Wade Times Two

Wade has now more than doubled in pounds since I first met him.

Day one, Wade weighed 12 measly pounds!

IMG_2164Wade weighs 30 pounds now… And he’s going to double AGAIN by the time he’s done growing!

His 4 month birthday just passed without much of a fuss. He’s starting to lose his baby teeth, and so far I’ve only found one. (I’m keeping a close eye out for those canines! Maybe use them as sewing needles in the future… Kidding.)

Wade has a few tricks under his belt now. He can sit, stay, lay down, shake, wave, and roll over. I’ve been slacking on his formal training recently, but I have been maintaining his basic obedience.

Working with more and more people and their dogs, I’ve been noticing some trends…

Plus, puppy class is adorable!

Plus, puppy class is adorable!

One: Not enough people bring their puppies to any sort of training!

I’m not just saying this because I’m a dog trainer.

Even if your puppy has excellent basic obedience skills and hasn’t had an accident in the house, you should still go to some form of puppy training. It’s a fantastic opportunity to meet other puppies, and the socialization is in the best possible environment. It’s invaluable to hear what your local trainer has to offer, and get that puppy to meet as many other dogs as possible! Dog parks are great, and dogs of friends and family are fantastic, but your puppy should meet tons of new and unfamiliar dogs! Puppy classes are perfect because it’s a very safe environment to meet other dogs.

Two: Puppy classes aren’t enough.

The entire world is your dog’s classroom. It should be learning everywhere it goes! Your dog should be learning throughout it’s life! Never stop training your dog. Every minute you spend together, you can be teaching your dog something.

Wade reminds me every day to enjoy life... He sure does!

Wade reminds me every day to enjoy life… He sure does!

Your dog will teach you everything it possibly can. Return the favor.

I’m not suggesting you constantly train your dog new tricks, (although I’m definitely not discouraging it,) I’m suggesting that you constantly be working toward something new. Work toward a quicker sit, a longer stay, a more distraction-filled environment, keep challenging your dog!

Leash Manners and Stay.

Leash manners… Oh leash manners…

Let me start off by saying there’s about five thousand bazillion different ways to get your dog to walk nicely on leash.

Right now, I just expect Wade to be well mannered. Because he’s so young and attached to me, it works. However, I have learned a little trick that I wanted to share.

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Ta-Da!

Wade is half labrador retriever. Retrievers like to carry things around for their owner. It’s part of their genetic makeup. I first noticed that Wade liked to hold the leash in his mouth if it got in front of his face and started bonking him in the nose.

I also noticed that holding the leash in his mouth would make him walk much better on leash. He was ignoring all the interesting smells, sounds, and sights.

Plus, it's adorable.

Plus, it’s adorable.

Rather than fight nature like an idiot, I decided to embrace my pup’s genetic predisposition!

He had a job.

Nobody can multi-task.

Plenty of humans will tell you they can multi-task, but they can’t. Nobody can from an objective and scientific standpoint. It’s why we turn down the radio in our car when we’re looking for an address.

So giving Wade a job to do during a walk is going to force him to concentrate on that job and only that job!

So now, if we’re going on a structured walk or I need him to not lolly-gag, I give him something to carry.

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“Yeah, you telling me is the reason I’m staying put… Uh-huh.” -Wade

 

Stay

I don’t know how Wade picked this trick up so readily, but I blame it on his laziness. Wade is really really good at staying put.

The best way to start your dog learning this trick is to just ‘mark’ the behavior whenever your dog does it naturally.

That means, whenever your dog is naturally staying put for some reason, just start giving the stay command, I always pair it with a hand signal. (I hold up my index finger as if to say, “One minute, hold on.”)

Then release your dog from this natural stay, and praise it!

Your dog is going to start to learn that, “Whenever I just don’t do anything, my human loves it! Easiest trick EVER!”

The morning routine

The morning routine. Make careful note that although I know he won’t go anywhere, he’s still got his leash just in case.

Once your dog seems to be understanding a basic idea of what stay means, (meaning that you’re the one that releases them from their stay 90% of the time,) you can start upping the difficulty.

Establishing a routine with your dog is going to make your life with your dog infinitely easier. Your dog appreciates it too.

My routine with Wade is:

Wake up, put on a jacket, and get outside.

We walk to his favorite potty spot close to the front door, and he goes number one.

Then we walk down to the dumpster, and he gets to explore the grassy area across the street from the dumpster. This is where he goes number two.

I pick it up, and he sits and stays. Waiting for me to go throw it away and come back to him to take him home.

Just having a morning ritual for your dog is going to make your dog happier, and it’s going to make your life as a dog owner more fulfilling and happier as well.

