First class

We went to his first class tonight. I feel like I've done virtually nothing with him as far as training is concerned, but apparently he and I are playing together quite well.

We missed the first week or two of the class. There were a lot of puppies in a not-overly-large space, along with a dozen stations, each with a different piece of equipment varying from rocking boards to simple stools, a ladder to walk through, boxes to sit in. Getting him into the room was a bit of a nightmare (we were a bit late). We basically dragged across the room on a VERY tight leash as he tried to see all the puppies and people and commotion, so instead of taking a station, we took a chair in a quieter corner.

I kept him on a snug leash but let him look around without interfering. He looked. He pulled. He looked some more. Then he suddenly turned to me and asked for a treat. OK! I gave him one, then another. He looked back at the room. And then he turned back, looked at me, and sat. Treat!

As the class progressed, he was willing to work for the treats, to turn his back to the other dogs and people. He was unfazed by the commotion. When another puppy came too close, he turned to it with a tight leash but after a bit of a sniff, he was willing to come back and work again. I did NOTHING to get his attention, he was occasionally overwhelmed by the situation but came back on his own every time.

When the pups had worked on the equipment, we practised sits, downs, and floor Zen. The last was a new concept for Spider, but he figured it out right away.

On the drive home, I thought about the blessing of a good breeder. His temperament is utterly solid. He had no moment of insecurity during the class. Precisely NONE of the equipment gave him pause. He walked onto it, over it, or under it as necessary without hesitation or concern. He had a little trouble with a rocking yoga mat, but not mentally. It bucked him off once. He didn't care. He just climbed back on and was able to sit and lie down on it.

He was interested - very interested in the other puppies, and he loved up any human that looked at him. If I was test-driving him, I'd've had my money down before the end of the class.

So Marina Raukhverger of Firestone Giant Schnauzers, you done good. You made an absolutely happy, adventurous, solid, solid puppy. Thank you.

A guy and his dog...

Ron, who is usually pleasantly oblivious to dogs until they're at least civilized and more usually old, appears to be bonding. He's buying the kid a new car - but that was on the list anyway, it's just been stepped up a few months. No, the big deal is that he's volunteering to keep the puppy at home while I go visit my parents.

When we're camping, Ron goes for long walks with the pup. Spider, who really needs more exercise than he gets on a leash while we're camping, discovered sand on one of their hikes. When they got back to the trailer, Ron announced that we'll be getting a load of sand for the dog yard since Spike had such a great time rolling and digging in the sand.

Ron is not a techie. He doesn't do this sort of thing - this morning he sent me a video of Syn (!) playing with Spider.

OK, I've seen them do better, but the points are - a) Syn, who never plays with anybody, is playing with Spider, and b) Ron noticed and thought it was important enough to send me a video. I'm a happy person.


Last night I commented on the huge bulges in his gums where his adult molars are waiting, and Ron asked when his teeth would start falling out. "Oh, any time now, coupla weeks" I said, smiling to myself because he's WAY too young for his teeth to start coming in.

This morning after I posted his ears while cuddling him I looked in his mouth and
holy crow, my widdle booboo has real teeth! That's like his first day of school...

WHOA! Did I mention he has teeth?

Brothers and sisters, these are the hours that will sorely test our faith!

Let me count the ways.

His topline flops up and down like a loose clothesline.
His front feet flop around on the end of his legs like pillows tied to a hockey stick.
It takes him, literally (I timed it) 17 minutes of trying to figure out trotting. It's a very difficult procedure, his legs are too long and his body is too short.
OMG his tailset! Where did it go? His tail is down around his hocks and he's got ZERO drive in the rea... oh wait, he had to poop. OK. Where was I?
He can't gallop. He tries but getting four feet to work together at anything faster than a walk appears impossible. Last week he looked like a rhino running. Today he looks like a baby giraffe. He's fallen on his nose several times, and no, there weren't any gopher holes where he did it.
His ears are lying flat across the top of his head giving me the finger.
He peed in the laundry room. Again. On the other hand, I'd just finished posting his ears and he might have been standing in there pouting and just forgot to move.

Only another 5 or 6 months until all his teeth are in. I'm counting the minutes.

Exercise? What is this "exercise"?

