Monday, January 16, 2012

Puddle Gnomes, Positive Reinforcement, and Snow Banks

The one thing they never tell you about owning puppies is that puddle gnomes move in as well. What are puddle gnomes, you ask? Well, they are tiny mythical gnomes that leave little puddles all over the house. The puppies could be sleeping on your lap all night and when you get up to get something from the fridge you step in a puddle. You take a quick five minute shower and when you get out there is a puddle on the floor. You turn your back for two seconds and there is a puddle on the carpet. At first, you think it is the puppies but there are so many puddles it has to be something else. Something as small as two doxie puppies couldn't possibly hold that much liquid. Besides, they are never ever found at the scene of the crime. Like good doxies, ours are beginning to go outside. We take them out probably about 6 or 7 times a day, and they go potty each time. And yet the puddles still show up. I wish there were a way to catch the puddle gnomes and throw them out of the house but as of yet we have not caught them in the act either.


So this last week was Mackenzie's first time at puppy school and it was an adventure! There were two other dogs in the class, and they were much bigger than little Mackenzie. This didn't bother her, though. She picked the biggest dog and walked right up to her. I thought that this was great, because she wasn't afraid of the dogs so it looked like a good start. She then proceeded to let out the mightiest growl her little frame could muster, utterly confusing the giant Labrador puppy she was directing her anger towards. The puppy looked at her mom like "I don't understand why this squirrel has a problem with me..."

"Oh, he's not sleeping. I killed him as an example for the rest of you."

So we now had a reason to be at puppy class and that was just fine by me. I would rather find out about a problem earlier rather than later. When class began we learned how to sit, look at me, and steal the treat bag while the instructor is talking. Mackenzie was particularly good at the last one. This was all very basic, and to be honest we had already taught her those. She gets how do to most tricks already, but she chooses when to listen. She was getting really nervous towards the end of class because the other participant, and Alaskan Huskie, kept trying to get at her. After about 45 minutes of the dog pulling against the leash the owner apologizes profusely saying she thinks its because her dog likes to chase squirrels and Mackenzie looks like a squirrel.

"I am not a squirrel, just naughty."

The best part of class, however, was the positive reinforcement. Mackenzie is devious, and will do anything to get treats. She will even do her tricks to get treats, but you can totally tell she is going through the motions. Doppelbock truly benefits from positive reinforcement, while Mackenzie uses it to manipulate us into feeding her. When Kenzie and I were going over "sit" she kept stuttering while doing it just enough to keep doing it again. It was the same thing with "look at me." She does it just well enough to warrant more practice in order to be fed even more. While the instructor was talking to us, Kenzie would sneak over to my purse and steal the treats out of it. Don't let her cute face fool you, she has dominated positive reinforcement.

"I sat down a little too slowly last time. Can we practice it again?"

Something else exciting happened this week: snow! We live in the Midwest and the dogs have literally known no temperature under 40 since they have been alive. In fact, the day we got the snow it was 50 degrees up until around 8pm that night. We felt so bad that the majority of their potty training now had to take place in snow that is over their heads. They are doxies, little skinny puppies. The vet told us we needed to put jackets on them this winter so they could keep warm. We were horrified when it finally snowed because we knew it would be the worst thing for them.

"This is the greatest single day of my life!"

Doppelbock proved us wrong. Doppelbock isn't the smartest puppy, and we figured since he is afraid of stairs that the snow would just floor him. Well, that was not the case. Kenzie hated the snow, and stuck pretty much to the shoveled areas. Doppelbock (perhaps because he didn't know better) superman dove right into the first snowbank he came across! He went leaping through the snow, throwing it up in the air and burrowing face first into it. He loves to roll around in the snow and drag his poor sister in with him. Doppelbock is a pretty easy going dog, but he will protest when it is time to go inside. Once you get him inside, he will beg to be let out again! That first day, he was so tired he slept the entire night. Not even his treats could wake him up!

I bet he is even dreaming of the snow...

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

School Days, A Tree That Can't Be Peed on and Mirror Ball Vests

What a past couple of weeks it has been! And to think I thought the holidays were hectic before Doppelbock and Mackenzie arrived! Back in the good old days, we were actually able to sleep in on our days off. Sure, we had a "Boo-larm Clock" (God rest his crotchety little soul), but the snooze on him was easily activated once we fed him for the morning.

"I'll be back before noon!"

With the puppies there appears to be no snooze button... In fact, they seem to have a little contest to see whose bark can be the most efficient at waking us up. While Doppelbock had good volume, Mackenzie has achieved that certain "nails on a chalkboard" effect. She doesn't sound like a dog, she sounds like a cross between a chainsaw and a the last dying gasp of a Sasquatch. You know how your mom used to wake you up in the morning with "that tone" that made you want to punch her? Yeah... your mom has nothing on Mackenzie.

"And clean your room while you are at it!"

Luckily, it was time for puppy classes. We have them enrolled in separate classes, so Doppelbock was the first to go, with Mackenzie starting off two weeks after. Separating the two dogs was probably the most difficult part of the evening. I tried to distract Mackenzie as my fiance took Doppelbock outside. We would have succeeded except that Doppelbock freaked out and began screaming right outside the window. Mackenzie looked at me, and her little lips began to quiver. She frantically ran around the house crying out for Doppelbock... until I pulled out the Pup-Peroni. This worked, however she spent the rest of the time apart moping around the house.

"I have no one to chew on..."

Doppelbock handled class as well as we expected. He cried on the way there, shook the first 15 minutes of class, but then warmed up to the whole environment. He tried making friends with a larger dog, and the larger dog was happy to meet his acquaintance. However with the dog being five times as big as Doppelbock, a friendly swipe of the big dog's paw meant that Doppelbock's face kept getting shoved into the floor. Doppelbock did really well during the training portion, and he even began to learn some tricks like sit, stay, and apparently french kiss.


Christmas went really well! We had to leave the puppies home from my fiance's family celebration because one member of his family has a dog that isn't very well behaved. The dog would probably kill our little doxies, so this was for the best. However my family celebration was VERY dog friendly, as in a 3 year old and a two year old who have NEVER seen puppies before! The dogs and the boys really do not know what to make of each other, and they chase each other around and play and have so much fun!

This brings us to New Year's Eve. This would be the true test of the puppies and their ability to adapt to new situations. We transformed the living room into a party space that could hold about 15 people. My fiance and I were sure that the puppies would be scared of all the people but they proved us wrong again! They made their rounds to all the laps that would have them, and messed around with everything they could get their little jaws on. At midnight, they became the stars of the show as we had the lowering of the puppies to coincide with the countdown to midnight. They even wore little mirror ball vests to ring in the New Year!

"Elton John would be so proud!"

As the night wore down, so did the puppies. They began sleeping in very unusual places like:


And some not unusual places like:


So, it appears as though 2012 is getting off to a good start. The puppies adored all of the attention they received, as well as a whole slew of new situations. Mackenzie is our little social butterfly, so I have no concerns for her first day of puppy classes. Our resolutions for the year are to have the puppies potty trained, get them to be even more social, and stop them from chewing everything that is left on the floor.

Timestamp on the picture: 1/1/2012 at 3:14pm. I guess we will strike the last one.


Happy New Year, My Indoxienated!

"I'll smooch Mackenzie, you smooch your dogs, ok?"