Sheryl's Alaskan Malamutes - Sebastian - Puppy Kindergarten
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Sebastian - Puppy Kindergarten

Shy Sebastian
Shy Sebastian
Confident Sebastian
Confident Sebastian
Books helpful to me

Sebastian was the shy one of the litter, although the breeder (Jolene from Hudson's Huskies & Malamutes) worked with him, he was still timid when I got him. So, we enrolled in Puppy Kindergarten. As it turns out, this is something I should do with a new puppy whether the pup is shy or not. My more recent dogs were from rescue, and my puppy experience was more than rusty. Not only do the pups learn in puppy kindergarten, so do the owners. It's an excellent base on which to build prior to basic obedience training.

Below are my "Puppy-Logues" from Puppy Kindergarten.

First Day at Puppy Kindergarten - July 19, 2004
We had our first puppy kindergarten class last night. My timid boy and I were the first ones there, and when one of the teachers showed up with her pup, he promptly pooped a pyramid that Jason would've been proud of (my first dog that pooped these amazing pyramids). We did that before we left home, how there's still more in that little body, I don't know.

Our first section of class was to let all the puppies off leash so they could play together. About 20+ puppies in the class, various breeds (quite a few labs), various sizes. There was 1 puppy younger than Sebastian and he looked like he's going to suit up for the Eagles this fall. The joyful ramming, racing, and rolling was a riot. Sebastian held back on the rim, peeking from behind people's legs with tail wagging, and kept thinking about getting into it. (I was supposed to ignore him once he was off leash). Suddenly 4 playing pals would run over to him and overwhelm him, he'd get into it a little and then they kept up their games elsewhere. He befriended a little tyke (a "pocket" dog named Madison - name longer than the dog) for a bit. This went on for a good twenty minutes.

Our next section of class was to leash the puppies, sit and put our hands all over our dogs, ears, paws, legs, belly, nose. Then "pass the puppy", and do it with the next dog until we finally got our own dogs back. This gets them used to being handled and over the fear of being touched and helps eliminate "fear biting". Oh, did Sebastian get attention as the shy boy. It was so good for him.

Our next section, we each had to stand in the center of the class with our dog, call their name to see if we got a response. I had a flicker of a response, so he got a treat. Then I had to go sit down and call him to me. He, of course went elsewhere :) But, that's not unusual at this stage.

Our final phase was another free-for-all off leash. This time, he was more into it, especially with his friend, Emma (a timid lab 3 times his size). The two of them just kept running circles around each other, and him under her. He didn't back away as much when the big kids got involved this time.

To top off the evening, after he said goodbye to Emma, he threw up (first time he's done that since I've had him). Just excitement.

Favorite quote of the evening: "Excitement produces a lot of peeing and pooping"

Our "homework" for the week:

1) Putting my hands in his food, picking him up while he's eating, surprising him while he's eating, grabbing his collar while he's eating, being able to take anything out of his mouth
2) Playing hide and seek - calling his name and 'treating' him when he comes
3) When he's chewing and starts chewing me, get up and leave if he pays no mind to "no bite" - lack of attention is good punishment Same treatment for any behavior that has to be stopped

Unfortunately, I forgot the camera, the pictures of him hugging the wall would've been priceless!

Tips for dealing with teething puppies:
Greenies (a life saver - hours of chewing time)
Chili Bones (feels great on their gums)
Nyla Bone Healthy Edibles (another life saver, hours of munching)
Pick these up at your local pet store, or the links above take you to Pet Food Direct (best pricing I've found for the Greenies!).

Training treats:
I've had wonderful success with Science Diet Chicken Puppy Treats. I tried both the rawhide, and the crunchy versions, and have much better success with the crunchy version. I break each little biscuit into about 10+ little pieces. He loves them!
You can pick these up from your vet, your local pet store or the link above.