The “distance stay” is a great way to up the difficulty of a ‘stay,’ and really solidifies that your dog actually knows what ‘stay’ means.

Month 3

Alright, so I haven’t had Wade for 3 months yet, but he’s now officially 3 months old, (13 weeks to be exact… 96 days to be even more exact.)

The last few weeks have been lacking in formal training, and lacking even more in excitement. I could post tons of pictures of him sleeping though, because that’s most of what he’s been doing. Which is great! Puppy brains grow while they sleep, so he’s going to be one smart pup!

 

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The room is a mess because SOMEONE likes blankets all over the place. I won’t say who.

Wade has also been watching TV.

Yeah, I’ve become the pet parent that plops their dog in front of the TV to fry brain cells in a desperate attempt to get him out of my hair.

I’m kidding.

I’ve never seen it in person before now, but I have heard plenty of stories about dogs watching TV.

In particular, he likes silly shows on Animal Planet heavily featuring dogs. Obviously.

This took a few minutes to set up. He didn't care.

This took a few minutes to set up. He was so focused on the bully stick that he didn’t care about the toys.

In other news, I bought another bully stick today. I was terrified of buying any more after he swallowed one whole last time. He chewed up the whole thing, making it soft enough to be swallowed.

I couldn’t sleep that night, thinking that it would get caught in his intestines and I’d have to sell my organs on the black market so that his organs would be okay.

He was fine.

But nonetheless, I didn’t get any more for a couple weeks.

This time, I got a bigger one. And now he doesn’t care about the rest of his toys, he just wants his bully stick!

I did forget how much bully sticks STINK! I don’t want to think about what the bully stick is made out of, (but if you don’t know, don’t find out.)

It’s always great to find something that he loves to work on, because it gives me a way to occupy his time when I can’t give him my undivided attention.

Next up… Obedience training!

Week 2

Here I am in my second week of puppy ownership.

Wade has been getting better about his social skills. I’ve been physically presenting dogs to him, booty-first, in an attempt to teach him how he should properly greet another dog. So far, so good. He definitely prefers big dogs, and tries to play with little dogs, (unfortunately, the little dogs are usually older and don’t want to play anymore.)

IMG_1969We’re working on some trick training, along with his basic obedience. He knows sit VERY well, hes got a down, shake, high-five, drop it, and “hup!” over a broom handle. Detailed post to follow.

Wade’s new favorite things are his toys. We cracked and bought him some stuffed animal toys… He LOVES them!

Using the toys as rewards is perfect as well. That’s how he learned “hup!”

 

Mostly, I just wanted to post this adorable picture of him…

Exhausted Puppy… And an Update on Socialization

Today was an extremely crazy day for Wade.

He started the day early, heading outside to go potty.

Then he went to my work to play for a few hours while I went to my sister’s graduation.

Then he went to the graduation party.

He has been passed out for HOURS!

I feel terrible, he was extremely over-exerted today and is displaying that fact prominently.

Poor guy!

I’m letting him get as much sleep as possible…

 

In the meantime!

Wade is a lab mix. Lab something or other. I met his mom, she’s a very VERY small labrador. Wade is one of the smaller pups of his litter, and at 10 weeks, he’s clocking in at around 13 pounds.

The small bit of very unscientific research I’ve conducted, *cough*google*cough* has led me to believe Wade will be around 40 pounds when full grown… I couldn’t be happier.

I also think he’s an American Staffordshire and lab mix. It’d make more sense than a 40 pound mastiff mix!

I’m SO HAPPY that he’s (probably) a pitbull! I absolutely love pitbulls.

 

In even more exciting news, Wade played with his pals at the pet resort today and did great! He’s a bit vocal when playing, but that’s pretty common in labs. He’s getting MUCH better about playing nice with other dogs. It may have just been that he was so excited to see strange dogs for the first time that he ended up getting over-excited and rude.

We’ll see!

Chewing, Bite Inhibition, and Play-Biting.

Well Wade is out cold! He naps so much, it’s almost easy to forget he’s in my life now!

But, when he isn’t napping, he’s biting.

He chews on absolutely everything.

So how do you manage it?

Obviously, it’s an extremely normal puppy behavior. Their teeth are growing, their gums hurt, and chewing is a fantastic way to pass the time!

Great. Just don’t chew on my shoes… Or the carpet… Spit out that rock! DON’T EAT THAT!!

Photo 2013-05-30 12.22.35 PMSo far, I’ve coated all power chords he can get to with some bitter “yuck” spray. It tastes incredibly bitter, and Wade hates it. You can even just use white vinegar diluted with water.

