Yes, it’s true. Andy has his own instagram account where we lovingly post photos of everything he does. If you’re interested in that sort of thing, he can be found @AndyTheWheaten
Prepare for a cuteness overload. Consider yourself warned.
If you have a wheaten you know they’re a bouncy bunch of little furry savages. You walk in the door from work and your little snuggle poo jumps on you like you’re wearing a bacon suit. This is super cute and you probably get down on the floor with him and roll around getting licked and pawed all over. This is all types of fun until your little wheaten begins to think that this is how he should be greeting everybody. The truth is, you’re special to him, but he will still get excited to see other people too. And we don’t want our wheaten jumping on everybody he sees. Not only is it unpleasant for those of use who don’t love dogs, but it can be dangerous when our 40 pound wheaten terrier decides to wheaten greet a 3 year old toddler. Not good. I know from experience. The only way to keep your wheaten from jumping on people is to teach him that that behavior elicits no response from you. If you do that continually he will move on to more exciting things and ignore the urge to jump up. Below is a quick video of Andy in class with the instructor giving him some gentle nudges as he jumps. Notice how he no longer wants to hop up on him after round 1?
Ok, we’re terrible puppy parents. Maybe I’m being a little hard on us, but Andy was matted, badly. He was matted so badly in fact that the groomer did this to him. Oh the humanity. The groomer explained to us that she had to get beneath the mattes in order to fully disentangle our poor wheaten from his balled up tangled fur. Poor guy. Lesson learned. We had been combing him out a couple times a week, but as his hair got longer that proved to be grossly inadequate. We picked up this matte specific comb:
I’ll throw up a review after we’ve put it through its paces. The reviews on Amazon are awesome and it was pretty cheap, so nothing to lose really. In the mean time, Andy will be spending the remainder of the Fall and beginning of Winter with no real coat to speak of. On a positive note he has been much more snuggly at night which is always a nice little bonus. Even if he is just using us for our body heat.
Obviously this is a baby picture of the fury. The adult ones are no less stinky and come with significantly more heft. I know, Andy shouldn’t be pooping in the house at this age. It really is a relative rarity, but once is really way too much for this type of behavior. We had a crappy (yeah i did it) plastic gate that we slid between the balusters since Andy was a puppy. It was annoying, an eye sore and generally stunk (now I’m just celebrating it). So I decided that I would channel my inner Ty Pennington and build a less obnoxious gate that would match our stairway. So here we have it:
Now don’t be fooled, it looks much better in this photo than in real life. But you get the idea. Moderately simple project, major impact. Of course, Andy is on the wrong side of the gate in the picture. I wasn’t surprised. And you shouldn’t be either. He’s a wheaten, whose nickname given by his maternal grandfather, Houdini, fits him perfectly. That’s my boy.
Anyone who owns a wheaten terrier knows that they can be a bit on the excitable side. Andy is certainly no different. We have tried our best to make our routine comings and goings just that, routine, but he still goes nuts when we get home and cries when we leave. This really isn’t a big deal for us. In fact, my wife and I get a real kick out of him when he does his little wheaten greetin’ any time we get home. The issue of course is that other people may not be so happy to have a 40 pound terrier bouncing up on them. To be honest, I think people that don’t like cute little wheatens jumping on them need an attitude adjustment but I digress.
Andy will be attending Golden Grange Kennels “Basic Obedience I” class. It’s a parent student kind of thing from what I gather. When I brought Andy’s paperwork in the owner of the kennel looked down, saw wheaten terrier next the breed and notably exhaled exclaiming “oh boy.” I’m wondering if this is a good idea. I guess we will find out.
Update – 9/20/13
Andy’s matriculation at the esteemed Golden Grange Kennels has been going quite well actually. My wife and I were a bit skeptical given the fact that our little wheaten is so independent, however he has taken quite well to the course instruction thus far.
Class 1: We showed up (5 minutes late of course) walked Andy in the door and at the sight of the other 10 or so pups he started pulling so hard he was walking on his back feet. Awesome. Of course everyone was looking at us like we were the crew from Animal House walking into the bar to see Otis Day & the Knights (You mind if we dance with yo dates?). After a brief introduction the instructor began by demonstrating the first command, “Look” with his ultra-obedient Golden Retriever. The look command is the bedrock of the training regimen. Andy has actually picked this up extremely well. He is a quick learner, but is also easily distracted. It’s a constant struggle when in class to keep Andy focused on the task at hand (our task) vs. his task at hand (attempting to goad the other dogs into playing with him). We have generally prevailed, but not always.
