Tag Archives: pets

bean, go kennel

For those of you who may be interested, I thought I’d spend some time over the next few posts chronicling what I’m doing to train Bean and how it’s working out. Because he’s so young, I’m not really giving him hard core training or anything, but there are small things I’m doing to teach him how to be a great dog and for the most part, he picks them up pretty quickly.

The first thing I decided on for sure was crate training. Bean’s first mom and dad did a great job of getting him and his littermates used to being crated overnight, so I’ve never had a problem with him crying all night long even during his first night with me. He goes to bed around 11pm (sometimes earlier, sometimes later) and we get up at 6:30. In my pre-Bean life I used to drag myself out of bed at 7:30 or 8 if I was really feeling sluggish, so that earlier start has been a tough adjustment for me. But he hears when my alarm goes off and starts making noise, so I couldn’t ignore him even if I wanted to.

Bean sacked out in his kennelI had been doing a ton of reading on training techniques, and on a whim one day I decided to see if I could train him to go into the crate on command. I am using treats and a clicker to train him. He only gets treats when we’re working on commands, so they really are treats more than snacks, and I also only use the clicker when we’re working. You can pick up a clicker at Petsmart for like a buck (they keep them in buckets at the register), or there are fancier ones you can order online. The cheap one works fine for me.

So anyway. To get him to go into the crate on his own, I started by chucking a treat in there, saying “go kennel,” and patting the top of the crate. The minute he crossed the doorway on his own, I’d praise him and press the clicker. We did that several times in a row, and he was totally pumped about the treats. Next, I hid several in my hand and just gave the command while patting the crate top. He smelled the treats and kept nosing at my hand for them, but I ignored him and repeated the command. Finally, I could nearly SEE him thinking, “Well, I guess I could go in there and see what happens.” And so he thought about it for a second, and then went on in the kennel, and it was a total awesome lightbulb moment. I praised the hell out of him, he got a treat and a click, and we were off to the races. We repeated it several times until it was obvious he was getting the idea, and then I stopped for the day.

I’ve grown up with dogs, but this is of course the first time I’ve raised and trained a dog all on my own, and many of the techniques I’m trying are different from what I grew up with. This training exercise took maybe fifteen or twenty minutes, so it was not time intensive at all. I had maybe one more lesson dedicated to “go kennel” and have been reinforcing it at random moments each day in addition to when I actually need to crate him for some reason. I know he understands it because he doesn’t really like going into his kennel, but will do it when commanded (even if it sometimes takes two or three tries).

I waited about four or five days until I was sure he had “go kennel” down cold before I moved on to the next lesson. I’ll write about that one tomorrow or so.

peanut butter puppy breath

For a long, long time, my vision of the ideal life has included a dog. In fact, though I have two cats and love them completely, I have always considered myself first and foremost to be a dog person. But getting a dog never seemed to be right for so many reasons. It was space, it was time, it was travel, it was work, it was relationship status – excuses, or perfectly good logical reasons, seemed infinite. I was even on the verge of getting a puppy a couple of times, but something always happened at the last minute to change it and I didn’t mind so much.

But over the last several months, my interest in getting a dog had escalated into full-on puppy fever. I cruised Craigslist ads on a daily basis – not just in my hometown, but in all surrounding areas as well. I researched dog breeds and decided I NEEDED a vizsla, and then decided what I really needed was just a short-haired brown dog with floppy ears of any breed.

And then a friend of mine started posting pictures of their accidental litter of puppies on Facebook. And then I found myself obsessed with the one I liked to call “the little brown guy.” And then, well…it’s kind of a long story, but I got really hormonal over the course of a week or so and ended up trying to convince Seth that it was puppy time. Seth insisted that it was not, in fact, puppy time, and that I shouldn’t make major life decisions while hormonal. And then we had this whole big thing about it where it became clear to him that I really, really wanted a puppy – no, wait, THIS puppy – and he told me I should get it even if he wasn’t pro-puppy, because he’d support me, and I was convinced getting the puppy would ruin our relationship, which is pretty great, and he was convinced that if I DIDN’T get the puppy it would ruin our relationship, and OMG drama drama drama and basically, in case you haven’t heard, I have a puppy now. WE have a puppy now.

His name is Bean. He’s a mix between a lab and a German shorthaired pointer, with some springer spaniel thrown in there somewhere. He’s going to end up being way the hell bigger than we thought, which means I’m probably going to have to move out of my townhouse at some point. He is super duper adorable and brilliantly smart and awesome, except when he’s being a psychotic holy terror or a complete dumbass. So far the ratio is mostly manageable. He likes to chew on stuff and he loves peanut butter in his Kong and he loves his human mom and dad and we love him back.

Seriously, Seth and I have both turned out to be total suckers for this puppy. We took him to Petsmart and let him pick out his own bed. We spend a ridiculous amount of time pointing out his adorableness and smartness to each other. We take an obnoxious number of pictures of him sleeping or nomming on his chewy thing or whatever.

Puppies are hard work, and I’m usually pretty wiped out from chasing him around the house and letting him in and out and in and out and in and out and so on. And I have had a couple of moments where I wondered what the hell I was thinking, getting a puppy right now.

But most of the time, when I think about it at all, I think about how quickly we got to the point where I can’t imagine life without him.