Sunday, April 20, 2008

Time out for puppies.

Underdog goes to her new home in Rexburg today. That leaves us with Freckle and Gus (Gus goes to Nevada on Friday) for another week.

Freckle soaking up the sun

Yesterday Gus wouldn't stop trying to nurse Molly. She hasn't let them nurse for quite a while so I don't know why he keeps trying. Molly clearly lost her patience with this impertinent little boy and she pinned him to the floor where he squirmed and yelped. After a minute he gave up and laid quietly.

 Jenna and I were watching the whole thing. When Gus finally gave in, Jenna started laughing,
"Look mom, Gus is in time out!"

 I thought it was cute. Incidentally, the puppies are all sleeping through the night now only waking up at around six.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

New puppy training basics

Apologies ahead of time. Once I get an interested audience on this subject I have a hard time stopping!

Some of you that are getting our puppies are interested clicker training and some of you are just curious so I'm going to put some links here to the sites that I found to be most helpful when I first got started. Fifteen tips to get started with clicker training is a good beginning. If you are a visual person and need to see training in action then click here. The dog in the video is learning to push a button on the floor. The trainer is using shaping to gradually get him to do what she wants without the dog becoming too frustrated. Keep in mind that the dog in the video is advanced.

For those first few hours at home I love Melissa Alexander's description of how she handled her dog. She also has a great section about bite inhibition that we found very helpful for those extremely sharp puppy teeth! I also love to read Sue's description of what she did with her puppy here. What a great trainer.

Some other really helpful articles are on my favorite dog training web site, . The first article explains basic positive reinforcement theory and is a great story. Another article that I love from there describes how patience is a big part of training. From there the articles on Dominance and on Sue Eh?'s training rules are great to read at some point as well.

I do think it's important to take the puppy straight to the potty area first thing and to try to have the atmosphere be calm. Let the puppy smell and meet you before all the noise and excitement of kids.

The easiest nuts and bolts example of how to train is found on Sue Ailsby's web site ( here. Start with Training levels, the book. Just start with the 'Puppy come game' and move from there. You can read and get answers to more FAQ at the Clicker Training site HERE as well.

As far as training goes here's what helped me the most. First--you aren't going to say "sit" and expect the puppy to sit. He doesn't speak English. With clicker training you are going to get the behavior you want (ie. catch them sitting) and then you are going to click and treat to encourage that behavior to continue. Once you can predict that a sit is going to happen THEN you can start to say the cue just before or as the puppy sits. Eventually you won't need the clicker.

Second--avoid the temptation to repeat yourself. You can actually teach your puppy that the cue to sit is "sit, sit,sit." If you yell 'come'as the dog is running away and you have no chance to stop him, then you will have a dog that takes off every time you say come.

Third and most important--be patient. This is a learning process that is supposed to be fun. I didn't even find a training method until Molly was three months old and we have done great!

Here is an example of the treats I have been using

I slice it up into cm cubes. I think it's a great idea to use the dogs kibble as well. If we're working on something really hard (like come) then I sometimes use a higher value treat like left over roast beef or chicken.

There is a wealth of information available and there are several chat-type discussion group sites that have really expert people giving real live advice. Of course I am always looking for a fellow training enthusiast as well so don't hesitate to call!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Dallin with Arrow, Underdog and Freckle

These guys had a great day. They have all seemed to get that sitting politely pays off. Even of none of these puppies go to clicker homes it will benefit them to learn early on that it pays to try to figure out what the owner wants. My battery charger died (actually melted) so I don't have video. I wish I did so you could see.

I had Arrow with me in the kitchen working on sitting by himself. It finally seemed to make sense to him today. Yesterday we started with clicking him any time he paid attention to me without putting his feet up. Then I watched for him to sit and we (Austin and I)rapidly clicked and treated (more than one treat per second) to start with. At first I wasn't too particular about sit, I just clicked for any attempts to show some self control and not climb on me. We aren't trying to teach a cue or name a behavior yet. At this point we are just trying to increase the occurance of behavior that we like. (We actually did this with all four puppies and they are all doing really well!) Austin did a lot of the clicking while I managed the treats.