This stuff works great. Every time I catch him chewing on something that I can’t move out of his reach, I just spray some of this on there.

Corners of rugs, edges of furniture, power cords, baseboards, everything and anything my pup can chew on that I don’t want him to has a small amount of this on there.

So far, it’s working really well. He learned immediately that power cords taste disgusting, and why would he want to chew on something disgusting?

But it’s mean and non-sensical to just walk around and tell him what he can’t chew on.

That’s where this little group of indispensable items comes in handy.

Photo 2013-05-30 12.22.27 PMI’ve been using these constantly with Wade.

Every time I catch him chewing on something, I take it away from him, say “no,” (Calmly and neutrally,) and hand him one of these things to occupy his time.

He immediately forgets all about what he was doing, and happily gnaws away at something good for him!

The rope is great for his teeth, massaging his gums and providing something soft, but firm to chew on.

The bully sticks are STINKY! They smell awful! But he loves them. C’est la vie. My only warning with these is not to leave him unattended for too long with one. Wade did chew on one for basically a whole day, and it turned into a soggy mess that he ended up half-swallowing. Thankfully, I was there to take it from him.

That’s another thing. Take things from your puppy. A lot. Take it, praise him, maybe give him a treat, and then give it back. That way, your puppy knows, “Whenever someone takes something from me, it’s okay! I get a treat and I get it back eventually anyway!”  Possessive issues solved.

I almost forgot about my favorite toy of all… The Kong. Wade absolutely loves his Kong. I have two, and I have one stuffed at all times. I stuff it almost entirely with food, but layer it with Kong stuffing so it stays interesting and challenging all the way through. Wade LOVES IT! He gets all of his meals through a Kong or hand-fed to him.

I almost forgot… Play-biting.

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This picture was probably counter-productive, because it took 2 straight minutes of him biting my hands before I could get an acceptable picture… But he looks VICIOUS!

Wade is being such a little butt-head about biting! He likes to nip at fingers, clothes, and even faces when he’s playing! AHHH!!

This is normal puppy behavior as well, and as much as I’d like to teach him never to bite anyone ever, it’s too early for that.

Why?

Let’s say you taught your puppy to never bite anyone ever. Extremely reasonable, and your puppy should be doing that soon.

But not yet.

First, we need to teach him bite inhibition. Teach him that his mouth is a tool he can use sometimes, especially when playing with other dogs, but that he needs to be GENTLE! We’re teaching a “soft-mouth.” That way, one day when a small child scares the heck outta your dog by running up and jumping on him, the dog won’t turn around and bite with all of the immense power possible.

Basically, bite inhibition keeps a dog from doing actual damage if there was ever a need to use his/her mouth.

Teaching bite inhibition:

  1. Play with your pup. Be rough.
  2. When the pup uses any bite force whatsoever, yelp and pull your hand away.
  3. If your pup bites you three times in a row, stop the play session immediately, but calmly. Call him/her a bully, and walk away.
  4. Your puppy is going to be like, “What!? I was playing with thaaaaat!”
  5. When you come back into the room, make your pup sit calmly before initiating another play session.

It’s that easy.

Once your pup has a nice soft mouth, (about the time he gets his grown-up teeth,) We can teach him that with these new grown-up teeth, he is not allowed to bite. Ever.

Teaching Not to Bite:

  1. Any time your pup puts teeth on you, yelp, and walk away.

That’s it. End of story. Biting is restricted exclusively to toys… And maybe other dogs…

A fantastic way to reinforce bite lessons is to just let your puppy play with other puppies! There’s options everywhere, just search around. What you’re looking for is for your puppy to get some experience playing with other puppies. Other puppies instinctively know what’s appropriate, and what isn’t.

Your puppy should be playing with other puppies as SOON AS POSSIBLE!

So there you have it. Your quick guide to chewing, bite inhibition, and play biting.

Any questions?

Wade’s First Vet Visit

Photo 2013-05-29 05.31.12 PMWade’s first vet visit was today…

Oof.

I don’t know why I wasn’t expecting to be overwhelmed by the trip to the vet. I’m still not sure what vaccinations he’s already had, so I’m reluctant to give him anything until I find out exactly what he’s already had…

Pet insurance seems like a great idea, and I’m definitely going to invest in it.

As a reward for  a fantastic vet visit, (clean bill of health, was very affectionate to the nurses that interacted with him, and had no problem with the veteranarian handling him,) Wade also got his first collar.

He’s been sleeping quite a bit, but plays HARD while he is awake.

Lesson learned: Do not under-estimate the cost of vaccinations…