Classes 2 thru 6: Andy learned a number of commands throughout this training class. We were taught the following: Sit, Stay, Look, Down, Stand, Leave It and Collar. We found Andy to be really receptive to the sit command, as we had worked on this one with him since puppyhood. We did however realize that we taught him the Paw command, which apparently was a terrible idea. The instructor told us that now every time he wants something he will start pawing at us. Which he does. A lot. We think it’s the cutest thing ever though so no biggy. At home Andy is a training machine. He sits, lays down and stands almost on command. We still have trouble with the stay while sitting command, because he’s a Wheaten and wheatens just don’t like to stay still. He stays better when he is in the down position for whatever reason, but it’s still not dependable. The look command has come in handy. It works well in getting his attention when he is otherwise occupied.
Class 7: Andy graduated! This little crazy wheaten is the proud owner of a diploma from “Basic Obedience” class. Good for him. Great for us. His success is really up to us in the end. He does not and can not practice these commands on his own. The more time we put into his training the better he got. We will be signing him up for the next class offered at the Golden Grange kennel. Great place, great owner. Fun time.
I hate to say it, being his dad and all, but we have decided finally to neuter the poor guy. As anyone who owns a wheaten knows, they can be aggressive (in a fun way) and the neutering is supposed to reduce that urge somewhat. Andy really hasn’t shown any noticeable aggression that would worry us. However, after speaking with the vet and doing a bunch of research, we have decided to go through with it. I hate the idea of the little guy going under the knife, but I’m confident that given the routine nature of the procedure that he will be ok. My wife of course is concerned that his personality will change post surgery. I am also a bit worried about this because he has such a charming and loving disposition. I will be sure to report back on how his little wheaten brain reacts to the loss of his little man parts. As you can see, he has no idea what’s coming. Poor little guy.
Update: Andy is now a neutered dude. He’s hanging in there. Guy is actually behaving really well given the circumstances. He has about 6 stitches and is dying to lick/bite the area. Luckily the lamp shade he has on his head has kept him from getting anywhere near the area.
Also, his attitude hasn’t changed a bit. Still the same old rambunctious dog that he was before all of this. I guess we’ll see what happens over time, but for now he hasn’t changed a bit.
Update update: Andy is now about 6 weeks out from his surgery and all looks good. He did have a little issue with his body rejecting the dissolvable stitches which required his return to the vet for a checkup on the area. He is still crazy, so no worries there.
Our little furry wheaten man turned 17 weeks old this past Friday. No parties or anything, but I might have snuck him an extra treat or two. Shh, don’t tell the wife.
First, let’s talk about Andy’s teeth. Little man has been losing teeth at a pretty rapid pace. All of his baby bottom front teeth have been replaced by noticeably less sharp adult teeth. This is good news for our hands. He has lost at least a couple of teeth on the top front row as well. We haven’t noticed any change to his back teeth or K-9′s. We’re pretty excited for the puppy K-9′s to take a hike given their needle like sharpness. Guessing this will happen soon.
The biting situation: At 16 weeks Andy’s biting subsided significantly. His 17th week saw a little bit of regression here. The teething I’m sure has a lot to do with it, but he has been mouthing more than we would like. What we’ve been doing here is giving the little man some Antler Bones to chew on each time he starts biting. These bones are apparently really good for their teeth etc. Kind of pricey, but worth a shot. Spoiled Wheaten Terrier alert. He’s a brat when it comes to bones, he always tries to get us to hold the bone for him while he chews it. Way too much work negotiating that on his own I guess. He does not bite anywhere near the face anymore however, which was a problem a few weeks back. This is good news.
Walks: He is getting much better on the leash. He understands that walks are fun and is doing less leash biting and more walking.
The tapeworms: are all gone, thank goodness. Things were gross. To be honest, after the first time we saw them, they never showed up again in any subsequent bowel movement. I’m starting to wonder if we were seeing things, but better safe than sorry on this one for sure. He took his last pill this Sunday and hopefully we can wash our hands of that little crisis. We caught him eating deer feces in the backyard the other day so we’re thinking that’s where he may have contracted them from. I think Wheatens are intelligent dogs, but sometimes Andy gives me cause for concern…
Housebreaking: We live in New Jersey and it’s been an unusually cold couple of weeks. We have a stake that we screwed into the ground and attached a 25 foot lead to in the backyard. We have been putting Andy out on that periodically when he should have to “go” and he has been great with it. We used to stand out there and freeze trying to get him to focus on going to the bathroom. This works much better. He’s gotten to the point where we put him on the lead and he goes to his area and does his business then bounds up the steps waiting to come in. He gets a treat of course each time he successfully completes his task so he is always eager to come inside. The past month or so have unfortunately left us with some yellow stains on the carpet however. We used Nature’s Miracle No More Marking to clean up the stains and he hasn’t returned to those spots since. Link below. I’d give it a shot, as Andy seemed to keep going back to the same spots over and over.
