Cavalier (or Any Other Breed) Query: Should a Puppy Have This Many Teeth?

This post was supposed to be about Maizey’s eyes, but that is a subject with too many big words for me today. Crazymomlady has a crazy cold and is generally just dragging.

Instead I am begging the wisdom of you’re expertise. . . again.

I have been watching for Magnus big boy teeth to come in.

"I don't have too many teeth, do I?"

Watching. . .

And watching. . .

Every day checking if his sharp little shark teeth were starting to fall out.

Then today I did our daily check and. . .

Ackk! He has two sets of teeth! Almost all his grownup teeth are coming in! One set of teeth was plenty on Magnus the Destroyer, two is just overkill.

So the query: How do you help a puppy through teething time?

I seem to remember that Maizey’s teeth just fell out on their own. I even remember one that fell out in my hand. I wish I had been blogging back then so I had better records. But what I don’t remember is all of her teeth coming in at once before her other teeth fell out.

I am also worried that if his baby teeth don’t fall out then his bite will get messed up. Cavaliers tend to have bad teeth already and a messed up bite can cause more problems.

Magnus eats out of Kongs, sometimes frozen, sometimes not. They get about one marrow bone a week. He eats out of those too. They get Bully’s to chew and right now we have beef trachea, the chewie from the heavens.

"I think all my teeths are cool!"

He has ropes and tugs,some made out of fleece, one out of sisal twine, which he loves. Occassionally they get a rawhide. Right now they have been getting frozen and dried yam chews, another gift from the dog treat gods.

So what else can I do to help this process along? How do you keep your pups comfy when all their teeth come in at once? That just can’t feel good. Do you have a chewy that works the best for teething?

While we are on the subject of teeth how about keeping the big boy, or girl, teeth clean for life? What are your tricks of the trade for that?

Magnus thinks having two sets of teeth would be great, but I’m not so thrilled with the idea so please please chime in with whatever comes to mind!


Puppy Socialization Deadlines

Magnus turned 16 weeks old today. So, according to some, the critical window for socialization is closed. I think of this as the “your puppy will turn into a pumpkin” school of thought.

Thankfully I didn’t wake up to a big round pumpkin this morning!

“I’m not a pumpkin! I’m just the color of pumpkin!”

Of course just because the critical window may be closing doesn’t mean his socialization stops. Instead it is even more vital that his new experiences stay positive. How to do this?

I asked our puppy class instructor and she suggested to up the value of treats. That got me thinking about other reinforcement skills. Along with treat value, reinforcement rate seems important. Also varying the type of reinforcement, for Magnus this mean lots of play time, tug, and toys. Who knows, I may have to take to carrying a stick in my pocket!

So we still have big plans ahead. But I did place the 16 weeks deadline on myself to see what we could accomplish according to the rule of twelves.

The results? You will have to check out his social puppy list to see everything we packed in, but in summary he:

  • Met 60 new people plus two occasions of crowds of 20 or more
  • Had 27 unique experiences or locations
  • Played with 28 puppies or safe adult dogs
  • Experienced 17 different surfaces
  • Played with 22 different objects
  • Exposed to 9 different fast-moving objects
  • Exposed to 24 different noises
  • Ate out of 18 different containers
  • Ate at 7 different locations

Overall I am very pleased with everything we accomplished in just seven weeks. The obvious areas of lack are the fast-moving objects and eating in different locations. Although if you count eating treats then he has eaten everywhere he has ever been!

Socialization is vital to our 4legged friends. Our puppy class instructor pointed out that everything else we want our dogs to learn can be learned after their socialization period ends. Obedience, manners, sports, and tricks are all things we spend a life time learning. Socialization also never ends, but the experiences our pups have in their formative weeks of life are an invaluable foundation for them to use for all those other skills.

