Thursday, February 18, 2010

Puppy Daze...

I sometimes forget that I need to blog about real life and not just business stuff. I'm not sure if you've noticed, but I haven't been as productive as normal for the last couple months. We got a sweet little black lab puppy right before Thanksgiving and I think I've been in a puppy daze pretty much since then. Of course I'm still working, and of course I'm still cooking supper and of course I'm still doing all [or at least most!] of the daily things that we all have to do, but it's just a lot different now. Little Captain BlackJack, Jack for short, pretty much consumes my days. He's sleeping through the night now, so he's stopped consuming my nights too :)

It's so different having a puppy ~ we had Max, a 12 year-old yellow lab, that we lost just about a week before we got Jack. Max was a dog, an old dog, so he was pretty laid back, pretty well trained [except on a leash] and so, so sweet. Everyone just loved Max. It had just been so long since he had been a puppy, that we forgot what puppies are like and how much work they are. Of course anywhere I take Jack, everyone LOVES him too ~ he's just such a pretty dog, he's hard not to fall in love with!

Jack is almost 5 months old, so he's teething now. I'm not sure how this is any different than what he's been doing since we brought him home ~ he's very mouthy ~ EVERYTHING goes in his mouth ~ hands, shoes, shoe laces, feet, socks, toys, cords, kitchen table, kitchen chairs, cabinets,
EVERYTHING... He's actually better now about biting your hands, but he still does it when he gets a chance.

The one thing that I was determined to do right no matter what was potty training and I have to say that it's been a HUGE success! He's really almost been potty trained since we brought him home. He's had very few accidents and they've almost all been our fault for ignoring his request to go out. I read a TON of information on the internet and we bought a cheesy training video at petsmart. It was all so helpful, and I realized that the only reason we had trouble potty training Max when he was a puppy was because we didn't do anything right. It's amazing how easy it is with a little information. I'm sure a lot of you already know a the potty training basics, but here's what helped me:

  1. 8 week old puppies relieve themselves when their bladder is full no matter where they are, no matter what they are doing. It's just a necessary function and they are not making a decision to "go" in the house or outside, they are just "going". It is your responsibility to take them outside BEFORE they "go" inside, so that they get familiar with going outside and eventually know that this is where to "go". So, I set a timer for 10 minutes - yes, 10 minutes and would take him out every 10 minutes when we first brought him home. He would pee almost every time I took him out. After a few days, I set it for 15 minutes, then 20, then 30, etc., and I don't have to set the timer anymore :) I have to say, it was a total pain in the you know what to go outside that often, especially in the rain, snow, sleet, freezing weather, but it's totally worth it now because he doesn't go in the house!
  2. Keep your puppy with you or in his crate at all times. Do not leave him unsupervised or let him roam the house alone. This is a pain too, but I really think it has helped. He isn't able to sneak in the dining room and pee when I'm not paying any attention. It's a little easier now, but I still schedule my day around his naps. I work downstairs on the computer when he's awake and upstairs in my sewing room while he's asleep in his crate. We have baby gates up downstairs to keep him in the same room I'm in. This not only helps with potty training - it helps with making sure that he's not destroying everything he comes in contact with.
  3. Okay - this is the best part - he's trained to ring a bell when he needs to go out! We saw this on the cheesy training video, and my husband didn't think it was worth even trying, but I thought we should at least give it a try and it totally worked - FAST! We bought a little parrot bell and put it on the baby gate that's closest to the front door. He used it the first time the day after we got it. All we did was hang it and when we took him outside [every 15 minutes!] we would say "Ring the Bell to go outside" [in a cheery voice :)] and we would ring the bell and take him outside. It took a little while to get consistent because we left for Indiana 2 days after we got the bell and spent the next 3 weeks [Christmas] there. The set-up was a little different and there wasn't anywhere to hang that bell that he could get to, but as soon as we got back home, he started using it all the time. Now, if he needs to go out - he rings the bell and if you don't hop to it and take him out right that very second, he rings it, and rings it, and rings it ~ one time right after the other! Then, he'll stop so that he can move to where he can see you and look at you as if to say "Hello, I need to go out!"
We are going through puppy obedience training at Petsmart right now, this Thursday is our 3rd class. I wasn't sure how good the training would be, because it's petsmart and not some expensive training at some fancy place, but I've been pleasantly surprised at how good our trainer is and how much we've gone over so far. Here's what we're doing in class:
  • Week 1 - potty training tips, "sit" command, "focus" command, research your dog breed and plan to share with class during week 2 class
  • Week 2 - "leave it" command, "lay" or "down" command, how to walk on a leash without pulling, shared breed information. Breed information - there is another black lab in the class, and I wanted to share something different than they did, so I told them a little bit about the English/British type Labs since that's what Jack is. Here's a link to Jack's breeder. Here's a link to his litter - he was the Orange Boy. Here's a link to breed information.
Jack's Obedience Training Progress
  • He's the only one in the class that's fully potty trained [out of 5 puppies, 2 are his age and the other 2 are a little younger].
  • He was the best "sitter" in the week 1 class [of course - I think so].
  • We're still working on "focus" command - he's getting better
  • He was the only one that already knew the "down" command in the week 2 class.
  • We've worked on the "leave it" command a few times and he does well, so with some more work he'll have it down.
  • He is the craziest, pullingest, choking himself & not being able to breath puppy. He just gets so excited when he sees the other puppies and the other people that he cannot control himself at all. This is the area that he clearly needs the most work. So...the "walk on a leash without pulling" is a work in progress. He does pretty well on a regular walk around the neighborhood as long as no one comes out of their house or no kids are outside running around.
Jack at 7 weeks with Allie - still at the breeder's house - not a very good picture of him, but you can see how small he is - somewhere around 10-12 poundsJack at 7 weeks next to my hose guider [I have no idea what it's really called] yard art.
Jack at 7 weeks already terrorizing my baby cat, Cleo [not really a baby - she's 4]
Jack at about 8-9 weeks - about 15 pounds
Jack at about 11 weeks - sleeping on Allie in the backseat of the truck while traveling at Christmas time. He's a travels great!

Jack at about 12 weeks - we were getting snow flurries - he loves the snow! He was 27 pounds at 14 weeks and 34 pounds at 16 weeks.

Jack at about 18 weeks [4 1/2 months] - how can you resist a face like this?

Jack at about 18 weeks [4 1/2 months] - even when he's doing this? Jeff was in Africa and I had been fighting him for days...I finally gave in...

Jack at about 18 weeks [4 1/2 months] - at That Dirty Dog for his 1st bath away from the house.

Okay, I think I can go to bed now. I just wanted to spend a couple minutes letting you all know what I've been up to lately. Leave a comment if you have a chance.