Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Coco the Snow Bunny!


I love Michigan. I'm one of those people that gets all bundled up and loves to hike through the snow. This is the first year that I've had a companion, and she absolutely LOVES the snow! We get up at 6AM and head out around 6:45ish AM every morning. She bounces around and just cannot get enough of the lush snow. She has grown into a fantastic companion to walk with. No more pulling on the leash! She totally gets it.
"Mouthing/Nipping" Solution
So I learned pretty quickly that grabbing her snout and saying "NO!" was not working for her. It made her far more "Nippy" and hostile. The trainer suggested that we "YIPE!" like a wounded dog, so that she understands that it hurts. Well, that has worked liked a charm! She has eased back on the nipping and feels bad once she realizes that it's hurting you.
Bottom Line - EXERCISE!
Over the past few weeks, we've noticed that the few times that Coco is a total stinker is when she's not getting enough exercise. She get's quite a bit, with 3 walks per day. But there was a lazy Saturday where I just wanted to lounge on the couch and watch Netflix. THAT was the Saturday where she turned into a bratty teenager. 95% of the time, she gets more than enough exercise and those are the days that she follows commands and sleeps through the night.

Friday, February 19, 2010

"I see." said the Blind Man

Obedience training with Dr. Camille Ward

Tonight was our first round of obedience training at The Ann Arbor Dog Training Club. It was a HUGE learning experience...not so much for Coco, as she remains a total Rock Star, but for me. I have a whole lot to learn and unlearn. I spent years preparing for Coco and read every book under the sun. Unfortunately, "The Art of Raising a Puppy" will be thrown in the trash. After learning more about how certain philosophies can drive further aggression, I'm a little embarrassed and feeling guilty about following certain suggestions given by the Monks of Skete.

Dr. Camille Ward

"Is this your first dog?"

So we started out the night with the puppies running around and socializing. Coco had a BLAST!!! She was tromping around with the larger dogs like a total pro and even followed some "normal" behavior that totally freaked me out. She became super dominant over a sweet little Weimaraner and pinned her down, then Coco put her jaws over the dogs throat! Of course, I tweaked out and said "Coco!! Nooo!! NO!" and Dr. Camille Ward immediately corrected me. "This is normal puppy play" She said. Then she politely looked at me and asked "Is this your first dog?" Um, errr...yeah. I have always had cats and having a dog is totally new to me. I'm trying really hard to do everything exactly right, and if there's one thing I learned tonight it's to kick back and let my instincts work hand in hand with a little freakin' common sense followed by consistency.

Coco is sound asleep at my feet and I think she'll be looking forward to seeing her fella Argos on Sunday. Argos is a graduate of the ADVANCED puppy class, as he's pretty fancy and more mature (Zee and Ian are laughing). I'm really glad that we're taking these obedience classes. I have no idea how people have dogs without discipline.

"Good Morning Coco!"

Coco is one smart cookie!

So tomorrow will mark our 2 week anniversary with Coco. She's been a really great pup. We've been extremely lucky that she was potty trained so quickly and that she's gotten along pretty well with the cats. I think having cats around to keep her in her place will help out in the long run with her socialization and her self control. Tonight we start her obedience training and I'm looking forward to blowing the other pups out of the water. Coco is getting really good at following basic commands. She has also DOUBLED in size in less than 2 weeks. It's pretty wild.

Mouthing and Walking

The biggest objections that we've had with her so far is her need to "mouth" or "nip." We've been dealing with it through reading "The Art of Raising a Puppy" which recommends that we gently grab her snout and say "NO" and then hold out our hand for her to lick. While the "mouthing" is still going on, she's come a LONG way! Walking her has also been quite the challenge. She pulls and wants to lead - as any puppy would. However, this morning marked a serious turn in events. She walked next to me the entire 45 minutes that we were out. I had to keep her there, of course, but she accepted her role and maintained position. When we got back to the end of the subdivision I heard someone say "Good morning Coco!" and a woman standing in her drive-way was waving to us. I waved back and Coco was delighted to hear her name. Wow - she's already making plenty of friends in the area! We meet so many people in our subdivision when we take her for walks.


So after her second round of shots, she'll be able to go hiking with me this weekend for a longer period of time. I'm really excited to get her out. She needs to meet the local squirrels NOW, before she's 75 lbs and ready to bolt through the woods.

Friday, February 12, 2010

The "Mouthing" phase begins...

So our quiet little sweet pea has officially grown into a rowdy puppy dog. She's still a total dollface and the strict feeding schedule has maintained her successful potty training. Thankfully, we have been referring to "The Art of Raising a Puppy" and this nipping/mouthing phase is something that we intend on being consistent with. Getting dressed in the wee hours of the morning was quite the challenge while she tried to pull on my long underwear as I was bleary-eyed and off balance. She was wide awake and ready to go at 4 AM...uuugh...but she'll sleep soundly in her crate today and that's all that matters.


