Socialization – Year One

Happy Birthday, Kitto!  February 28, 2017!

Aiming towards Therapy Dog certification has helped us bond with our dog and learn how he thinks, what he needs, and how he learns. When Kitto seems stubborn or disinterested, we stop and think about what he needs, and try again.



Height and Weight = Fun Size

Kitto is a young adult miniature Alaskan Klee Kai.  He’s full grown at 14″ tall at the withers, and weighs 11 lbs.  He is ultra-portable, clean (like a cat), and soft as a bunny.  We bathe him before special events every couple of months.  We bathe him in 4″ of warm water in the sink, with no-sting dog shampoo (away from his face).




Kitto sheds as much as any other eleven-pound husky.  We get a couple of handfuls of fluff from him with the slicker brush when he sheds.  Only the most fastidious dog lover could balk at the tiny bit of fur there is to worry about.



Bathroom Habits On Schedule

  • Before Alyssa’s bus comes #1
  • Early morning #1, #2
  • After lunch #1
  • Late afternoon #1
  • Early evening #1, #2
  • Late evening #1

When he has to go or is hungry, Kitto rings a bell, and then looks at one of us intently.  We hold a flat open hand out for him and ask, “Are you hungry? Do you need food?” and Kitto will dip his nose to touch our hand for “Yes.” Or he stands and waits for us to ask, “Do you want to go outside?” and he wiggles excitedly and offers high five.  Kitto takes care of bathroom needs on command, fifteen seconds from the door.  He likes the cold, but he prefers the warm house in winter as much as we do.




Kitto goes everywhere with us, on walks, to the doggy park, and to pet-friendly restaurants and stores.  We recommend Cabela’s in Noblesville.  Kitto feels like a celebrity there, and we train him there with heavy distractions present. Hardware stores are good for this too, but Cabela’s is especially nice.  And they have coffee.



Cabela’s Has A Pet Section!



Temperament = Outgoing, Friendly Royalty

“[AKK tend] to be shy, skittish, and wary around strangers…. Continual socialization… is highly encouraged.”

Kitto is sweet, quiet and gentle.  He is happy to meet people and animals.  He plays with other dogs as an equal, and enjoys their company, but doesn’t demand it.  He has become good at reading other dogs and people, and understands when to play, and when to accept that it is not time to play.  Our best tools for teaching these skills were membership to Beverly’s dog park and early socialization at our local farmers’ market.


Teaching Kitto to “give kisses!” and learn to have a soft mouth have paid off.  Men and boys tend to play rough with dogs.  We found that trying to teach Kitto NEVER to use his mouth just didn’t work well.  It’s like a hand to us, hard to live without.  So we taught him that humans are total wimps about teeth, and we taught him a new game called “Play!” which we teach to Men before they roughhouse with him.  The game context is the only time he’s allowed to touch us with teeth.


The “Play” Game

Human initiates by saying Play! and putting  flat hand on the ground, spread-fingered. Kitto can initiate by asking by grabbing a hand with a paw to his chest, or with a soft mouth (teeth can be used to pull gently, not to pinch).

Kitto and Hand trade off “winning” in a match that is more ritual than serious.  Kitto tries to get the Hand (with paws or mouth, gently), and Hand tries to get Kitto’s paws and avoid being caught.  We can play two-handed as well but it means the intensity is higher and Kitto is not as gentle.

The game stops after a couple of “winning” trades each, often only around 15 seconds.  After this Kitto will automatically stop and bump Hand with his nose to Give Kisses!, or he may give it a lick.  This is him telling Human that the game is done, and that he is calm and gentle.  Alternately, Human can stop the game any time by saying “Stop” or “Ouch”, or by holding Hand still.  Kitto will give Hand a kiss and step back expectantly.

When learning to Play! Kitto was rewarded for stopping correctly, and then for giving kisses at the end of the game.  Now, we can omit this step because the game is fun without a treat.  We can also use Play! itself as a reward because Kitto loves it.





A Rare Sling Outing (Usually Kitto Walks)






Kitto Loves Hiding Places



Kitto Plays Under Furniture Too (Like Beds)



Meeting Taxidermy Animals At Cabela’s



Cardboard Belongs To The Dog



Elbows Off The Table!











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