Monday, February 13, 2012

[010] 12 weeks and progress is made!

After speaking extensively and detailing the problem for a bunch of very helpful fellow-corgi owners over at, AND watching Rufus closely this weekend in as many situations as possible, it seems like we're making some progress.

Part of what makes me so frustrated with the process is that we're still trying to learn how to communicate with eachother. Whether it's us telling Rufus "No, that is not allowed", or him trying to tell us when he needs to go outside, it's still a work in progress. We may never have it entirely perfected, but it's only been 3 weeks that we've had him home with us, and my perfectionist self will never totally admit defeat!

Because Rufus HAS learned not to chew on wires or furniture, we've let him have (supervised) run of the house when we let him out to play. If we can't keep our eyes strictly on him, then we have a gated off area that is "safe" for him to play in,  as well as "safe" for if he has any accidents (read: HARDWOOD FLOORS!!). When he's out with us, he follows us around endlessly, unless something distracts him, but when he notices we aren't standing near him anymore, he promptly comes looking. He seems to understand his name more now, as when I say "Wheres Rufus?!" if he's not in sight, he usually comes running (again, unless there is something particularly interesting on the floor in his vicinity - if this is the case, we usually get a delayed run!). Last night, we were watching some How I Met Your Mother (almost all caught up to the current season!!) and Rufus was such a good boy. He sat on the living room floor next to Mike and chewed on his bully stick for 3 episodes!

The first problem we were having with Rufus was that he was getting very wild and riled up, and when this occurred, it didn't seem like there was a way to stop him from grabbing our pants/hands, and acting aggressively. A lot of people suggested it was an overflow of energy, as opposed to true aggression, so this weekend we tried to run him around as much as possible, and it seemed to work. We did notice though that when we gave him fruit as part of his diet (canned pumpkin in his food when the issue first started, a small strawberry yesterday) he seemed to get super hyper and riled up. I could handle some good frapping, but not when it's directed at us or our clothes/bodies. Eventually we had to put our little guy in the crate for a time out to calm down, but overall we only had two really bad episodes over the weekend, which is an improvement. When I go home for lunch to take him out now, I'm making sure that I bring him on a short walk up or down the street, and then running back to the house to help get some of that energy out. Also, we are going to be enrolling him in puppy kindergarten classes after his next set of shots, so playing with other puppies and having to focus for an hour a night will probably help with some of that energy also.

Our next issue, which is really a non-issue as much as it's a "how do we communicate issue" is knowing when to bring Rufus outside to do his business. From the beginning we've had him on a schedule for going out to potty. Rufus goes out as soon as he wakes up/wakes us up in the morning, and then he goes out every 3 hours until almost bedtime, where we bring him out right before he goes in the crate for bed every night. On the week days, this is "easy" I suppose you could say, because he is crated when we aren't home. We've only had ONE accident in the crate, and that was some serious diarhea, about an hour after he had last gone out, so I would say it absolutely would have happened even if we were home and he was out. On the weekends, because he's proven himself to be a good boy in his room, and also to give him more exercise, we've given him more run of the house, and we really only put him in his crate when he's tired and plops out, or when he needs a time out. Obviously we pay attention to the last time Rufus went outside, and keep to the 3 hour rule, however, we've had two accidents in the house now. Nothing major - one time he peed a little bit on the rug near the mini-fridge we have downstairs, and the second, he pooped on the rug in the living room. Lucky for us it was hard poop, so it was a snap to clean up. At one point over the weekend, he started growling and barking at me, and then he walked down the hallway to the door we bring him out. I said, "Hold on, momma needs to get her shoes" but I got growled at/barked at some more, so I just brought him outside as I was, and he was a pee machine! Rufus doesn't do this every single time though, and the two accidents were times when we didn't have our eyes strictly on him, or we would have seen the sniffing/circling signs. Pre-pooping accident, he looked at our front door and sat in front of it for a second, but then he got up and started sniffing in the kitchen. I like the idea of getting a bell, and having him ring the bell when he wants to go out - just so we know when its time if he has to go sooner than 3 hours. When he's actually outside, Rufus is really really good about "going potty", and he doesn't even come over to us immediately for treats after he does his business anymore, not unless we call him to come over and say "good potty".

