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Raising a Puppy: 16th week in his new home

A day in the life with Bruno the Boxer puppy. Bruno's sixteenth week - 22 weeks old, 52 pounds, 21½ inches from the ground to the highest point of the shoulders (the withers).

Bruno the Boxer Puppy sitting outside on blacktop

5 months old

Close Up - Bruno the Boxer puppy collar

Bruno has now graduated to the last notch on his collar. Once he outgrows this last setting, he'll need a new, larger collar.

Three wet kids and Bruno the Boxer puppy sitting on towels with a towel wrapped around Bruno

It's been raining for four days straight. Everyone's going stir crazy, dogs and kids included. So the kids went outside and played in the rain with Bruno. Then they all came in and dried off next to the fire.

The end of a table with bite marks from Bruno the Boxer puppy chewing on it

The kids were eating a snack at the living room coffee table. While they were eating, they caught Bruno chewing on the end of the coffee table and told him "No." Looks like they caught him before he caused too much damage. I was watching Bruno to see if he would do it again so I could correct him. I didn't see him chew the table, however he did jump up at the table to try and steal some crumbs that were left from the kids’ snack. I immediately walked over to Bruno, "Aaaatttt!!!" He jumped down right away. He'd never jumped up at a table inside the house before. That was the first time. Puppies are not born knowing the rules. It's our jobs as their owners to teach them the rules of the house, correcting them over and over again, for as long as it takes for them to really learn what is allowed and what is not. Consistency is important from every member of the family, including the kids.

Walk/Calm Puppy

People often remark about how calm Bruno is. It even got me wondering. After all, he's a Boxer, should he not be a little spastic? He checked out well at the vet, but in the back of my mind, I always kind of wondered about it. Well I think I have found my answer; it's rained here for five days straight, therefore Bruno has missed his walks. Sure, we took him out and played ball in the rain and tossed the ball around the house. Even ran around a bit outside in the rain, but nothing like the amount of exercise he is used to.

As the rainy days went on, Bruno became more and more restless. He started pacing, chasing his tail and running all over the house like a nutcase. Jumping high into the air, tossing his toys all around and pouncing on them, even late at night, when he is usually crashed for the night. While Bruno did look very happy about chasing his tail, I knew this was not normal behavior for a balanced dog. It is also not normal for a dog to pace.

I now see a direct relation between his hyperactivity and the amount of walks he receives. Tossing a ball and having the kids run around with him in the rain does not cut it. The dog needs to walk.

As soon as things dry up we'll be back on schedule, however for now the treadmill will have to do. The treadmill is still new to him, so we are taking it easy. I call him up onto it, and when he first gets on, I give him a small piece of cheese. Then I start it up on the slowest setting and slowly speed it up a few clicks while I raise the incline. I keep him at a moderately fast-paced walk, but raise the incline quite a bit. I hold a slice of cheese in front of him and every once in a while I let him lick some from my finger.

Bruno the Boxer Puppy eating cheese and walking on a treadmill

The purpose of the cheese is so Bruno sees the treadmill as a positive experience. I stand right in front of him so he is walking toward me. I can also reach all of the buttons and easily hold his lead.

Bruno the Boxer Puppy on a treadmill looking to the side

Bruno had two treadmill walks today. This morning I put him on for only ten minutes. I could tell he was not so sure about it, so I kept it short.

Bruno the Boxer puppy staring at a treadmill he is walking on

I waited until he was walking well for a couple of minutes before I hit the stop button. Then I made him stay on the track for a little while before telling him he could jump down. It's important that I am always the one who ends the session, or he'll start jumping off whenever he pleases.

Bruno the Boxer Puppy walking on the Treadmill

Later on the same day I put him back on for 20 minutes at a nice steady pace, and slowly raised the incline quite a bit. This time Bruno seemed much more at ease. Once again I used tiny bits of cheese to make it a rewarding experience. After walking up a steep hill at a nice pace for 20 minutes I noticed he was getting a bit tired. I lowered the incline and stopped the track. I told him to stay for a few minutes and gave him a few more licks of cheese. Then I called him off.