Second Puppy Kindergarten - July 26, 2004
There was a bit of whining on the way to puppy kindergarten, and as I was talking to Sebastian I realized I was doing a Cary Grant imitation from "His Girl Friday" - 'you got enough air back there? You're sitting pretty'.

As soon as we got out of the car and went to the grass for some relief, we ran into Ruby (a breed I've never heard of before - Sheba-Inu - a Japanese breed - sweet & gracefully lovely) and he was ready for play. Same thing happened when we ran into Hannah. Upstairs we went to the class, off leash and he was into it with the big kids, with time out for an early poop pyramid. He hadn't eaten since 1, and we did that before we left home but the excitement just screams for a poop evidently. He really got into playing with the kids, but because the big kids are bigger, they rolled him pretty good and he came up limping. Jen checked him out & I leashed him for a rest, which he didn't want. He was so excited & wanted to get back into it, he peed on the floor. By the time I cleaned that up, the limp was gone & he was off leash - joyfully ramming & racing & rolling around with the rest of them.

Sebastian at Puppy Kindergarten

After the free-for-all, we did Pass The Puppy like last time. They were all a bit more rammy than last week as their fear diminished. There was one puppy, Jake, that wouldn't stop screaming 'puppy murder'. Jen put him on his back, held his mouth closed with her hands and kneeled over him & in loud lowered voice told him "no vocals". She explained this is similar to what a mother dog does when a pup misbehaves. When you do this when a pup is out of control, you have to also show your teeth, & the lowered voice imitates a growl. I did this with Sebastian this morning to emphasize "no bite" - I believe we'll be doing it for a bit for the message to get through. She did it with Jake at least 3 times during the course of Pass The Puppy.

We also had a section on teeth. We got a tooth brush and a little bit of 'malt' tooth paste. Sebastian liked it and was chomping away on it like crazy.

Then we had a 'test' on how well the dogs responded to their name. Jen took each dog to the opposite end of the room & the owner had to call the dog. Unlike last week, we passed with flying (or should I say bounding) colors. Sebastian just bounded to me and sat in front of me looking for his treat.

Then another free-for-all. He was into it, but more with the smaller dogs, although he got into a couple times with the big kids. He's very sweet with the littler dogs, especially Madison. He did have a bit of time with Emma, but Tome, the little Lab that looks like he's going to suit up for the Eagles, was on his case and we had to separate them. He wasn't crazy about getting that darn leash on to go home and leaving all his friends. A treat eased that and down the stairs we went.

My shy boy isn't so shy any more!

Third Puppy Kindergarten - August 2, 2004
Minimal whining on the way to class

We were first to arrive, quickly followed by Madelaine. The two of them got along as if they were long lost buddies. He was really good as we walked up the long drive to stop at the vet's office to make his followup appointment for later in the month. Thank goodness, he's losing more of his jumpiness about strange noises. Of course, all the women in the office tried to give him a big head by making a big deal of how cute he is :)

We went back to walk around outside and he got excited by every dog he saw and wanted to play. Such good progress from two weeks ago! We went up to class and he and Madelaine played off leash and as others showed up he was into with all of them. He still gets rolled pretty good by the bigger kids and tends to gravitate to the smaller dogs, whom he treats gently. The little scottie, Kirby had a thing for him this week. Kirby kept trying to hump Sebastian & wasn't particular about which end - very strange. Sebastian was gentle with him, but Sharon (the main instructor) kept telling Sebastian to nail Kirby for that behavior. He did a couple of times, but not enough for Sharon's taste. As always, during Free-For-All, we're supposed to ignore our own dog and just let them learn by mingling.

Sebastian at Puppy Kindergarten

Our first section was Name Calling, no, not stick-your-tongue-out name calling, but calling our dogs. Sebastian & I were picked to go first, and despite a quick nose touch with Madison he came bounding to me and sat looking for his treat. A majority of the class had trouble this week for some reason, dogs wandering everywhere but to their owners. They all did so well last week, maybe they didn't think they needed to keep practicing. Emma did well, and so did Madelaine, but the rest need to practice some more :) NDay was the real surprise, she usually goes right to her daddy (she's always jealous when he handles other dogs), but she was into greeting everyone else, which was actually good for her as she's getting less insecure.