Rufus is also making progress with some commands! We have SIT absolutely learned, and he'll answer to a sit from both myself and my boyfriend. My boyfriend's sister not so much, and we figured out the reason for this was because she was giving him treats just for breathing basically, so he didn't feel as if he had to do anything to earn them from her. We've had a talk with her so she corrects that, but I'm still nervous she's breaking our good training. No wonder Rufus got so insanely excited when she came over! STAY is a work in progress, and I've used it in two separate situations - the first when I put his food bowl down, and the second when I am giving him a treat so he doesn't lunge at my hand. He will sit and stay in those situations 90% of the time, so I'm going to start working on a stay while walking away from him. Rufus doesn't seem to lie down EVER except when he's tired, so teaching down has been hard. I've tried a bunch of different methods but none seem to work. When he wakes up from a nap/sleep though, and we bring him outside, he'll stretch and lie down while we put his leash on, so when he does that I've been treating him and saying "Good lie down!". Hopefully he'll learn to associate lie down with that action soon! In the realm of outside, we're almost there on "leave it", "drop it" and "bring it'. Over the weekend, I've been picking up sticks in the yard (Rufus loves sticks), tossing them and giving the "go get it!" command. When Rufus gets it, I say "Bring it to momma!" and 8/10 he'll run back to me. 6/10 times with the stick. Sometimes he drops it too soon. When he gets to me I say "drop it!" and lately he's understanding that more and more. Today on our walk he picked up a stick and I said, "drop it" and he did right away. It didn't work a second time though! I'll use drop it and leave it interchangeably, and it really seems like he's making some good progress with them!

I'll have to go through my copy of Mother Knows Best again to see where she suggests we should be at with training at this point. She has a week-by-week for 8-12 weeks which I found a good guideline for when we first brought Rufus home. We haven't taught "heel" yet, so when I take walks with him I have to keep him on a tight leash so he doesn't wander too far, but I figure the benefits of the walk (tires him out and uses that ever-suprising well of energy he has) outweigh the fact that he isn't walking with me "correctly" yet.

We had a lot of people at the house Saturday night since we went out to celebrate my impending birthday, and Rufus was very good with all of them. It was nice having other dog owners there who reassured me that the teething was normal, the hyper playing was normal, and that he would grow out of it once he got older, and went through obedience classes. It was also nice for Rufus to get attention from new people - and it's great for his socialization!

I don't think anything could have helped me to be prepared for a new puppy - its one of those situations you have to go through to actually get a grasp of it I feel like, but we're doing so much better now and the help I've gotten, along with the reassurance, has been beyond a relief!

Will definitely update soon with some pictures of our "little monster" :)

Thursday, February 9, 2012

[009] It's good to be the king...until Momma catches on!

This week has been a really frustrating one! This morning, momma definitely left the house feeling anxious, defeated, and really annoyed. Then, I found a blog by a fellow corgi owner detailing all her joy and delight in her fur baby, and I felt myself get hopeful again.

The gist of the problem/what's eating me is basically this: while I love Rufus, I'm getting frustrated with his training and I'm starting to feel like the breeder we got him from wasn't as reputable as another we could have gone to, who would have been more available to answer questions, and probably more helpful with our current issues. I won't get into details, suffice to say that part of me feels that maybe I didn't make the connection I thought I did, and maybe now I'm seriously paying for it.

Regardless, I wanted a puppy, I got a puppy. Who's to say that we wouldn't be having these problems if we got a different puppy from a different place? So, I'm trying my BEST to just do the whole carpe diem thing and not look back. I can't change any of it, so I just have to make some lemonade out of those lemons!

In my mind, I don't think I ever fully realized how challenging it would be to raise a puppy. The practice itself is challenging, but then you throw in how many different ways there are of going about training a puppy and you not only have one confused momma, you have one confused puppy. Add in the fact that corgis are herders and can be domineering at times, and you've got a pickle similar to the one we have right now!

