Introducing Hex

Posted by Kerowyn
Feb 5, 2012
We had been talking about getting a year or so old dog for quite some time. So we put the word out to our friends that we were looking for one.

A 17 week old Boxer mix puppy fell into our laps. The only breed we know is the boxer. The previous owners have a pitbull, so we looked up boxer/pit mixes, but none of the images we found showed a dog with blue eyes. So. Since she came from NC, and Catahula Leopard Hounds have blue eyes, we looked up boxer/catahula mixes. We found some images that look like our dog. We have not yet confirmed that this is her breed. And in all truth, it isn't that important to us. We prefer mixes. We named her Careena Hex ... Hex for short.

We knew when taking her home we were going to have some challenges.

1) she is a puppy, and therefore would require a lot more training than an older dog.
2) she is short haired and we live in northern Maine where the winters are COLD. Going outside could be an issue.
3) we have 2 adults, 2 small children, a cat, and now a dog that live in 450 square feet. Not much space for indoor exercise.
4) we took her home Dec. 23rd, 2011. - It is pretty darned cold and exercise and good training space would be an issue ... at least temporary.

And yes, all of these challenges have come into play.

1) I can see how lack of exercise can create excitement for this pup. we've just had the coldest part of our winter, so we have not spent much time outside. I have learned that Hex does like fetch. However, she is not very good at giving me back the stick so that I can throw it again. Trying to walk on a leash has been disasterous and due to lots of snow, I don't have the space to practice the walking exercise that says change directions -- yet. She does get a lot of outside time tho. But thus far, I do not think we have been giving her enough structured exercise. I think many things will change as we are able to provide structured exercise.

2) I have changed how I greet my dog. I no longer use a super excited voice when greeting her. My husband lets her out of the house when I park the car and she comes running up to me. She is usually very very very excited so I try to ignore her. I keep my head up, avoid eye contact and just walk past her while I take care of the outside animal chores. When she calms down, I greet her. However, she has this tendency to tackle my feet when I try to walk. and let me tell you, she may still be a pup, but she really messes up being able to walk. I really really really want to find a way to get her to stop tackling my feet when walking outside. I think she is starting to get that she has improved on this, and I'm not sure if its the ignoring that has worked.

3) I have been trying to use clicker training with Hex inside. Sometimes all it takes is to bring out the clicker for her to sit and lay down and look up at me expectanctly. It doesn't have long term effects of staying still. If anything, the clicker just helps her calm down. Sometimes she gets a treat. She always gets praise when she calms down.

4) We finally set up the crate for her, and instead of letting her sleep on the sofa with us, I've been working on getting her to "bed" which is the dog bed in the crate. We do not have the door on yet and I am going to try and get her accustomed to it before adding that. The clicker really helps with getting her to go inside. My goal is to get her to go to her bed every time we come inside. A lot of times she is super excited still when we come inside. She does tend to sleep on the sofa tho, when we go to bed. And in all honesty, I don't have an issue with her being up on the sofa. There are two reasons I'm trying to get away from that tho ... 1. mud season is around the corner. I don't think I need to elaborate. 2. I'm trying to establish the sofa as an alpha area. I'm trying to have it be that she only goes on it when invited.

5) We have nipping issues, and yelping and turning away or walking away doesn't seem to work. Holding her muzzle down doesn't seem to work either.

6) She likes to I think play ... she crouches and growls and then bounces all around. This does happen when she is super excited and when trying to get her to sit so that she can calm down. I suspect some may be alpha issues.

7) I make her sit at the bottom of the (outside) stairs when we are coming up. I make her sit when I open the door to go in. I am trying to instill this when we go out as well. Tho, she tends to get out quickly. and she tends to go down the stairs first. We don't always go out with her when we put her out and I think this can hurt the alpha relationship because it can be viewed as her going thru the door first.

Hex used to jump a lot. And when you have little faces at paw level, it was not a good thing. Sit was one of the first things we taught her. The jumping isn't so bad now, but the kids love to run and screech ... and to a puppy ... this is play time! All I can say is OY! Trying to control the kids and or the dog ... well ... sometimes I think we fail miserably in keeping the peace.

9) We have Hex sit and wait for food and then tell her to go ahead.

10) I try to give at least 5-10 minutes of sit, down commands thruout the evening when I am home from work. I have started working on stay for longer periods of time.