This socialization has not only taught Magnus to be more confident and stable, it is teaching me a lot about Magnus. I get to see things he was scared of, things I thought he would be afraid of that he isn’t. I am learning about puppy language in play and how to protect Magnus from getting overwhelmed like Maizey did. He is teaching me so much!


Puppy Class #1: Lessons Learned

After covering the general scoop on puppy class I realized my favorite lessons were in the silences.

Silence in a puppy class? Well, not literal silence of course! You can’t put nine puppy’s in a room and expect quiet! But instruction ebbs and flows as the trainers give directions and then the class works on following them. It was in these times of less formal instruction that I really gleaned the benefit of puppy class.

Mat Work
Take for instance the simple act of sitting in a chair with about 3 feet between you and the next dog/handler team. We were next to the GSD, who thought we were about as interesting as sand. Magnus on the other hand was sure they should be best friends. He expressed that conviction by straining at the end of his leash and whining at her in his best, “I’m a nice boy com’on let’s play!” voice.

Due to our rousing mat work success the night before I thought, “if I had his mat he would settle right on it.” So I asked, “next week can I bring his mat?”

Of course that would be fine, but “would you like a mat now?”

Of course I would!

So one of the trainers brought me a little rug.


Down he went into a park it. I was very proud, and relieved, now I could concentrate! Lesson learned. Mats go everywhere until he generalizes mat work to other objects.

Play Time
Playtime is structured so there is one instructor with the small dogs and one with the large dogs. Everyone takes their dogs on leash to the right area and then are directed to release them at the same time. This is to avoid any on leash aggression.

The puppy’s romp and play and then at random intervals they cue us to “gotcha” your pup. This means collar grab, treat, perhaps ask for a sit or down, then release with, “go play.”

It is amazing how much you can learn from such a simple task. Since Magnus is the best at playing the “keep away from mom” game, this was a great skill for us and one we have been practicing at home this week.

Here’s where it got dicey, for me, not him, of course. Because I wasn’t there when they started playing this I wasn’t prepared for them to cue us to “gotcha” someone elses puppy. So when she said that, I was a little nervous. But it was okay, they had done a good job of letting everyone know what to do when they approached a pup and the people acted appropriately.

Magnus response? “Oh you have a treat? Sweet! Do you have a stick? I like sticks!

At the end of the class they put on some relaxing music and had every one start handling their dogs. This was just too much for Magnus, who doesn’t love handled unless he wants it!

Most of the dogs in the class were done working at that point. I looked around and the Golden was literally upside down, cradled in his dad’s lap. Our little Shih Tzu buddy was laid out flat on the ground, ready for nap. Alvin the Chihuahua was curled up in his Mom’s arms, completely content. So I look down at my sweet, little, fluffy boy. . .

Who performs a perfect sit, and watches me with his best look of, “What next crazymomlady? Aren’t we going to work more?”

I had to laugh. . . and sigh all at once. So I got on his mat with him and started touch/treat, touch/treat. Magnus’ response?

“MOM! I don’t want to hold still! How ’bout a sit? No? How ’bout a down, or a nose touch, a paw touch? Awe, heck how ’bout I just wiggle, wiggle, wiggle!”

Not so much laughing at that point as sighing.

But again one of the trainers came to my rescue. She was able to get him cradled in her arms by marking signs of relaxing with a yes and treating him. He still looked wiggly to me, but I trusted her to mark the relaxing that could only be felt and not seen. Since then he has made good progress.

"Do I look like a boy that can't hold still?"

I was very proud of him, and of me. We had fun, learned a lot and are looking forward to next week. And I have all of your wonderful suggestions and encouragement to thank for it!


How To Prepare For Puppy Class

So after all of your wonderful encouragement I enrolled Magnus in Puppy Prep.

This class seems to meet all of my requirements for a puppy class.

The list was:

  • All positive based instruction preferably using the clicker.
  • Strictly supervised play time, with dogs that were similar size to him.
  • Small class size, not more than eight dogs.
  • An environment that I was comfortable and could learn in.
  • Instructors with experience in spotting fear issues (Both mine and his.)
  • Instructors that would not take issue with my training a skill using my method, not theirs.

