Tag Archives: dog training

Puppy Kindergarten

Last night was our third session of Puppy Kindergarten with our new pup Mia.

puppy kindergarten

If the criteria for success is to have the most social, most distracted and most self choking puppy due to an irresistible urge to jump on every dog, then we are totally killing it. If not, then we have a long ways to go.

The truth is, Mia is so overly loving of all dogs and all human beings that she cannot contain herself. If that means she will struggle to graduate from Puppy Kindergarten, so be it. We’re confident we will get there with our little rescue.

But it definitely wasn’t that way the first go round with our first dog, Casey.

Before we proceed, kindly answer the multiple choice question below:


When we attended puppy kindergarten with our first dog, Casey, which of the following occurred?

A. We were given a passing grade when all of us knew she wasn’t even close to passing.

B. During the final “challenge”, rather than walk through the maze of cones that lead to a fake front door and fake UPS delivery man, Casey stole one of the cones, ran off with it and proceeded to chow down on it at the feet of one of the other puppy owners.

C. I passionately said the following after our final class “You are such an embarrassment to us, get in the car.”

D. An annoying Jack Russell Terrier humped Casey during every free second of class and I was seconds within challenging his oblivious owner to a fight.

E. All of the Above


As you might have already suspected, if you responded with “E“, you totally nailed it.

Not one of my proudest moments.

When we got Casey back in 1999, we had yet to have children, so she was our first “baby”.

puppy kindergarten

And we treated her exactly like you would your first child. We were the prototypical helicopter parents. The two of us would hover over Casey day and night and attempt to analyze her every move.

Why does she keep scratching herself? F’n fleas, isn’t it? 

Why is she attacking our feet? That is part of a deep psychological disorder, I know it. 

Why won’t she look us straight in the eye? She has issues with authority already. How will she deal in the real world?

And our true final grade at Puppy Kindergarten did nothing to allay our fears.


But I clearly remember one weekday evening back in early 2000 when we made the turn towards Rational Town. Dinners were always a challenge as Casey would harass us to no end looking for a bite of our Red Beans and Rice. If we put her in her crate, she would rattle the cage to such an obnoxious level that we couldn’t handle it. So we would eat and deal with the lab clawing at our lap. One night, however, my wife forcefully ordered Casey to “lay down” and she friggin did it. And stayed there throughout dinner. Life as we knew it was back. The light at the end of the tunnel appeared.

And looking back, dealing with a puppy was the ultimate in prep for having a child. By the time Jack rolled around in 2002, we understood sleep deprivation. We welcomed the inability to not be able to leave the house. We knew that naps were a must if we wanted to survive that day. In fact, we quickly learned that it may be more difficult to tend to a young puppy than an infant because the infant doesn’t chew on the table legs and most importantly, isn’t the least bit mobile.

Quick aside #1: One memorable helicoptering moment with Jack. On day #2 of him being home from the hospital, we went (yes “we”) to change his diaper and were horrified to see that he had “discarded” what looked like rubber pellets. In a moment of terror, we got out our baby books and did a quick search online for “baby pooping little rubber balls”. We found nothing and feared the worst. Turns out his sopping wet diaper had broken open and the gel balls inside made their way into, well, you know where. Jack – I apologize if you are reading this and promise no one in school will find out. End of aside.        

By the time Jamie arrived in 2005, we were baby veterans. While I am proud of how attentive we were, we did hand over our helicopter parenting badges. Sicknesses were not the end of the world. Multiple wake-up calls in the middle of the night were chalked up to being temporary. And once we knew how to properly deploy our man-to-man defense in order to cater to simultaneous needs of both children, we were all set. After a rambunctious puppy and one newborn, we could have handled anything.

And now that applies to our little Mia.

Quick aside #2: How great is the name Mia for a rescue dog? Missing In Action. Big thanks to Deb B. for the heads up on that one.

We’ve been through this Puppy Kindergarten once before and instead of stressing over Mia’s inability to listen or her knack for peeing upon greeting new dogs/people, we are taking it in stride. During our first go round we were so consumed with Casey’s performance that we failed to listen to so much that the instructor had to offer. Now, we are absorbing each lesson, more concerned with learning and taking that knowledge home with us.

She will learn to walk off leash and come to us whenever we call her name.

She will learn that biting/heavy nipping doesn’t fly.

She will drop my shoe on command.

And most importantly to us, we will enjoying the hell out of this puppy phase and will not wish it away.

puppy kindergarten