Today Arrow came up to me in the kitchen and offered a really cute sit. I did a mouth click and grabbed the bag of treats that I keep on the counter. After a minute Freckle, Little Guy and Underdog joined us. The other three were mobbing like a bunch of sharks! I ignored the begging paws and continued to click and treat Arrow for sitting so politely. With in about 7-8 clicks, Gus Gus (Little Guy) caught on and began sit down and it wasn't but a couple of more clicks that the other two caught on. My husband was really surprised to see four puppies sitting and looking at me for treats. Of course their attention span is that of a mosquito so we only worked on it for a few minutes but it was definitely great progress. I'll try to get video tomorrow.

Gus Gus (Little Guy) We think this gets the award for the most appropriate name! He is doing great and can't wait for his new owner Lindy to get home from Boise!

Saturday, April 12, 2008


This is Sammi (Sparrow) on her way to Montana with her new family (thanks for the picture!). They report that she did fantastic on her long drive home and has adjusted well to her new family of mom, dad, three kids, a dog and cat(s?). She is working on potty training and crate training among other things. We are very pleased to have her in a great home.

Little Guy will be going to a ranch in northern Nevada with a great new owner in a couple of weeks. Harrley (Mo) is also doing really well here in town and I will get a picture of her new family in the next couple of days.

The other three are loving the spring weather and are learning and growing like crazy!

Friday, April 11, 2008

Spring has sprung...

I think we finally have spring. The flowers are growing and the nights aren't as cool. We moved the puppies upstairs yesterday and enclosed them in a big "pen" next to the dog door. Much to our delight, they are all using the dog door to go potty. Those of you who are lucky enough to get one of our last three puppies can thank me later! :) Actually I think we can mostly thank Molly who helped them learn that there are only certain areas to use for potty time.

The puppies are also much happier now that they have lots of places to explore and kids to run around with.

The running around wears them out! They usually choose to sleep in the kennel where it's nice and warm.

Snow Dogs

We had a snow storm the other day. I cannot figure out why it is snowing in April but our drought stricken area will take all it can get! The puppies (and kids!) loved the snow!

Monday, April 7, 2008

We're down to four...

We sent Mo (now Harrley)and Sparrow (now Sammy) to their new families this weekend. My camera malfunctioned so I will try to get more pictures later. Both families are fantastic and will provide great homes.

Our four here at home are growing and learning by the minute. We have been taking them outside to run three to four times a day. They all had their first baths and had their toe nails trimmed again tonight. Both Arrow and Underdog have figured out how to use the dog door.

Here are the updated pics...
Arrow--weighed 6.0 lbs when shots were given. Very playful--loves to chase balls and sleeps in the kennel.

Freckle--our tiniest puppy of the litter at only 4.2 lbs. She is adept at finding the smallest holes to get out of and immediately seeks out a warm body to snuggle with. She plays and sleeps in equal amounts and with equal enthusiasm.

At 5.2 lbs Underdog is a classic beagle beauty. She has a beautiful square head and quite a bit of white on her neck and legs. She is very curious but also easy going.

Little Guy is our biggest boy at 6.3 lbs. He is definitely the clown of the group and loves to be played with. Benson continually lugs this one around. He (Little Guy) doesn't seem to mind at all. This little one will probably do very well in a house with other dogs and/or kids. And I can't get enough of his almost-basset-hound ears.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Little escape artists...

Houdini, Spiderman, David Copperfield, wonder woman...These are all the names we should have named these puppies. The little escape artists have successfully found every possible means of escape from their little room. They can climb, push, crawl etc. their way to the nearest back scratcher surprisingly well. I think I actually managed to block all the areas today. They are worn out from 'playing baby' with all of Jenna's little friends. Actually all of the pups seem to love being wrapped and held.

Molly has pretty much weaned the puppies. Much to their displeasure. Last night (at 1 am) Molly hopped in with them to get a drink and they all immediately made it known that they "needed" a midnight snack. They put up quite a noisy fuss when she refused. Thankfully (for those of us trying to sleep)she finally went in with them and let everyone nurse for a second so they would quiet down and go back to sleep.

Yesterday the puppies were all crying to get out and play when they suddenly became quiet. I came down to check it out and found Jenna sitting in the middle of the floor "singing the babies a lullaby". It worked because they all went to sleep.

Sleepy Little Guy--look at those long ears!