I certainly could use some tips on how to keep puppy and kids calm - because the combo can be disasterous. lol. I could use some tips on how to burn off some puppy energy when living in a small indoor space and not have the pup yet trained to walk on a leash where the walks are enjoyable. I could use some tips on how to keep pup from jumping. How to encourage her to play fetch to burn off some energy. Just some encouragement to keep at it. Just as when you have a baby ... this time goes by quickly.

Posted by Saint-Crazy-Lady
Feb 9, 2012
It sounds like you have more than just your hands full and you are doing a wonderful job. That you acknowledge and address Hex's needs is absolutely wonderful, especially with all you have going on.
You did not say how old your 2 leggeds were. If they are old enough to understand, explain what you are trying to accomplish with Hex. Let them know how important they are in acheiving this and how their actions play a major part. Have them help in training Hex as they need to be seen as alphas as well. Just make sure you are present when all this is going on. Have them watch you and explain the whys and wherefores of what you are doing. It will help them have a much better understanding of what is good behavior and what is not and why it is or is not good behavior.
One good game that comes to mind is keep away. All players must remain on the floor as well as ball. Put at least 5 feet between players and roll the ball to each other and make sure Hex gets to "catch" it every 3-4 times to keep her interested. This will give you a chance to work with her on not jumping as well as to give ball back and she gets excercise in a small amount of space. Just make sure the kids understand the ball must stay on the floor as you do not want to encourage her to jump, especially on the kids. Trade followed by treat is a great way to teach them to give you something, just make sure you have something to trade with. She'll get the idea quickly.
She is going to start teething soon so you will want to have things on hand that she can chew on. You probably have an abundane of old socks, knot one end then put some of her kibble in it (not a lot) then knot the other end. A safe chew that won't hurt her teeth but will help her get through teething as well as help direct her energy. She'll have a blast tugging and tossing it around. Keep up the effort. You will all be greatly rewarded.
Posted by KOPCaroline
Feb 9, 2012
Hi Kerowyn,

Great post! So much info and insight, you sound like an awesome, onto it owner

Lets see if I can give my 2 cents on your problems

1. Exercising indoors/out of snow

You can still leash train indoors - if you have a hallway, or a room big enough to turn wide circles - try leashing up and training on "heel" and such. Its not perfect, but it will at least get Hex used to the feel of it while he's still young.

You could also try looking into puppy classes in your area - they're normally indoors at pet stores or vet offices, so you could go once or twice a week to socialize and work on basic commands, and its a great way to play inside!

The above suggestion of playing keep away with a ball on the ground is great! I think you should definitely give that a go

2. Excitement when you come home -

It honestly sounds like you're handling this beautifully. The only other suggestion I have is to train Hex on "sit" and "stay", and give that command as soon as you see her. This will give her something to do, and give you the opportunity to get across the lawn without getting tripped up. Once you're at the door, or inside, you can tell her ok to come out of the command, but continue ignoring her after until she calms down.

3. clicker training

Again, I think you're doing everything you should be for this - the off and on not responding is likely due to her puppy attention span. Instead of continuously trying to keep up with the clicker training throughout the day, break it down to 10-15 minute sessions multiple times a day. You just need to keep her interested for a little bit, but these sessions will add up to her understanding the ideas and commands better.

4) Sofa and crate training

I think only allowing pets on furniture when they are invited is a great idea - it ties into alpha training and helps for better behaved animals when guests are over. The crate/bed idea is great, too, and I have confidence that you will get to your goal of having her go there every time you come home, etc.

The only thing I'd suggest is to block her access to the sofa at night. It may mean getting another bed for her to sleep on outside of the room so you can shut her out, or if you're using an actual crate, try shutting her in it for overnights. If she can freely access the sofa at night without an invite, it may lead to issues with her thinking its ok to get up there when she wants. Alternatively, when you go to bed, you can give her the ok to get on the sofa before you leave the room, so its still an invite to get on from you. Depends whether you're ok with her sleeping there or not.

5) Nipping

Its a common puppy problem, and the best advice I can give is to perservere with the techniques you mentioned. You could also try startling her when she does nip - yell loudly, stomp your foot, shake a can with pebbles in it (assuming you'd have one around), anything that makes a loud noise to get her attention in that moment, so you can redirect it after. You could also try putting her in time out when she gets going - about 10 minutes alone to calm down, but you have to do it everytime she nips, and do it immediately.