In the beginning we jokingly called Rufus King Rufus because he required so much of our time and attention between play time and potty schedule and feeding schedule. Now though, momma has the sneaking suspicion that Rufus really does think of himself as the King and of all of us as his peons, there to amuse him at will. If I'm in his play room and standing up, I get tugged on, barked at, growled at, and nipped on until I sit down, at which point nipping on/at my hands commences. I've tried redirection, I've tried yelling, I've tried "No!", I've tried time-outs, ignoring him, yelping. I feel like I've tried every method everyone in the world has suggested, and maybe that's the problem - poor guy doesn't know what's what anymore, although I can't feel for him as a poor guy right now considering the bite marks I'm sporting on my hands. I feel like I'm dealing with an insolent toddler, and though we're at the beginning of regression right now, I don't want to go another day even with him acting like this and letting it slide/not correcting it. The question is though, how?

I already feel like a terrible parent as it is. It breaks my heart to have to put him back in his crate when I leave after lunchtime to go back to work. I feel even worse when I lose my temper and just snap at him or put him in his crate because I need a time-out myself. It gets frustrating though - because this isn't the puppy experience I signed up for, and this most definitely isn't the puppy whose personality I would have chosen. When we picked Rufus out, there were no signs that he would act like this. When we picked him up, he wasn't happy at all, but I expected that - poor guy had never really been in a car before and we WERE taking him away from his family. To have the behavior continue though, and to make progress and then chart backwards is really getting to me, and Mike too at this point.

As much as I hate to admit defeat, I think its time to call in an expert and get an expert opinion on what is okay, and what isn't, and how to go about teaching/training Rufus to understand that. A potential part of the problem also is that Mike, Steph and I are all using different tones, methods, and attitudes towards teaching him right from wrong and dos from don'ts, so he probably is having an exceedingly hard time trying to keep it all straight.

The end goal is a happy, healthy puppy, who won't have problems with anything from vegging on the couch to hiking in the woods. It's a work in progress.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

[008] Rufus is 11 weeks old!

Time is really flying by. Between work being busy this time of year, the Superbowl, my birthday coming up, and puppy play time, I can't believe we've had Rufus for ONLY three weeks. That being said, I still can't believe he's 11 weeks old already!

I like Rufus best when he first wakes up from naps/sleeping. He's super mellow, and he'll let me pet him and snuggle him and give him lots of kisses. Once our little man gets going, he's hard to stop, and he thinks everything is a game - and therefore a reason to put something he probably shouldn't into his mouth.

We just switched his food from Nutro-Max Puppy to Canidae ALS. I transitioned him onto the Canidae by mixing it into his food, but our little monster loves anything new - so he took to the food right away, and ate around his old food. When I put his food dish down now, I have him sit and stay until it's all the way on the floor and my hand is away. Even then, sometimes he looks at me as if to say, "Is it okay now momma?" We're still mixing in some Wellness Puppy formula wet food with every meal (couldn't see the harm), which he isn't having adverse side-effects to anymore. I stopped giving him canned pumpkin because for whatever reason, it seemed to make him much more hyper and out of control/cranky.

I want to get Rufus enrolled in puppy kindergarten classes, but I'm also wary, especially since the classes we've chosen are at PetSmart with other doggies ranging from 10 weeks - 5 months. We're due for another set of shots next week (I think), so after those, we'll see about official classes outside of the house in a potentially germy environment. Rufus is responding better to sit, stay, and go get it, but he doesn't quite get lie down yet. He'll lay down of his own accord when I'm putting his leash on him by the door, but he hasn't associated the words with the action yet for when we aren't getting ready to go out.

Because Rufus is a bigger boy now, we've given him a little bit more run of the house. His room is at the end of a hallway in our house, with our room immediately to the right, Mike's office to the left, and the bathroom on the right before the bedroom. There is also a hall closet on the right before the bathroom door. We close off all of those areas, and put up his exercise pen/gate across the opening to the kitchen. Now, Rufus can run up and down that hallway from his room down the hallway, into the pool room where the side door is that we take him out through, and back. When we're in the kitchen he can see us, and he sits at the gate and cries when momma is eating her lunch and not sharing! Giving him more run of the house when we're home helps us out a ton because it keeps Rufus busy so he can help tire himself out, but also, we can rest easy knowing if we need to run into the kitchen or use the bathroom, we don't have to herd him down, pick him up, and put him in his crate.

Speaking of being a bigger boy - I can't believe how much our Rufus has grown!! He's definitely getting noticeably heavier (its harder to pick him up now). Until the other day, I couldn't tell if his body was growing any or not, but then one of my friends posted a picture of a baby corgi on my Facebook page, and I noticed that Rufus has definitely gotten bigger size-wise also! I definitely need to be better about taking pictures of him! The one a day thing didn't happen - even though I tried! He doesn't sit still enough for us to take a picture, silly boy.

