Owned by Pugs

Friday, April 16, 2010

Caution: Thinking May Cause Drowsiness

Benjamin, Luna and Henry

Yesterday, I began teaching the boys a new command and continued working with Luna on the down command. It is true that Luna has still not mastered the command, but she is getting so much better. She is quite a slow learner, but that is OK because I have time. Plus, I love seeing how proud of herself she gets when she knows exactly what to do.

For the boys, I thought I would teach them to stand. It's not really a show stopper, but I thought it might come in handy. Like when I am brushing Henry and he suddenly falls over and rolls on his back. If I could tell him to stand, I might actually be able to brush his whole body and not just his belly.

Regardless of whether or not I am teaching the pugs a new command, I love how a little bit of training or even just a refresher of the commands they already know tires the pugs out. Concentrating on a task sometimes tires them out as much as a trip to the dog park.

I hope everyone has a nice weekend. Don't think too hard!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Mental Exercise

Benjamin giving 5

This summer I have felt like the mother of four kids who have completely run out of things to do on their summer break from school. The heat has severely limited the pugs' normal walking schedule and I have found that the pugs aren't even going out to sniff around in the yard much because of the heat.

With 8 pug eyes starring at me all day, just looking for something to get into, I thought that I would give the pugs a little bit of a mental challenge. So, I decided to teach them all a new trick.

The pugs have varying levels of training. Having been through puppy training and basic obedience together, the boys are on the same page skill wise. The only trick Luna has mastered is the sit command, and Sol, well, Sol is an expert at looking cute.

With the pugs all over the map, I picked out different things to teach them. Which was good because it made the training experiences mental exercises for me as well. For the boys, I chose "gimme 5", for Luna I chose, "down" and for Sol I went with the classic "sit".

I have been working with the pugs for a little over a week and let me tell you that our short training sessions have added a lot of laughs to my day.

First, I keep forgetting to give Sol her hand signals. I just sit there with her talk, talk, talking away and she just looks at me, like, um, lady, I'm deaf, remember!

The other thing with Sol is that teaching her the sit command has been a nomadic experience. I will give her the hand signal for sit and she will eventually sit. As soon as her bottom hits the ground, I reward her with her treat. But, after that she doesn't move. She remains in the sitting position. Which I guess is good, but we don't really get many reps in that way. The only way to get her to stand back up again is if I move about 4 or 5 feet away and give her the come command. She will then saunter over to me and I can give her the sit signal again. After repeating this about 10 times, I guess you could say that Sol got her walk in as well because we have pretty much made our way around the house by that point.

Teaching Luna the down command has been challenging. The girl does not have one submissive bone in her body, so she isn't much for laying down at your feet. To teach her to lay down, I took a treat and held it on the floor and positioned it slightly under her chin, so she would practically have to put her chin to the ground to get the treat. In our first training session, I held the treat on the ground and she went into a bow position (front half down, back half up) and spent about ten minutes licking the treat. Finally, probably out of exhaustion, she lowered her rear half to the floor. At that point, I said the word "down" and promptly gave her the treat. This continued for awhile, but she is finally getting the hang of things and pretty much will lay down as soon as you put the treat to the floor. If you don't have a treat, she won't even give you the time of day. And don't ask her to do this trick on the tile floor either. It clearly states in her rider that she requires a carpeted surface for treat training.

Working with the boys is old hat for me and I expected teaching them "gimme 5" would go much like every other training experience. Meaning, Henry would catch on in a few training sessions and after a few weeks Benny would be a master at the command as well. However, the boys threw me a curve ball this time and after thinking about it for a few days it makes perfect sense.

See, Benjamin, is a slow learner. What he does know, he knows very well, but it takes a long time to teach him things. However, he learned "gimme 5" in 3 short training sessions! Now, that is probably normal for most dogs, but considering that this is Benny I was bouncing off the walls with excitement. Its like Benjamin has been waiting to learn the "gimme 5" command his whole life.

