So the puppies are just shy of 6 months old which means time with them is like the 10 year old coming of age: full of embracing curiosities, sealing ambition and confidence and – of course – having a ton of fun.
I see a dog’s mentality as a human one in the following regard: capable of loyalty and appreciating of nature, enjoys adventurous experiences and settling into long, slow, steady nights at home during the winter, rainy season and anything else requiring candles and blankets.
Comfort and companionship are common themes.
But before we can get to that 20 adult vibe of relaxed nights on the patio, under the stars after a good meal and a long walk and with live music to boot; you have to get through infanthood. You have to learn how to ride your bike and swim, maybe even shoot a bow and arrow or build a teepee before you can become a friendly, worldly adult. Insert my desire to raise the dogs I wanted from scratch.
With two puppies simultaneously, the “obedience together” thing is a focus I pay attention to the most. Even before I started doing my research on littermates or dual puppies, I wanted that level of respect for and in my household. Thus the entire foundation of the training I have provided these dogs (and hope for from my children) is based on one simple and consistent expectation: manners.
Show me manners, Patio Manners, Can I see Good Manners in the Kitchen all are interchangeable for one of three pleasing responses: a nice non eager seat, a sphinx like yoga pose or relaxed hips out to the side.
More on “Relax” and “Sphinx” some other time….
For those of you out there with a puppy, here’s a Puppy Hack with rice that you can use in your obedience training:
First, the recipe:
Boil rice in 3 parts water. (1 cup of rice to 3 cups of water) If you have two dogs, make it 2 cups rice to 6 cups of water…
Finish rice al dente – it should still be sitting in a shitload of water
Drain it overnight
In silicone baking sheet or cupcake trays (anything that molds in a small handful shape), press down mounds of the drained rice
Freeze for about 3 hours (a little frost bite is fine) then store in a gallon freezer bag for up to a month
I started doing this to keep them on hand so that a quick microwave of a frozen rice (2 palmfuls usually zaps to looseness in about 1 min 30 seconds) is a no mess solution to dogs for dogs whose dietary choices are causing a different kind of mess. <Making a mental list of foods I know they can’t have. i.e: high fat pig ears? no thank you>
When the month is nearing to an end and it’s time to use them up: use them for training or reinforcing “wait” in our obedience training. For this, put one palmful of frozen rice in a bowl and bring it to them, expecting a non eager “sit”.
Side note: I did not train wait to my baby puppies (3 – 4 month old) because I didn’t mind not having a release command if they were at least sitting for as long as it took me to come in from our morning potty run, me to clean up any overnight messes, switch a laundry load or otherwise do whatever I needed to first: grab coffee, grab supplements / meds for them, hang up leashes.
Now that we are officially nearing 6 months, it seems it’s time for them to wait till I release them. Especially because I use “wait” naturally when I just need a 15 second head start before they follow me to wherever I am going in the house. Or at door thresholds, I need “a minute”.
During obedience training at The Watering Bowl in The Grove, I learned that using their bowls is actually an easy, easy path to train; especially since, as malleable puppies, they are used to waiting non eagerly in a seat for their food.
Here is my basic command order:
“Wait” and their body language is completely still and seated.
Lower bowls and count in your mind, notice how long / how low the bowl goes and it takes for them to impulsively lean forward. (Normal – we all do this when it is time to eat!)
“Buzzkill” and I come back up with their bowls. No reward given but “Buzzkill” tells them the whole no reward thing was because of them and we try again. Patience is required.
“Wait please, I love your manners” and they sit – learned a little bit – and wait.
Using the timing I noticed the first time, I then give a release word. For now, “Okay” is our joint one and we are working on individuals for the sake of timing and autonomy. “Bambi Girl” and “God of Thunder” are the current working release commands for Caramel Colored Rey and Blonde Thor.
We get compliments on our pretty dogs and the fact that everybody is learning and growing and love and patience are getting reinforced, tells me adding two 9 week old puppies 3 months ago to our 3 cat, 5 kid situation was actually really well informed on an intuitive level.
And just like that, the scene here draws to a close. It’s time to take the dogs through the front garden (the one I retired to start and build) and lay them up in their pen (the laundry room) while I get to work on prose and poetry.
Life as a creative is a life well spent, and balance is required in everything.
Share if you like. Like if you do and please, keep reading, seeing you out there means a lot.