Age: Approximately 6 month
Size: Medium size
Character: Timid & Gentle
Have you ever wondered how long it takes for a “shelter dog” to build trust and become a “home dog”? It’s never straightforward and depends, of course, on many factors. The dog’s age, it’s unique character, as well as what we, as new owners can achieve to make the dog feel at home.I have to say, it was the one thing that worried me when we traveled to collect Zayka. I knew, she had been through many distressing situations and changes and I wondered how she will come with more changes.
I have to say, it was the one thing that worried me when we traveled to collect Zayka. I knew, she had been through many distressing situations and I wondered how she will cope with more changes. Here is Zayka’s first week at her new home:
Zayka has seen her new home for the first time. She loved her new bed and went there directly remaining there for an almost entire evening. I think it made her feel warm and secure. Her special place. She was taken out frequently giving her plenty of chances to go to toilet and stretch her legs. She was not so keen on being out in the cold (but then, who is?). However, due to this, we succeeded in not having a single “accident” during the entire first day!
Zayka slept quietly the entire night in the same room as us. She woke up only when she heard us waking up. I noticed that during the entire day she wasn’t keen to leave her bed.
Maybe she felt this was her safe place and feeling secure only there. Or maybe she thought that this is where we want her to remain, hard to read a dog’s mind. She left her bad to eat (after heavy encouragement!) and to go out. However, as soon as she had finished eating or came back in, she went straight to her bed.
We started to teach her, her name.
During the afternoon, the neighbor came to see Zayka, for some reason, she suddenly became very playful and puppy-like it was a delight to watch. We hoped we had made a bit of a breakthrough. She clearly enjoys being the center of attention! She played with all three of us, jumping and pulling her favorite toy horse.
She remained charged for some time after the neighbor had left but gradually calmed down.
Zayka had one kaka- and one pee pee accident today. I should have been more attentive to her subtle signs like looking at me with “take me out” –eyes, I will learn.
The big progress day
When we woke up she was already awake quietly waiting for us to wake up and wagging her tail with delight when we did.
I said “good morning” and gave her lots of fuss.
Zayka already has her “favorite spots” in the garden where she prefers to go to toilet. Luckily, it is a least popular part of the garden.
On her morning walk Zayka runs up the hill, it was the first time I actually had to run after her. It was great!
Today Zayka came out of her “safe spot” aka her bed to take her food without being encouraged. A giant breakthrough. She is a very smart girl.
She is much more interactive: she searches for eye contact more frequently and I’m beginning to feel a strong sense of bonding!
Zayka is still under “name training,” when she responds to her name she gets a treat. She is doing great that is why we have complicated the task a little by working in a pair.
Despite all these improvements, however, the one thing that delights me the most is the change in her physical appearance. She has already put weight on and is sitting correctly more often.
We had no peepee or kaka accidents.
I come when you call me
Today Zayka is not so keen to go for a walk. It could be that she doesn’t like it when it’s cold and slippery or maybe she feels a pain somewhere. We have booked a visit to the vet to get her checked.
She sat on her “going out” carpet and looked at the door but when I got closer and started to put a collar on her she was very reluctant and you could see she wasn’t keen to go. I ‘read it’ it as she doesn’t want to go to toilet. After two failed attempts she went to the sitting room and, can you believe it, did a little pee on her “training-carpet”. Conclusion: yes, she gives a sign when she needs to go to toilet; no, she doesn’t like to go out sometimes to do it because of the cold, she’s in pain or just can’t be bothered, who knows! So it is good to encourage her and be a bit pushy if necessary.
Zayka continues to sleep a lot. She eats, she sleeps, she walks she sleeps, she plays she sleeps. It is clear to be that her body is in some kind of ‘restoring mode’, it tries to get as much rest as possible and store as many calories as she can. It also requires a lot of energy to internalize so much new information, smells, people, sounds and feelings.
We introduced her to apples, pumpkin, pepper, oranges, broccoli and cucumber. So far her favorite vegetable is red pepper, followed by cucumber and pumpkin 🙂
Today she started to behave much more as ‘normal’ dogs do: looking at us when we are eating (begging), reacting to the fringe and to certain sounds that mean FOOD. But, even with that, she is still very delicate and doesn’t push or persist for too long. She just goes to her bed and sleeps 🙂
Effective communication day
Today Zayka sat on her, “go out” carpet, looked at the entrance door and gave a little whine. This was by far the clearest communication she has ever given us. We went outside, she pee peed. Voila!
Another improvement that I noticed is that she now feels relaxed enough to fall asleep in other places than her “safe spot” bed, for the first time.
Today there has been even more eye contact, she gazed into our eyes with more trust and certain calmness. It is such an exhilarating experience when the connection between you and your new dog grows.
Because Zayka showed so such progress we decided to take her for her first trip to the grocery shop (plus we actually needed some food). I was a bit anxious leaving her in the car on her own but it was important to check how relaxed she was in such a common situation. Leaving two windows half-open we rushed out and came back after 20 minutes. She seemed unfazed by her new experience and peacefully waiting for us. What a treasure this little girl is!
But the biggest breakthrough today is that Zayka is now keen to be close to us: often she will move to the room we are in just to be closer to us and be able to, “keep an eye on us”. We are getting closer. It is wonderful!
Today we felt that Zayka was relaxed enough to try and bath her. We took her to shower and slowly started to shower her. It was clear that she would prefer to be somewhere else but she was calm, not shaking at all and didn’t try to escape. In fact, she closed her eyes in what has seemed to us pleasure when I started to shower her head 🙂 (or she didn’t want to get soap in her eyes).
After the shower, she received her manicure and pedicure. Again, she was calm and accepted it like a lady 🙂
Last but not least: ears! Zayka has very large ears that are made to funnel sounds and also works as a highly effective dust collector :). It took 5 wet serviettes to clean her ears properly and be done with this procedure. I know she liked having her ears cleaned because she pressed her head against my hand, closed her eyes and was still. What a princess!
We introduced her to nuts and seeds and she loves them! How great that we can give her healthy snacks instead of commercial treats for dogs.
Today Zayka went for her longest walk since she arrived. Right to the end of the street and back. On the way back she sat and rested for a few times, we think it is her legs that bothers her. We took it very slowly, she will build her strength over time I’m sure.
A minute after waking up, we took Zayka to our bed for a morning snuggle. We didn’t know what to expect: will she even like it? Or will this new experience scare her? Result!!!! Oh yes, she loved it! She was natural! Gentle, calm and very snuggly 🙂
Zayka’s adaptation to us and her new home is fast! She surprised us with how rapidly she learns: she is competent in command ‘sit’, she comes when she is called (almost every time) , asks to go to toilet and waits patiently for her food. Just a well-mannered little lady!
We are still learning to understand her communication: it can be difficult to read her subtle ways and she gets frustrated when she is not allowed to eat cat’s poop :). Zayka needs to build her confidence and not be so cautious especially when she is about to enter a new room or place in the house. I am, however, confident that it will all come with time.
The trust builds with each day. I am full of enthusiasm for our adventurous and bright future together!