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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
While I'm on here for a hot minute, I might as well introduce the latest member of the family... Paya!

first day home, around 9 weeks
Dog Dog breed Carnivore Comfort Mammal

9-10 weeks
Dog Dog breed Carnivore Working animal Companion dog


14ish weeks
Dog Snow Dog breed Carnivore Collar


20 weeks
Dog Vertebrate Dog breed Carnivore Mammal


Stinkin cute, isn't she? After raising Brae, Paya seems relatively tame. But she was the feistiest one out of her litter of nine. The rest of them slept on the foster's lap - she continued to parkour. "Not that one" I decided :). I originally was going to pick her sister, who showed great drive but a better off switch. On adoption day though, I didn't love her sister's structure in the rear. So we went for the crazy one with a heavy sigh. Well, I had all of Brae's equipment still ready. So crate, pen, drag line... everything is in play. She is overall less of a raw nerve than Brae is. But she is still a lot of dog. Like Brae, at 12 weeks of age was raring for more after 1 hour training/play sessions. 4 mile hikes? No drop in energy from beginning to end. Unlike Brae, she was able to hang out in a pen from day one, so some natural settling ability. Not great settling ability, but it's there. In contrast, an acquaintance of mine owns her brother and he's one of the laziest dogs she's ever met. So it just goes to show... I know how to pick'em :)

Paya's a joy to train and easy to live with after the first month of adjustment, mostly for me and my sleep schedule. The biggest barrier is Brae's medical issue (see other thread) so I am not letting them play and basically do two completely separate dog routines. The biggest things I will need to look out for as she matures is leash reactivity and over arousal. But she is so motivated that high value and flirt pole trump everything else in the world. Plus, I've been incredibly strict about her socialization so she hasn't gotten the chance to receive too much reinforcement from other people and dogs.

Training vids, of course:

excuse my expressions; I was trying to figure out if the camera was positioned correctly and filming



Those of you who remember me may understand when I say - she is my dream dog in many ways :) I know for sure with Paya and Brae my life will never be boring. And I am absolutely going to be clotheslined by a giant stick one day soon with both of them on the trail. Also, do not let me get another puppy for at least 6 years. Maybe 10. Also, my next puppy is going to have the energy and temperament of a potato.
 

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Such a sweetie! Is she another dutchie? I'm not great at the shepherds, especially as pups lol. Nice to see you again and hear an update!
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks all!

DaySleepers, she is not a shepherd but I have been asked by various strangers if she is a malinois mix, hahaa. I deliberately avoided getting another working shepherd. Don't get me wrong - I ADORE them and would like to have one in my life at all times. Just not two at once :D. I wanted a medium drive, medium size, female. I got at least two of the three criteria.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
6 months old, around 30 lbs. She is a GREAT little dog. Extremely responsive, but very alert and zippy. I've been allowing her and Brae to play indoors a few times a week, since Brae doesn't seem to get hurt if he doesn't do full-extension motions. It's great to see my strict routines pay off - first time in two months I let them play, I watched as they self regulated and mirrored for 40-50 minutes. I am still very restrictive with Paya's routine with Brae for many reasons, but I absolutely see the payoff week to week.


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Some things I adore about Paya -
She is extremely sweet! Brae is an apple pie, but in a very pushy and needy way. Paya is just sweet in the way you'd picture a sweet dog to be. I can physically do anything to Brae but he WILL escalate and think it's game time. I can flop down with Paya, pick her up, smother her, and she'll just melt and ooze onto my lap. She also does the frog leg thing where both her hind legs stick out while she's on her belly. ADORABLE.

She has a healthy balance of confidence and fear. Coming from having two males who were overbearingly confident (which has its perks too), it is refreshing to have a dog who will do appeasing wags and low-head face licks to a dog before going crazy on them, as opposed to my boys who would immediately go to posturing or pushy play. Paya has a cautiousness when approaching new situations but great recovery. As an example, she slowly backed away when I first whipped out a dog sleeping bag and pretty much tossed it next to her. But within 5 seconds or less she was crawling into it. Or when she met the vet for the first time, she immediately approached but was a bit cautious and then melted into the vet's hands. That 10% higher cautiousness or fear does lend itself to situations like - she did panic and lunge away when a blaring ambulance zoomed past us on a crosswalk (then recovered immediately, took treats, and kept walking like nothing happened). But fear is normal and she counts as the most fearful dog I've owned so far, and to any observer she still presents as a confident and over the top dog.

Bright, quick learner. There hasn't been a skill that she hasn't picked up in a few training sessions. She's a bit spazzy so this surprised me some. I am not formally training her nearly as much as I did my other two, but she did pick up on some complex skills like precise rear paw targeting.

