Mooney toons

This page is dedicated to our new puppy, Loving Paws Mooney Toons, and some of the training (and fun) we have with Mooney! He will be a character in the upcoming Putney Hicks Inventor Adventures book #5, so stay tuned!

Meet Mooney

This is Mooney at 9 weeks old, posing on the “Moon Sling” I made for him, which also doubles as a Moon pillow… just one of many puppy projects I made for him before bringing him home.

Hey – I love to sew, quilt, and solve problems by coming up with my own designs. It’s what engineers do… quilting and sewing just happen to be two mediums I love to work in!

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Puppy crate games

Mooney Toons’ FIRST YouTube video… my puppy crate games to build value for being in his crate! 

We’ve only had Mooney <3 days now, but I feed his meals in the crate. I also give him opportunities to choose whether to go outside or inside the crate. There’s no wrong choice… he simply doesn’t get fed until he chooses to go inside the crate. It is working! 

There is one more key trick I need to tell you about: it’s about actively rewarding barking/whining in the crate by doing the OPPOSITE of what he wants. He wants me to come get him OUT of the crate. Instead, I make noisy steps away from the create when he barks. When he’s quiet, I make steps CLOSER to the crate. If he’s quiet long enough, he gets a treat.

I’ve used this approach successfully to get a neighbor’s dog to stop barking at me when I’m in the yard. Approach: if the dog barks, I take a step closer to the fence. If he’s quiet, I take a step away from the fence. The dog in this case is trying to get me to move away from the fence, so I do the opposite. I am careful NOT to look the dog in the eyes when I do this. I face parallel to the fence.

More tools to help get your dog to be calm and quiet in the crate:

  1. Cover the crate with a blanket or quilt – creates a den feeling.
  2. Play calm music when he’s being crated. Mooney has his own playlist!
  3. Leave a puppy blanket with your scent on it in the crate
  4. Leave a favorite toy or two, plus something to chew on. I use Nylabones and 1-2 ice cubes (great for teething phase).

Crate time is great for keeping your pup safe when you can’t watch him. But you have to stick to your guns and not reward inappropriate behavior (barking, whining) by letting your dog get his way. If he learns the fastest way out is to be quiet, he’ll learn to quiet down pretty quickly. If he learns that barking and whining works, he’ll do that.

Of course, make sure you give your dog potty breaks. That’s a whole other story on house training (which we accomplished in my personal best time… reliable within 2 weeks, and only special cause accidents after 3 days). That doesn’t mean I’m sleeping through the night yet!

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mooney Zoomies

Puppy zoomies are always fun. Here’s one of Mooney’s, plus a short roll in the grass before.

This is just a short video clip of Mooney at 9 weeks old (3/6/2023).

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Puppy Physics @ 10 weeks!

When you have a new puppy, you have to celebrate the moments of learning.

In this video, Mooney Toons discovers the physics of how a pendulum works… on his 10-week birthday! He learns that if he lets the pendulum go, it will swing right back to him!

Dogs understand physics… even if they can’t write the governing equations!

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Shadow play

Mooney is always looking for the dogs next door to go run and play with them. This time he saw his own shadow and raced to it! 

When I realized what was happening, I grabbed my iPhone to record what I could. I missed the very first encounter, but still got a great encounter with Mooney’s Shadow Puppy friend! (0:38)

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Skateboard practice @ 11 weeks

Mooney turned 11 weeks old today… so we had a bit of fun at breakfast. Meals are used as learning rewards. Today, he earned his breakfast working on his skateboard skills. 

Skateboard work helps with teeter skills. Plus it’s fun… and easier to pick up when they’re small!

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Breakfast with mooney - 12 weeks

Today, Mooney got to earn his breakfast in two parts:

  1. Skateboard practice
  2. Scent Games (with Sit and Down Stays before the game begins!)

Check out the media carousel below, for a cute stalk and pounce video, plus the 6 basic positions every dog and handler should know! (Stand, sit, down, play bow, pee, & poo).

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the training game

The Training Game is a problem-solving approach to learning. It works well with humans, puppies,… even sharks! (By a professional trainer!)

The key elements are 

1) Problem … which is different for the human and puppy

2) Choice … the problem-solver has to make a choice. In this video, Mooney, the puppy is the problem-solver. I’m also making a choice what level of behavior to reward as the facilitator.

3) Feedback … if Mooney solves the problem, or makes progress towards solving the problem, he gets a reward. If not – no reward. Wrong is wonderful because you learn what the problem is and isn’t. In this case, the Cato board isn’t paying today. Nor is a down stay. So Mooney has to figure out what is.

This is only Mooney’s 2nd time working with the blue food dish turned upside-down. This is the starting point for learning how to do backwards figure-8’s between my legs, as as well as other tricks.

This is hard work, but when you learn to play the training game, you have a resilient problem-solver who can work through the unexpected without shutting down! That’s what you want in a human and in a puppy!

This is also the process I use for rapid prototyping / developing my own designs. I define a problem, come up with a solution. Sometimes on paper, sometimes an actual prototype. Then I check out how well it performs. What else do I want? It’s an evolutionary process that helps you start with basics, then refine until you’re happy with the final product!

3/29/2023, 12 weeks 2 days old.

Breakfast with mooney - 13 weeks

Breakfast with Mooney – he’s 13 weeks old today (4/3/2023). I’ve been a bit sleep-deprived as he’s had soft stools since Friday and has needed frequent outs during the night.

Today, breakfast is served with a side of skateboard work plus a new trick, the Mooney Walk.

surfer school - easter edition

Breakfast with Mooney – Easter Edition – goes outside for our first surf doggie lesson. 

I had this plan to use a wobble board, but he jumped right on while I was carrying it into position. So, we cut to the good stuff. He’s a natural… all that skateboard work is paying off. Can’t wait to see what he does in the ocean!


Mooney is 14 weeks old today… he is earning his breakfast with surfboat training… “Mount It” from a variety of positions. 

Goal is to build value for staying on the surfboat.

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