6) Play bouncing and growling

I do think this is mostly just puppy play, and she should get better about listening and calming down as she gets older (the listening part at least ) Again, try putting her in time out when she acts up - I used time outs on my dog for misbehaving and it worked really well.

7) Bolting through doors first

Puppies will be puppies, and I think with age and more training with you she will get better about this. Train her on sit, stay, and wait to the best of your ability for now and see how that goes. If she goes to get out first, tell her no, shut the door if you can, and start over. If she does bolt through, call her back, shut the door, and start again. Try not to leave with her getting out first. You can do the same for coming in when you come home too. It may be frustrating, but she should catch on quickly.

Hex and the kids

Overall, I think this is just something every family has to sort out. As advised above, have a chat with your kids about not getting Hex too worked up and helping you out with training. But I think you will always have episodes of kiddies getting excited and then the dog getting excited. Keep up with how you're handling it now.

9) Waiting for food

Yay! Awesome work! Definitely a training exercise that every dog owner should have

10) Training sessions

Again, I really encourage these with puppies. So all I can say is keep it up!

Overall I think you're doing wonderfully, and you know what to expect with a pup in the house. Hopefully the weather gets better soon enough and you can go outside and play more. But please let us know if you have any concerns in the future, and let us know how things are going! Good luck!
Posted by Kerowyn
Feb 10, 2012
Thank you for the responses.

My two leggeds are 1 and 4. We've tried assisting the 4 year old in how to help keep Hex calm, but what 4 year old can contain their energy?

Let me explain the inside space. I live in a 24 foot round home (its a yurt) and it is roughly 450 square feet.

We have a bathroom sectioned off. We have a loft bed in the middle with a small play space for the kids underneath. We have a gate to keep the youngest kid away from the woodstove (which is near the bathroom). This also keeps the dog out of that area which gives the cat a safe place.

We then have a walkspace that goes from the bathroom, past the woodstove, past the stairs to the loft, past the front door, thru the "living room" area (which also has the opening to the kids place under the bed), into the kitchen and the back door. which you then meet the refridgerator you are at the back wall of the bathroom.

This walkspace is all I have to work with to burn off energy. I can't tell you how many times the kids have gone back and forth, back and forth. And then Hex follows along. When we are all there, it is a bit tight and chaotic.

When all of us are there, inside leash training wouldn't work too well. We'd be bumping into each other. However, if we are all sitting down, I might be able to use the kids area to try the ball exercise. I'm hesitant about this too tho, because my 4 year old likes to play with a cloth ball and she NEVER keeps it down low despite our repeated requests for her to do so.

We are having a mishmash of COLD (minus at night and single digits during the day) days and cold (close to 30 degree) days. I've been using the cold days to try and play with Hex outside in a more structured fashion. She really likes fetching the stick. I've noticed now that some of the time she brings it close to me and sits. At these times I reinforce stay and get the stick ... and then she starts her jumping. OY! But we work with it. I love seeing her bound after the stick. Other times she won't give up the stick and then I go about doing my outside rounds (we have rabbits, chickens and goats that need tending to as well as firewood and water to haul).

I like the idea of putting treats in something for Hex, but as she likes to chew on clothes, I do not want to use a sock. I have not found anything in the stores suitable yet. Any ideas of other non clothes/household related things that I can put treats in? Whatever it is, I don't want it to resemble other things we have around the house ... if that makes sense?

We have a couple of "chew" toys for her and we give her raw hide bones. She destroys the toys fast and it is hard to find durable toys that can withstand her chewing. For example. The first week we had her we gave her a tug toy that had a tennis ball and rope. She tore the tennis ball apart in no time and then she tore the rope apart. We had to get rid of it. We have replaced it with two other type of rope toys. When we notice her tearing them apart, we retye a knot to prevent fraying. I've tried other toys, but she destroys them quickly. Outside I give her sticks. And yes, she does toss these things around.

We don't have a separate place to put Hex when there is undesirable behavior. I wish we had another room to put her in, but as we only heat with woodstove, the only actual doors are those that lead outside. (we use a curtain for the bathroom door). So when she starts getting really really excited, she either goes outside or goes into the crate. We do outside more often tho because I don't want her to associate the crate with bad things. My thought is that she is really a people dog, so we are removing her from our presense.

