Category: Personalized

Why Training a Puppy Is A Lot Like Teaching Junior High

2017-03-13 16.48.23When my husband and I adopted a dog (who is under a year old) over a month ago, I quickly realized that training a puppy is a whole lot like teaching junior high. I literally would go into school and get frustrated with my students because they did the exact same thing that my dog did!

Here is what I have noticed:

  1. Puppies and students need constant attention! My dog Coby needs constant monitoring. He has gotten better about stealing my shoes, eating my rugs, and chewing on the furniture, but we can’t leave him alone in a room yet. If I try to log into Facebook or eat dinner or grade papers, Coby will do something to require my attention. Sometimes good, like putting a toy in my hand, and sometimes bad, like scratching the walls. Students are the same way. Each student needs my complete attention at all times, which requires serious multi-tasking. If they don’t get the attention they want or think they deserve, they will immediately begin acting out. Sometimes in good ways, and sometimes in bad ways.
  2. Puppies and students never learn their lesson the first time. They need reminded, corrected, and encouraged over and over… and over… again. Coby still hasn’t totally figured out that he can’t steal my decorative pillows from the couch or to stay out of the sink. My students still haven’t learned that homework is always due on the assigned day or that they will do poorly on a test if they don’t take notes in class or study.
  1. Positive reinforcement works best. Coby picked up on his new name immediately. They was no training needed to teach him his name. However, he is horrible at responding to his name. He is very interested in following the scent or chewing that rug or barking at the passing truck. Even though it has been a month, every time Coby comes to me when I call his name, I give him a tiny training treat and praise. When he finally does what I ask him, he gets heavily rewarded. On the times that he chooses to obey, he comes bouncing to me with joy for that treat and hug and loving words. When it comes to my students, I expect that they are obedient all the time. (They speak my language after all!) But I try to offer positive reinforcement for them as well! They get praise when they act a certain way, stickers when they get certain grades, and bonus passes when they have been diligent. All of the kids respond well to positive reinforcement and for many, it encourages them to continue doing the right thing again.
  2. But sometimes discipline is necessary. During the first three weeks that we had Coby he would be really sweet and wonderful then out of nowhere start biting. It wasn’t aggressive, but it was painful. For our safety and sanity, we decided to crate Coby for a period of time if he bit us or got worked up to the point where he was going to. We started at three minutes (recommended on the internet), then actually upped the time to 30 minutes at the suggestion of a trainer. He pretty much hasn’t had any issues with biting since those first few thirty minute sessions in the crate. A student or two of mine may have a horrible habit of showing up late to class. I gave them demerits for each minute late (my school is very generous in their discipline system), and they figured out within two weeks that they needed to get to class on time. Slow learners, but they got it eventually. 😉
  3. When they are behaving, don’t move! Whenever Coby falls asleep, it is seriously a few precious moments of peace and quiet. This time cannot be used to get anything done, because the minute I try to do something the puppy wakes up and wants to go with me. So whenever he falls asleep, don’t move. Don’t do anything. Just sit and relax and enjoy the precious moments. Same thing with my students. Whenever they are behaving, don’t comment on it. Don’t make any sudden movements. Don’t check email. Just keep doing whatever you were doing and hope they don’t notice that they are behaving.
  4. And probably the most significant…. Puppies and students cost money. I decorate my classroom out of my own pocket. I buy snacks, supplies, decorations, prizes, and exciting games and activities for my students out of my own pocket. This isn’t new to me. All teachers who want their students to be successful and happy do this willingly, but it is a common denominator between students and puppies. A new super-harness because he chewed through the really nice one in an afternoon. Another box of treats and several new toys (because the other ones were no match for the velociraptor jaw).

While, of course, there are obvious differences, too many times during the school day, I have thought training these students reminded me a whole lot of training my new puppy. The good news with both is that they will learn. They will figure out what I am trying to tell them and the bad days will become good days.

We Have New Furry Family Member!

We Have New Furry Family Member!

In early February, my husband and I decided to buy a dog. It was a whim to do it NOW, but we had been talking about getting a dog for four years. We knew we wanted a medium-sized young adult (two to four years old) rescue who already had potty-training, obedience-training, and crate-training mastered. We need a dog who specifically would be good with strangers in our home. We started with local SPCA, but ultimately decided that they did not have the right dog for us. Then we started working with local rescues in search of our fur-baby.

