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Raising a Puppy: 12th week in his new home

A day in the life with Bruno the Boxer puppy. Bruno's 12th week—18 weeks old, 42 pounds, 20 inches from the ground to the highest point of the shoulders (the withers).

Bruno the Boxer sitting outside on a blacktop looking into the distance

About 4 months old

Bruno the Boxer Puppy looking into the distance with his mouth open and tongue out with ashes all over his face and ear

Bruno, you were in the fire pit again! There's no denying it. The evidence is all over your face! Now go wash up!

Bruno the Boxer Puppy sitting in front of the fire pit which has been dug into

I was not able to yell at Bruno for getting into the fire pit because I didn't catch him in there. I can only yell at him at the very moment he is doing something bad. Otherwise I will only confuse him. Bruno, I will catch you one of these days!

The Crate Command

A busy night. When I want Bruno to go into his crate, I use the command "Cage." Usually it's at night when Bruno is more than happy to go into his crate to sleep for the night. This particular day we had to go out in the early evening. Bruno was all riled up playing with our other Boxer, Allie. We had just let them both inside and they were continuing their play in the living room. It was time to go and Bruno was in mid-play. I walked to the kitchen and stood next to Bruno's crate. Bruno was still in the adjacent living room. "Bruno, Cage." Bruno started walking toward the kitchen. When he got to the entrance he stopped and looked at me. "Bruno, Cage." Bruno got a look on his face that told me he didn't wish to go into his crate at that moment, he was too busy playing. He turned and started to head back to the living room. Immediately, without hesitation, I took one very assertive step toward him with my arm extended as if I was pointing at him. In my own mind I was thinking, “you’re going into your crate right now,” however I only let out a "Br" when I stopped myself, remembering that pack leaders are quiet. They don't talk, they just do. Bruno did a complete 180 and turned back around, facing me again. He walked past me and into his crate.

A couple of hours later we arrived back home and let Bruno out of his crate. Bruno was able to play with Allie for about an hour when it was time for us to leave again. After taking Bruno out to pee, he came back in and started playing with our other dog once again. This time I was in the living room and so was Bruno. "Bruno, Cage." Bruno started walking towards his crate, but tried to bypass it with a turn to the left. I blocked him with my legs. He tried to make a turn to the right to bypass his crate. Once again I silently blocked him with my legs, giving him a touch to the neck at the same time. "Cage." Bruno gave up and walked into his crate. I handed him a bone to chew.

Chewed Up Barney the purple dinosaur blanket

We were only gone for an hour and a half. Apparently my not-so-little puppy was not finished playing. He decided to chew up the blanket in his crate. Bye-bye, Barney blanket!

Going for Walks

We live on a 62 acre farm, which is wonderful, however it does mean we do not have a convenient neighborhood to take our dogs out for a walk. Even though Bruno gets plenty of exercise running free outdoors, walks are still an important part of keeping him well balanced. I take Bruno to a nearby town and walk him along with our other Boxer Allie. Both dogs walk very well for me on a lead.

Bruno and the Chickens

A wood fence with a chewed mark on it

I looked outside and saw Bruno chewing on the fence. By the time I got out the front door he had stopped. I stood there waiting for him to start chewing again so I could correct him.

Bruno the Boxer puppy pawing at the fence

Bruno didn't chew the fence again, but he did paw at it.

Bruno the Boxer puppy looking through the fence

Then he started watching the chickens.

Bruno the Boxer puppy looking at chickens and a cat through the fence

He seemed more curious than anything. He didn't seem like he wanted to chase or eat a chicken, however...

Bruno the Boxer puppy sitting in side the chicken coop, surrounded by chickens and a cat

I decided it was time for some chicken therapy just in case. Bruno didn't seem like he was interested in chasing the chickens, he seemed just a tad intimidated by them. He didn't like it if they approached him; he'd run away from them and didn't really care to have his back to them.

Bruno the Boxer puppy sitting in the coop. Looking at the chickens

He would much rather be looking at them.

Bruno the Boxer puppy eating chicken poop off of the ground

He was much more interested in licking up the chicken poop. Yuck Bruno! Bruno doesn't seem like he's going to be a chicken killer, but we'll continue to watch him around the birds.

A few days later, Bruno was looking at the fence going to the chickens with a look on his face that I could not quite read. In the off-chance that he wanted to chase a chicken, I decided it was best to open the gate and let him in. One cannot correct a behavior without facing the behavior. Bruno walked into the chicken yard, which was full of about 30 chickens only a few feet from him and started searching the ground for chicken poop, licking up any he found! YUCK, Bruno! OK, he didn't want to chase the chickens; he wanted to eat their poop. Gross! Now I have to start bringing him into the coop and correcting him for eating chicken poop. Come on Bruno, it can't taste GOOD!

Bruno the Guard Dog

At 18 weeks old, Bruno let out his first real guard dog type bark. Allie, our older Boxer heard a noise outside and barked. Bruno suddenly let out a very loud bark that led into a howl at the end and ran for the front door. His voice is still puppy-like, so it was very amusing.

The next day, I was on the computer and just happened to have clicked the link to Spike the Bulldog Barking

Suddenly Bruno let out a bark at my computer that was pretty much mimicking what he had just heard. I turned Spike off, got my camera ready and captured this clip of Bruno barking.

Later the same day, my daughter came home from school. I replayed the recording of Spike the Bulldog barking in hopes to show her how Bruno barks at it. This time Bruno ignored it. I then played the clip of Bruno barking. He ignored that too. I feel lucky I got him barking on film. Notice that very short "woof" he first let out in the video; that's how he had been barking when he would try and mimic Allie's bark—only a half of a "woof" would come out, up until yesterday that is. Bruno only barks if our other dog is barking at something outside.

