Trick and Eat

Dickens has me wrapped around his paw. At nine years old he has now decided that he only eats when he wants to. But he forgets that I have a rule in my house that if one of my dogs doesn’t eat breakfast or dinner within 10 minutes the bowl gets picked up off the floor until the next meal. So Dickens has been snubbing his nose at his meals lately. He will eat but I have to trick him into it, literally!

So now the new routine is to give him a chance to eat it, but when he walks away pick the bowl up, then hand feed him from his bowl some kibble, which he promptly spits out. I then ask him to sit or to lie down and repeat the exercise. Each time I ask for a different cue and each time he does it, he then eats some more kibble. This only lasts a couple of minutes before I replace his bowl and he returns to it to finish his meal.

I find this interesting because when Dickens was a young adult he would not eat a meal until after I had eaten. Not because I hadn’t fed him, but apparently it was because I was the head of the household. He occasionally will still do this. My other dog, Eddie does not recognize this concept at all.  He has very little restraint at mealtime and has to be repeatedly reminded to ‘leave it’ or ‘wait’ until he is released to eat his meal.

 

 

 

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Rain and the Midwest Dog

When I was young we didn’t have dogs. I lived in the northwest where a steady rain would fall.  Now that I live in the Midwest I realize why my parents only let us have cats for pets.

My dogs do like to run in and out of the house whenever it rains and I have no choice but to let them. I mean what kind of mother would I be if I spoiled their fun? I was initially one of those mothers who diligently wiped their paws as they came in the door each time, until I threw my back out from bending over too much. Those days are over as I have figured out, that most of the time the mud will dry and I can vacuum it up at my leisure.

As my dogs and I have gotten older they and I are more reluctant to go outside in the first place. So now more often the retractable leash comes out and I stand on the stoop, just enough to give the impression that I am braving the elements with them before they run back inside where it is dry.

 

By the Sea…

Today was a day for adventure. Dickens did not want to be on a leash, so I let him loose to go and discover the wide open spaces in the wet green space behind our condominium.

Along the big expanse of green grass is also a creek that runs along aside it. Dickens is by no means a water dog, though many of his brethren enjoy swimming. All it took was falling in the creek once, as a puppy, to convince him it was not the place he wanted to be.  Today while sniffing out the unknown he had an encounter with a crawdad, or crayfish depending where you live. There are many of their holes in the grass, but I had yet to see one until today. This one must have wandered away from his lair. I cued Dickens to ‘leave it’ and he went elsewhere to sniff and play while I attempted to pick up the critter and put him in the muddy creek out of harm’s way. Once I got a hold of him and carried him to the creek, I dropped him in but he landed on his back, so then I needed to help him get on his stomach. I did not want him to become easy prey. So I dangled the dog leash into the water to give the crawdad something to grab onto with his pincher’s to right himself. Amazingly that is exactly what he did. God’s creatures are truly magnificent!

 

Dogs in Black and White

My dogs bark at everything. They bark at the leaves falling off the tree in autumn, a bird in the tree or the cat scratching in the litter box. They rarely bark at other dogs when we are on a walk because they are more interested in what they are smelling in the air or on the ground. But ‘OH’ should they see one walk past our house it is a federal crime! But then there is Lassie, the dog in black and white.

Every weekday morning at 9:00 am. my dogs and I anticipate the series ‘Lassie’, that I grew up watching on TV in the 1950’s. Dickens will be in bed or on the sofa, Eddie will be directly in front of the TV, as we wait for the tell-tale Collie bark that is in the opening title and tells us it is time for ‘Lassie’ to begin.  This is the only dog show that, Eddie my younger dog, will not bark during. But it was something that had to be trained out of him as his instinct told him to tell Lassie off!

‘Leave it’ is a powerful cue when a dog knows what it means, and this is the cue that I used in teaching Eddie not to bark at the Lassie. Many were tried before like; friend… TV…. quiet…. that’s enough… and these sometimes escalated in tone but to no avail! Having used ‘leave it’ and ‘friend’ in the past, the former proved to be the most effective. Yea! So now if a dog barks on TV, I say ‘Lassie’ and Eddie stops barking. Funny how that works! Dog training is fun.

Let Sleeping Dogs Lie

I learn so much from watching my dogs and cats sleep. Dickens, my Springer Spaniel, is dozing on his cushion across from me, with one eye open he watches the cat, Cinder, walk across the room to investigate a piece of straw on the floor. Dicken’s brother Eddie then gets up to also investigate which makes the cat immediately lose interest.  At 9 year’s old, Dicken’s eyes are the only part of him that has moved.