Friday, February 3, 2012

[007] Its only been two weeks?!

Yesterday was officially the second week we've had Rufus home with us. I can't believe that it's only been two weeks. It feels almost like it should be closer to a month, but he just turned 10 weeks old on Tuesday.

In two weeks of being with us, he seems to be doing extremely well!

Rufus RARELY chews on things he shouldn't anymore, aside from people's hands/clothes when they come to play. He's completely stopped trying to chew on the corner of the end table we have the lamp on, as well as the handles on the sides of the recliners we have in his room currently. Everytime we bring him outside, he responds to "go potty!" even though sometimes he just wants to explore and smell everything. So far, he really prefers wet food to dry, but if we mix it together he'll eat both, although I have a sneaking suspicion that 1) his dry food wasn't doing good things for him on his own, and 2) he doesn't seem to like the dry food. He's a curious growing boy and he wants to chew on everything! Rufus is also so smart! He knows where his food and treats are (and has tried multiple times to get at them), and just the other day he tried to make a jailbreak, almost successfully. Rufus knows his name (even though I think he has selective hearing), and he responds sometimes to "come here!". 9/10 times he'll respond to sit, and maybe 5/10 I'll get a successful stay if I back away more than one step. Rufus does not seem to like drop it, or down.

He loves new toys the best - and he gets bored with old ones fast. Funny thing also - the expensive dog toys don't appeal to him at all either. He would much rather roll around on the floor with an ice cube, a water bottle, a red solo cup, or a toilet paper roll. Most of these things are things he can tear apart, which I think he likes also ;) In the morning, and when he's relatively calm, Rufus will come sit in momma's lap and chew on his nylabone which helps him since he's teething. He plays nice with girls, but rough with boys, and when he's in a new place with new people all he wants to do is play - roughly.

Rufus does not like to be put in his exercise pen. He most definitely does not like peanut butter either! Our boy is very vocal when he wants our attention or we aren't pleasing him, so the fact that the peanut butter stuck his mouth shut scared him. Rufus is also terrified of brushes. His doggy toothbrush (I had to use the rubber kind you slip on your finger), the soft brush we got to brush him, and also the brush for when he is shedding (metal). Material that makes swishy noises (think wind-pants) drive Rufus crazy.

Behaviorally, I want Rufus to learn down, and drop it/leave it. I'm going to try to work with him this weekend to see if we can get some of these, but Rufus rarely ever lays down so it's hard to get him to figure that one out. Drop it should be a little easier - all I have to do is offer him a treat and he'll drop whatever he has in his mouth. Also, while I understand that he's a puppy, and that he is playing, it's not okay that he tries to bite people's hands/clothing when he plays. He does this with everyone except for me - I'm thinking mostly because I was firm with him from the beginning about what could and couldn't be chewed on. Sometimes he will get riled up with me also though, and telling him no just makes it worse. We will be enrolling him in a puppy obedience class shortly (hopefully next week) that is taught in PetSmart, but by a good friend's step-mother - who I know for a fact is an amazing trainer and has been training dogs for years. Hopefully this will help Rufus learn some more basic commands and also teach him not to bite hands anymore.

As technical as that all sounds (ugh looks like a report card), I just wanted to have a clear note of his progress so far, and what my expectations are written out. Mainly for scrapbooking purposes ;) but also so that later on down the line if we ever get another puppy, or if someone with a new puppy has questions, I can have some facts recorded to help out.

Having Rufus, while challenging, frustrating, and exhausting at times, has really been overall great. Being responsible for a life other than your own really puts a lot of things in perspective. Also, not that we meant it as such, but this is great practice for having a baby. Obviously, babies are different in their needs and attention requirements, but I won't have to be constantly keeping my eye on baby telling it not to chew on things (at least not right away), or making sure it doesn't go potty on the floor. In some ways its comparable - I don't think either Mike or I have had full nights sleeps since before we got Rufus. I usually have to go right home after work, and while sometimes I resent that I HAVE to, 9/10 I WANT to.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

[006] Growing pains

I'm having a fair bit of trouble trying to be "fair" versus trying to be a protective momma.