How Puppy Prep Measures up
The Calling All Dog’s program claims to be “the first (and only) positive reinforcement dog training facility” in the area. Though the puppy class is not specifically a clicker class the instructor, Nicole, does not mind if I use the clicker. I felt her reasoning, that most people in our area are not familiar with positive methods and are intimidated by a clicker, was fairly accurate to what I too have observed.

The class is 8 dogs under 18 weeks. Four are small dogs and one is a Cavalier, which I admit, I am excited about. Each class has an instructor and an assistant.

At play time the small dogs are put in a sturdy x-pen with the bigger dogs separate. (The x-pen at Maizey’s class was so close to falling over that it was as much of a danger to her as the other dogs were.) However, at the class I observed there was a very mild, beautiful Husky they allowed in briefly to play with the small dogs. Each group of dogs has their own instructor during play time so it was closely supervised.

My Concerns
Of course being me I still have concerns. The main one being, ME. (Insert my own eyes rolling here.) I am such an introvert, I don’t like crowds and to me the 8-16 people that will be there is a crowd. One reason I joined the puppy class was for my “socialization”. I know that to help Maizey I need to be more relaxed myself, and I think the puppy class environment, where I already know much of the info, may give me that opportunity.

Another concern is the fact that they have already done two of the six classes offered. Based on knowing me and meeting Magnus last week, the instructor isnt’ worried about us knowing the info. And I have the option to make up the classes in November when the next class starts. She felt joining late was the better option since over 50% of the dogs in that class are much larger than Magnus and we would both would worry about him playing with them.

Preparations and Conclusions
Now I am left with the next couple days to prepare. Treats, and I am sure a new treat bag are absolutely critical to have! (Insert mehusbandy’s eyes rolling here.) Practice of the skills Magnus knows and his vaccination record is also on the to do list.

But once again I beg the benefit of your expertise! What do you do to be prepared for puppy’s first class? I read a lot of your agility blogs and you talk about calming ring nerves, well I think I need to calm my class nerves! Any suggestions for that?

I know you all have much experience to share and I look forward to hearing it!


The Issue of Puppy Class

I know I have mentioned before that I feel puppy class was one cause of many of Maizey’s reactive issues. And since I think I can teach the basic puppy class skills at home I thought I could focus on socialization enough that I wasn’t going to take Magnus to a puppy class.

I really feel like dog classes should be about training humans to train dogs. So while I can think of masses of things that a class could teach me, I am not so sure puppy class is the one that I have the most to learn from.

Much of puppy class is about socialization and play time is part of that. But I am terrified of play time now, it did Maizey so much damage. So depending on what puppies were in the class there is a chance I would not even let him do the play time part. Plus I do feel I am giving him enough play time with other dogs that play time is not that critical.

Unfortunately as much as none of us wants it to be a consideration funds are an issue. I have only so many dollars to spend on the dogs and I want them to go to the best purpose possible.

So with all that in mind I thought my mind was made up. But then I read about Henry’s first puppy class and it got me thinking. Am I depriving Magnus of a valuable learning experience?

There is no doubt in my mind Henry is getting the possible education at home. Better than my pups get by a long ways! But the lessons Henry learned at his first puppy class are some that I am not sure I am providing Magnus.

There is such value in a dog learning HOW to learn in that busy environment. Is there ways I can provide this at home? Maybe. I can do more formal learning on our socialization outings. But is that enough?

And so the questions continue!

What about you? Did you do a puppy class? What benefits did you feel it provided for your 4legged puppy? What benefit did you find for yourself as handler? What would you recommend in looking for a new puppy class? Are you pro puppy class or do you feel you can provide similar lessons at home? If you do, how?

Please lend me the value of your experience so I can quit feeling indecisive! (Oh ya and if not for me then please do so for Magnus, he is already handlercapped as it is!)


