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.
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!
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.
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.
It’s funny what you miss as time goes by. Kayaking with Alex is something I truly miss although our first time was certainly an odyssey, but it got better and better the more we did it. Alex has been gone a little over 5 years, and my heart still aches for her, but I am also thankful for the time we had with her.
With that being said, let’s cross our fingers, we hope that next year we are able to go kayaking with Abby and some of her canine friends. Have a great weekend and stay safe.
Walter, Australian Shepherd, and Dexter, Boxer mix. (L to R)
I got a video from Dexter’s mom this week in which he was playing with a toy without a care in the world. When we met Dexter he was 5 years old. He is a little over 10 years old now, and he looked so happy and much older that I remembered. That video made me think. Why we, humans, are so worried about getting old? I know we have to plan for the future, that’s a given, but many of us worry for no particular reason. I do think that dogs live in the moment, something we humans find somewhat difficult to do, and so I’d say to you, do what makes you happy, and learn from your dogs. Carpe Diem people!
Because of the Coronavirus pandemic we are taking more precautions in order to stay safe, and that-of course-includes our dogs and home. These are the things I’d recommend you do to keep your dogs clean:
Brush your dog’s hair (long and short-haired dogs) after a walk. Always!
Wipe off your dog’s paws (get baby wipes from the Dollar Store) and check her pads for any foreign object in them
Change her bedding frequently (every couple of days or daily)
Brush her teeth before going to bed
When it comes to our house, I dust, vacuum, and sweep often because as you pet parents well know, our doggies shed a lot. What about yours truly? I wash my hands constantly and I carry hand wipes with me always. Keeping our dogs clean does not require a lot of money or time so let’s get in the habit of doing so in order to keep us all safe. Take care.
I know, I know. I am always a big advocate on walking your dog, but you also need to give her enough time to relax and recuperate. Add to that a nice comfortable bed and a blanket, and your dog will be in doggie heaven. Enjoy your weekend!
Many of the pictures I post of Abby happened to be of her sleeping the day away, but what I failed to mention is that my sweet Abby is a high energy dog, and in order to get her tired I have to do different things. Ironic, after my Alex was gone, I was seriously thinking about getting a senior dog. Instead, I got Abby.
These are some of the things I do to get her tired:
Walking – depending on the dog’s age, weight, health, etc., it could be anything from 30+ minutes. When the weather gets too cold we do shorter walks
Running – I get on my bike and she runs right alongside me. It takes time to teach a dog how to do this, but it’s worth it
Kayaking – when the weather gets warm, we take her with us kayaking. And yes, she does wear a flotation device
Shopping – yes, you read it right. There are stores that do allow dogs. The ones we usually visit are: Home Depot, PetSmart, Pets Unlimited, Christmas Tree Shop, etc. This is great when the weather is either too hot or too cold to walk outside
Behavior and Training – I am starting to teach her how to sit without saying anything or making any hand signals. Only eye contact
If you do not fulfill your dog’s needs, he will drive you crazy, and chances are that he will end up back in a shelter and/or a breeder. Having a canine companion is a lot of responsibility, but who says it can’t be fun too!