Currently, Mike and I are living in a ranch style house. Mike owns the house, and subsequently pays the mortgage. We occupy the upstairs, which has our room, Rufus' room, Mikes office, a full bath (which is shared since the downstairs bath does not have a shower), a shared kitchen, shared living room space, and shared room with a pool table. The basement is partially finished, with the half that is finished constituting our housemate's area. There is, as aforementioned, a half bath downstairs also, along with a shared washer/dryer.

I like our housemate, and we have one so that the mortgage isn't a total financial burden on us (ie- not sucking up every spare dollar we have). Mike purchased the house to have multiple roommates - it was never intended to split the mortgage between only two people, or he would have opted for something less expensive, with lower taxes. When I moved in, things changed a bit, and now I cover a third of the mortgage/taxes.

Rufus seems to have serious aggression issues with males. Not, like, behavioral issues, but when he plays with the boys, the boys tend to rile him up more to the point where he is not nipping anymore, but biting, growling, and generally just out of control. Rufus does not pull this kind of thing with me - because from day 1, momma taught him better than that. I'm working with my boyfriend to try to get Rufus to play nicer with him, and when we sign Rufus up for obedience classes soon, Mike will handle him to establish that hierarchy. Because of this, and because the first weekend we brought Rufus home, I saw the housemate rile him up and play rough with him, I made it pretty clear to Mike that the housemate wasn't allowed to be near Rufus when we weren't home. I understand now that Rufus is just playing and not truely being aggressive, but I don't want these bad habits to form now that he will not drop later.

We've had Rufus home for three weeks now, and on 4 separate occasions either the housemate has 1) let Rufus out of his cage when we were not at home, without our permission, and without immediately bringing him out - which led to him going potty on the floor, 2) played rough with and/or riled up Rufus, and 3) when Rufus gets riled up, does not discipline him the way we have been disciplining him and/or gets bored and leaves Rufus alone in the room "puttering around" - which leaves him riled up and usually in some kind of trouble for myself or my boyfriend. First off, I absolutely have been taking offense to the fact that he has been walking into our area of the house, opening the door to Rufus' room and taking him out without our permission. That's rude. Mike came to his defense initially and stated that it was our fault a bit because we didn't make it clear to roommate that we didn't want him to go take the dog out - but I still think it was rude of him to not at least ask us for permission. I don't know where he got the impression that Rufus was his dog, our the "house dog" but he isn't. Secondly, even when I am home to supervise, I still do not like him playing with Rufus. Rufus is only 10 weeks old, and highly impressionable right now and like I said, he can play all he wants, but I absolutely do not want him to be encouraged to get riled up when the focus of that attention is trying to nip people's skin or clothing. Roommate has done this, to the point of even GIVING Rufus his hand to chew on, and has not followed what we have asked him to follow in terms of discipline.

I'm in between a rock and a hard place right now though. I can't go full out bitch mode on him, because as much as I'm an equal third roommate, it isn't my house or my rules that go, and Mike is really reluctant to be hard on him. Also though, I can't have this continuing, because Rufus was starting to make progress and now he seems to be regressing and getting wilder. When Rufus has all his obedience training and will sit, stay, and drop things on command then I will be more comfortable with anyone and everyone playing with him however they choose - because at any given point he will know the command to stop play and will do it.

Challenge number two right now is Rufus' eating. He loves the wet food we have tried to give him, but it didn't seem to agree with his stomach. I'm not sure if its the food itself, or the fact that his tummy wasn't used to it and needed a chance to settle. He also appears to be losing interest in his dry food, which isn't a very nutritious brand, so I'm doing tons of research on good replacement brands - preferably ones that are all-life stages so he can grow on the same food.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

[005] Let's take a breather...

I aspired to be really good about this and write every day about how life is with Rufus, but let me tell you right now, I didn't realize how much time, effort, and attention it would require to have him home!

A typical day for us now is as follows:

6-7AM - Alarm goes off, I wake up for work. Mike may or may not have had to take Rufus out around 3AM, but if not, lately he volunteers to bring our little monster out in the AM.

7:30 - Breakfast for Rufus. We tried mixing just a spoonful of wet food with his dry food yesterday and he vacuumed it up. We were happy. He was happy. His tummy was not happy. More details later.