Bruno is back to his happy, calm self.

Bruno Joins the Great Pyrenees

After five days, it finally stopped raining. All of the animals were let out, including the chickens, ducks, peacocks and guinea fowl. This means we have to worry about foxes (there are several of them) that would surely be hungry and looking for a meal. The back gate was opened up to allow the Great Pyrenees into the five-acre horse field. The Pyrenees now had access to the back woods and this field. Foxes usually come through this field when they are on the hunt for one of our birds. Bruno is able to squeeze through the front gate and get into this field as well. He does this often.

Bruno the Boxer Puppy with Tundra and Tacoma the Great Pyrenees walking a tree line

The first thing the Great Pyrenees do when put into a new area is walk the borders. Bruno decided to join them. He walked the entire border with them two times over.

Tundra and Tacoma the Great Pyrenees walking around the property line and Bruno the Boxer puppy jumping and running beside them

While the Great Pys were very serious about their work of staking out the border, smelling around for anything that didn't belong, to Bruno it was all a game.

Bruno the Boxer running in a lawn towards Tacoma and Tundra the Great Pyrenees

Hey guys, wait for me!

Bruno the Boxer and Tacoma and Tundra the Great Pyrenees running around the horse feild

Checking out the border on the upper part of the field.

Bruno the Boxer and Tacoma and Tundra the Great Pyrenees Checking out the horses

Checking out the horses.

Bruno the Boxer and Tacoma and Tundra the Great Pyrenees sitting at the fenceline

"OK, I think we are OK for now. No signs of any foxes, but we better keep watch just in case."

Left Tacoma the Great Pyrenees 115 pounds, Middle Bruno the Boxer 52 pounds, Right Tundra the Great Pyrenees 124 pounds

Bruno was having a good old time with Tundra and Tacoma. Not sure if Bruno knew what the Pys were looking for or not. He seemed more interested in play. He is only a 5-month-old pup, so I suppose even if he did know what the Pyrenees were up to, he'd still have play on his mind.

Bruno the Boxer laying in grass trying to play with Tacoma the Great Pyrenees Bruno the Boxer and Tacoma the Great Pyrenees playing around

Bruno was trying to play with Tacoma. I thought to myself, "Oh Bruno, she doesn't want to play." However, I was wrong; Bruno was able to get the usually very serious Pyrenees to lighten up and play.

Bruno the Boxer tackling Tacoma the Great Pyrenees Bruno the Boxer jumping up at Tacoma the Great Pyrenees Bruno the Boxer and Tacoma the Great Pyrenees jumping at each other
Bruno the Boxer running at Tacoma the Great Pyrenees Bruno the Boxer running around Tacoma the Great Pyrenees
Bruno the Boxer and Tacoma the Great Pyrenees are running at each other
Tacoma the Great Pyrenees is about to pounce on Bruno the Boxer Bruno the Boxer running away from Tacoma the Great Pyrenees
Bruno the Boxer sitting next to Tacoma the Great Pyrenees with its tongue out as Tacoma smells his neck Bruno the Boxer laying down in front of Tacoma the Great Pyrenees who is standing up

Yes, I do believe they are friends.

Late Night Gator Run

Allie and Bruno the Boxer sitting in front of a green John Deere Gator

We take the Gator out for a late-night drive through the woods. Bruno and Allie follow along. On some of the straighter trails we drive fast and the dogs have to run at top speed to keep up. What fun; they always enjoy Gator runs. We drive to the pond. The pond had been almost all dried up, but with the recent rain it filled back up. The dogs run in the water for a drink. Bruno ran in top speed, but suddenly put on his breaks when he realized it was only getting deeper. The things puppies have to learn :-)

