Saturday, December 3, 2011

Puppy Rabbits at Eleven Months Old

Lulu, aka Princess Puppy, aka Lulu the Terrible
My puppy rabbits are going to be eleven months old on Tuesday!  Can you believe it?  We are enjoying them immensely.  Rottweiler puppies are not for everyone, and I can only imagine the havoc they could wreak in a home where they were left alone all day with the run of the house, no training, no walks, etc.  However, we were committed to training them, walking and working with them every single day, and our dogs have paid us back for this investment a thousand times over.  They are the sweetest, smartest, happiest, and best-behaved dogs that either of us has ever owned.  We couldn't be more pleased with them!

Now that they're growing up, we can see that although they are both Rotties and even littermates, they have very different personalities.  Lulu is the more confident of the two, and she's the pup who is most likely to get into mischief.  Bernie dubbed her Lulu the Terrible when she dug up a sprinkler line in the back yard and gave it a Swiss cheese makeover with her pointy puppy teeth.  Clearly, someone should have buried the sprinkler line deeper in the first place.  Ahem.  Lulu is also an instigator; she'll pick up one of Otto's favorite chew toys and wave it around in his face until he'll get up and chase after her.  She also likes to take a running start across the yard, leap into the air, and land on her brother's head like she's doing some kind of crazy football tackle.  Both dogs love to run, chase, and wrestle in the back yard, but they have learned that this kind of play belongs only outside in the yard, not in the house.  This is good news for my floor lamp in the living room.


Lulu and Otto, 11 months

Aren't they just the most beautiful dogs you've ever seen?  I love their soft, silky smooth coats.  My last dog was a Golden Retriever Shedding Machine, and shedding is much less of a problem with my Rotties, even though I've got two of them.  They don't get those awful mats and tangles that the Golden always had, and I don't notice nearly as much fur drifting around on the hardwood floors between vacuuming. 

Sweet, Lovable, Otto the Sharpie Marker

Here's my little Otto Pumpkin.  He loves to run and chase after his big, blue ball, and sometimes retrieves it (as long as Lulu is in the house -- if she's outside when we throw the ball, she runs after the ball and turns Fetch into Tug-of-War).  Otto is more low-key indoors than Lulu; he's very content just to rest in a central location where he can supervise what everyone else is doing during the day. 

Both dogs have a rock-solid recall (Come), Sit, Down, Shake, Touch, and Watch Me.  Otto's favorite trick is shaking hands (Lars taught him that one), and I just started working on Kisses with him yesterday.  Ongoing training is so important with these dogs.  It reinforces who is the leader and who is the follower, and challenging the dogs to think and figure out what they need to do to earn a treat keeps them from getting bored and frustrated. 

I'm following the training instructions in Kyra Sundance's book 51 Puppy Tricks, available here from Amazon.  She has you smear a little peanut butter on your cheek to teach your puppy that Kisses means to lick your cheek.  Otto is very affectionate and smoochy anyway, so it's just a matter of having him do it on command and lick my cheek instead of my mouth, nose, or eyelid!  Once the puppy gets the idea that Kisses means to lick your cheek for a treat, you eliminate the peanut butter and just reward with the treat.  Lulu will not be learning Kisses, however -- she has a tendency to do a lick, lick, LOVE CHOMP!  So with Lulu, I'm working on Find Me games instead.  I sneak out of the room with a treat, hide someplace else in the house, and call, "Lulu, Find Mommy!"  She runs around sniffing and listening, and I'll make kissy noises or tap the floor to help her out if she's having trouble. Once she knows the game well with me, I'll start involving other family members so she can Find Anders, Find Lars, and Find Daddy.  This will also ensure that she knows everyone in our family by name, as well as engaging all of her senses in a hunting challenge.