After I thought about it, it became clear to me why. Benny is very paw orientated. He uses his paw all the time to tell you what he wants. He will scratch at the front door to go out to go potty, he will scratch on the fridge door when he is hungry and much to my disliking he will scratch on my arm to tell me he would like some of my dinner. So having Benny sit his paw on my hand to get a treat came naturally to him.

Henry picked up the trick as well, but it took him about four days longer. Henry is not one to scratch to get what he wants, so this trick did not come naturally for him at all. But, with just a little extra work, he is now a "gimme 5" expert as well.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Off to the Races

This was a game we frequently played when Benjamin & Henry were puppies. The whole purpose of the game was to trick Benjamin & Henry into practicing their Sit, Stay & Come commands, but to do it in a fun way that allowed them to work off their puppy energy.

Benjamin & Henry Race

First the sit & stay while I move away.

Benjamin & Henry Race

Then the come command.

Benjamin & Henry Race

Looks like Benny was a little bit quicker out of the gates.

Benjamin & Henry Race

Almost up to full speed.

Benjamin & Henry Race

Still truckin'.

Benjamin & Henry Race

About halfway there and Benny has taken the lead.

Benjamin & Henry Race

Benny coming into the home stretch, completely blocking Henry from the frame.

Benjamin & Henry Race

Benny finishing strong. You can see his wrinkly skin flapping in the wind and his eyes are fixed on the prize - the treat.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Introducing Luna to Benjamin & Henry

Benjamin, Henry & Luna - Best of Friends

I have had a few questions on how to introduce a new pug to the family, so I thought I would share how we went about bringing Luna into the family.  I am by no means an expert, so I would love to hear how others went about bringing a new pug into the family.

Here is what worked for us.

The first thing we knew we wanted to do was to have Luna and the boys meet on neutral ground.  We didn’t want to just bring Luna into the house and plop her down in front of the boys because we knew they would feel more territorial meeting her this way.  So, we brought the boys to the park where Luna’s adoption took place.  Would it have been a tad easier to do all the adoption paperwork without the boys there?  Yes.  Would we have been able to totally pamper Luna more without the boys there?  Absolutely.  But I thought it was important for the boys to meet her the same time we met her and the park was a perfect meeting place.  The boys had never been to that park and I don’t think Luna had been either.  So from the boys’ point of view they were just meeting another dog at the park, which is something they love to do.  They had no idea that she would be coming home with us.

After we took care of all the adoption paperwork, we walked around the park with Luna and the boys.  There was a pug festival going on so the park was buzzing with activity and there were pugs everywhere.  So we just walked around meeting other pugs and talking to people.

After we made our rounds, we decided to call it a day and head back home.  We had a 3 hour drive ahead of us so we wanted to hit the road.  Also, I was anxious to see how the boys would react to Luna getting in the car.  This would be their first test of allowing Luna in their territory.  And having them first get used to Luna being in their car, rather than their house was no accident.  I wanted to sorta gradually introduce her.  We had Luna’s seatbelt already setup, so we stuck to our normal routine.  Benny always gets buckled in first then Henry, so we stuck to that order.  Then we simply buckled Luna in making no big deal of it.  Although, that was the hardest part.  I wanted to make a big fuss over our new baby girl, but I just knew that I couldn’t.  That would be the worst thing to do.  I knew that would send the boys into jealous mode, because some new pug is getting all kinds of attention for doing something that was so routine to them.  So, we kept it low key and acted as if Luna had been with us all along.

Once we got home, it was dinner time for the pugs.  So we decided to feed the pugs before we even went inside the house.  Luna was only used to eating kibble at that point, so we made her dinner and got the boys’ dinner ready.  Rather than eating in their normal spots we had the pugs eat outside on the lanai.  We gave each of the pugs ample space and put down their bowls in their normal order, Benny’s, then Henry’s and now Luna’s.

After they ate, we let them play in the backyard a bit.  They had a great time running around playing chase and we got to know Luna a little bit more.  Once everyone was tired it was time to show Luna her new house.  We simply opened the door and let her in like she had been here before.  Luna went around smelling and looking over things and the boys were right by her side (and we weren’t too far behind).  Since, they already had a rapport with her they didn’t seem to mind her barging in.

