Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Puppy Steps

Well, I was leaning quite heavily toward crate training Buster and Belle, and holy cow, you all pushed me the rest of the way. Thanks for all of your suggestions and support. Much of your advice echoes the plan we have in place and that makes me rest a bit easier. It certainly makes A. feel better. I think he finally believes me that we can introduce the crates to the pups and it won't be a prison.

I wasn't a part of the pups lives when they were "trained." In fact, I've never taken part in training a dog - ever. So, this is all kind of new for me. I am just lucky that I have really well-behaved pups (for the most part). Really, the only time they cause trouble is if we leave them alone in the house.

My ultimate goal is to crate train the ding dongs and use that training to then train them to be in the house alone. You know, introduce them to being home alone much the same way as we will introduce the crates - a bit at a time and with plenty of positive reinforcement. All the while, taking steps to ease any anxiety. So! There will be much watching TV with our coats on and keys in hand! Plus, then they will have the crates as their established "safe place." I'd really rather not keep them cooped up in the crates all day. They are active dogs. I doubt they'd like to be in a crate for four hours at a time.

We haven't purchased the crates yet. We are trying to figure out where, in our itty-bitty house, to set them up. We would like to set them up in the living room/kitchen area, as that is were we spend most of our time. But damn, I have no idea how to reconfigure the living room to accomodate two very large crates. (I am kind of re-thinking my Will Always Have Two Dogs philosophy.) Eek!

Since we will be taking this training slowly, the introductions to the crates will happen during the day. We may or may not eventually use them overnight. The dogs are always calm and never get into anything at night. However, it would be nice to know the dogs can sleep in their crates calmly overnight should we find ourselves in a place/situation that calls for it.

To kick start this all off, I purchased two Extreme (!?!?!) Kong's. Now, you need to understand something. Our dogs don't play with toys, dog or otherwise. They look at you like you've lost your fool head by throwing a ball and then chattering at them in high-pitched voices like an idiot. There is not tug-of-war. There is only wrestling between the two of them, and occasionally A. will join it.

I was hoping the Kong's would work as something to occupy their wee little brains for a bit and could be used as a part of crate training. If they took to them, instead of ignoring them completely. (My other fear, of course, is that Buster will get so damn anxious to get The! Food! that he will eat the entire damn Kong.)

You guys! My dogs acted like dogs! They love those things! Of course, they have both figured out how to flip it over and get the kibble out already. So now we are using a combo of kibble smeared in peanut butter and homemade treats that are a bit bigger and have to be maneavured inside. They love them! It keeps them occupied for a good 45 minutes and then they are wiped out. They have completely forgotten about their J-E-R-K-Y night-time snack! So! Wiped! Out!  And! Buster is so SMRT! He has not eaten the entire toy out of frustration.



  1. Have you thought about one crate for both of them? If they typically sleep together, it might be less shocking to their system if they shared a crate. I have friends who have two dogs who share a crate. They curl up together and keep each other warm. It's sort of sweet.

  2. Wahoo! Go Buster!

    Have I mentioned how much I love your puppies on the sidebar? They just melt my heart!

  3. Best advice I ever got re: Kongs: Get two sets of them. Put peanut butter in one set and put it in the freezer overnight. Give them to the dogs before you leave for the day. Use the second set the next day so that you always have a set that's frozen.

    The frozen pb takes longer for them to eat and it keeps them busy for HOURS. I shit you not. Roxy will go after it for at least three hours.

  4. I echo the frozen peanut butter in the Kongs, although I am jealous that it takes Erica's dog three hours to finish it. Shorty goes through a room temperature PB Kong in 3 minutes. A frozen one buys us maybe 30 minutes.

    Kongs are awesome, though. We love ours (need to use it more often, too).

    Good luck on the training! I wish we could leave Shorty alone in the house when we're gone, but the cats are too tempting to him...

  5. Yay! So glad they like the Kongs! Maybe this will be a step in the right direction toward them enjoying other toys. The first toy Montana ever displayed interest in was a Kong, and now she likes lots of toys.

  6. The Kong is one of only two toys that Rowen didn't destroy as puppy (and this is a dog who once ate her own food bowl and chewed a hole in a door frame). And ditto on the frozen PB.

  7. We used a crate for several years with our Leia. She felt safe in it and it TOTALLY SOLVED our bad puppy problems. I had never successfully used one before, but I am a true believer now.

  8. i wish i had something useful to offer, but i know nothing of crates and kongs :-)

  9. So much goes into this training thing!


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