Andy will be 4 months old this Friday. Our little wheaten is growing up. Fast. My wife and I were playing with him last night and noticed that he was missing a couple of his front teeth. He looks hilarious. We’re interested to see how this teething process goes. His mouthing has subsided considerably over the past week or so. It seemed like he was finally over the teething process. I fully expect there to be a restart now as his big boy teeth come in.
I’ll tell you what though, we’ll be happy to see those little needle teeth give way to his adult teeth. They are sneaky sharp.
As far as Andy’s housebreaking is concerned, he is coming along nicely. Of course, he still has a few areas of the home where he likes to make potty, but we have become much better at keying in on the signs that he has to go. This is really important for anyone with a new soft coated wheaten terrier in their home. Pay attention to your puppy’s actions at all times. Do your best to correlate his actions with future acts. We now can see him sniff the floor in a certain manner and immediately realize he has to relieve himself. When he needs to make #2, his sniffing is combined with his tail standing on end. Gotta clear the runway I guess.
Andy now has full command of “Sit” and “Give Paw.” If he is rowdy, we can ask him to sit and he will do it 90% of the time. Which is awesome. He shakes hands well, but often likes to give us both at once in an effort to get his treat faster. My wife worked with him this week to slow the process down into separate commands. This has worked wonderfully. He still doesn’t respond consistently to “Come” but Wesley, my wife’s family’s wheaten never really did either. I think that’s just a wheaten terrier stubbornness thing. We’ll keep working on that one.
I almost forgot, Andy is a great guard dog! Our alarm went off last night and as soon as he heard it he sprung out of bed, and dashed towards the bedroom door growling and barking. The alarm goes off every time we walk in the house, so it’s not as if it is a foreign sound. It wasn’t blaring, it was just doing the steady beep thing. But I guess something in his little wheaten terrier brain told him this shouldn’t be happening now, at this time and he went into full family protect mode. Cute. And his bark is pretty manly for a 16 lb. little monster.
Other than that, things are great. We need to make it a point to socialize him with other dogs in the coming weeks. We took him to PetSmart and he smacked a Pit Bull in the head. Not advisable. We learned of a fenced in dog park not far from our home, so we’ll be trying that out soon.
Everybody thinks their dog is smart. But how does one truly define intelligence when it comes to a canine? There are websites all over the place that rank breed intelligence, and the soft coated wheaten terriers come in somewhere in the 40′s. 40th?! Yes, according to most sites there are 39 breeds smarter than the wheaten terrier. However, let’s look a little deeper into the ranking methodology used in determining which breed ranks where. The overwhelming majority of rankings use command response repetitions as a major determining factor. For instance, one site that ranks the Wheatens 40th exactly notes that they typically require 25-40 repetitions to learn a “new command.” This begs the question however, does the mastery of commands define intelligence?
In humans, we define intelligence based on one’s ability to solve problems. Whether they be math problems, or real world problems, this is how we define “smart.” Commands require a reactive and repetitive type of intelligence. Acquiring a bunch of commands that your dog can respond to is great, but those things are built into the dog’s subconscious when young. Ever hear the term “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks,” ? It didn’t stick because it was patently false. Puppy brains are sponges, and the commands learned while young are seared into the subconscious mind of the adult dog. Wheatens are no different. Andy learned very quickly, in a day or two, how to Sit and Give Paw. Lie down took a bit longer, maybe another couple of days to master. Ok, so he can react to a word and a treat. Great. He’s a genious! Not so fast. How does he reason? How does he solve problems?
I firmly believe that the wheaten terrier is a very intelligent breed. They aren’t great “reactors” when it comes to commands because the commands may interfere with whatever they have planned. Other breeds may show greater obedience, but I see this as a lack of unique thought, which allows the dog to simply wait for a command before he takes action. The wheaten takes action on his own first and reacts to commands second. This is an important distinction. When I ask Andy to “come here” it’s a 50/50 proposition. If he is on a mission to get into or over something, the command will go unanswered. If not and he thinks I may have food or something he wants, boom, he’s at my hip. There was thought involved. A conscious decision whether to obey or ignore. Interesting.
I am not one to laud someone for undeserved achievement. Andy is an amazing problem solver. He really is. Here is a small example of what I mean. Andy loves to be on our bed. Bad habit, I know. The other night he was not on his best behavior so we decided to let him sleep on his bed for the night. It is memory foam and super comfy, but we felt this was a good punishment. Our bed is about 30 inches off the ground, too high for a 13 week old wheaten puppy to reach without help. Andy nudged his bed over next to ours, then used it as a stepping stone to reach our bed in a single leap. He defined the problem, improvised a solution, and executed. That’s more than most people I know could handle. So are wheaten terriers smart? I’d say so. They may not obey every command, but they reason. And that is how I define intelligence. Have a story of wheaten terrier intelligence, share it below!