just gotten her and she was so young. We started crate training, potty training, socialization, and basic commands right away.

Week 2: Covid started getting serious and we were told to start working from home. A lot of my socialization plans went out the window. I was still stressed but starting to fall into a routine and remembering to feed myself again. She didn't hate her crate but she didn't like it either. When I lured her in, she stretched to get the treat in the back while keeping her back feet outside. I started to not spend every moment with her. She was still having an accident maybe once every 1-2 days. She understood sit and down. She still nipped like crazy, was very impatient, and had low frustration tolerance. We never really did much leash walking training, but she happened to be pretty good on leash. She mostly knows her name, sit, down, wait, and has a spotty recall.

Week 4: By this week, the puppy was clearly less of an infant. Her derpy romp had been replaced by a surprisingly coordinated sprint. It was becoming clear that the indoor play area was going to be too small real soon. Her energy levels got higher. She found her voice and revealed herself to be a very vocal dog, barking when she couldn't get what she wanted. I think behavior-wise, this was probably the hardest time so far. She was always amped up and wanted to do things and never relaxed. But we'd also made a lot of progress. Her schedule was pretty well established at this point. We were back to work, so we started pretending to leave by crating her and working elsewhere in the house. Her bite was pretty soft and the frequency of nipping people was going down. Her frequency of accidents indoors was also going down. I started relaxation training in earnest at this point for the sake of my sanity. I kept teaching her tricks and how to not be a terror in exchange for tasty things. I would say she was pretty well crate trained at this point. She was also finally sleeping through the night (10pm-6:30am) sometime between week 3 and 4. We've never had an accident in the crate. Depending on her mood and arousal level, she now pulls more on leash. This was also around the time she started to not like her kibble. She learned drop it, leave it, stand, stay, go settle, go to crate, and has a nice heel over short distances. Most of these commands are still not very reliable, but she knows them and can do them well in a limited context. Her fetch game is getting really good.

Week 6: Relaxation training started to yield results. She was DEFINITELY not a well behaved, relaxed mature dog, but she started to understand that sitting nicely or lying down was an easy way to get things and that spending a moment doing nothing was maybe not the worst thing. Around this week, she slept outside her crate in our presence for the first time since the first week. This was nowhere near a regular thing, but this first time was a big deal to me. She's usually so busy that we have to entertain her the entire time she's awake and then crate her for an enforced nap. Her nipping got way better as she learned that biting people means play stops and we walk away. Potty training is nowhere near done, but it's clearly improving. No poop accidents in weeks. On the other hand, this week she started barking at things that made her uncomfortable. She used to just turn around and run, but now she lunges and barks, hackles raised. She also didn't used to really jump on people or counter surf, but now she does, and she's suddenly tall enough to reach the table. Depending on her mood and arousal level, she now pulls more on leash. We worked a lot on refining the commands she already knows and proofing them in different situations.

Week 8 (this week): Here's where we are now with behaviors.

– Crate training: She knows when I'm about to give her something nice in the crate and will run in on her own without prompting. Sometimes she'll think she should go in when that's not even what I wanted and I have to call her back out. It's a very good problem to have. She also knows the command to go in, which we practice even though I often don't need to use it anymore.

– Barking: This was a lot worse for a while, but now it's getting better. I've spent the past few weeks counterconditioning her to the things she's uncomfortable with, and I'm seeing more and more of her doing her little pre-bark or barking once and then looking to me. We've made big progress here. As for the excitement barking, this is improving more slowly. She knows how to get the things she wants, but still has trouble controlling herself and will often flail and bark instead. Frustration barking is still very much a thing. I think she's starting to understand that if she nips and we leave, barking only makes it take longer for us to come back. She's improving little by little, but I feel like this will be a long process. I'm still working on trying not to let her get that frustrated in the first place. She rarely barks in her crate.

– Nipping: This got better, and now is getting a little worse again. It might be because she's really starting with teething, but it's also because she has been good enough that we're giving her a little more freedom and time with us. As she gets impatient and bored (even if she's had lots of exercise and training), she will become a devil child and start nipping and barking.

– Potty: We just had our first straight week of no accidents. That streak was quickly broken, but it's still a huge milestone for us. It seems like she knows to hold it and go outside as long as we're having an ordinary day. If someone exciting (everyone is exciting) comes over or we go somewhere that's not our home, her training goes out the window. She also does some excitement peeing whenever she gets to meet a person (very rare nowadays, which doesn't help).

– Leash walking: We are actively working on this now. She does well in our neighborhood, but in new places she's too excited to not pull.

– General behavior: I think this has improved a lot. She listens reasonably well, can come down from maximum arousal and somewhat settle herself, knows how to ask nicely for things she wants, and can sort of entertain herself. She's spending longer and longer periods of time being calm and less time being a terror. Her frustration tolerance and patience have definitely gone up. It used to be that if we were in a training session, if she didn't get it right away she would start barking. Yesterday, I tried to teach her something new and she was able to keep trying a few times without losing it. She's noticeably more emotionally mature and even though she's far from perfect, I'm proud of her for that.

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