Life With Yuna -
2 Month Update:
All dogs have a unique personality, and Yuna is no exception. But I have to say, Yuna does stray from the stereotypical Labrador in my mind, who is always high-energy, always playful, and always friendly to everyone.
November 1st, 2018
Two months have gone by now, and I think it’s safe to say that the second month was a lot more stress-free than the first.
I think Yuna has settled into the groove of things. She’s gotten used to going to work. She gets hungry when she’s supposed to. She gets tired at night when it’s time to sleep.
I’ve also gotten used to incorporating her into my daily life, making sure she’s attended to amidst my routine. Also, I’m excited to be keeping up with daily Instagram content and new blog entries twice a week.
Like the first monthly update, there are three main things I wanted to bring up about Yuna. All of them relate to her personality, which I’ve had ample time to observe now.
All dogs have a unique personality, and Yuna is no exception. But I have to say, Yuna does stray from the stereotypical Labrador in my mind, who is always high-energy, always playful, and always friendly to everyone. These particular points stick out!
Highlight #1: Yuna is super mellow!
I have definitely brought this up before, but Yuna is a very mellow dog at home.
If you’re meeting Yuna for the first time, you will get the energetic, happy-go-lucky Yuna that reflects a typical Lab. She’s very likely to jump on you, balancing on her hind legs to try and greet you. She’ll probably have her tongue way out ready to give you a few licks.
This could not be further from her usual self at home.
Sure, we can occasionally wind her up and entice her into a case of doggy zoomies, but this happens at most once a day.
Most of the time, if you are minding your own business, she will do the same. She won’t ever actively try to seek engagement from you unless you have already shown interest first.
In fact, if you’re currently doing something else, she’ll probably just be sleeping. She never really picks up a toy and brings it to you hoping you’d play with her. In fact, she’s usually not really crazy about toys unless YOU’VE brought it to her personally.
She’s probably the type of dog that chills a lot at home, and lets out all her energy outside.
Another part of this is that since the first two weeks, I’ve rarely heard her bark. Since then I think she only has barked twice.
I am not sure what to make of this. Many consider me lucky for having such a well-behaved dog, but I’m almost concerned she’ll lose her voice eventually or something. Even makes me regret discouraging her barking early on.
I do wish Yuna were a little crazier. Not so crazy that she’ll tear up the house if left unsupervised, but just crazy enough to be able to get into a playing mood more often and more consistently.
Of course, this is just Yuna’s personality. She is this way by design! It’s not a good or bad thing, and she is a wonderful dog no matter what.
I would argue that being crazy does have certain advantages though. That leads me to my next point.
Highlight #2: Yuna is actually not so easy to lure and train.
As a first time dog-owner, I’m not sure what the benchmark is when people say their dogs are “easy to train.”
Some people say that their dogs are really smart and will “get it” after just a few repetitions of a trick.
Others put a timer on it; they’ll say it took ten minutes to communicate the idea of giving paw, and a few more days of repetitions for their dog to solidify the behavior.
Since Labradors are a top 10 breed when it comes to intelligence, I thought Yuna would be relatively easy to train compared to most dogs.
However, I feel like Yuna is relatively indifferent most of the time when it comes to training, and in combination with highlight #1, this makes it pretty hard to communicate new desired behaviors to her.
She seems to prefer just eating her food in peace.
Many dog owners are familiar with lures. Place a delicious treat right in front of the dog’s nose, and watch them follow your hand like a magnet!
Yuna is so mellow and polite all the time that she will never really follows a lure (unless you are a stranger greeting her for the first time!). No matter how tasty the treat is. She will look at the treat, but won’t always follow—she will take at most one or two sluggish steps toward the treat, and if you still don’t give it to her at that point, she just gives up on it and becomes entirely uninterested in the treat.
We’ve tried this with all sorts of delicious treats, including dog biscuits, chicken jerky, real cooked chicken breast, and peanut butter. None of them worked reliably to lure her the way other dogs do.
Luring is a critical technique for getting a dog to voluntarily enter new positions which can then be reinforced. For example, “beg” or “sit pretty” starts with the sit position. You hold a treat at their nose and raise it ever so slightly until their front paws leave the ground. Eventually you can train this into a solid sit pretty.
The past month I’ve started trying to teach her sit pretty with real chicken, but she never really understood the concept. After a few days of no progress, I decided to try and teach her how to follow a lure; that also did not really get us anywhere.
Of course, Yuna is still crazy smart. I think we’ve just yet to find a training strategy that really clicks with her.
So it looks like I’ll have to just continue to search for a treat or toy that Yuna gets really crazy about. But ultimately, I think it boils down to just her mellow personality, or something she experienced before I adopted her that causes this indifference.
We’ll have to be patient with her and spend more time with her so she can develop a cool bag of tricks. In November, I’ll commit more time to teaching her a trick, most likely sit pretty.
Highlight #3: Our bond is strengthening.
I reread over highlight 2 and though I do think all the points are honest and true, it did sound a little like I was ranting about Yuna. We’ll finish with a strong positive that I think defined the month for us.
It’s clear that communication between us is improving. The leading metric I look to to prove this would have to be the way she behaves during walks.
In my previous monthly update, I noted how bad Yuna was at walking. Constant leash tension and lounging toward other dogs.
She has made significant progress on this front since I kept closer control over her walking. Essentially I’ve been keeping her heeled close to me the majority of the time we are on a long walk.
While she definitely does still pick up the pace and wander away from being by my side, she will now slow down whenever I say “heel” or if she feels tension herself.
Occasionally, we get a long stretch of her heeled perfectly at my side. Love that I get to experience loose-leash walking every so often.
This month, I’ve also improved in getting her attention while we’re in a highly disruptive environment. Unless there’s a major distraction within a few feet of her, she will respond to sit as well as her name more often than not.
I’ve become significantly more trustworthy of Yuna being off-leash, especially in the latter half of the month. While we’re walking through Denny Park on our daily walks to work, I will sometimes let her off-leash to freely explore.
On the weekends, if we meet another dog during a walk and the other owner is okay with it, we’ll just let both dogs play off-leash. She does run back to my side when called (eventually), and never fights being put back on the leash.
Same thing in the office—when I head out to the kitchen area for water or need to ask a colleague a question, I’ll let her follow me out off leash. I’m confident Yuna won’t run away or get herself into trouble.
Ultimately, our bond has definitely strengthened. Being only two months in, I’m really happy with this so far.
Bonus Highlight: Yuna loves to go underneath various things.
A funny thing that Yuna has been doing a lot lately is placing herself under everything. My bed, my roommate’s bed, a desk, the dinner table, you name it…
Sometimes, if she can’t fit her entire doggy self under something, she’ll just stick her head under.
I find it so interesting because…it’s such a human reaction. The main reason I can think of for her doing this is to find a nice dark and quieter place to sleep. She’d rather pursue darkness than using her bed just to shield the light!
Maybe it also has to do with a sense of security. It’s why many dogs feel comfortable being inside crates, as long as it’s not extremely long periods of time. Perhaps she feels safer under there.
I think this also reflects a lot about her personality as well. It’s clear that she values her rest time and needs to be by herself every once in a while.
All in all, Yuna is an incredibly quirky dog. We’ve still just started this adventure, so be sure to check out other blog posts for more fun and informative content!