While this was going on, Sharon went around with her camera to get head shots of all her canine students. My camera hound just sat and posed for her, not that he's used to having a camera in his face or anything :)

The next section was on nails. One of the reasons during Pass The Puppy (which we didn't do this week) they emphasize touching the dogs all over, especially the paws is to get them used to having their paws handled for nail clipping. Sharon & Jen went around to each of us, showing how to clip their nails & how far back to go based on the color of their nails, with emphasis on always checking the dew claw (that's the one part way up on their forelegs). Sebastian let Jen clip with some play involved. His nails aren't quite ready for clipping, but should be in a week or so.

The next section was human educational - don't leave them unsupervised even if they've been doing well (don't I know this!). The more comfortable they get in their environment, the more they're going to explore, hence the more they can destroy. Sharon told how she left Stella for just two minutes, and found Stella had taken her purse from the table, unzipped it, had the wallet out, credit cards scattered & a credit card in her mouth. She emphasized that she was lucky because Stella is not a destructive chewer, but to remember that not only are they getting comfortable, but they can reach more as they grow. A week ago, Stella couldn't have reached the purse. What I want to know is why she went right for the money??? :)

Of this I'm very aware with Sebastian, but, I do have to blink!! And he's fast, especially if I'm blinking :)

We were between Ruby & Madelaine during the two sessions and Sebastian got in plenty of play with both. Madelaine was a riot, jumping around and body slamming him in the nose, then they'd roll around together. He'd return the favor by wrestling her down, and holding her down with a paw. A puppy version of "Smack-Down"! He'd start talking to her whenever she was playing with Ruby & not him.

Then, another Free-For-All. Kirby wouldn't leave Sebastian alone again and Sharon kept telling him to nail Kirby which he did twice, but was mostly gentle with him and did his best to get involved with other dogs, but Kirby was a persistant little pain.

Next week we'll be dealing with ears & "talking poop" (should be interesting!) or as Sharon said "poop happens". All too frequently, I'm afraid!

Homework is to continue working with them on responding to their names, and the basic Sit & Down commands. I asked Sharon if it was too soon to sign up for the September obedience class and she said depending on how he finishes up kindergarten she may ask me to wait until the October class. Oh, no! He might be held back!! :) It's because of his age, actually. I think what I'll do though, if she thinks he needs to wait until October, is to take him to daycare once a week during September to continue his socialization so that we don't have any backsliding in that area.

He was tired at the end of class so no troubles putting the leash on and trotting down the stairs. Another dog was balking at going down the stairs and they were saying, "look, Sebastian's doing it". I think the part they forgot is that I was praising Sebastian the whole way, and even though a treat works wonders, so does praise :)

Speaking of treats, I picked up an armband ski-pass holder for storing treats. I wore it under my sleeve and it was perfect for use at the class.

Fourth Puppy Kindergarten - August 9, 2004
No whining on the way to class

We were first to arrive and very distracted from our pee/poop duties by dogs being picked up from the kennel. Sebastian made friends with a huge Lab, and then got very excited when Boomer showed up. He & Boomer had a ball romping around outside. He finally took the time for a quick pee and then he showed Boomer the way upstairs to school. He was in full sled dog mode going up the stairs for the first 3/4 of the way, then looked at me as if to say, "whew, this is more than I remember". In we went & once Boomer got there off leash for them both and the fun began.

This week he really did his best to romp with the bigger kids, although they're not so much bigger anymore. How he keeps any kind of coordination with his growth spurts is amazing to me. The little scotty, Kirby, tried his same routine as last week, humping Sebastian, but growing (in size and confidence) Sebastian nailed him quite a number of times and ran off to get in with the big kids. He was still very sweet with little Madison, who nailed Sebastian when he got a little too much for her. But, she kept following him.

