Category Archives: Training

Charlie’s Weekend Outing

Charlie, “Wow! What is that?”

Let me start this post by saying that there is no such thing as a perfect dog.  I could see pet parents red with anger, but allow me to explain.  Just like humans, dogs are a work in progress, and that’s ok.  But I believe that there is such a thing as the perfect dog for you, the pet parent, and that is a completely other post for the future.   

I decided to post about Charlie’s progress, but it dawned on me that I should also post about Charlie’s antics.  Why?  I want pet parents to know that they are not the only ones feeling lost, frustrated, overwhelmed, etc. 

This past weekend we took Abby and Charlie to the Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD for a nice long walk, and well this is where our odyssey started.

Abby, Charlie, and Cynthia (L to R) showing how to properly walk 2 dogs.

During our walk, we introduced Charlie to water, and being the Sheprador that he is he seemed to enjoy it.  We continued our walk, and brace yourself, he saw a squirrel, and although he is doing better when seeing squirrels, he lost it. He barked, pulled, whined, etc.  In other words, he put a whole Broadway production for us.  I had to hold on to that leash for dear life.  Then, after a short period of walking nicely, he saw a bird and wanted to go after it, but with less intensity than with the squirrel.  We finished our walk, almost an hour long, gave them water, and put them in the car.

Charlie is a little over 2 years old, and there are times when he walks beautifully even if a bird-he ignores birds for the most part-or squirrel show up, and there are other times like our outing this past weekend when he just goes bananas.  What I am trying to say is that your dog will drive you nuts and he will certainly keep your life interesting and unpredictable, but take my word for it when I tell you that this too shall pass.  One day, your crazy dog will be a well-behaved dog, and you would say to many people, “My Charlie is the perfect dog for me.”  Yes, you will!  When?  It depends on the dog.  Our Abby calmed down around 4-5 years old.  I’d say Charlie has another 1-2 more years of craziness in him. 

Dogs are not perfect, but who would want a perfect dog?  It would be boring.  Until your dog matures, he will-many times-misbehave and surprise you.  You are just going to have to have patience, be consistent, and remember that life is full of surprises, and so is your dog! 

Charlie’s Behavior Rehabilitation And Training -Part IV

Charlie to Abby, “Who is that? Got the license plate number? Well, did you?”

Charlie is doing better every day, so much so that I was able to take him out to the deck-no leash or collar-and let him hang out with Abby while I had some work done outside the house.

By the way, at the beginning he didn’t know how to stay in bed while I was in the kitchen doing dishes, or in the living room watching TV, but lately he has been able to fall asleep and has allowed me to do my chores while he snores. Yes, you read it right, allowed me.

Seriously speaking, sometimes we think that we train our dogs, but I am starting to think that they train us. Oh well! You know what? It’s never a dull moment when you share your life with a dog, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. Take care.

Revisiting Dogs And Separation Anxiety

Abby and Charlie, “We have to defend our garbage from all critters, humans and intruders!”

As you can see in the above picture, Abby and Charlie take their job seriously. Our routine is to drop off the garbage, sometimes we have to do 2 trips, and pick up our mail.

Charlie’s separation anxiety is slowly starting to disappear. He no longer screams murder when left in a room alone. We’ve been able to go shopping without a problem. Also, Charlie no longer goes bananas when we put Abby in the car first. He gets excited, which is normal, but even that is manageable.

I realized very early on that Charlie needed to get exposed to everything and that’s exactly what we’re doing with him. It helps that Abby is there to lend a paw to her younger brother. To those pet parents out there dealing with a variety of issues, we all have issues by the way, don’t give up and work hard. Our dogs are worth it. Enjoy your weekend!

Dogs And Separation Anxiety

Alex, “Mom, quit torturing me and give me some watermelon please!”

Our Alex, a pit bull mix, was one of the best dogs I’ve ever had as a pet and as my helper when working with other dogs to modify their behavior, but my girl, when we got her as a puppy, had bad separation anxiety so it took us a while to get her to be balanced. Let me tell you that she was worth it. We had her for 13 years, and even now I don’t think that it was long enough.

Dexter, Boxer mix; Bella, pit bull mix; and Alex, pit bull mix.

Our Charlie, the new addition to our family, has separation anxiety and he is getting better as time goes by:

-We couldn’t leave him in any room by himself because he would scream murder at the top of his lungs. Nowadays, he is able to stay by himself for a short period of time.

-Charlie would bark/whine when Abby went out to do her business. Recently, he only makes a funny sound, yes sometimes he still whines, but the intensity and length of time is but a couple of seconds.

-When we placed Abby in the car first, Charlie would go berserk. As time went by, he understood that he would get in the car too so he does get excited, but it’s manageable.

The above is just a few of the things we’re working on with Charlie and his separation anxiety. To those pet parents that are probably asking themselves, “How long will it take for that separation anxiety to disappear?” Let me tell you that it depends on the dog, the activities you are doing with him, the behavior and training you are working on, and the consistency and commitment on your part. Work hard, but also remember to take a break every so often. Stay safe.

