Puppy's Report Card

Age: 6 months minus a day or so.

Vocabulary
"Sit!" Knew this one at 2 months, but still a little slow. Tends to want to know you're serious before committing to butt-down.

"Down!" Still working this one with food treats, but will go down on her tummy with just the finger-tap to the floor with mommy standing up, which is huge progress from having to slide under mommy's leg while she (mommy) was sitting down.

"Inside!" Used (with food treat) when you want to pick her up to carry her back upstairs/indoors. Was supposed to be a command that encouraged her to come, but works nicely if you walk towards her. She will usually sit still waiting for you, sometimes move a bit towards you if she especially wants the treat. Very important for being able to get to class on time if you happen to have taken her outside on campus and she's frolicking in the quad.

"Rope!" Used (without food treat) when you're walking down the hall in the apartment and she wants to nip at your ankles (a.k.a. herd you). Within the past week, usually means that she will stop nipping and look at you expectantly, but sometimes means she will run towards the "rope" if she knows where it is. Treat is getting to run along beside you up and down the hall with one end of the "rope" in her mouth. NB "Rope" is actually a yard-long felt thing with fringed ball things on each end (see photo).


"Go to your room!" Used (with food treat) to encourage her into her crate. Works astonishingly well. Essential for getting to class on time. Also used at bedtime.

"Okay!" Used (without food treat) to release from a "Down!" Also works in elevator to let her know when we get to the right floor. Say it just before the door opens. Not sure if she really understands this cue fully yet, but she seems not to tug quite so much on the other floors if the door opens.

"Dry, dry, dry!" Said a little breathlessly when we come in from the rain to promise that we are about to play with the towel and puppy's feet. Works to keep puppy in kitchen long enough to grab towel so that we don't get muddy puppy prints all over the apartment. Plus, she enjoys being dried off and/or fighting the towel.

"Wait.... Free!" New lesson as of this week. Used for crossing streets as per the instructions given in puppy class. "Wait!" is for standing or sitting on the curb without pulling; "free!" is for running across the road when the traffic is clear. Works unless she doesn't want to run across the street, which happens about 30% of the time.

"Good girl!" Seems to understand this as she tends to look happier after she hears it. When walking, if already walking forward more or less at heel (which is when mommy says it), she will speed up slightly. Also used after peeing and pooping outdoors along with food treat.

"Joy!" (her name, theoretically) Variable. Sometimes gets her attention. By no means a reliable recall. Often gets a cocked-head look. Typically only followed by coming if she also hears "pup-pup-pup!" and is fairly sure there is a treat in store.

"Oh, she's adorable!" Typically excites frantic tail-wagging, moving forward towards the speaker with ears invitingly flat and a happy look on her face. Pretty sure she understands this one.

"Yes!" Used (with food treat) as marker for such activities as "Sit!" and "Down!" Not clear if she understands this one as itself a reward. Need to condition as "click" for future training.

"Dinner!" Usually egged on by the cat, who gets fed at the same time and will start meowing if I seem to have forgotten what time it is. Will come running (at top speed) down the hall if I happen to rustle the kibble. A happy time for all, as I've finally realized that I can use some of her kibble for working on more specific lessons like "Down!"

"Let's go!" Occasionally works when one is walking with her outside to encourage her to start moving after she stops. Really, really, really need to figure out a way to cue this one better. Spent a good hour on our walk home this evening dangling short "rope" in front of her trying to keep her paws going forward. Worked better than it did yesterday, but with only limited duration (maybe ten or twenty steps at a time).

"Get it!" Occasionally works with a particular whiffle ball that lives in the backyard. Will even bring it back if she thinks there's the possibility of a food treat. Not quite to the level of "fetch!", however.

"No!" Sometimes works amazingly well, others not so much. Sometimes excites frantic jumping and nipping, just to make the point that she's heard you. Other times she seems happy to move on without a fuss. On the upside, she still hasn't tried to eat that squirrel she found dead under a bush on our walk into campus yesterday, although she checked on it again this morning.

"Speak!" Pretty sure she doesn't understand this yet as a command, but will bark on cue whenever she hears the SodaStream. Perhaps it sounds like a dog barking? Not sure, but it's the best way to drive her nuts.

"Out!" Not so much a command as a question, as in "Do you want to go out?" Would be great if she could signal us in some way when she needed to go. See below, Housetraining.

"Breakfast!" See "Dinner!"

Activities

Housetraining Better, but still room for improvement. Will usually wait to pee outside, but has made sure to pee on the bathroom floor at every stage in the renovation this past month. (Thus, not coincidentally, allowing us to test how waterproof the cement board really is, so a plus if you think about it. Sort of.) Pooped inside yesterday morning when I was too focused on trying to get ready for class to realize that we'd passed her usual "out" time. Has favorite stops along the way into campus, including the grass verge in front of the business school.

Walking on the leash Don't get me started. It's my fault, I know it. Yesterday's walk home was another epic journey, but today it only took us an hour and 10 minutes, a whole 20 minutes quicker than yesterday. She seems to understand about not pulling, but will still chase after every car and bicycle she can, running alongside down the sidewalk until she jerks herself at the end of the leash. Will spend about a third of the walk actually walking alongside me in something generally approximating a heel and maybe another third leading at a brisk pace (thus wearing mommy out, truly). But then there's the other third. We sit. We lick the ground. We sit. We watch the birds. We sit. My problem as puppy trainer is having no idea how much of this is just normal for puppies, how much of it is the famous corgi stubbornness, how much of it is my not being exciting enough to get her to follow me, and how much of it is my learning to walk with her without expecting not having to stop--constantly--and smell the world.

Chewing (or not) Surprisingly, we're doing fairly well with this one. She's well on her way to destroying one of the big baskets that we put her toys in, but otherwise she seems to stick to her bones, chews and pig ears. Mind you, the apartment looks like a charnel house (or doggie den), but the furniture is intact. Nor does she seem to have a taste for cell phones or power cords (thank goodness!). Plus, it looks like she's gotten most of her grown-up teeth, so maybe... No, we'll just hope she sticks to her bones.

Being in her crate Thank goodness for our breeder, Cindy! Puppy was crate-trained when we got her at 2 months. Has stayed in her crate without incident for as much as 5 or 6 hours during the day, although the longest she is usually in is about 2, sometimes 3 when I have a meeting before I go teach. Generally goes in her crate with "Go to your room!" at 10:30pm. Starts whimpering to come out around 5:30 or 6:00am. Would be easier to get a bit more sleep if my bladder didn't get me out of bed more or less on her cue, but there you go. We do sleep, just not quite as many hours as I actually need.

Keeping me company Brilliant! Tends to crash out after our walks, if we're on campus, under my desk; if we're at home, under the table where I'm working. Doesn't let me out of her sight for very long if she can help it. Will wake up and follow me down the hall if I get up to go get a book or something. Always happy to see me when I get home from fencing practice (although I'm going to miss that tonight, since I'm staying home in order to recover from this week's lack of sleep). Not sure how closely she would follow me if we went outside of "home" but definitely there with me when we're inside.

Hmm.... That's actually quite a lot. Maybe we're doing better than I thought. Grade: A for her age! I'm not sure what I should get as her teacher, though. Probably a B. Probably. Just don't let our puppy teacher catch us on one of our "walks."

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