She has a pretty alright off switch that is only getting better, and is an easy keeper in general. Paya graduated from pen to tether setup and she can tolerate any schedule with no difficulties. I can sleep in, I can give her a lot of exercise, I can give her a little exercise, and she will do normal puppy/adolescent stuff in her space or in her crate. She doesn't fuss. She doesn't get into things she shouldn't (on the confines of her tether), is house trained, and doesn't freak out as Brae moves around the house. In contrast, I couldn't tether puppy-Brae because he literally would chew on the chain tether -completely calmly- because anything and any material was game. I say "pretty alright" instead of "great offswitch" because I have SEEN puppies and dogs who are even better at settling. And for all that I just wrote, Paya is still vigilant. She will go from dead sleep to at least perking up if I, say, move from the living room to use the bathroom.

She's so freakin' cute.

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Some behaviors I am looking out for -

Leash skills. She has always been showing steady improvement but of all the areas people generally work with their dogs on, loose leash walking has been the hardest. For Sor it was recall. For Brae it was settling. She actually walks great on leash, but it requires the most mental effort from me to keep the reinforcement high.

High arousal/prey drive to chase. All of my dogs have had high prey drive. It is high on my list of criteria when selecting a dog. But prey drive is so complex and different. Soro had very intense moments of high prey drive - tug and fetch, in that order. He could keep going and was still a 'play anytime' dog, but would show lower intensity as we played. And when he was done, he would be very relaxed and scent oriented. Overall, very easy to hang around outside. Brae is pure intensity and no satiation, but extremely focused. He could play with one toy forever and I have never seen him tire out on tug or fetch (but also in that order). Paya loves tug and fetch, like I can get her to play anytime. But her prey drive in general is less focused on one activity or object. She might go hard for one toy and then completely lose interest BUT not be satiated. I know her well enough now to know that she is seeking the next moving thing. So as an example, if I play fetch and tug with a soft roller disc, she is 100% into it but I stop the session purposefully after a few minutes. In contrast, I have not seen a satiation point for flirt pole - pure movement. So I can see where this can lead to trouble. I see the propensity for leash reactivity, running up to distractions from a great distance, etc. She has not been allowed to practice any of those behaviors, but I have worked extremely hard to keep it that way. I'm leaving room open for the potential that her prey drive may change as she matures. I can see her becoming a 'fetch crazy' dog. Her spring pole motivation has naturally gone up a tiny bit (but she's not into spring pole as much as Sor or Brae). But I also wouldn't be surprised if what I see is what I get when she matures.


Overall, she's absolutely fantastic. How I lucked out with 3 out of 3 dogs, I'm not sure. It is such a privilege being able to see a puppy grow up, see my hard work pay off, the whole nine yards. But, as I've said while raising Brae, I'm working HARD, and I know my criteria are sky high. If I look at my Brae thread I mention a few times how easy it was. This is not easy, even though I know what I'm doing. I absolutely think Paya is a very 'normal' high energy pup. But high energy and high arousal are still that.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
About 9 months old now (38 lbs). Where does the time go? Paya is still a gem of a dog and has been allowed many more freedoms. She is loose in the house most of the time, when we are there to supervise. She is so much better about reading social cues - steal his bone after he walks away from it, settle when there's nothing happening, sit on mom when she's stretching....

It's been onwards and upwards! I do have some lingering concerns about her roached back (see other thread), but the chiropractor said she moves and feels great, and there is no pain. So it's just me being sensitive about lameness given my history with Soro and Brae. She is also way less itchy and got a cytopoint shot a little while ago, so allergies are a thing I have to be mindful of.

Brae absolutely adores her and sometimes he's the one that needs to tone it down. They play an hour or more a day (indoors), share toys well, and overall are more similar than they are different as far as drives go. Paya is still more of a submissive player, with Brae and at daycare. She is on her back a lot but also loves doing the leg bites and face grabs. Brae is a neck striker. One funny thing about their dynamic is their height difference. So every opportunity she can get, Paya will choose to go under Brae to get from point A to B rather than go around him.

Sociability is about what I expected. She is incredibly sweet with people but not overbearing. I've restricted her social opportunities thus far to get this result. I have no doubt that if I had allowed her to greet without restrictions, she would be keen on approaching every single person for pets. As an example, I can walk down a narrow bike trail and she will ignore all manners of passersby. But yesterday when we were in the clinic she was gentle and friendly with the child who asked to pet her, and the subsequent wave of three adults who suddenly crowded around to pet her too. No fear at all, but no over arousal. She just wiggled, wagged, put on her cutest expression, then sat nicely. Perfect!