Charlie’s Behavior Rehabilitation And Training – Part III

Abby and Charlie relaxing after a very busy day this past weekend. Guard dogs on a well-deserved time off.

Charlie is improving on some things, and on others, we still got a bit to go:

-Walking around where we live is getting better. I haven’t seen him do a Superman, airborne, recently. But, yes there is a but, when he is walking outside of our property Charlie is still a bit hesitant. We are working on that.

-Eating, our boy eats anything, is getting better. He is giving me space when I am about to feed him. Great job Charlie!

-Sleeping/napping in his bed is also better. He is staying on it longer and longer. Yay!

-Separation anxiety is something that most shelter dogs exhibit and Charlie is not the exception. This weekend we took him to do some shopping and when Cynthia exited the car to go to the supermarket, guess what happened? Charlie lost it. But, and this part is the good part, he did better and better as we went to different stores. I will write about separation anxiety on another post.

Is Charlie winking at me or not? I think he is. Charlie, “Mom, please write that I am a good boy, please!”

I want pet parents to know that getting a dog to be balanced is done slowly with tons of patience. For those pet parents that are frustrated I would say to them to take a moment and to keep working at it. Take my word for it, your canine companion is worth it. I know my Charlie certainly is so don’t give up. Stay safel

Charlie’s Behavior Rehabilitation And Training – Part II

Abby, yours truly, and Charlie (L to R)

Charlie has been with us for a little over 2 weeks and slowly, emphasis on slowly, he is gaining weight, and he is starting to learn manners. Yeah! But, I want to tell you that behavior modification takes time, patience, and lots of persistence. One thing I tell my clients that they need to master is walking their dog. At the beginning, Charlie was impossible to walk with Abby, but as days went by he surprised us by walking beautifully like in the above picture.

Charlie, “Mom, what are you doing?”

And then Charlie saw a deer, and guess what? He went airborne. Yes, you read it right. He is a big dog so I never thought that could be possible, but Charlie proved me wrong. It took a few minutes for him to relax, and when he finally did we continued our walk. Is this unusual? No. All our dogs did the same, until they got used to seeing other animals without having any reaction.

For those pet parents that are scratching their heads not knowing what to do with their dogs, let me tell you that your dog will learn at his/her own pace, and you need to remember that. Find a dog trainer that you and your dog are comfortable working with and enjoy the ride. Also, when you are fed up, please do not work with your dog. Take a deep breath, put your doggie in his crate, and have a glass of wine. Once you are relaxed, continue working with your dog. By relaxed I mean balanced not buzzed. Stay safe!

Finding Happiness In Simplicity

wp april 25 20202

Abby, “I love taking car rides with my moms!”

Lately watching the news is scary and depressing-to say the least-but then I take a look at Abby finding happiness in simple things such as: walking, taking a ride in the car, eating, etc., and all I feel is a great sense of gratitude.

wp april 25 2020

Abby, “I smell food.  Mom, do you smell it too?”

Dogs are great teachers, and for me they are an integral part of my life.  They make me take a look at what really matters and not worry about things that are out of my control.  What does your dog bring to your life?

Every Cloud Has A Silver Lining

wp march 17 2020

Abby, “Mom, did you see that squirrel?”

To say that the coronavirus pandemic has affected our lives would be an understatement, but I choose to be optimistic and find a silver lining in every cloud.  With that being said, living in semi-isolation has afforded me the time to take Abby for more walks; catch up on some of my reading; write a post more often; and prepare to start working on my taxes – I know, you must be giddy with excitement and anticipation to tackle this task!

I don’t know how long we’ll live like this, so my question to you is: what are you doing with your canine companions during this time?

Getting Settled in Maryland With My Pack

wp march 12 2020

Abby, “Mom, please turn off the lights.  Moving is exhausting!”

Yes, that’s how tired Abby looked after helping us unpack.  By the way, she is lucky since we are not unpacking everything.  Remember to provide your canine companion a bed and some blankets.

wp march 12 20202

Abby, “Mom, wait!  I am not ready.  Please wait!

Sorry Abby, but I had to capture that facial expression.  We are taking nice walks except when the days don’t permit us to do so.  All in all, I could say that although it was stressful to move and super tiring, to say the least, we are really glad to be back in Maryland and we are looking forward to all the adventures we’ll have in Crofton!

Back Home – Maryland

MD1 wp jan 30 2020

Abby, “Mom, I like the new smells I am picking up from here!”

Yes, we’re finally back home.  Home is really where your heart is, and a long time ago I realized that that place was Maryland.  For the last 5 years, we lived in Stoughton, MA and although it was a nice place, and we met amazing people and dogs, I always hoped that we had the opportunity to come back to Maryland and it finally came true.

MD2 wp jan 30 2020

Abby, “Mom, I picked up an amazing new smell.  It smells like chicken!”

We were really busy moving for the last couple of weeks, but finally things are less hectic, and I have been able to take Abby for nice walks around the neighborhood lately.  Thanks to all the pet parents in Massachusetts that trusted us with their canine kids, we’ll miss you all, and looking forward to meeting amazing dogs and their pet parents in Crofton, MD.  It feels great to be back home!