Bruno Learns "Roll Over"

I decided to see if I could teach Bruno how to roll over on command. I got a tasty slice of cheese and took Bruno outside. He didn't have a clue what “roll over” meant, but he knew he wanted to eat the cheese. I had his full attention. First, I had Bruno sit, then lie down. I gave him a taste of the cheese for lying down. I told Bruno to roll over at the same time making a circle motion with my hand. At first I had to manually flip him over and give him the treat. Video clip of Bruno first learning the "Roll Over" Trick. I kept the session short. He didn't really get it, but we were making good progress.

Later on the same day I had another training session with Bruno. This time he started understanding what I wanted him to do. Video clip of Bruno Rolling Over on Command. Notice how he needs less assistance; he's starting to roll on his own. I'm going to practice this with Bruno daily until he's a pro at rolling over. To teach your dog how to roll over, you need to first master the “sit” and “lie down” commands. Remember to keep the sessions short and if you feel frustrated, stop and try again later. Your dog can sense your mood. You need to keep in good spirits in order to be successful.

Bruno Crosses a Boundary

All dogs need to have boundaries and limitations; it's part of their natural instinct. One boundary we have always given all of our dogs is we do not allow them into certain areas of the house. Our dogs are not allowed upstairs, where our bedrooms are, or in our family room where the kids and their friends like to watch TV. Not allowing them into the family room gives a place for guests to go if they do not wish to be near the dogs. The dogs are allowed in all other parts of the house. Bruno has been very good about not going into these parts of the house. Today however, I spotted Bruno lying on the family room floor. He had decided to go in there because the sun was peering through the window. I walked over to him and told him to get out of the room. Bruno was on his way out when I suddenly realized I was still correcting him while he was actually leaving the room. Hmmm...this was not good because what he was doing at that moment was LEAVING the room. Therefore, he will think leaving the room is bad. I knew I blew that one, and needed to wait until it happened again. What I really needed to do was to catch him ENTERING the room and correct him at that moment.

I turned back to my desk and in a matter of seconds Bruno was back in the family room, lying down in that same warm spot. I had not seen him entering the room, so time for that ideal correction was over, however this was not a wasted moment. I walked over to him and quietly but assertively told him to get out, using more body language than words, "Out!" towering over him and pointing to the exit. Once Bruno got up and started to leave I stopped my correction. Bruno left the room. He decided not to go back in. I didn't praise him for leaving because a pack leader does not praise after a follower listens to his demands. Instead I waited a minute. Bruno was looking at me, ears slightly back, his entire back end moving slowly from side to side as his nub of a tail wagged. I called him over to me. He walked over in a happy but slow-motion kind of way and turned sideways as if he was asking for a back scratch. I couldn't resist. I pulled my 42-pound puppy up on my lap and cuddled. Bruno licked my neck then snuggled back. My computer chair is the only chair in the house I have held him on, as I do not want him to think he can climb up on the house furniture.

Bad-Puppy Moments

To Bruno, everything is a toy. I suddenly realized Bruno was making odd noises near his dog bed. I got up to see what he was doing. As I walked over, Bruno left the bed. That's when I saw it.

Computer Cable exposed from behind a cabinet

Bruno was playing tug-of-war with a wire in the back of the computer cabinet. I touched the wire, sure enough it was wet. My opportunity to let him know this was a no-no was gone since Bruno was no longer doing the bad deed. I'll have to wait until he does it again, that is, IF he does it again. I tucked the wire back behind the cabinet. That puppy still has a lot to learn. This just really goes to show he is not ready to be free in the house while we are not home. We'll be using the crate for a while.

Four cats laying and sitting on a table and a window sill on a porch with Bruno the Boxer in the background

We feed the cats up on a picnic table. I was inside the house and heard Bruno barking at something. I walked outside and spotted him barking at the cats. "Aaatttt" Bruno stopped barking at them and looked at me. Then he decided he was going to jump up at the table to get some cat food, something he had not done before (as far as I knew anyway). By this time I was right near him. Bruno jumped up and I was able to give him a bite in the neck with my hand, at the same time I let out a "Ssssshhhhhhtttttt" sound. That correction is mimicking the way dogs correct one another—a bite to the neck and not a lot of sound to go with it. More body energy. Bruno immediately jumped down and looked at me. I started to walk away, Bruno jumped back up, I corrected him again the same way—bite to the neck and a "Ssssshhhhhhtttttt" sound. Bruno jumped back down. He didn't try it again, not at that moment anyway.

I walked back inside only to hear Bruno barking again. I walked outside and verbally corrected him. Then I walked over to him and used my body to get him away from the table by walking toward him in a dominating way, blocking him with my legs. I didn't talk to him, just guided him away from the table. A few minutes later I spotted the little sucker chasing one of the cats. I verbally corrected him with a "Ssssshhhhhhtttttt" and stepped toward him. Bruno immediately stopped. I called Bruno to me, made him sit, then called all of the cats over. I lay Bruno on his side and made him stay there while cats rubbed all over me. There were about seven cats all around him. Bruno rolled all the way over on his back, belly up, and squirmed like he was in puppy play mode. I waited until he calmed down before letting him get up. Bruno didn't harass the cats anymore that day. It's the next day and he still has not bothered with them. I just may have gotten my point across to him.

Bruno the Boxer Puppy with a pink and white boot in his dog bed

"Now Bruno, dogs don't wear boots, so I KNOW that is not your boot." My daughter had just taken off her sweaty boot. In a matter of seconds, the boot was in Bruno's bed. He wasn't trying to chew it, he just moved it. I have not caught him stealing shoes; somehow he has managed to sneak them when I'm not looking. This pup still does not understand shoes are to be left alone. We'll be working on this.