I think we’re FINALLY making real progress on the housetraining. Yayyyy. I was beginning to despair that it would never happen. Now that the deck has been rebuilt and the dog door is more puppy-friendly, River is going in and out of it regularly.

Now that he’s big enough to get on and off the bed by himself, he’s even taking himself out at night — or trying to. LOL. I don’t trust that completely and follow him down to make sure he goes alllll the way out. When Pflouff was a puppy we built a channel between the stairs and the dog door to ensure she kept moving, and so I think I’ll start doing that with River.

Sincerely — you have no idea how relieved I am. He’s not housebroken yet… I certainly haven’t stopped suggesting he go out several times a day, and I’m still getting up several times during the night… but I’m finally seeing a little light at the end of the tunnel. (Please, God, no trains. Can’t. Handle. A. Train.)

In other news, River has been to three puppy classes now, and he’s doing fabulously. I’m so proud of him. I get comments about how calm and sweet he is. Sweet, yes, but the “calmness” is from careful reinforcement of calm, relaxed behavior. He’s really doing a fantastic job of focusing on me during class — for a 16-week-old puppy attending his first round of puppy classes, I mean. We have a lot to learn, but it’s progressing little by little.

He’s doing well with sits, downs, recalls, go to heel, down on a mat, and walking (a few steps) in heel position. We’ve introduced “stay” over the past week or two. It’s still shaky, but it’s improving. I really want to emphasize “stay,” because it’s the foundation of impulse control. He needs to learn that giving up what he wants earns him even better things — that patience REALLY pays off. I’m not ready to introduce big distractions yet. First I need to get just the distraction of me moving and jumping and acting silly really solid. Then I can have both me and Jay acting silly. Then I can add things like food on the floor, toys bouncing around him, and toys being thrown. Being able to hold a sit while a retrieve object is thrown (or shot!) is a foundation behavior for field training.

It just occurred to me that I haven’t invested an afternoon on “Crate Games” yet. (That’s because the first session really is two or three hours long. I don’t focus on things I ENJOY for that long!) Crate Games will really teach him basic self-control though, and the lessons can be generalized to other situations. I need to get on that!!

The other thing we’re working on, though just a little, is backchaining the retrieve. River is a retriever, and he has an excellent, instinctive play retrieve. But the formal retrieve is something different, and I want to teach it right. I have decided to get the take solid on a bunch of different types of objects before I really progress the training. That could be a mistake — I don’t know. But I do know I want the take and give to be really, really solid and really, really generalized.

So, overall, things are going well, and I’m happy. River is growing like a WEED, and his temperament is every bit as sweet and gentle as Pax’s is. I love my little boy.

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