8:00 - Mommy leaves for work, Rufus goes in crate post eating and playtime.

8:15-9 - Daddy wakes up, starts to get ready for work & plays with Rufus

9:30 - Daddy takes Rufus out to potty, plays for a little, then Rufus goes back in the crate for a nap

12-1 - Mommy comes home to take Rufus out to potty/feed him lunch + playtime

1-3 - Rufus waits patiently for Aunt Stephanie to come play with him

3-4:30 - Aunt Stephanie arrives, takes Rufus out to potty, and tries to tire him out ;)

4:30-5:30 - Rufus waits patiently for mommy to get home. On good days, he takes a nap

5:30 - Mommy gets home, takes Rufus out and feeds him his dinner

6-8 - Playtime with mommy


9-11 - Water comes up, playtime + potty again. Make every effort to tire puppy out so he will SLEEP through the night. PLEASE OH PLEASE OH PLEASE!

We're very lucky in that Mikes sister comes over to play with Rufus during the afternoon and bring him outside. We haven't had an accident in the crate in the entire nearly 3 weeks we've had him, plus now he comes right out of his crate, and walks (off leash) to the side door with mommy or daddy to go out to potty. He is even starting to sit by the baby gate which closes off the room he is in when he has to go during playtime. For 10 weeks old, he's a smarty pants.

We did have ONE accident in the crate, and boy was it a major one. As I mentioned up above, we tried mixing a little bit of wet food in with his dry food. I didn't go crazy at all, he got less than a spoonful of wet food to his 1/4 cup of dry food per meal. At first, we were thrilled, because instead of looking at his food and ignoring it until he felt like eating, Rufus vacuumed his food up! Then, last night, when he was alone in the crate for an hour, we had a diarrea explosion. Poor guy :(

The good part is that at least we were expecting an accident at some point. His crate did not have a doggie bed in it, but we had a fleece liner down, plus a fleece throw blanket, two towels and a smaller blanket a friend got for us for him. ALL of it had to go in the washer, but at least I could see where the mess was, and clean it up. Second good part - the exercise pen we ordered for him came over the weekend so I had someplace to put munchkin while I cleaned up. He likes chasing paper towels ;) Third, and perhaps a blessing in disguise, because all of his bedding was downstairs in the wash at his bedtime, and I was at my wits end since this accident happened at 10:30 (Mommy's bedtime), I ended up putting the dog bed we bought for him into his crate, and boy, let me tell you, King Rufus is calm, and loves his crate, and seems to be getting the best sleep of his life right now.

Having a puppy is challenging though. I have a lot going on in my life right now - nothing bad at all, believe me, but the stress and being overwhelmed both at work, and at home with puppy was starting to get to me. Especially when weekends have been non-stop busy or playing with Rufus and not a lot of catching up on much needed rest. I just have to work on getting a good balance back though, which will take some time but is totally possible.

The hard part is - I WANT to go home and play with Rufus, and I WANT to play with him as much as possible on the weekend and sometimes I do that to a fault because I end up not putting my needs or wants first. He is so amusing though, and so cute, and FINALLY turning into a cuddler though - so it's hard to resist!!

To help with the puppy play time/life balance we purchased an exercise pen that we could set up in the kitchen for when I had to cook/we were eating. I felt really awful putting Rufus back in his crate for an hour while we did dinner. We set up the exercise pen as soon as it came on Saturday and gave it a try - and wouldn't you know it, Rufus hated it! I put his dog bed in there, along with some toys and myself, and he was shaking and whining trying to get out. Poor guy. He was more calm being in there when I cleaned out his crate last night, but he still didn't seem to like to be in an enclosed space.

At 10 weeks, he's definitely a lot more calm than he was at 8 weeks. He's no longer chewing on furniture, even though he is very definitely teething. We adopted a trick from Mike's sister - picking Rufus up - for when he gets too riled up and starts snarling and nipping. It gets his attention really quickly and he realizes that we don't play like that. In two more weeks he gets the final shots for his puppy innoculations - at least, enough that I would feel ok with letting him go to puppy kindergarten - so at that point we will definitely be enrolling him in a puppy class, or finding an obedience trainer.

So far, as tired and as overwhelmed as I am though, I'm happy - we're happy, and not for nothing, but having a life that you are responsible for aside from yours puts a lot of things in serious perspective.