One of my co-workers brought these Doggy Wipes in for me and wow -- they've come in handy! Every doggy owner should have some. I even wiped down my kitty cat Bast, who was a feral cat and has issues with cleaning herself. This weekend will be action-packed with plenty of trails and new experiences! YAY!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

"The Art of Raising a Puppy"

I'm reading this right now, and it's an
excellent resource for anyone raising a puppy!
"This complete guide, illustrated with more than eighty photographs, explains the stages of puppy development, how to communicate with your pup, how to begin a complete training program, and how to deal with common problems like chewing, jumping up, and paper-training. The Art of Raising A Puppy is an essential source of wisdom, information, and inspiration for anyone who loves and cares for a puppy. "

- The stages of puppy development
- The decision to adopt a puppy
- The right breed for you
- Where to get a puppy
- Finding a dog breeder
- Preparing for your puppy's arrival
- The first day at home
- Learning to read your dog
- A complete guide to basic training methods
- Solutions to common puppy problems
- Feeding, grooming and general care

Learn more about the Monks of New Skete

Tuesday, February 9, 2010


So here we are. After MANY years of wanting a German Shepherd, my husband and I adopted our first one last Saturday. She is a dream come true. She's very sweet and is such a little smarty pants! She is potty trained -- no seriously, she is! We keep her on a tight schedule so that she can anticipate meals and expect potty time. She whimpers at the door when she needs to go and has even chosen a spot on left side of the yard to go potty.

We were honestly expecting the worst. WEEKS of accidents in the house, non stop barking and chewing...but so far so good!

Yesterday was the first time she was in a crate for a long period of time and it was devastating for her. While she's been great in the house, she did have a major accident in her crate. Um, yeah. I came home at 5:30ish to find her COVERED in diarrhea. Poor thing, she was so embarrassed. But I ran her outside so she could take care of business and then I cleaned the heck out of that crate. Lesson here: NEVER buy expensive chew toys. I think I lost about $30 worth of rope toys and other odds and ends. I'm not quite comfortable with "cleaning them" and then having her put the toys (once covered in feces, now saturated with cleaning chemicals) in her mouth. Call me a new mom.

What I'm doing right

1) She's on a strict schedule. I get up at 6 AM and she eats/drinks and plays. I pull her food at 7 AM and she has play time until 9 AM. Then I come home at 12 NOON and she eats/drinks, playtime and poopy time. My hubby drops by at 1 PM and she goes back into her crate at 2 PM. I come home at 5:30ish PM and she eats/drinks again and I pull her food entirely at 6 PM and her water at 8 PM. She goes outside as much as possible until her final outing at around 10:30 PM.

2) She gets a lot of exercise. She's still a pup, so we're not taking her to any parks until she has all of her shots and vaccinations. But she runs around the yard and has plenty of playtime before and after her crate experience.

3) The crate is a positive experience. She's been eating in and around the crate and we are sure to have some (expendable) toys in there for her to chew on while we're gone. The kong is going to keep her busy, once she chills out about the crate experience.

What I'm doing wrong

1) She sleeps with us. I know, right?! This is a BIG NO NO! Her separation anxiety is worse from sleeping with us and at some point she's going to be huge and she won't fit on our bed. I'm working on it! That's all I can say. The dog trainer at Petco looked at me like I was out of my mind for allowing a German Shepherd to sleep with me. I'm a new doggy mom, I'm gonna make mistakes - lighten up!

2) I don't crate her at night. Yes, I'm aware of this problem. She's not having any accidents in the house and she's only chewing on her chew toys. She's still adjusting to the crate during the day and I'm just not ready for her to wig out all night in her crate. I should crate her at night to keep her safe from the elements. I'm working on it.

3) I didn't mix her old puppy food with her new puppy food. Uuuugh. BIG MISTAKE! Huge. This has caused her to be constipated and have blood in her stool. I ran a sample into our vet and they let me know that she does not have Parvo or a parasite. The vet let me know that while I didn't cause her irreparable damage, my ignorance created a lot of discomfort and anxiety. :(

4) The Pig ear. Yeah, the lady at the pet store gave us one for CoCo when we bought a bunch of chew toys. The people who work at pet stores know everything, right? WRONG! My vet let me know that the pig ear may have also been to blame for her diarrhea and for the blood in her stools.

So we're starting obedience training in about 2 weeks. I'm reading "The Art of Raising a Puppy" and doing my very best to create a fabulous environment for my Baby Cakes CoCo.

Coming soon: videos, updates, kitty cat testimonials and her FIRST visit to the vet!