In regards to going thru doors first. This is a tough one this time of year. On the coldest of days, we don't want that door open anymore than it has to be. so on those days I don't do the open, close due to not listening, open, close due to not listening tatic. However, on our "warmer" days, I have been trying this. Most of the issues seem to stem around ... its too darn cold outside. lol

In a months time, I will be home all day due to losing my job (It is moving to GA, we are not). I plan to utilize my time off to fine tune the training we've already started. By then I may also be able to start outside leash training more effectively.

I've not really done a whole lot introducing the dog and cat, but there definitely is interest there. I try distractions to keep Hex from jumping at the cat. But sometime this coming year we should have our space doubled and it will become harder to separate them. so I guess I should work on that at some point now too.

Ok. wow. I've written another book. I hope you are able to get thru all that.
Posted by Saint-Crazy-Lady
Feb 11, 2012
Hey Kerowyn, you really are doing an excellent job. I know what you mean about not opening the door anymore than is necessary. Try just reaching for the knob, that is usually when the dog will break "stay" and bolt. It will be a step in the right direction at any rate. As for the sock, it is the kibble that differentiates it from other items of clothing. I had the same issues as you when it was first suggested to me oh so many years ago. Rawhides are generally not so good for dogs under a year. What I tried that worked with my teething pups were cow hoofs. Last a long time and don't break up causing a choking issue and they are economical. You might also try bully sticks. Again they last a long time and don't break up. Your challenges in such a small area are beyond what most of us have had to deal with and you are amazing in how well you are dealing with it. Spring is just around the corner. (Had to say that seeing as how you are in a round house.)SCL
Posted by MaxHollyNoah
Feb 11, 2012
Hi Kerowyn,

I don't have much time right now and I haven't read the whole thing but I have some toys suggestions on your question below:

>I like the idea of putting treats in something for Hex, but as she likes to chew on clothes, I do not want to use a sock. I have not found anything in the stores suitable yet. Any ideas of other non clothes/household related things that I can put treats in? Whatever it is, I don't want it to resemble other things we have around the house ... if that makes sense?

1) Kongs - they are made of very sturdy rubber so dogs cannot break them and you can put treats in it, such as peanut butter, some kibbles, cookies, etc.

2) Nylobone (sp?) - this is made of special kind of edible plastic and it is very hard so that dogs can hardly consume and it is perfect for chewing

3) Hollow bones for dogs - they are cleaned and dried and very hard. I push in some soft treats in the hollow so that the dogs try to take the treats and also chew on the bone. They are not breakable so you don't need to worry.

4) Cow hooves (dried) - you can also buy these at Petco or Petsmart (online too) and dogs love them! The only problem is they stink when chewed. Again this last for a long time, especially for puppies

Sorry, I have to go now but hope this will work for your pup.
Posted by Kerowyn
Feb 15, 2012
cow hooves? Oh sweet! I wonder if I could get any of those from a local farmer! How about pigs feet or chicken feet? Tho, I'd likely want those chewables to be left outside! lol

Bully Sticks? I've never heard of them. I'll have to google it.

Last night felt like a heat wave around here ... and it was only 20 degrees this morning when I left at 5:15 to go to work. But that is at least a 30+ degree difference from the night before. Should be a good day for being outside when I get home from work!

I started trying to play fetch with Hex inside in the "living room" area. I have my daughter stay by me, we get the rope toy, throw it towards the door, Hex bounds after it. Sometimes she gives it back, sometimes not. My daughter (the 4 year old) is enjoying throwing it. It doesn't bounce when it hits the floor or door. And with supervision, its been going somewhat ok.

Kongs! I think thats what I've been searching for in the stores. I haven't found them yet. After seeing how Hex destroys whatever we give her, I just can't see buying something on line that I can't feel. so many toys look like they could work, but when you touch them, I can tell that they won't even last out the day with her! lol

Another thing I found that worked with Hex and the leash. I have a jogging stroller. And I wanted to bring my kids down to my neighbors and I wanted to bring Hex. She actually did very well walking next to the stroller. Much much better than when I did not have the stroller. Just 3 1/2 more weeks and I will have all the time necessary to focus on leash training outside. Weather should be nicer and I'll be outta work.

Speaking of work ... back to the grind.

Thanks for all the comments.