Sebastian at Puppy Kindergarten

Then leashes on, and time to talk poop. Evidently, it is not uncommon when the seasons change for pups to get diarrhea. We're not to get crazed, but to back off on the food for a day, and substitute hamburger for them. If you keep feeding them, you fuel the diarrhea, then they get dehydrated & it's a trip to the vet.

Then we talked about the importance of flea/tick prevention. If the dog doesn't take to Frontline or similar on-skin protection, then the different collars available. Using flea/tick protection 12 months of the year is important, because any warm day during the winter, the ticks can come out. I didn't realize that by swallowing a flea, the dog can get tape worms. I hadn't known that's how tape worms got to be tape worms! Sebastian is on Frontline & we'll keep it that way.

Then we talked about spaying/neutering at the 6 month time frame, and the importance of taking the option to have blood work done prior to the procedure because some dogs don't react well to anesthesia. On rare occasions, dogs have died on the table in reaction to the anesthesia. Sharon also spoke of considering getting the pup microchipped at the same time. Sebastian was microchipped by the breeder (thank you, Jolene!) before I got him, so we're set on that.

Then we spoke of car riding. Only 3 of us in the class currently restrain the dogs in the car. This topic was of great interest to me, because I've used his small crate to transport him. He won't fit in it much longer, and I need a way to restrain him. I have visions of him wanting to 'see mom' and coming over the back seat while I'm driving. Thank goodness I now know, thanks to Sharon, they make a harness you put on the dog that standard seat belts will go through, so we'll be ordering that online today, along with the rubber backed blanket for the backseat. Sharon really pounded home the importance of restraining the dogs in the car, for your own safety & theirs. She sited several examples of tragic accidents where dogs went through windows or were crushed by collapsing car parts.

Then we did ears. Sharon put some ear cleaner in one ear of each dog, that we then had to 'scooch' and then get in there with a cotton ball. I messed up when she was doing Sebastian, in trying to distract him with a treat while she was behind him, I told him to sit and was so concentrated on distracting him that I gave him the treat before his butt hit the floor. So, I got a D- :) I'm usually very consistent in making sure his consequences to actions (good & bad) are the same, but I got busted on messing up this time! He was a royal pain while I tried cleaning out his ear, trying to nip my fingers, chomping on my arms. He got very rammy and just wanted to play with the kids. He was also very vocal talking about his wants during class, and I had to tell him "no vocals' quite a few times, and 'sit' many times during the discussion session.

Then, Name Calling again. Jake, JD, Emma, Madison & Sebastian were top of the class this week. JD is the hound dog, and is so funny because he seems to be in eternal slow motion. He went right to his daddy, in a manner of speaking - it takes a long time while he rythmically putters over - "hold your horses, I'ma gonna get there". Sharon quipped, "settle down, JD - we're going to have to get you a sedative". It was so cute. Little Jake did a fast trot right to his daddy and sweet Emma went straight to her mommy as did Madison. Sebastian did his usual fast bounding over to me. (This picture from the backyard is typical of what he looks like when I call him:
Sebastian coming to his name
After the class, Grace's (the little boxer) mom asked me what I do because Sebastian always comes when I call. I told her he gets treated between 10 & 20 times a day when he responds to his name, Sharon was in earshot & said, it has to be done every day, all day, no letup. Whew, at least I got an A+ in this section!

Sharon showed us the 'gentle leader' she uses on Stella for walking her. She said that dogs lead with their head and this helps them not pull while walking. It is similar to a halter for a horse. It also lets them know it's all business, because there's a strap around their muzzle. She said that she walks Stella two miles daily. The first 3/4 with the gentle leader, and the final 1/4 without for the 'sniff walk', so Stella can get the news about what's been happening in her neighborhood :)

Then, another Free-For-All. Again, Sebastian was in with the big kids. Boy, was I proud of him, because he's come so far in 4 weeks from the 'shy boy at the dance', hugging the wall to getting right into the action. His body language was very much "let me in there now kids, I'm playing too". We were almost the last to leave, because I wanted him to have as much time with the other pups as possible.

