Last night, the family went out to the breeder who produced our wonderful Ginger and picked up her half-brother. Orion (name subject to change) is a teeny tiny eight week old black lab. He was one of four boys in his litter, and we spent last night helping him get through the separation anxiety caused by his first night away from his siblings (which means I have had almost no sleep).
He’s very much a baby, with chubby little legs and a toddling walk. We’ve begun the process of housebreaking him, which may result in me breaking my no-paper towels policy for this special occasion. Then again, maybe I should just cut up some of the T shirts I have bagged and waiting for donation–I’m sure a few can be spared for the new pup.
He’s still very needy at the moment, and we’re trying to gently break him of the belief that whining and crying is the best way to get our attention. This step is hard–when you hear a little puppy crying pathetically and whimpering at your feet, your instinct is go coddle him, but this is exactly what we have to avoid. Dogs themselves don’t reward a whiny pack member (as we’ve seen with Ginger snubbing him when he’s whiny), and so we’ve got to take on the role of teaching him to be a little more self-sufficient by showing him that whining doesn’t work. I am trying to only give him lots of attention when he’s settled down and quiet, rather than when he’s yowling.
He’s pretty loud, though, so I hope he proves to be a fast learner or my mood is going to take a turn for the south. I missed most of my sleep last night as he howled and yowled and whimpered and cried to be held–but I know a few nights of suffering is important now for a healthy family balance down the road. He’s already shown some improvement today by taking a few naps peacefully in an old cat bed we put in his crate. I remain cautiously optimistic that I may get some sleep tonight.