Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Ghetto Hamster Ball Shakers and Laps Around the Kitchen

So it turns out that crate training a new puppy is one variation on my own private hell. At 10:59pm outside of the crate, I have a sweet, loving cuddly ball of puppy fluff that likes belly rubs and nuzzles my arm to be petted.

At 11:01pm, after going into the crate willingly, settling down, and seeming perfectly fine, my sweet boy morphs into a meth addict hopped up on caffeine and speed — barking, whining, and whinging like a lunatic, digging at the crate, chewing up his bedding, etc. This would be fine if it was a short-lived thing, but unfortunately, unless he's already tired, all his puppy energy comes pouring out in a deluge of noise and fury that can last a good two hours if he's really into it.

This is my artistic interpretation of how crate training is going. I call it "Daytime Harper/Nighttime Harper."

In all seriousness, Harper is learning rather quickly and we're proud of him, but we have had a few interesting nights.

So, in an attempt to snap him out of his frenzy, I decided one night to make a makeshift "shaker." When Logan was a puppy, the "mean lady" (aka dog trainer...more on this later) suggested putting nuts, bolts, loose change, what have you into a glass or plastic jar and shaking it once at the dog to snap him out of a negative behavior. Mom used it to stop Logan from jumping up. I was thinking this would work to snap Harper out of his barking frenzy and allow him to calm himself down.

This idea of course came to me at about 2am after quite the stretch of puppy ridiculousness. In an attempt to take him by surprise with my new negative behavior stopping device, I opted to try to make a shaker with what I had available on the second floor. After a few pathetic attempts with an empty glass, a vitamin container, and other items in my bathroom, I decided to borrow the sugar glider's hamster ball. I filled it with the odds and ends left over from hanging pictures — small nails, picture hooks, etc — and a handful of loose change.

I sat on the steps in the foyer near the crate and when Harper started at it again, I shook the ball to make the noise and firmly said, "Quiet!" Scared him shitless and he stopped. Barked again. Repeat. Barked again. Repeat. It seemed to be working. I could almost hear the bewildered wheels turning. He even started to calm down. I was sitting on the steps in the dark holding my hamster ball and feeling quite smug,...until the frenzy started. He's barking, I'm shaking and "Quiet!"ing, and the best part? the hamster ball has small holes in it....so with every shake, I'm losing nails and pennies and hangers like mad. Alex took a nail to the foot the next morning...I just acted confused and walked away quiety. "What nail? I have no idea what you're...la la la la."

Eventually after a while I went back to my tactic of ignoring Harper's nonsense and let him settle himself. Next on the list of things to try is water bottle spray to the face. With my luck, he'll like it.

Luckily we've learned about stuff that does help —Kongs stuffed with frozen cream cheese or peanut butter, and letting him play with other dogs until he falls over in exhaustion. I've even resorted to doing laps around the yard on the leash, and Sunday when it was too cold, I opted to put the leash on him indoors and walk in figure eights around the island and the couch. Alex thought it was sort of hysterical that I wouldn't put down my corona while I was speed walking an uncooperative puppy indoors. In retrospect, that is pretty comical.

We start puppy school with "the mean lady" which is my Mom's coworker's nickname for dog trainer, Pat Hoffman. I personally think she's pretty awesome, and can't wait to take my little guy to puppy kindergarten to get him some learnin'. Parent orientation is on 11/9, and puppy's first class is 11/16. More on how this goes in about 2 weeks!

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