After that, we just tried to keep things business as usual.  It was really hard no to dote on Luna, but I knew it would be best in the long run if we treated her just like the boys (they don’t do too bad in the doting department themselves).

To sum things up, here are the thing that we deliberately set out to do to make the addition of Luna as smoothly as possible.

  • Met on neutral turf
  • Let the pugs get to know each other before we brought Luna into the house
  • Stuck to the boys’ routine.  Rather than changing everything because Luna was now here, we just simply taught her the boys’ routine.
  • Gave extra praise to the boys for being such good big brothers
  • No special treatment for Luna, at least not in front of the boys.  With the boys around she simply got as much love and attention as they did.
  • Fed Luna last.  When doling out treats or meals, Luna was always fed last.  I once read that the top dog gets their food first, so we didn’t want to send messages to the boys that Luna was the new top dog in town or we didn’t want to coax little Luna’s alpha personality along and help her take over.
  • Took lots of walks.  We went on lots of walks the first month Luna was with us.  This kept the boys well exercised and well behaved and was great opportunity for them to get out and bond with Luna

How did you go about adding another pug to your family?

Monday, January 14, 2008

A Question for You

Pug lover Martha wrote in to ask if I could pose a question to all the pug lovers out there.  She was wondering how you handle visitors at the house.  Does your pug behave when visitors come over?  If so, how did you train them to behave so nicely?  Does your pug get overcome with excitement when a visitor comes over?  How do you convince your pug that the visitor is not just there to see them?

Thanks for helping us out.  We are looking forward to your replies.

Friday, October 20, 2006

She Learns!


When little Luna came to us, she knew nothing. OK, maybe not “nothing.” She had some street smart skills - like scavenging through garbage cans, but she didn’t know any basic simple commands like “sit,” “down,” “off,” etc. She didn’t have a clue about walking on a leash and she even jumped up on table tops because she just didn’t know any better. Well, fortunately, we have managed to undo some of her bad habits, such as the standing on table tops and leash walking. (She’s not perfect at the whole leash thing but at least she pretty much stays on the path, now.) Through much training and practice, she has mastered the sit command.

However, what we are really pleased to brag about today, though, is that for the first time, she has achieved the down command on a semi-regular basis. We used to think that it was impossible for her to ever get a grasp on this because she always seemed to want to keep her derriere in the air. Well, at long last, she has gained a clue to the command of “down.” We wouldn’t say she has aced it quite yet, but it did seem like a huge breakthrough. If you have ever seen “The Miracle Worker” it was similar to the scene where Annie Sullivan helps Helen Keller learn the sign for “water.” As a matter of fact, we giggled amongst ourselves that she CAN learn! Talk about teaching an old dog new tricks! It can be done, but believe you me, it is so much easier when they are puppies!

Tuesday, January 4, 2005

Teaching the Left, Right and Straight commands

For the most part, both of the boys are very good listeners. They both know the basic commands like sit, down, stay, no, leave it, drop it and take it. They also know certain commands for around the house like “go to bed” (go to your crate) and “go to the futon” (go lay on the futon that is in my office). Benjamin knows and loves the command “kisses” and Henry is learning the “give me five” trick.

Over the last few days, I have been working with the boys to teach them their left and their right. I started working on this mainly on our walks. We have basically three different walks that we use on a daily basis. One is the “just do your business” walk, another is a short walk (about 10-15min) and the other is a long walk (30-45min). So since we don’t always take the same path every walk, whenever the boys come to an intersection in the sidewalk they always look back and check with me to see which path we are going to take. So now when we are at an intersection, I tell them left, right or straight and then I go in that direction.

They don’t know the commands yet, but they are starting to recognize the words. The commands aren’t essential but it is a little something that I can do on our walks to keep them mentally stimulated.


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The Pug Blog chronicles the daily antics of Benjamin, Henry, Luna & Sol.

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