Well, we decided to start 2023 by eating and relaxing just like our canine companions on the above picture.
Dogs are amazing teachers, if you take the time to really watch how they live their lives, and so we decided to copy their behavior and relax. Happy New Year to you, your furry kids, and extended family!
All dogs, just like us people, have quirks and issues, and our Charlie is not the exception. Early on, we figured out that Charlie disliked having his paws handled so we try to handle his paws, gently, every single day. Some pet parents would say to let it be, but if the time comes when I have to get something out of his paw; trim his nails, clean his feet, etc., he would lose it because he is not used to it therefore we’re working on desensitizing him and this is where we are so far:
Wiping his paws every time he goes out for a walk and to do his business. Keep in mind that he goes out at least 6 times a day. When we are about to pick up his paw, we touch it so he knows that we are about to pick it up and he could switch his weight. He is about 71lbs. so he is a big boy. By his body language, he is getting more comfortable when we handle his paws.
Trimming his nails is a huge endeavor that takes two (2) people, yes you read it right, to accomplish. One of us does the trimming while the other one is brushing and massaging him, and making sure that he is not able to see this horrible nail cutter. On this one, we still got a long way to go.
Food is what we are using to help us desensitize Charlie to handling his paw therefore right before we put his dish down we ask him to give us his paw. This way he connects food, something he enjoys and loves, with having his paw handled.
Dogs hate having their paws handled as many of you pet parents know so if you have a Charlie of your own, I would suggest for you to work with an experienced trainer to avoid hurting your dog or yourself. Keep working with your dog and stay safe!
Abby, “Mom, did you put some cookies in my back pack?”
Abby is a working dog, and if you ask her she’ll probably tell you that she needs a raise in the form of more cookies and human food. One of Abby’s task is to carry her own gear. Yes, people, there were a few cookies in that backpack.
Walking with my pack. Prince, yours truly, Champagne, and Abby. (L to R)
Abby also helps me walk dogs. The funny thing about it is that she gets a little confused when the weekend comes around because that’s when we are off. Yes, she is a hard working girl! In order to fulfill your dog’s needs give her a job, she’ll thank you for it.
To say that I do my best to take Abby every place I can would be an understatement. Here are some of the things I do with her:
Since I hate with a passion going to the supermarket, while Cynthia goes shopping for groceries, Abby and I go to explore the neighborhood.
Abby accompanies me to walk my clients’ dogs. Hmm! Let me rephrase that, Abby accompanies me to walk our clients’ dogs.
I take her to different areas so she can see, hear, and smell a different environment other than the one around our apartment.
Abby, in the near future, will be going with me on consultations, training and behavior modification sessions.
Abby, “Mom, I can’t find any treats in this area. How come?”
Abby has a long way to go when it comes to behavior modification for let’s remember that she is only a puppy, but I don’t want to wait until she is bigger, stronger, and a total pain in the neck. She makes a lot of mistakes. Way more than my Alex ever did, but as I tell pet parents over and over again, “Every dog is an individual and as such they learn at their own pace.” I do like the improvement I see in her, but that took a lot of work and patience and we have a long road ahead of us, but that’s fine.
Abby, “Got to get my beauty sleep.”
After we get back home, Abby walks around the apartment for a couple of minutes, and since she doesn’t know how to stop – she hasn’t found her off button – I tell her to go to bed and within minutes, not seconds, she is out like a light. What a hard working puppy I have. Enjoy your week.
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
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.
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.
When I was walking Bella, the first week we got her from BARCS, I ended up flat on the ground because she did not know how to walk properly and because she was afraid of everything. I had to start desensitizing her so I, little by little, took her to new places to experience things such as bikes, motorcycles, people, etc. I started by getting her accustomed to low-level stimulus, and slowly, very slowly, increased its intensity. Our walks, at the beginning, were in our neighborhood for the most part, but since she seemed very comfortable in that environment I took her to Johns Hopkins Rd. in Crofton, MD because this is a busy street.
Some trainers and behaviorist like to use flooding – a dog is made to face his fears and he is prevented from fighting and/or fleeing – and for some dogs this method works, but not for others, like Bella. When we took her to Baltimore for an adoption event months ago, she lost it. It was so bad that when we got home she had diarrhea. As you can see, flooding was not for Bella.
This is what I wanted from Bella: a relaxed, but attentive state of mind. How did she do? Great, in my opinion. She only barked once at a girl who got pretty close to our car, but she stopped within seconds. What did I learn? That what I must have in abundance is patience in order to help my girl, Bella. What are you doing to help your dog become a balanced canine companion? Let me know.
Cynthia and I have been meaning to do our deck for the last couple of weeks, but the weather and our schedule did not permit us to tackle this job until this weekend. We told the kids, Alex and Bella, about it and as you can see Bella was ready to help out, but Alex needed a bit of convincing.
Bella started by surveying and accessing our deck’s damage in order to come up with a game plan.
This is how Alex did her evaluation of our deck’s damage.
Alex, then, decided to talk to Cynthia about this project, but midway through their planning Alex fell asleep. Way to tackle this job!
Once we had a plan in place, Bella made sure that we knew the areas where the most attention was needed by pointing with her little nose. She was such a big help to this project.
We try to include Alex and Bella in as many things as we possibly can in order to get them used to different things. Once we started working on the deck, they fell asleep in the kitchen by the sliding doors. What does that teach them? Self-control. Training your dog should be part of your every day life, and this is a perfect example of that. How does your canine companion help you tackle chores? Have a great Sunday!