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" :)

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