Every friend/stranger/family member who meets Joey exclaims “Ohhh he’s just so cute!!”, or some similar sentiment.
I respond with, “Yup. Sure is. That’s the only reason he’s still alive.”
Jokingly, of course. (Well, most days.)
He is very, very adorable. Almost intolerably so. And like many good-looking folks, Joey is skating through life on his looks. He is the epitome of “puppy”, from chewing every piece of furniture we own (and the baseboards, too!), to tearing the fluff out of his toys and tormenting poor Daisie Mae. The kick is, no matter how sharp his little puppy teeth are or how long the puppy turd strung across the living room floor is, I can’t stay mad at him for long because he’s just so dang cute! He looks at me with those big, expectant puppy eyes and I melt into a pile of mush and all is forgiven before the disinfectant on the living room floor has even dried. It’s not his fault, really. He’s just a baby.
It’s Daisie’s fault. She spoiled me. I had no real idea what puppyhood entailed because she failed to show me.
She was such an easy puppy; I didn’t know how good I had it. She was calm, cuddly, and well-behaved from the beginning. She never chewed anything she wasn’t supposed to, she didn’t run around like a crackhead, and training was a breeze because she was just oh-so-eager to please. Plus, when she wanted to play, she threw the ball herself before scampering off to retrieve it! When we brought Joey home, I expected a certain level of puppy behavior based on my knowledge of puppies, my experience with Daisie, and my research of the breed. Well. Expectations, meet reality.
They say the hardest part of dog training is training the human. Boy, have I learned A LOT. The biggest lesson I learned was that Baby Joey had 2 speeds: full-blast and sound asleep. Full-blast requires constant supervision, as he likes to be busy and does not stop moving/exploring/hunting for entertainment and chew toys, and sound asleep may only last 15-20 minutes, so hurry up and (quietly!) get housework and everything else done at the speed of light. There were no other speeds. Fortunately, after a few weeks, he found other speeds, such as laying quietly, munching on his chew toy. Those first few weeks though, they were rough. Especially because Daisie had not yet warmed up to him and refused to acknowledge his presence, let alone play with him, so I was the only one to occupy him while Mr.B was at work.
And remember when I said Daisie was, and still is, so eager to please? That’s not really Joey’s top priority. Where Daisie HATES to get yelled at, it doesn’t really bother Joey. It just kind of rolls off his back and he goes on with his day. He’s laid back like that.
So, training has been more of a challenge. It has required me to find different techniques and approaches when teaching Joey new things than I used when training Daisie. One of the things I’ve had a lot of success with is using a clicker. My mom gave us this StarMark Clicker Dog Training System, and with Bil-Jac Little Jacs Liver Treats as a reward, Joey has been very responsive to the lessons. The basic idea was to teach him that a when he hears the clicking noise, he gets a treat. Once he associated “click” with “treat”, he was more eager to come to us or do what was asked of him because he knew he’d be rewarded. It has been wonderful, because while he doesn’t always come in a hurry when we call “Joey, come!”, he ALWAYS comes running when he hears the clicker. It’s nice to be able to let him off his leash, and be confident that we have a way to get him to come back to us every single time.
Potty training, however, wasn’t so easy. While he was quick to understand that relieving himself in the house was not ideal, he didn’t seem to understand that he had to alert us when he needed to go outside. If he had to go, he’d hold it until we took him outside. But if we didn’t take him out before he couldn’t hold it any longer, he just found himself a nice spot on our new hardwood floors. So, for the first few weeks, we were outside in the brisk, February weather every 45 minutes or so, to ensure we didn’t miss any need to potty. And since he obviously didn’t need to pee every 45 minutes, he got lots of chances to go outside and chase leaves, his most favorite game ever. He has a thick, warm coat and didn’t seem to understand what “hurry up Joey, it’s only 6 degrees out here” meant, so being outside so often was unpleasant for Mr. B and me. The day he waddled over to the front door and whined for the first time, I squealed in delight! It was a happy day. He finally understood! Yay!
Since Joey is only 3½ months old, we still have a lot of training left to do, especially as the weather gets warmer and we both spend more time outside and at the barn. Keep checking the Joey the Farm Dog page; I promise to post more about our successes, failures and adventures in puppyhood!