Andy Gets an Electric Fence

Anyone who owns a wheaten terrier understands that these little monsters love to run. We have deliberated for some time now on the best way to allow Andy the freedom he deserves.  Of course, we were adverse to the idea of shocking our poor l

AndyCuteittle baby with a barbaric electric fence.  I had the bright idea of creating a zip line more or less from the back of the house out to the end of the property line.  My wife, and everyone else I proposed this plan to told me how horrible of an idea it was.  Visions of the landscaper clothes lining himself while mowing the lawn danced through their heads.  Whatever.  So we called the folks over at Kane’s Containment who are an Invisible Fence dealer.  Tom is the owner and dealt with us directly.  He described the fence’s implementation in detail and put my fears to rest.  Apparently the collars of old were more of a binary zapping unit.  Either the dog was firm grip on a power line or not.  Cross the line and watch out, furball.  The units they install now have a method through which they can control zap intensity.  Ok, i’m in.  Andy needs to run/hunt/move/shake.  He’s a soft coated wheaten terrier, so that goes without saying.

So the fence went in last Friday.  Training started Saturday at noon.  Tom and his team installed flags around the inside of the fence’s perimeter.  Our job was to walk Andy around the perimeter of the flags and pull him into the fence.  As he nears the flags his collar beeps at him.  We yell for him to get back.  Then we praise him wildly for being such a great listener.  The collar was not doing any shocking at this point.  This exercise was recommended two to three times daily for a week or so.  We did this pretty religiously and Andy did a fairly good job of staying away from the flags.

Next step, a little shock therapy.  Time to crank it up a bit on the dude.  Tom put a nice long black leash on him and led him right through the fence.  A couple squeaks later and he was laying on the ground, refusing to move.  Andy was pissed.  That was yesterday, so we’ll see how that training goes moving forward.  He was much more hesitant at the sound of the beeps after his first meeting with the neck shock.  We’ll see how he progresses, but he really seems to be picking up on it quickly.  Not too bad for a stubborn lil wheaten.


Week 16 Update: Andy Lost Some Baby Teeth!

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.

Are Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers Smart?

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!

Wheaten Terrier Socks

I just thought these were really cute.  When I found them online I was actually looking for socks to put ON Andy, not socks to put on people.  Wheaten clothing is just so funny to me.  The soft coated wheaten terrier community I find to be full of pride, which is awesome.  But socks? With wheaten faces?  Sounds silly, but to a wheaten owner it is par for the course.  I don’t know if it’s the relative rarity of the wheaten terrier breed that brings out this prideful exuberance, or their ultra unique personalities, but whatever it is I’m glad that I am a part of it.  Andy has definitely changed my life in ways that I can’t even begin to describe.  He has only been a part of our family for five weeks, but he has already made his mark.  Many fun years ahead.
I’m still in search of a pair (is it called a pair when you’re looking for 4?)  of socks for Andy.  He comes in after his walks and makes an absolute mess of our hardwood floors.  Not that we didn’t expect this, but a solution would be welcomed. I’m thinking socks with little grippers on the bottom similar to his paw pads.  Ideally they would help keep the home a bit cleaner, but let’s be serious, he’s a wheaten, and there is no way he’s leaving socks on his feet.  If I find them I’ll probably give it a shot though.  Can’t hurt to try.  Anyone have any luck with something similar?


Tapeworms in Dogs

Yesterday we noticed that there were small, white rice like worms in Andy’s number 2.  Not good.  My wife nearly lost it.  We got him to the vet today and found out that Andy has himself a tapeworm.  Tapeworms in dogs it turns out are relatively common.  The vet did not seem surprised nor concerned by the fact that he had tapeworms.  I on the other hand was pretty stressed out. As new puppy parents of course we blamed ourselves for his little issue.  Turns out however that there’s no conceivable way that we could have helped Andy avoid this mishap.

So how do tapeworms in dogs form?  The veterinarian noted that Andy could have contracted the tapeworm a few ways, the most common of which is ingestion of a contaminated flea.  The vet checked our little wheaten for fleas and did not find any, thank god.  Who knows where the little fella found the flea that he ate.  Could have been anywhere.  The vet also mentioned that tapeworms in dogs also occur due to their unique fascination with sniffing/eating other dogs’ poopy.  Not cool.

Recap – Symptoms of Tapeworms in Dogs:

  • Rice like worms found in the fecal matter
  • Your wheaten acts a little differently than normal (Andy was spending more alone time than usual over the last day or two)

Treatment for Tapeworms in Dogs:  The veterinarian provided us with four 22.7mg tablets of Drontal Plus.  We were instructed to give him two today and two three weeks from today.  We gave him his first one, and in smart soft coated wheaten terrier fashion he promptly at the treat it was housed in, spit the pill on the floor and looked up at us for another treat.  Already??  I mean, I was impressed by it, but come on buddy, we’re trying to help.

So what to do if you have a dog with tapeworms?

Get him/her to a vet.  It is not an emergency, but I wouldn’t wait too long.

Clean your house! We ended up finding some dried up tapeworm remains on our bed as well.  Keep an eye out for that if your wheaten sleeps on the bed with you.  Kind of nasty.  Vacuum/sweep all of the rooms your dog inhabits thoroughly.  You don’t want any parasitic evidence lying around.

So what have we learned?  Tapeworms in dogs are gross.  Super gross.  I hope we never encounter anything other than poop in his poop again.  It was a pretty terrible sight.