Yesterday I found it humorous when Dickens started to growl and then barked in his sleep. He was lying next to me in bed with his back to me when he started to growl. At first I thought he was awake, but then realized that he was dreaming. Then he suddenly barked and woke himself up! Have to wonder what he was dreaming about.

Happy Mother’s Day to me!

Puppy Love

I have started training a new puppy for some friends of mine. She is a 9 week old Golden Doodle puppy. Her name is Spencer. They named her thinking they were getting a boy.

Spencer is a wild child most of the time and I can say here that part of this is because her owners got her WAY too young. Never should a puppy leave it’s mother before it is 9-10 weeks old. Spencer was booted out of the barn at 7 weeks old and we all have been paying for it ever since!!  This longer period gives the mother dog plenty of time to teach her pups the manners they need to get along in the outside world. Once she starts socializing in puppy classes, with other puppies, she will also get lessons from them in how to behave.

If we give our puppy’s structure, boundaries and life skills through training, just like parents give their children, they will grow to be the best friends and companions we all want them to be.

Meow Alarm

Everyone needs two alarm clocks. One that has blaring music or a loud bleep, that you need to get out of bed to get to and one who wakes you up an hour later, when you are REALLY late, with a quiet meow in your ear!

Christmas For Pets

Merry Christmas Everyone!

Merry Christmas Everyone!

Christmas is for pets plain and simple. Have you recently walked into a pet store at Christmastime and seen the festive displays of  pet stockings, seasonal pet collars with bells and ribbons, colorful green and red toys, antlers ears and even rawhide that is shaped like a candy cane? Some stores even put these items at 75% off the week before Christmas so they are not left with a surplus afterwards.

Ok, I admit I do buy my dogs Christmas presents, but they are my kids. And I do whisper when they are around as to what I bought them, so that they do not overhear what I am saying, because as you know they have excellent hearing! But I do not go overboard, as dog toys and bones are expensive. So this year, both of my boys got two presents each, one bone and one toy and one toy to share. That is all. I would say that this Christmas was a success, wouldn’t you?

Barking Mad

Barking, the one thing that both of my dogs do best! When I only had Dickens and he was a young pup, I taught him to bark when I gave him the ASL (American Sign Language) sign for it. It was great! He didn’t bark at anything or anyone. But along comes his adopted brother, Eddie and at 10 months old he is out of control and a barker! He now has taught Dickens the bad habit of barking at squirrels, at unseen wall thumps, at leaves falling and anything Eddie deems necessary to bark at. Even if Dickens doesn’t see it, he will race around the house, barking at some unseen foe. Every time a person walks by in front of my house, opens their door across the way or even opens a curtain, it is important enough news that I need to know about it right away! I guess it is OK, as everyone wants a dog that will scare away strangers. But when they bark at every leaf that falls and every snowflake, well THAT presents a problem.

So since it is too late to teach Eddie sign language. I now say “that’s enough”, even when I hear a hint of a growl. Sometimes I have to say it louder than I want to. But lately I have been doing what all of the training books tell you to do. I have been giving them a treat every time they respond to my “that’s enough” request, when they are quiet. So now when they bark, I casually say, “that’s enough” and immediately afterwards it is a mad,mad rush for the two of them to fight for the best sitting position in front of my chair to get the treat.

Sometimes I think Eddie will bark just so he will get the treat for being quiet afterwards. For this I am painfully aware that he is much smarter than I give him credit for.

The Great Escape!

Angels again

Angels again

Eddy has become an escape artist! He knows not what he does. It is 85 degrees outside and I am getting ready to take my springer, Dickens outside for a walk. I usually tell Eddy to ‘wait’ when I go outside with my other dog, this time I forgot and so it goes. As soon as I open the door, Eddy makes his move and darts out behind me, knocking me against the wall and running out the door. He makes a run for it and heads out around my condominium building for the back common area and the creek! My other dog Dickens and I return to the interior, where I leave him and then go out the back through the garage. There I find Eddy running away from me as fast as he can. I go back inside to release my other dog and retrieve a coupling lead. The hunt is on. Eddy as big as he is, will soon run out of gas. He gets tired and hot easily. My springer spaniel Dickens will go ‘find’ him and bring him back. I slowing walk towards the two of them watching to see where they go. I call Dickens name occasionally to get him to stay closer to me which he does. I crest the hill in back and turn around heading back towards my garage, encouraging them to both follow me. Calling them by name, whistling, patting my leg as I continue to walk back. Eddy is starting to yearn for water and the safety of four walls as he does not seem to like being outside. Dickens and Eddy both start to run in my direction. Their tongues are hanging out, and their running has turned into an amble. When Eddy reaches me he stops so that I may attach his leash. He is proving more and more that he is a reliable four-year old. Both boys will receive much love and a rawhide chip for coming home.