Monday, September 8, 2008

News of the Trixibou

Note: This is yet another puppy-only entry. Feel free to skip if you aren't interested in the minutiae of the doggy element of my life. ;o)

Poor Old Cyborg!--

Weeks ago, Trixie did some light chewing on a couple corners of the dining room cyborg, but late last week she moved on to gnawing on various knobs. The time had come to evacuate the cyborg to the main room, where it will be safe from chewing teeth. Of course, it looks a bit odd to have a cyborg standing just a few steps from the TV and sofa, but it can't be helped.

P.S. We call the dining room sideboard a cyborg because, well, we just do. (g) I think it started when Donald misheard me.

Shopping Spree, Puppy Style--
After watching a "You and Your New Puppy"-type orientation DVD, we decided to give the whole crate training approach a try, so we went shopping for a few puppy supplies:
  1. Soft treats in small pieces, so that we can easily reward her for good behaviors. She likes her Milk Bones, but they're just not quite as tempting-- or as easy to dole out a bit at a time.
  2. A crate. We got one large enough (we hope) to accommodate a full-grown Trixie, and in the meantime, we can block off part of it to make it small enough for Puppy Trixie.
  3. A Kong toy. We hope this will help her pass the time she spends in her crate-- and maybe distract her from non-chewables scattered throughout the house, when she's not in the crate. (Cyborgs, for instance. And window sills.)
We have begun the process of getting Trixie used to the sight, sound, and smell of the crate. This is our first experience with crate training, so we're learning as we go.

So far, she seems to like the crate pretty well. She'll go in there and stay for a while, even with the door open, and today she was in with the door shut for ten or fifteen minutes without crying or trying to get out. (A freshly filled Kong was enough to keep her interested for a while.)

(Note: In these photos, you'll see that I haven't yet portioned off part of the crate to make it the right size for a puppy. I'll be doing that today.)

One thing I've noticed is that she sometimes chews on the wire "bars" of the crate. I'm not sure what to do about that. . . I try telling her not to do it, but she usually ignores me or stops for only a moment. Distracting her with toys and treats is only a temporary deterrent. Maybe she'll just get tired of it and eventually stop on her own. Seems like she'd rather chew on her toys than the crate! As long as the doesn't hurt herself or ruin the crate, I guess it's not doing any harm.

Puppy Plans--
Short Term:
I want to get Trixie on the road to being truly house trained. The crate should help with that. It's just a matter of time, practice, and patience. Also, I want to teach her to stop biting, nipping, and chewing inappropriately. (That's a biggie. It's hard to enjoy your time with a puppy when you're constantly having to scold her. I don't want to be the bad guy all of the time!)

Long Term:
I'd really like to eventually have both dogs trained so well that they can be all-house dogs, if we so choose. I can't tell you how sick I am of cardboard barriers around the house-- and yet I don't want to put up baby/puppy gates everywhere, either-- certainly not as a permanent solution!

Right now, I just don't trust Molly enough to let her run freely through the house. She usually behaves well in the confines of the kitchen (and occasionally the breakfast room), but when she and Daisy "escaped" the kitchen in the past, they managed to do some bad things before they were discovered. Also, since she knows she's not usually supposed to be in the rest of the house, she's more likely to submissively urinate when she's out of the kitchen area. (TMI? ;o) Sorry.) Add to that the fact that she's been somewhat less manageable since we brought home Trixie. It's only to be expected, I guess. She's more stubborn about not following commands to go outside, and she's just plain jealous. She's jealous mainly of the toys that Trixie has but that Molly is too big to play with, but probably also of the attention that Trixie gets. (On the positive side, she's getting along better with Trixie, now. They're still not fast friends [despite Trixie's best efforts], but I guess I can't blame Molly for being annoyed when Trixie touches Molly's feet, for example. She doesn't like for anyone to do that. [sigh])

Meanwhile, Trixie's of course too young (and untrained) to be trusted on her own, either. I can only handle so much at one time, and I want to take advantage of Trixie's increased impressionability (as a puppy), so she's first. Once she's better under control, then we'll see if Molly can handle more freedom, too. . .