As it turns out, within a week, we were smitten with a red and white foxhound mix. He was d2017-02-12 16.24.30escribed as friendly, sweet, and trained. The only concern was that he was under two. Somewhere between one and two years. The listing wasn’t specific and the rescue had only picked him up a day or two before we found him, so they were still working out all of his details. We were actually on a waiting list, but the people ahead of us had cats and this dog does not like cats, so we were able to meet him.

This puppy, who ended up being under one year old, was as sweet and friendly as described. He gives hugs and loves to sit close for lots of petting and attention, though I wouldn’t describe him as a cuddler. Because of he had been abandoned, his name was unknown. We decided to name the little puppy Coby and he instantly responded with joy to his name. When I said his new name for the first time, he cam bounding toward me with the happiest look you have ever seen. We knew at that moment he was the puppy for us.

We found out that Coby was abandoned the day after Christmas. <tug on the heart strings!> His family had been foreclosed on and they left him behind. When the repossessors came, they found him locked in the house. We don’t know how long he was in there. He was then taken to a high kill-shelter, which isn’t a thing in my state, where my local rescue found him and partnered with another shelter in the south to rescue him. He was put in an animal hospital for a few days (he needed neutered), then was fostered down south until arrangements could be made to bring him north. He was then shipped up here, fostered with a family for three days, then adopted by my husband and I.

Needless to say, with a history like that, the honeymoon with Coby lasted exactly two days.   We discovered that he was only potty-trained, not crate- or obedience-trained. During those first two days, we walked, did lots of petting, and took lots of naps. He had boundless energy for the hour or two that he was awake, then he would collapse into a four hour nap. On day three, everything changed. He started chewing  ever2017-02-20 07.54.43ything in our house, biting us (not terribly hard, but definitely not playfully), barking at anything and everything, and overall, Coby was simply miserable. The only time he seemed even remotely happy was when he was outside, preferably playing with the neighborhood dogs. No amount of playing with him, entertaining him, walking with him, or loving on him seemed to help. He was making us miserable, and the only time we were happy was when he was in his crate. Not the best way to start.

My husband went away for a weekend trip at the end of Week 2 and I was fully prepared to call the rescue and say that things weren’t working. The bruises on my arms made it clear that things weren’t working. My husband left Thursday afternoon and by Thursday night, I called him in tears. It was bad. This weekend happened to be the same weekend the North got hit with amazing 70-80 degree weather. I spent most of it outside just to appease my crazy, unhappy dog.

Now, at this point, I had already given myself the speech about how we had adopted this dog and it was a permanent decision. We needed to work through it. But I knew that if I wanted to eat, I was going to feel it. I knew that I had done literally nothing but monitor the dog for two weeks. No after-hours school work, no Tpt product creation. I had hardly left the house. I was willing to admit defeat. After all, it is possible that this wasn’t the right dog for us. We might not be the right family for him.

That warm February weekend I found myself sitting on a park bench next to a lady, who happened to have adopted her dog from the same rescue as Coby. Her dog had been adopted at a similar age and had similar struggles early on. It took about six months for her dog to really come around, and from what she could tell Coby seemed to be doing great for his first two weeks. We talked and I might have cried, and this sweet total stranger talked me into giving him more time to come around. So I recommitted to giving this horribly behaved dog a chance, and somewhere in that change of heart/mind, the puppy and I bonded. I didn’t realize it right away. Two days after my husband returned, I needed to sequester myself into my office to get something done, and the dog laid outside my door the entire four hours I was in the room.

It took my husband and the dog another two weeks to bond and now we are a happy family… most of the time. Coby has great days and really bad moments, but we are making progress. He goes into his crate willingly now, but doesn’t walk well on a leash. He has stopped biting almost entirely, but has chewed through almost all of the toys we bought him. He ran away on Monday, but stopped every few moments to make sure I was following him. He has learned a few commands, like coming on command, sitting, and laying down. We are at 50% or higher success rate, which is better than never a 2017-03-04 12.23.35month ago.  (The success rate is like 99% when I have a treat in my hand.)