Today was definitely one day too many cooped up in a trailer and going for "walks" - which from a puppy point of view are nothing more than humans pretending they're giving a puppy exercise. Every second time I took him out he got the rips - fortunately he was on leash so I could reward him for ripping around ME instead of around the PARK. Syn is getting fed up. She's snarling at him a lot, and when she snarls at him he sits back and barks at her (he doesn't take kindly to frustration). He's not being rude about trying to take her food or her toys, he's just being a jerk in general, lying too close to her, jumping on her, being where she wants to be, getting in between her and the the back of the couch and then pushing her off.

His leash work has gone to pot. He's dashed the trailer door four or five times, leaping out before anybody's ready for him. Some kids went by when he was on the deck and he escaped out a tiny space between the deck fence and the trailer, jumping (or dropping) a metre to the ground.

And then he was wonderful in the car on the way home. What a good boy!

He and Syn immediately went out into the dog yard and stayed out for several hours, coming in once in a while to say hello, get a drink, and then go out again. Noise from the yard sounds like the raptor pen in Jurassic Park. He'll be back to normal tomorrow now that he's had some physical effort.

A balanced day

This morning Ron and I went to play mini golf and left Syn and Spider in their crates in the truck in the shade with the windows open. Didn't hear a peep from them, so he's got the idea of being quiet in a crate in a vehicle, not just when it's moving. Good to know.

On the way back we got them some soft ice cream. Not sure he's purebred. He's a dainty little tongue-dipper. Syn kept looking at him like "hurry up! Are you stupid? You can eat the styrofoam dish too, you know!". I'm sure he'll figure out how to eat a gallon in one bite when he grows up.

Then back to the trailer for a nap and then for a walk in the (slightly above freezing) forest where we sat down on a log and ran through our Level 1 behaviours - Sit (mostly on cue), Down (on hand lure), Zen (he recognized the Zen hand first thing and stayed away), and Target (is he starting to see the difference between a Target hand and a Zen hand? Yes, I think he is).

With half his lunch left to go, we started working more on eye contact. I had both hands where he could see them so it took a few minutes for him to stop flicking his eyes from hand to hand and glance up. Yes! It was a slow start. I couldn't help but think of Syn, who had eye contact in the litter box. While all the other pups were squealing ME! ME! PICK ME!, Syn was quietly following me with a firm grip on my eyes. Still, by the time we were done, he was mostly coming back to my eyes right away. I thought I might get some duration towards the end but... nope. Not yet. OK, I can wait.

Then a lovely mostly-loose-leash walk back to the trailer. He jumped after a dragonfly, but otherwise was only pleased to see children and adults and bikes and cars. Lumps of grass and fire pits were more of a distraction, but he got lots of treats and we managed. Dear little tat.

In the evening when it was cool we went for another walk. We worked on walking on a loose leash. I gave him a LOT of treats for keeping the leash loose, and more for thinking about tightening it but realizing that might mean treats so coming back to me instead. We found a volleyball game FULL of kids that was especially fun as they kept knocking the ball out of bounds and chasing it. He only tightened the lead a couple of times and came right back when he felt it tighten. When he walked out to the end of it and stood like a European show dog watching the game, I let him look as long as he wanted to. What a gorgeous puppy!

More kids on bikes, lots of shouting and whooping from the volleyball game, the smell of cooking burgers, hot dogs, and s'mores. We walked by a smaller dog tied on a long line, yapping its fool head off. The owner apologized, saying "she's only a year old, she doesn't know any better. Not like your big guy! How old is he?"

Snicker. He looked at the screaming mop for a second, then turned back to me and sat for his treat.

I was planning on doing some shaping on the walk, but when I found a picnic table to it down at, he climbed up on it so we did a bit of Relax work on his side (which was harder than usual because I had a chunk of wiener on the table by his head). Then I took him down to start shaping but he remembered this morning's work on eye contact and was doing such a good job that I stuck with that until we walked on.

All week the hardest part of our walks has been coming back to the trailer. He wants to rush to get back to Ron and Syn. Tonight he walked three steps forward, stopped and looked back, got a treat, walked three steps forward, stopped and got a treat. It was beautiful.

Good night little man.