I sense the potential for some dog selectivity in the future - which is not a problem since my ideal is "dog neutral". She has not had any negative experiences with dogs. But I just see a greater interest in people than in dogs. Don't get me wrong - she's still a teenager and WANTS to greet dogs (and everything else). But when she greets dogs there is a level of caution. And although I have no doubt she would form relationships and play hard with the right dog... With dogs she greets on the trail she's choosing to sniff quickly and move on. 9 mo Brae would have lingered, postured, tried to play.

Prey drive is also predictable. She has HIGH prey drive and is particularly interested in the ground squirrels that chirp from afar during our hikes. I'm doing a lot of impulse control training and Premack. She is controllable in these situations and continues to have impeccable recall. But the fact is she wants to chase, and does chase on sight. This is the biggest difference between her and Brae. Brae has high prey drive but more the fight aspect of it. It isn't worth his time to think about the average squirrel and bird he sees because he knows it won't result in a fight. Paya will fixate and chase these everyday critters because she loves the chase aspect, even knowing she won't get it. I love the complexities of prey drive - she behaves differently around rodents and some birds, compared to deer, sheep, and cats. So far she doesn't chase out of sight and will respond to verbal cues. So I have no issues with this and will continue working on impulse games.

Energy levels are great! We did a 10 mile hike with 3k' elevation gain one way, and Paya was consistent from beginning till end. She did not want a 'rest day' afterwards, hahaa. I love that she settles nicely at the end of the night - she will put herself on her dog bed and is content to just watch the evening go on (while Brae noses around and tries to get things to happen). But like Brae she is always ready and she doesn't quit when something is happening. Next big thing to try is paddle boarding. So far she enjoys swimming and unstable surfaces, so I think we'll get there!

Smarts, forget about it! I'm doing literally 50% less training with her than I did with Brae and she picks things up at lightening speed. The other day I thought, "I'll casually teach her to wave her paw to say hello. Do a quick session, drop it for a few weeks, pick it up whenever I feel like it..." And she went and learned the whole behavior in a few minutes. Like I told my partner, "Look at what I'm working on" and tried to show half the behavior, she went and did all of it. She already can do complex tricks like stacking rings on a peg, weave through my legs, get all four paws on fitpods... And this is me not even trying hard or caring if she learns whimsical tricks. I can only imagine what she'd know by now if I tried harder.

I absolutely adore this dog. And she's just so darn cute - you can pinch her cheeks and give her kisses all day.
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(I still regularly get asked if she's a malinois)
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How cute! She looks like such a joy!

You know, I don't think I would guess malinois if I saw her on street! I would guess a smooth border collie mixed with a pit or something.
 

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It really sounds like she was one of those 'meant to be' dogs! It's awesome how well you two suit each other. And they grow up far too fast - I'm still not ready to accept that my 'puppy' is almost two (though, to be fair, we're still working on that growing an adult brain thing).
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
How cute! She looks like such a joy!

You know, I don't think I would guess malinois if I saw her on street! I would guess a smooth border collie mixed with a pit or something.
I think it's the pointy ears, the highlights (I think she's seal/sable but I am not good at color genetics), and Brae standing next to her that color peoples opinions!

It really sounds like she was one of those 'meant to be' dogs! It's awesome how well you two suit each other. And they grow up far too fast - I'm still not ready to accept that my 'puppy' is almost two (though, to be fair, we're still working on that growing an adult brain thing).
I know right?! Brae was "the puppy" at 4 years old until we literally got her as a puppy. And I totally get the adult brain thing. Brae seemed like an adult in a puppy's body - he never really zoomed around. He was joyful but so focused and intense. Paya is still very puppyish at 9 months.

Thanks for posting an update. You've got some great pics, and it's good to hear the back thing isn't going to be a problem for her.
Thanks! I have photogenic dogs. And yeah, I should relax regarding her structure since she's not fully grown yet. But I still am being proactive and have an upcoming virtual appt with a certified vet and physiotherapist, or whatever her credentials are... I'm going to see if I can get P started on some age appropriate exercises to reduce the likelihood of future issues.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Well, we went to a lake and did some training on the SUP. I didn't have any expectations, didn't push her, and overall would have been fine if she never took to this activity. But like Brae, there is so far nothing she is unwilling to do.



It is so exhausting being so proud of my dogs all the time.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Paya's about 1 year and 4 months now. She's absolutely stellar, everything I wanted in a dog. All in all, she's maturing in the expected ways. What I thought would be mildly challenging (prey drive, arousal) ended up being the mildly challenging things. But as far as living and training with her, I have nothing to complain about. She has demoed at live training events, helped with a reactivity dog client (I have no need for her to be a demo dog since Brae fills that role), is naturally wonderful around people, is playful or neutral with dogs (this can change over time, but for now, great!), responds on a dime, and is game for just about anything. She has endless play drive and can go from a dead sleep to playing. But she has a better off switch than Brae and is a natural cuddler - snores and grunts on our lap while we watch movies and lets us handle her like a ragdoll. She and Brae love each other so that's a plus too. They play every day and have no issues so far, though I do separate them when we are not supervising, and we are proactively careful with food. She's extremely athletic, coordinated, and learns things astoundingly fast. She's definitely the most 'spastic' dog I've had and throws behaviors out frantically, so that presents a fun challenge.