Going for Walks

Allie and Bruno the Boxers walking side by side next to a human

I'm starting to feel very proud when I walk Bruno and Allie. We're walking past barking dogs, moving cars, people taking out their trash and groups of teens hanging out on the streets, and these two keep going with minimal corrections. We went from dogs that pulled toward these distractions to dogs that are only looking. I've been correcting them with a tug when they look in the direction of the distraction, to which they have been responding very well. I know the next level would be for them to react by pulling. My goal is to not let it get that far. The dog backpack makes a huge difference. A few times I forgot to bring it along on our walks. The difference in the way Bruno walked made me swear I would never forget it again. Without the pack I am constantly reminding Bruno to slow down, and he keeps ending up in front of me as if he's got places to go and we are just not walking fast enough. With the pack Bruno walks right next to Allie and me. He picks his feet up higher and walks as if he is proud. He doesn't even try to get ahead. He paces himself and concentrates on carrying his pack, which has a water bottle inside the compartments on each side.

I am still working on teaching Bruno not to try and play while we are walking. I have tried just about everything, from blocking with my body, using a short verbal correction to tugging on his lead. I even said out loud, "Bruno, service dogs don't play while on the job!" but that didn't work either ;-) I tried walking them on either side of me, Bruno on the right and Allie on the left. Bruno would slow down and then from behind me, start play-biting on Allie again. Allie will keep walking, ignoring his attempt to start a game on the walk, but Bruno keeps trying. With my corrections, he'd stop for a second, but then he'd be right back at it. I finally found something that worked! When Bruno turned to Allie and was about to play-bite her, I bit Bruno in the neck with my fingers. Bruno immediately responded by walking nicely once again. I understand all of these concepts of communicating to a dog that I have learned from Cesar Millan, but it still amazes me just how well they work and how easy it can be. I just touched Bruno, I didn't yell, didn't get upset, didn't smack him or yank on him. I just touched him in a semi-stern way. I felt like something clicked and Bruno's play mode was turned off, when actually what I did was tell Bruno to stop in a way HE could understand. It was not time to play and he was fine with that; I just needed to tell him.

Allie and Bruno the Boxers sleeping there respective dog beds

Allie and Bruno after their walk. They are crashed for the night.

Bad Puppy Moments

Bruno the Boxer walking towards the cat food table looking up at the cats

Bruno was outside eating cat food again. I was in the house looking out the window. Every time I saw him looking at the table I knocked on the window, "Aaaatttt!" Bruno eventually gave up. He walked away from the cats, but not before he ate some cat food...

Throw up with cat food in it on a hardwood floor

…which he so graciously gave back to me a few minutes later.

Bruno the Boxer eating Cat Food off of the Cat Food table

A couple of days later, Bruno strikes again! He's now tall enough to easily reach the food.

Bruno the Boxer looking at the camera holder through the window

BUSTED! "Hey! Down!" Bruno jumps down. I walked outside and told him to get away from the table. Bruno is done sneaking cat food for the day, however, every time Bruno jumps up at the table I am inside the house and he is outside. I don't feel like I ever got a good correction in at the moment he started jumping. With that, and the fact that he knows how tasty that food is, I know we're not done with this issue just yet.

Bruno, the Cats and Another Mouse

Bruno the Boxer laying in leaves in front of a mouse next to a cat

I looked out the window and saw Bruno standing over three of our cats. My first thought was, Bruno is about to chase the cats. I knocked on the window. "Hey!" Bruno turned and looked at me. Usually he would respond and walk away from the cats. However he turned back to whatever he was looking at. That's when I realized he was not focused on the cats. Whatever he was focused on, so were the cats. Then Bruno pounced, as if he WAS a cat. I went out to see what he was doing. The cats had given Bruno another mouse and they were letting him play with it. I ran inside to get a container. Yes, I saved the mouse. Bruno's paw was on top of it, he was having a grand old time playing with it. I laid the container down sideways and picked Bruno's paw up. The mouse ran into the container. Bruno spent a long time looking for the mouse, while the cats just watched him. "Silly dog, didn't you just see that human take our mouse away?"