Good news! Sharon said he is ready for her basic obedience class in September, that she's very pleased with how he's come out of his shell, and can't believe how fast he's growing. I told her it's the crate - I feed him, put him in there, add a little water and a few hours later the "easy bake oven" has him bigger :)

Oh, no poop pyramids by Sebastian at this class! He did eat in the afternoon, but evidently had more important things to do at class :) "Outta my way, mom, I'm playing with my friends"

Next week is graduation!

Fifth Puppy Kindergarten & Graduation - August 16, 2004
No whining on the way to class, after a fuss about getting in the car.

We were first to arrive and were quickly joined by Madelaine, Boomer and Ruby. Lots of outside play and then full sled-dog mode to show me the way up to class and fun with his pals. Once he was off-leash, I realized that he's one of the big kids now. He was half Hannah's size the first week and he's bigger than her now. Oh, was he really into the Free For All this week, as the photos show. Kirby immediately tried his usual routine with Sebastian and got nailed every time, and then Sebastian was off running with the other big kids. He took time out for some play with little Madison and Madelaine, both of whom he's always liked. Despite looming over them, he's still gentle with the little kids. Sharon's assistant, Jen (Hannah's mom) missed last week and couldn't get over how big he got in two weeks. We had a nice long Free-For-All, greatly enjoyed by the pups.

Sebastian Graduation Free For All

Sebastian Graduation Free For All

Then leashes on and Graduation Name Calling. Little Madison started us off, and set the tone for success for everyone. This week everyone did great. Obviously, everyone worked with their pups in preparation for graduation. Of course, we needed to clear out for JD and give him room because he can get so rammy - NOT!! He did his slow motion putter to his daddy, which was close to break-neck speed for him. Once Sebastian bounded to me, we got our official Graduation Certificate, which is just too darn cute. His photo is on it, framed showing a little graduation cap on his head.

Sebastian Graduation Certificate

Then we had time for questions. I asked what I can do in addition to walking away from Sebastian when he ignores "no bite" and keeps nipping. Sharon told me to give him a time-out in the crate, with perhaps a treat & a toy. Let him out after 5 minutes, but not make a big deal when I let him out or he'll get cranked up again. Thank goodness, he loves his crate and goes in when I say "In". I also asked about the gentle leader, did it need to be specifically sized for the dog? She said that Sebastian will need a medium now and end up with a large. That's on tap for purchase this week.

One of the vets is giving a First-Aid class, that Sharon highly recommended. The class educates owners in handling emergency & injury situations, and to me very important, in how to handle your dog when he's injured without getting injured yourself. We've got an appointment for a check-up this week and I'll get us signed up for this.

Then, a class photo and a final Free-For-All. Wow, was Sebastian into it. Timid and shy, are two words that would never describe him now, he's just bursting with confidence. We were almost the last to leave, giving him as much time with the other pups as possible. My side benefit was that he crashed almost instantly when we got home.

Sebastian Graduation Final Free For All

Many of his friends from kindergarten are also going to be in the basic obedience class coming up next month, so he will see them again there and at the puppy "early Halloween" party next month. He's already got a mask, so maybe I'll just get him a cowboy hat and he can be the Lone Ranger. :)

Epilogue: we went to the puppy party, which turned out to be part of a large community day event. He was doing well adjusting to and accepting his safety harness so I didn't try to get him to accept something frivolous like a hat at this point. There will be other costume events, I'm sure :) Sebastian was so far from shy, it was great. He loves watching planes, so the one circling the event was no big deal. But how about that helicopter? Nope, no biggy. Multiple bands playing, lots of people, other dogs - any problems? Nope! The only issue was being right next to a firetruck when it backfired, and that did startle him.


10 month old Sebastian - down/stay with hand signals only
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Hudsons Malamutes - my breeder of choice

My Mals
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