It's actually working out well that we're finally (finally!) listening to our trainer and exclusively walking the dogs separately.  Just like children, they need that one-on-one time to really bond with their humans, so while Bernie is out walking one dog, I get to do a one-on-one training session with the other one.  Both of our puppies are sweet and friendly around people with very few exceptions, but they still go cuckoo-crazy when they see other neighborhood dogs on their walks.  I need to get some really high-value treats and keep them in my other pocket just for dog distractions because we're randomly giving treats throughout the walk for good eye contact, loose leash without pulling, etc.  Then another dog saunters into view and our puppy goes nuts, and the treats we've been doling out over and over are nowhere near as interesting as that other dog.  I'm thinking of breaking up some freeze-dried lamb lungs (I know, gross, right?) into small pieces for the next walk, or I could microwave a hot dog and cut that up into little treat bites, too -- something has got to work.  They are perfect little angels 95% of the time on a walk, but when they see another dog down the street my puppies leap and lunge and bark and do doggy double lutzes in the air, trying to get to the other dog, and it does not feel good to have my arm yanked out of my shoulder every time we see another dog!  Also, they look really ferocious when they're behaving this way and I can only imagine what my neighbors must be thinking. 

Princess Lulu likes to nap beneath the Christmas tree
Now that Otto is getting close to a year old, I think I'm going to schedule his neutering operation.  Lulu was spayed at 6 months, but since larger breed dogs mature more slowly I wanted to give Otto more time for his bone structure to more fully develop and wait to see whether I felt like neutering was even necessary.  After all, I'm not about to let my Rottweiler roam the neighborhood in search of females, so the whole neuter-to-reduce-unwanted-litters argument doesn't apply.  Neither of my dogs has ever even attempted to escape from my yard, and since it is fenced, no intact female dogs can get in.  However, Otto has been doing some intermittent urine marking in the house lately (prompting Bernie to nickname him Sharpie, as in Big, Black, Permanent Marker).  I've done some research about male dogs urine marking and I understand that he's just being protective of our family "pack" and our home and that there's nothing vindictive about it, but I'm obviously less than thrilled about it and it could be a hormonal thing -- if so, there's a high likelihood that neutering would reduce or even eliminate that behavior.  Also, when he's going nuts about trying to get to other dogs on our walks (and he's much worse in this regard than Lulu, especially when walked separately), that could be hormonal, too.  Is he trying to get to a female dog?  Is he exhibiting male-male aggression toward the other dog?  Either scenario could be helped by neutering.  I talked with my vet about it and I'll probably schedule it for the beginning of the Christmas holiday.  I'm not looking forward to having to confine him and keep him from running around and playing afterwards, but with everyone home for the holidays it should be easier to give him lots of attention and love while he recuperates.


Beadboard UpCountry said...

They are fabulous! And you two should be commended for sticking in there as the leaders...... Love the fact your tree is still intact...They have the sweetest faces!!!!!!!!Maryanne xo

Pigtown*Design said...

what dolls!

and i hear you about the golden hair! i have a yellow lab and he sheds like anything. this new house has all hardwood floors (built in 1900) and i can see every fur ball on the floor. ugh.

Gorgeous Things said...

They're so pretty! And I'm glad you didn't dock their tails. My neighbors breed rotties and they dock their tails. I think they look so much more friendly when they have the full tail.

Regards neutering, and I'm sure you'll here this from others, I would do it just to reduce aggressiveness in Otto. My Otto was a lab, and we didn't neuter him until he was 2. I wish we had done it earlier, because he was great with people but not so good with other male dogs, even after he was fixed. The funny story was that one night, DH and I were watching TV. Otto was sleeping on the floor next to us. He started running in his sleep, and DH said, "Looks like he's chasing squirrels."

I said, "I don't think he's chasing squirrels." And sure enough, he was having an, um, amorous dream. When he was done, DH looked at me and said, "I've cleaned up dog poo, dog pee and dog barf. I am NOT cleaning that up, we can replace the rug!"

We made the appointment with the vet the next day. :)