Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Puppy Tutoring

We are running a puppy school here, I think. Or, rather, a one-on-one tutoring session. Baxter's tolerance for the little satellite, Kirby, is improving. Sometimes he does get a rather grumpy "when are you leaving?" expression, but at least he's now letting the puppy touch him without getting up and walking away. While Baxter is practicing tolerance with Kirby, Kirby seems to worship Baxter. Un-fazed by Baxter's lack of enthusiasm, Kirby proceeds to cheerfully follow along wherever Baxter goes and copies what Baxter does. This is, for the most part, a very good thing. Having one dog teach another dog is way easier than having a human teach another dog. Either that, or this puppy is just wicked-smart for a 12-week-old. I think it may be a bit of both.

For example...from day one, the puppy got the house-breaking idea. Baxter went out to do his business, Kirby watched and proceeded to do exactly what Baxter did. Next time he had to go, Kirby went and sat by the door. It was like magic. In fact, the only "accidents" Kirby has had in the house were 1) on the rug in front of the door where he goes out, and 2) in his crate, which is our fault for not getting him out soon enough and is doubly amazing because he somehow managed to get himself up against the door so he could urinate through the wire door onto the newspaper outside. Only the front rim of the crate had any evidence. (Males have a slight advantage in this regard.)

Day two, we go for a walk. Kirby is not leash-trained and starts jumping around and grabbing it and chomping on it. He sees Baxter walking nicely by Jamie's side, immediately he turns and starts trotting along beside me as if he'd done it forever. It took about 30 seconds. And it stuck...I took Kirby out for a walk by himself yesterday and this pup is leash-trained.

I decided to try something slightly more complicated... I got out the biscuits and told Baxter to sit. Baxter sat and got a biscuit. Kirby watched this and proceeded to sit immediately. Wow.

Meanwhile, Baxter seems to have gotten the idea that he needs to supervise. When the puppy goes outside (which is often) Baxter wants to go with him. Instead of milling around in the grass like he usually does, Baxter stands on the patio and watches the puppy until the puppy does his business, then accompanies Kirby back to the house. If Baxter sees the neighbor girl out in the yard next door, he does his usual "hark, who goes there" bark. Kirby looks alarmed for a few seconds, then gives a little bark himself.

Kirby has also figured out "go to work." For Baxter, this has always meant accompanying me to my office, looking briefly out the window, then laying down on the floor to snooze. Kirby now does the same thing (minus the window because he's too short). He goes immediately to the footrest under my desk and lays down to sleep. This is nice, because I can work peacefully, with only the sound of a big dog snore and a little dog snore as background.

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