Personality-wise, she's curious, goofy, zesty, and adventurous. Like, the most zoomy and spastic dog I've had, and I love her for it! My males seemed to shoot out of their puppy stage so quickly and Paya behaves like a perpetual puppy at times. This has presented some interesting scenarios. Like Brae the Dutchie is more oral - needs to have something in his mouth most of the time, chews a lot - by several magnitudes. But I managed heavily during his puppy stage and he never destroyed anything when I gave him freedom as he matured. I managed Paya just as carefully and gave her some freedom at around the 1 year mark after zero destructive habits, and she spontaneously decided to nibble on my shoes, and has casually torn up a foam sleeping pad in the car a few times. She doesn't do this out of distress or nervous energy (like Brae), but just because she was exploring and found something interesting. My previous dogs have been more content with what was available (me, food, play, or nothing). The solution for me Paya easy - more management when not supervised. And then it's a non-issue for her since she is not discontent, fidgety, or destructive as a whole. This trait of hers was definitely the biggest personality difference for me to reckon with... her desire to see what was possible past the boundaries and reinforcement history I set for her, out of sheer curiosity. But I think it just makes her all the more special!

If I had to be critical I'd say that she is a sensitive dog overall, and presents as fearful in some situations or spooks at certain things. I socialized her extensively so she is extremely functional in society. From a behavior perspective she has taught me a lot, because out of all my dogs she showed me the importance and the limits of socialization. As an example, we had to stay in a hotel recently and she didn't like the elevator. She would tremble a bit when we rode in it. But she would easily enter and get the event done. She willingly and eagerly gets on the treadmill but has a very slight air of nervousness when it's going (totally her choice to do it though). She has no issues with the paddleboard being unstable but doesn't love the dog walk in agility class (but she'll still do it). Or she might startle if I suddenly shook out a wet rag near her, but immediately recover once she realized what it was. She'll notice stuff like that which wouldn't have phased either of my confident males. But her fear does not inhibit her from doing any activity, and she presents as a perky, hyper, confident dog in daily situations. As a trainer, I'll be aware of this trait for the entirety of her life, as I believe a single traumatic event could potentially alter her behavior more drastically than it would Brae's. Like if a dog attacked Brae he'd likely still be alright with most dogs. If a dog attacked Paya, I could see some intense fear or reactivity start to develop. But I have no huge concerns, and I am open to the potential for her to become a tad more serious, dog selective, or fearful as she matures more and it wouldn't significantly impact our lifestyle.

Really the only complaint I have is her allergies, which are completely managed at the moment. I am still working on identifying her triggers. And I believe her allergies caused her anal gland issues, which are also currently managed. Still, her condition is likely a lifelong management thing. So far, it's nothing I can't handle but if I had to gripe about something it would be this. IF I wanted her to fill a roll in my career, it would be harder with her than with Brae because I'd have to worry about clients dropping treats on the ground and such. Otherwise... her Xrays came back normal (I did them early due to her size and after consulting with a vet) and she has a full orthopedic eval coming up. I hope she is structurally sound enough to live an active lifestyle. But if she's completely cleared, I'm going to do some hobby-level disc and freestyle with her. I FINALLY have a dog the right size to do it AND she's super, super physical with me. So I am hopeful! If she has some structural concerns, well, it would be the only other thing I'd add to the complaint list.

So all in all, I look at the 'total dog' and how each of them fits into my lives. I had no grand expectations for Paya but she has amazed me. If I didn't have Brae (and, her allergies aside), she shows potential to fill even his shoes. And Brae is behaviorally one of the most perfect, stable dogs I've ever met so that's saying something. Also, considering Paya came from a litter of mutts found in a box, I lucked out in many ways with her and I invested a lot of effort. She has done every single thing I've asked of her, above and beyond. She can schmooze in a classroom full of kids, pull my partner on a skateboard to the local icecream shop, hang out downtown, chill at home, swim in the lake, hike with dog friends, and everything in between. I have no idea how I lucked out three times in a row with Soro, Brae, and now Paya.

Pics in order of most recently to a couple months ago...
Dog Snow Carnivore Dog breed Snout
Sky Dog Cloud Dog breed Carnivore

Dog Vertebrate Dog breed Carnivore Cloud

Dog Carnivore Dog breed Grass Fawn

Super high prey drive, higher than my other dogs'. But stellar recall trained without punishment:
 

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