Monthly Archives: January 2016

Learning To Live In The Moment

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My Alex

I moved from Maryland to Massachusetts almost a year ago, and I can say with certainty that if there was ever a time when living in the moment was put to a test, this was it.  In the last 11 months there were so many changes: my Alex went to that Rainbow Bridge I believe all animals go to; my mom passed away a month after Alex left; I went from living in a nice and spacious townhouse to a small apartment; and on top of that, I was having a really hard time adapting to a new place.

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Dexter, a handsome furry kid

I love to write and so I wrote about how I felt through tears and feeling sorry for myself.  I was mourning what I had lost rather than concentrating on what I had.  A fellow blogger reminded me that my home was anywhere my dog was, and that really made me think.  I was fighting being in MA while wasting the precious time I had with Alex without really understanding that.  After we put Alex down, I was numb for a while, and then it hit me that she was gone.  Later on I found out my mom passed away.  Talk about getting the wind knocked out of my sails.

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Handsome Walter

Today, although I am still mourning my loved ones and adapting to MA, I see things different.  I now know that the time I have with those I love is not infinite, therefore I have to make the best out of it.  I cry when I feel like crying, and I laugh my butt off when Cynthia, my wife, Abby, our puppy, or Jessenia, my cousin, end up saying something funny.  Living in the moment is a very difficult thing to do for humans, and that is something we can learn from our canine companions.  Whether they are napping, walking, running, etc., they are enjoying what they are doing without dwelling on the past or fearing an uncertain future.  Now you see why I say that dogs are amazing teachers?  They really are.

 

Dog Training & Behavior Tips

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Abby, “I am sitting perfectly. Could I get my food now, please?”

If you want to start your puppy or newly acquired dog on the right path, these are some of the things I recommend pet parents to do:

  • Start working on training and behavior modification as soon as you get your dog
  • Set rules and boundaries so your dog knows what is not acceptable
  • Be consistent and give clear instructions
  • Provide your dog with adequate physical and mental exercise
  • Get the whole family involved in raising this puppy/dog
  • Give structure to his every day life
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Abby, “Wow! So many things to see and smell.”

One thing, I’ve realized after training a variety of dogs, many pet parents forget to do is expose their dogs to different environments, people, sounds, etc.  Abby is sensitive to sound just like many other dogs therefore she goes everywhere I can take her.

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Some pet parents have told me, “I don’t know why she doesn’t behave.  She went through 2 obedience classes.”  Well, the answer is simple, training was provided, but behavior modification was not.  Training and behavior modification is a lifelong commitment and process, but take my word for it, the bond you develop with your dog and the enjoyment you’ll get from living with a balanced canine companion is priceless.

Cynthia’s Sous Chefs: Abby & Prince

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Cynthia, “Abby, if you want to be my sous chef you have to behave, understood? Abby, “Yes, mom.”

Since I hate to cook, Cynthia enlisted Abby and Prince’s help to help her cook our meal, but knowing how “good” Abby happens to be the first thing Cynthia did was lay down the law.

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Prince, “I don’t need any instructions for I always behave like a gentleman.”

Prince, Cynthia’s other sous chef, didn’t seem all that interested in lending her a paw.  He was much more interested in chewing on a nylabone.

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Abby, “Stop being lazy. Get up and help us cook. You are making me look bad.”

Abby wanted Prince to help out so she went ahead and tried to “convince” him by gently nudging him.

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Prince, “I am tired Abby. Let me be.”

Prince decided that it was best for him to take a nap and leave the cooking to Cynthia and Abby.

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Abby, “It’s ok mom, I got you covered. I am here to help in any way shape or form. Bring it on. And I wouldn’t mind if you were to drop, by accident of course, a few pieces of whatever you are cooking.”

Abby didn’t want to disappoint Cynthia so she stayed by her side “helping” her cook.  Isn’t she a good girl?

Teaching Abby To Behave

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Abby, “Moms, it’s snowing!”

Abby, at the beginning, didn’t know or understand that once we were home she was not allowed to run like crazy, nip people, grab things off of the floor as toys, etc.  Well, time went by, 9 weeks, and she is starting to understand that certain things are expected of her if she wants to help Cynthia cook.

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Abby, “Mom, I am not presentable and you are distracting me from helping mom Cynthia finish cooking our meal.”

I like to have Abby in the kitchen when Cynthia is cooking because this is the perfect time to work on behavior.  How?  Well, for one, she is not allowed to jump while Cynthia cooks; for two, she is to keep those beautiful teeth away from nipping or biting; and lastly, she is not to frantically pace back and forth.  This is not basic training but rather behavior modification.

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Marcela, “This is Abby letting me know in no uncertain terms that she is not happy that I am not saying that she is perfect.”

I also like Abby to be in the kitchen because I want her to get used to the different sounds and smells that are typical in a kitchen.  Abby, so far, has been the hardest puppy I’ve ever had to train and work on behavior modification with, but also the most adorable.  Why am I sharing this with you?  Because I want you to understand and know that dogs are individuals and as such they learn at their own pace.

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Abby, “Mom Cynthia, how much longer before we eat?”

Alex, our pit bull mix, was very easy to train.  She got all her obedience cues and behavior, behavior always being the most difficult to achieve, pretty fast and because of that I joined the legions, yes legions, of pet parents that told me that female dogs are smarter than male dogs.  By the way, I no longer thing so.  Why?  Abby proved all those pet parents wrong.  If you got a puppy or dog recently, please work with a trainer and/or behaviorist in order to start your canine companion on the right path.  Many of the dogs I see in shelters are there because of behavioral problems.  Don’t give up on your dog, and find the help of a professional to guide you and teach you how to properly communicate with your dog.