Saturday, March 6, 2010

Feeder Problem Solved

For months we've been looking for elevated dog feeders for the pups, at the insistence of our vet and trainer. When dogs have to lean down to eat, not only do they risk muscle, joint and bone damage, but they risk bloat that can be fatal. However, after perusing every pet store from here to Timbuktu (okay, really from Mesa to Phoenix) we discovered that most raised feeders go up to 15" in height. That didn't meet the needs of our dogs.

So we began searching online, and found a little more selection of feeders that were still not tall enough, or that stood on a pedestal that would blow over if Pivot breathed on it too hard. We did discover a few people who custom made elevated feeders, but we simply didn't want to pay $80 or more for a feeder.

I wondered if, with my limited carpentry abilities, I could make a feeder myself. One idea I found online was to use a 5-gallon bucket, with a hole cut in the lid to hold the bowl. This would have worked for awhile, until the pups grew and even this would be too short, and while my decor isn't extremely fancy, I just couldn't picture this in my kitchen.

With a little more thought and creativity, I found the supplies to make this feeder. I bought the stools, recruited Kevin to help me cut holes in the top for the bowls (which hold 10.8 cups of food each, which is plenty for our pups), trimmed the tall one down to fit Pivot, and Voila!

The dogs are now proud owners of their unique and custom elevated feeders, making their meals more comfy and safe.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Puppy School Progress

Bella has just finished her third class in puppy school. We are glad we decided to skip the beginner class and go into the puppy class. Our trainer, Michelle, has started teaching us techniques that are from the intermediate class. She said Bella and Pivot are the first dogs in all her years of training that she has given advanced training to.

So far the class has reinforced many of the commands we taught the dogs; sit, lay, stay, and loose-leash walking. We are able to take the dogs to parks and playgrounds and know they will behave the way we expect them to.

Today in class, Bella learned the Leave-It command. This means that they have to leave whatever the item is, and they never get it. This is handy if you drop people food on the ground and don't want the dogs to have it, if you drop medicine, if the dogs like to eat socks or shoes or toothbrushes or any other thing that the dog may find tasty.

The first time we practiced Leave-It in class, Bella was all about the treat, trying to use her mouth to get it, and when that failed, using her paws to try to grab it. By the fifth time practicing, I could do this:

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Time to Start {Puppy} Kindergarten

In the first week of the new year, our family has decided to contract a variety of illnesses; we have the common cold, respiratory infections, and ear infections running wild in our house. So updates haven't been kept current, but the puppy training continues.

With Pivot very near ready to take his CGC (Canine Good Citizen) test, we had to reevaluate our plans for training and certification for the puppies. Bella simply isn't learning as quickly as Pivot, and needs some additional work. She is more typical of a five month old puppy, whereas Pivot is reminiscent of the honor student who aces the pretest so he can skip the real test altogether.

After talking to the trainers some more, we came to the decision to enroll Bella in puppy school rather than do in-home training. We believe the extra socialization and distraction training will benefit her the most, and the trainer has so much faith in Pivot that we were advised to keep him out of school, just teaching him what we learn from the class. Because Pivot goes to work with Kevin on a semi-regular basis (Kevin now gets requests from his regular customers to bring Pivot on certain days), we know his people skills are in order. In fact, Kevin let me know last week that Pivot passed the "Toddler Test." A three year old tried to ride Pivot like a horse, and poked him in the eye, and our big boy never flinched.

So with that, Bella is scheduled to begin her two month long class January 18th, and we are very excited to begin this next step of the process.