Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Fog of Boxer Misbehavior....

...Is Clearing and the House of Hagg
Can Now Predict a
Bright and Pleasant Existence
with Our Beloved Chamberlains,
the Lord Malcolm and His Lady McKenzie

an Update on Boxer Puppy Training by
Nessie the Monster, Duchess of Hagg

Well, I say!  Who knew that it would be 2 years and 5 months before we could begin to realize the fruits of our work!  As many of you know, in September of '09 I lost the love of my life, my handsome big brother, WishBone, Duke of the House of Hagg.  We were devastated at his loss and thus began a long period of mourning for the entire Palace.  At an appropriate time, I thought it necessary to replace the mourning, weeping and wailing with a lighter countenance and attitude.  I thereby instructed my staff to begin a search for two well bred, beautiful and intelligent puppies.  They did, indeed find a breeder in Wendell, North Carolina (near Raleigh) who had a litter of pups so sweet and so beautiful (even if the male did have a very definite look of mischievousness about him) 
Malcolm was the runt of the litter and has not yet grown into his now giant head and feet.  Runts do not always stay small, but he learned to fight to get his food and whatever else he wanted.  This fighting attitude is what formulated his future personality.

that my staff got on the phone to them right away.  And, after a bit of questioning and discussion, they immediately sent a check.  The following December, at Christmas-Tide, we loaded up the motor-coach and drove out the claim them as our very own.

So, as you have been reading in this blog since that day, on the way out to North Carolina, my staff formulated a plan for training right from the start.  They knew it would be difficult with 2 puppies at once.  But I do not think they understood just how difficult..........

Humans are an odd lot.  They think that just by formulating a plan of action with regard to puppy training, and by agreeing to stick to their human rule book (humans do make so many useless rules) and by reading training manuals; which by the way, were written by other humans who thought they had a well formulated plan, they imagine that the dog, a totally superior being, is just going to follow along.  Well to that, I say "HUMPH"!  Dogs, being far more brilliant than humans give them credit for, will always set the agenda for what the rule book needs to say.  And, in the case of the House of Hagg, there was no exception.

My staff did show up with the best intentions on dog training.  There was a typed out schedule to record potty breaks, food intake, play time and sleep time.  There were leashes, toys, crates and blankets.  They made sure to rub the new blankets into the den material where the puppies had lived to get the scent of all their siblings on them so there would be no separation anxiety.  They did not 'coddle' or even talk with the pups upon arrival.  They sat on the floor and without giving them eye contact, they allowed the pups to smell them and to crawl on them, but they did not pick them up.  They held the loop of the leash open until the pups put their own head through, which took quite a long while.  Generally, no attempt was made to fondle or caress the pups (even though it was literally 'killing' them not to) or to pick them up for fear of taking things too fast.  They let the pups do all the work and go at their own pace.  Eventually, when they were taken out of their home for the first time, and placed in the jeep for the ride back to the motor-coach, they were perfectly content and they never did whimper even one time at having been taken away.
You've seen this picture before, but this is literally the fist time they got in the jeep with us.

They were then brought to me at a neutral grassy site for my ultimate approval.  Having gone through these formalities, we embarked on the long journey that we have been attempting to describe to you in this blog for the past 2 and 1/2 years.  The poet-laureate of Scotland, Robbie Burns, put it best when he said, "The best laid plans of mice and men of'tn gan a'glee"!  And human plans go awry much more often than the wee mouse.........It all went to _____ after that!

By keeping track of the food intake, water intake and potty breaks, they attempted to insure that there would never be an 'accident' in the Palace.  All I can add to that is, " He, he, he!"  They were patient, though.  And in the next few months, they taught the pups to walk on a leash, go potty outside, eat appropriately and with manners, sit, lay down, off, play with toys, ring the bell to go out and many more tricks that humans find necessary to co-exist with dogs. 

As they grew stronger, older and wiser, they were exposed to many different circumstances and they continued to expand their horizons.  I could see the human staff growing more and more tired as the months dragged on and at some point, it was decided that the pups were at the choice age to start on a more rigorous exercise regimen.  The problem came with too many dogs and not enough staff to spend long hours exercising.  This is when the woman came to a brilliant revelation.  She bought a bicycle and an attachment device and began training the pups (along with myself, but I would have no part in it) to run 'long side the bike.  It would be great exercise for the pups and the staff could get on with the rest of their day in a more timely fashion.

Lady McKenzie going for a ride.

As the pups grew older, the woman staffer added to her duties as she scheduled and chauffeured the pups to school activities.  Boxers need to exercise their bodies and their brains, and going to school would be just the ticket.  So they've been enrolled in various classes such as Beginning Obedience, Advanced Beginning Obedience, Rally, Beginning Agility, Advanced Beginning Agility and they are currently in Agility 3/4 Intermediate.  You are well aware of the struggles along the way. ....  (1) Malcolm lunging at every other dog he ever sees......well he doesn't do that any more. (2) Malcolm eating every toy he ever plays with........well, we don't take any more chances.  Toys are kept in the closet and come out only for supervised play time. (3) McKenzie going cracker-dog in the agility ring and running all over the place......she still does that, but not very often at all.  I'm proud to say, she is sooo much better.  (4) Barking out the front window and charging at the front door.......I can now 'catch it' before it escalates.  The barking  is almost non-existent and every day sees improvement in control at the front door.  Consistency is the key.....along with really great treats. (5) Overall focus in the agility/obedience ring.....we have managed to incorporate more obedience into the agility class (to the bafflement of the agility instructor) and focus is improving day by day.  I wish you could see McKenzie go!  She is a sight to behold in the agility ring.  When that girl can focus, she's fast and fluid and perfect.  And when the green toy frog (it's one of those toys with no stuffing, that you can replace the squeaker in --and it's filled with treats) comes out, both Malcolm and McKenzie will do anything to get the chance to touch it, even if it means behaving.

Overall, my staff have done quite a remarkable job of educating my Chamberlains.  I believe they thought it would go much smoother than it has (they do look very tired); but that is life with Boxers.  Patience is key because Boxers mature at a much slower rate than that of any other breed.  Consistency is key, because, over time, they will eventually get the message.  Exercise for both body and brain are also key because Boxers are extremely athletic and will bore easily if not stimulated.  And a bored Boxer is a naughty Boxer!  And a tired Boxer is a good, good Boxer!

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