A blog about dog training and dog breeding…and other sundry matters

Archive for the ‘The Puppy Chronicles’ Category

Puppy Chronicles–Day 56

Monday, October 19, 2009

Puppies First Bath at 8 weeks 002

I do NOT find this in the least bit amusing.  You wait…I shall get back at you when you least expect it!

The puppies got their first bath today, and what an experience.  They groaned and grumbled and complained, but took the process in stride.  It never occurred to me that keeping white puppies clean could be so hard!

After each puppy got its bath, I toweled it dry, wrapped it in a dry towel and held it in my arms for a bit so that it would stop trembling from cold and fright.  They loved being held, though, especially when they got to lick my face and chew my ears.

This has been a journey indeed, and I have learned so much about raising dogs from birth and so much about myself in the process.  I have been very lucky to own a bitch that turned out to be an exemplary mother, had enough milk to feed her brood, and had an easy whelp.

So many things could have gone wrong, I know that, and I’m very grateful and give thanks to the Sustaining Infinite that all went well.  I am also very grateful to the people who helped me along the way.  To Dr. Matthew Brown, veterinarian at the JSPCA for his help and advice throughout Cody’s pregnancy and for being available should disaster strike during the whelping.  To Alston Miller, a fellow dog breeder, who allowed me to use his beautiful Sam as a stud and for his patience in answering my questions (in the first week of the puppies’ lives I was calling him virtually everday!).

I also thank all the visitors to this site who followed the growth and development of this beautiful litter, and who sent kind wishes and pearls of wisdom.

Lastly, to my Mom, without whose help this litter would NEVER have been possible in the first place!

The puppies are now eight weeks old and one will hopefully be going to her new home this evening.  This shall be my last entry in the Puppy Chronicles as I now turn my attention once more to training my adult dogs and the puppy that I will keep from this litter.

I shall keep updating the dog training link with articles, videos, and general accounts of my new puppy’s and adults’ training so stay tuned.

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Puppy Chronicles–Day 55

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Dog Show 10.18 045

Toys.  Every puppy needs toys, and big dogs too.  My house looks like a kid’s play room with all the toys strew around the various rooms.  My adult dogs, who spend time much of their time on my verandah, go absolutely gah-gah when then come into the house for a brief visit.  They run around picking up a toy then discarding it for another.  They just can’t make up their minds which toy to play with.

Quality toys that can withstand the pressure of a german shepherd’s or rottweiler’s jaw are hard to come by in Jamaica.  Sure, all of my dogs had toys as puppies (except the pomeranians), but now that they have gotten big, the toys last about 10 minutes, the most.  So I have to give them cheap toys like empty soda bottles with the caps screwed on really tight–they love the challenge of getting it off–and, of course, the kong toys.

The picture above features just some of the toys that the puppies got to play with while growing up in my home.  I couldn’t find them all because they were scattered around the house.  Mr. Moose, the stuffed animal, stayed in the whelping box with babies.  Sometimes they would snuggle with it.  The pacifier (red toy) was a favorite when the puppies’ teeth started to erupt, but I took it away from them a few weeks back because it’s made of very soft material.  They would wreck it in no time.

The blue and yellow balls and the green frog were favorites.  The puppies enjoyed chasing and retrieving the balls, and the blue ball was perfect for that.  It’s made from hard plastic, and the holes in it allowed the puppy to grab hold of it.  Froggie has been the object of tug-‘o-war and the cause of many dog chases around my living room.  Unfortunately it has lost it’s squeak:  someone put a hole in his head!  I’ll have to replace Froggie at my next visit to the store.

Of all the toys, however, the big yellow ring in the background and the bright pink porcupine were the least favorites.  The ring was too heavy, but I’m guessing that the puppies that remain with me will enjoy playing with it once they get bigger and stronger.  It’s made from a hard material so should withstand vigorous chewing.  The puppies never did figure out a way to play with the porcupine because he has a prickly surface. 

With the economy as it is in Jamaica, and the high cost of food, one could ask, why spend money on something as “unessential” as toys?  The answer is simple.  Toys and playtime are vital for a puppy’s mental and physical development.  It teaches the puppy how to problem solve, develops neural pathways in the brain that will support learning new tasks and adapting to strange situations.   Most of all, it promotes constructive chewing.  My dogs do not chew the furniture or any of our belongings when they have their own toys.

When choosing toys, it’s best to find a variety of shapes, textures, and sizes.  Color is of little importance because dogs see varying shades of gray, though I love the brightly colored toys that litter the floor. 

These puppies grew up with toys, and it is my hope that they will continue to have toys throughout their adult and senior years.  Of course the toys will need to be appropriate for the dog.  For adults I have found that kong toys, or any toy made from kong-like material are ideally suitable for my shepherds and rottweiler.  You can also use homemade toys, too, like a length of hose,  and plastic soda bottles.

If you have any suggestions for toys, feel free to add them to the comments column.

Puppy Chronicles–Day 54

Saturday, October 17, 2009

The The Muskateers are hiding under my bed while their mother lies on the floor playing with them.  They have really loud, penetrating voices now, and LOVE to vocalise.  Last night Turbo Puppy decided to bark for a few minutes–maybe two or three–before she got tired and went to sleep. 

I love the puppies’ energy level, but I’m always so happy when they go to sleep.  Then there’s peace in the house and nobody has to run from the ankle-nippers.

The two white puppies did very well in training today.  I guess they were hungry because the treats that they turned up their noses at day before yesterday, they gobbled down today.  I need to shape more behaviors, though and teach puppy zen.  I am keeping a list of training ideas in my office each day so that I won’t run out of things to train.  It will also ensure that I train a variety of behaviors to keep the puppies thinking.