Warning: The Following Post Contains References To Puppy Bodily Fluids

What do these pictures have to do with an excess of Magnus bodily fluids?

Well after a weekend of every 30 minutes running for the back yard to keep some semblance of house training going, getting IN the puppy pen seemed the simplest way to hand feed brown rice and puppy food and still contain the potential mess.

Potential mess from what? The inevitable disaster that results from a 12 week old Magnus having Giardia and Coccidia.

Gia. . . Coccidi. . . What!?! Parasites. And the short version of the story? Parasites are bad!

The good news? After five days of Panacur we rechecked stool samples and he is officially parasite free. The bad news? On the way home from the vet he threw-up all over his carrier from a “build up of harmful bacteria in the intestines, due to a lengthy bout of giardia and coccidia induced diarrhea.” Lovely huh?

So after seven more days of Metronidazole he should be good as. . . new? Hopefully better than new since he most likely picked this up at the puppy mill and has always had it. Poor boy!

The other good news is that despite not retaining any food actually in his body (or so it seemed to me as I clean up after him) he has gained 1.07lbs. To bring him up to a whopping 5.07 pounds.

In summary: parasites-bad, puking-bad, and stool samples? Not fun either! Except that it is good for some comic relief when you carry a baggy of poop into the vet and the receptionist says in her oh so sweet voicee, “Is that your stool sample?”

Of course I reply, “Well not MY stool sample, but it is Magnus’”

To which the Beagle toting lady next to me in line starts retching and says, “EEEW that is just too much for me I could never do that!”

And then the receptionist makes it even better when she says, “Yeah, the vets office is probably the only place that it’s okay to keep poop in the refrigerator!”

Of course I start laughing, I mean I am in serious need of some comic relief and sympathy at this point. The Beagle toting lady? Just more retching.

Ah well I guess stories of bodily fluid aren’t for everyone!



Gratitude For Friendship

"You know little buddy, you're alright!"

Recently on Reactive Champion Crystal, had a masterful post called, What to Do After a Stressful Event. It recapped some great strategies for helping a reactive pup recover from a triggering event.

Reading this post made me much more cognizant of watching my Maizey’s stress level, and giving her lots of rest to help her adjust after bringing Magnus into the family. I did as Crystal suggested and kept up normal training, but I rested her from walks and big outings to avoid any further triggers.

Last night we took our first “family” outing to grandma’s house. (The safest environment I could think of, as Maizey spends much time there.) Even just in the car on the way Maizey was quite stressed. She was on high alert and wouldn’t settle down even though I was holding her. I could see what Crystal referred to about residual stress appearing in the form of being stressed at things that normally wouldn’t bother her. In the past I may have taken her home when I saw that behavior, but I wanted to see how she could manage in a safe controlled environment.

"Look out Maizeymay! Here comes SUPER MAGNUS!"

I am thrilled to report that with in 5 minutes of being there Maizey was playing and relaxed. She got the zoomies (stress or just joy motivated I don’t know) but, soon after that she and Magnus were playing chase all around the yard. Then Charley got in on the game, and it was just a blast! Soon they were all sprawled out on the grass panting and tired.

I can’t say for sure if this a sign of good things to come with Maizey’s reactivity, I will have to wait and see. As I have said before I know it is common for one dog to learn reactivity from another and hopefully I can continue to take enough steps to prevent or at least minimize that.

"Okay little dude, watch the personal space."

One thing I know for sure is I love to see my “young lady”, as Priscilla recently reminded me she is, playing in ways she never has before. She is now initiating tug and chase games, learning how to speak up in appropriate ways for her valued items, and even just showing interest in toys she never has before. All things that I feel are to her benefit in gaining confidence.

So I hope this trend continues, and in the words of the famous Susan Garrett, “today I am grateful for” having both my 4legged friends be friends with one another and snuggling me together as I type this.