Lessons re-learned

Earlier in this very blog I declared that we’d use regular short term confinement in the crate as part of our housetraining plan. Despite all our good intentions we didn’t stick to that plan – at least not during the day – and we’ve been paying the price.

Our little Beanie just doesn’t seem to know when she’s tired. She keeps on going past the point where other pups would flake out and nap. Just like a child, the more tired she gets, the more cranky she gets. In the space of an hour she turns from our very gentle, fun loving puppy into a play-junky, frantically running from toy to toy in a bid to get a bigger fix. When the toys don’t deliver, she gets destructive and will even give us quite hard nips (those puppy teeth are like needles).

The solution seems to be more time in her crate. She sometimes protests at being crated, but after a few minutes sleep takes over and she’s soon out cold. When she awakes, our sweet little pup is back. So that’s the first thing we’ve learned: the advice on regular crating isn’t just for potty training – it helps ensure that a puppy gets the uninterrupted sleep it needs.

And the second lesson? Well the housetraining seemed to be going so well that we stopped using treats to reward each successful loo visit in our garden. We figured extravagant praise would be enough, though Beanie didn’t seem to respond to the praise all that much. Nothing changed for a day or two, but then we started having more and more accidents in the house. To get things back on track, we now have a “potty kit”, comprising of a poop bag, a clicker and a little bag of freeze-dried liver. Each successful deposit in our garden is rewarded with a click and a small piece of what Dr. Ian Dunbar calls “the Ferrari of dog treats”.

So overall, I guess there’s no room for any complacency when you’ve got a puppy!

I came here to sniff ass and chew treats. And I’m all out of treats…

One thing we have been doing religiously is socialization. We’re now regulars at the local park, and we approach just about every accompanied dog we see. If the owner says their dog is OK with pups, the meet and greet is on and much bottom sniffing swiftly ensues.

Eau de toilet, big time

As you can see Beanie now has a little red coat to keep her warm during her daily sniff-athon. One of the seasoned dog owners we met advised us to get her one, and I’m really glad we did. It’s getting really cold and wet just now (hey! what happened to global warming?) and without it Beanie soon starts shivering.

Also, on the repeated encouragement of other dog owners, we’ve been letting Beanie completely off lead during her park visits. It was quite scary the first time, but the other owners insisted that as a puppy she wouldn’t stray far from us. Happily, they were right. This has given us the chance to do proper recall training, something that Beanie seems to handle very well, especially now she knows that “Beanie! Come!” means there’s a tasty piece of cheese waiting for her. It’s something we may have to revise when she’s older and her tracking nose develops though…

Never trust a pig, especially if it’s pink

On her park visits, Beanie now fearlessly approaches dogs several times her size. However, her first encounter with a four inch fluffy pink pig that goes “oink-oink” when squeezed was less than heroic. This porcine newcomer was eyed with deep suspicion. Beanie kept a safe distance, which in this case was about a yard (the pig only had very short legs but you never know how fast those things can move). Every time I inched the pig towards her, Beanie backed off. I tried food lures, I tried calling her, but still she wouldn’t approach her new toy.

At first it was highly amusing, but then I sobered up. Some Internet sources suggest that pretty much anything a dog doesn’t learn to handle as a puppy can become a major phobia as an adult dog. Somehow, I had to conquer Beanie’s fear of little Miss Piggy! Crouching down on all fours, I lined up besides Beanie and very slowly crawled towards the pig. She began to follow me, so I paused to let her catch me up, then started my approach again. As we drew close to the pig, Beanie changed position. She backed up, then slunk between my legs, using me as a big portable doggy den. We made it to the pig, and very cautiously I pawed at it, rolling it into the “alpha” submissive position (I’d never do that with a puppy, but pink pigs are fair game). Beanie approached then sank back repeatedly, building up courage for her attack. When it came, it was perfectly executed. She went straight for the right ear, which as every Beagle knows is the most vulnerable area on a fluffy battery operated pig from Tescos. From that moment, the pig was doomed.