I feel like we can finally say that Coby is settling in. He is the most popular dog in the neighborhood because of how friendly he is. His tail starts going crazy when he sees his friends, and he even has a bestie – a cute female lab mix. He likes to talk to our neighbor’s dog through the walls of our townhouse. Last night was the first time he slept outside of the crate on his bed and he did great.

It has not been an easy or fun road, but we are making progress. Tomorrow night we start obedience classes and this puppy has definitely found his forever home.

Old Year, New Year

Happy New Year background on wood

Happy 2017! We survived 2016! Woohoo!! I actually didn’t realize that people were hating on 2016 until like, yesterday. Apparently it all started with the death of Carrie Fisher and her mother, then spiraled down hill from there. I am not really sure.

Looking Back

For me, 2016 wasn’t actually all that bad. Don’t get me wrong there were some horrible days. Like the day my best friend/soul sister moved far, far away. The day I quite my job, then my financial situation talked me down from the cliff (fortunately I hadn’t spoken to my boss yet). The day that my husband didn’t get the call back about the dream job. The day the mortgage company told us we needed another $4,000 two days before closing on our house. 2016 had it’s really, really bad days.

But it also had it’s really great days. My husband and I went on a real, multiple-days kind- of vacation for the first time in years. My sister graduated from college and my other sister graduated from high school. I opened a store on Tpt and had sales!! I grew as a teacher and a person. My husband and I bought a house and had a little money leftover in the bank (last minute negotiations to the rescue!). We redesigned our laundry room and bought a *wonderful* and *working* washer and dryer. My college-graduate sister got engaged. Yep, 2016 was pretty great.

Looking Ahead

2017 is this bright, fresh and scary clean slate. With all of the great things that happened in 2016, I almost wonder if it is even possible for 2017 to go well. But I am going to look beyond that fear and press on.

Some of my goals for the year include:

  • Improving my command of the French language. Right now I have the grasp of a 1st grader in an American school… the first week of school. It isn’t pretty.
  • Being present in life rather than consumed by work. Making an active choice to stop working. You know how it is… as a teacher, yes, you can put the work aside until tomorrow, but I still need it to be done and ready by 8 am.
  • Reading two books a month. This is a goal I make each year. Some years I fail; some years I squeak in as mildly successful; then some years, like 2016, I smash my personal record. 53 books in 52 weeks.

Applying this to the Blog

Have I apologized yet for the radio silence? I am so sorry! When I started this blog in the fall, I had no idea that my free time was literally going to fall apart. We spent two months in this painfully intense house-buying mode, but finally closed right before November 1. Shortly after that, we began planning and preparing for our first DIY renovation project, which we could only do on the occasional evening that we were home. Which led us right to Christmas break, at which point, I just gave up until today. Life moved in and took over.

This year I have many of my blog posts planned. They range from education & my classroom, to history, to the life of Kristen, to things that I am just passionate about and want to talk about. To start January (one of my busiest months of the year), I plan on faithfully posting twice a month at minimum, but hope to grow that quickly as I get into the routine.

I look forward to being a part of the great internet community. Thank you for sticking with me through today and I hope that you will graciously allow me to start again.

Hope you have a wonderful 2017! Happy New Year!


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Hello dear reader,

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Thanks for visiting 422History! My name is Kristen (that’s my super-awesome husband in the picture) and I am a high school history teacher. Next week begins my 6th year as a full-time teacher, and my 3rd year in a history classroom. I am looking forward to another wonderful year at my school, and just a little overwhelmed with all of things that still need done. (Isn’t that how it always is?)

A few friends asked why I chose the name 422History as my brand. Well, it was a no-brainer to be honest. My classroom window looks out onto a Pennsylvania highway, locally known as 422 (pronounced “four-twenty-two”)…. and my back deck looks out onto the same Pennsylvania highway… and it’s my birthday. You could say my life revolves around 422.

As far as things you will see on this website, you are going to see a lot about my classroom, teaching methods, activities I dreamed up or discovered online, bulletin boards (because history boards are REALLY hard!), and basically anything that peaks my interest -education-related or not.

I hope that you will be able to come here and find refreshing ideas that you might not see elsewhere or have been tailored to the high school history classroom. I also hope that you will find a refreshing place that balances school and life.

Thanks for stopping by! Be sure to come back soon!