Turbo Puppy was the only one who didn’t do any training.  After chasing her brother and sister around the house, grabbing toys and running around with them, chewing up my shoes, and, oh yes, barking her head off, she was just too tired to work.  So, she curled up under my chair and watched me.  I should have clicked and treated for that:  at least she was quiet.

I’m off to work now, and will not see the babies until quite late tonight.  I trust they will go to sleep after their breakfast and will do some growing while I’m gone.

Till later…

Puppy Chronicles–Day 54

Friday, October 16, 2009

At the risk of anthropomorphizing my dogs, I must say that I’m amazed at Cody’s love for her puppies.  I say this because although she has limited time with them, perhaps an hour of contact with them, she still trains and cleans them up and cleans up after them.  She stays away from them partly from choice and partly because I separate her from them, especially when I want the puppies to play without her interferring.

She is a bit rough with the puppies, and when she’s around rolling them on their backs and holding their heads, they try their best to get away from her by running under the nearest piece of furniture and emerging when they see that the coast is clear.  Now she’s lying down quietly and keeping a watchful eye on her offspring.

Puppies use their mouths to explore their world, so it’s natural for them to bite things, including people’s hands and feet, but that’s not to say that we must ignore those sharp teeth. Distracting the offending puppy from this illegal activity with toys works well.  It also works when the pups bite up articles that are not dog toys, like our shoes and furniture.  I use a squeaky toy, especially Froggie, when he’s available because that toy remains a favorite in my household even among the adults.

I have also adopted a method Cody uses to stop the puppies from biting her legs:  place my hand over the top of their head and hold their head to the floor briefly.  I do this a bit more gently than Cody so as not to make the puppies squeal, but they get the message.  At this stage, however, lessons have to be repeated because they little tikes forget very quickly.

Puppy Chronicles–Day 53

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Turbo Puppy was very restless this morning.  She couldn’t seem to get comfortable, and kept walking around the house whinning.  After a few minutes–maybe a half an hour later–she finally settled down and went to sleep.

The little devils discovered that it’s loads of fun to grab the broom while a human sweeps the floor.  While it’s a adorable to the onlooker to see a puppy go all googly eyed as the broom goes back and forth, it is truly annoying to the person trying to sweep up a mess.  I went through the same thing with all my dogs when they were pups, and we used to either a) lock the dog out when we were cleaning up or b) put up with the broom grabs.  Today, with the help of the clicker I was able to allow the person cleaning up a few moment’s peace. 

Here’s what I did (this could be applied to any other facinating activity):

  • While someone is sweeping or otherwise engaged in some other facinating activity, present a treat or toy to the mesmerized puppy.  It’s best if you do not bribe with the treat or toy, but with a puppy that’s not yet clicker savvy, you may need this little aid.
  • Once the puppy looks towards you, or is no longer engaged with the broom, click and treat.
  • Continue to click and treat at a fast rate as long as the puppy is engaged with you or the toy, and ignoring the treat.
  • If the puppy goes back to playing with the broom, have the person stop sweeping and stand perfectly motionless.  Do nothing.  It’s the sweeping motion that attracts the young pup.  Once the puppy loses interest and returns to you and/or the toy, click once more and treat.

This is a really good exercise to work on because some of my puppies may become indoor dogs.  So I shall repeat the sweeping-of-floors exercise and do some clicker work with them.  It will not only teach the puppies to leave the broom alone while floors are being swept, but also train the them from early on how to work while surrounded by distractions.

Puppy Chronicles–Day 52

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Screamer retrieved the ball for the very first time today!  I knew she would eventually learn how to do this.  When my now adult dogs where puppies (when I first got them), they did not know how to retrieve.  Now they are retrieve fiends–the whole lot of them.

Turbo Puppy, however, shows very little interest in playing tug, and I’m not sure why.  She played with the tug toy initially, but she performed poorly on the sight portion of the Volhard Puppy Aptitude Test.  True, the testor, who is a complete novice at this, moved the towel too quickly.  Puppies, apparently do not follow fast-moving objects very well.

I haven’t given up on Turbo, and I never will.  She will become interested in the game of tug once more.  It’s just a matter of time.  To that end, I play with her everyday, as I do with all the puppies.

It’s amazing how the little ones have taken to clicker training.  They learned in two days what took my pomeranians four months to accomplish.  The pomeranians were not trained as puppies, and they were sound sensitive and afraid of the target stick.  The puppies have grown to love the clicker and they have the most intense, eager looks on their faces when I work with them.

I am mostly shaping behaviors at this point, and capturing good behavior.  I have to keep reminding myself that it’s really cute when the puppies climb on my leg for attention, but it will not be so cute when they turn six months old.

Puppy Chronicles–Day 51

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Thank doG for Dogs!  At the end of the day I look forward to coming home to my crew and training and playing with them.  They are always happy to see me, even if I come bearing medicine.  They are a great stress reliever, too.

The lil’ stinkers got their very own bowl of real puppy food (which was really kibble with gravy and ground beef).  I served it to them in Cody’s dish because there’s an tacit understanding in my household that the other dog’s food always tastes better than your own, even if the other dog was served the exact same food that currently sits untouched in your own dish!

They eat Cody’s food anyway, even when they have their own bowl of puppy mush nearby.

Clicker training has started.  Today we learned to do a nose target.  It’s amazing how fast these puppies will learn.  This is the ideal age to be training because they learn so quickly and are capable of learning so much.  Right now I’m teaching them how to learn, using operant conditioning, so that they will have foundation that will serve them for their entire lives.

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