Sunday, August 30, 2009

time for dogs to go back to school

Today, I visited my sister and got to walk one of her dogs, Aries. Aries is a pit bull mix who reminds me of Ferdinand the Bull. During a walk, Aries has this tendency to flop down wherever he chooses and stay down for a good ten minutes or more. He cannot be budged until he is good and ready to get up and get moving.

I had no choice but to let him relax there on someone's lawn. My sister said to leave him alone and let him sit there if he chose to. Of course, I didn't think that was right. To me, this was a prime example of a dog running the show. And Aries had everyone trained instead of the other way around.

In the meantime, my sister walked Chloe, a white Siberian husky mix with blue eyes. Chloe loves to go out on long walks, but she always tugs. She also gets easily distracted. She always gets her own way and is now at the point at which she controls her humans.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Possible way to distract a dog

Yelling and pleading with dogs to stop doing this or that never works. Found that out from experience and research.

I've recently thought of an idea to distract a dog that just might work.

And the idea is, get him to do a trick that he already knows how to do. What kind of trick? Well, something that the dog enjoys doing anyway and does it on command, immediately. How neat is that?

Next time I have to walk my sister's dogs, I'm going to try it. First, I'll teach them a new trick, such as playing dead or holding up a front paw to "shake hands." This will take some time, but it will be worth a shot. Then once the dog in qusstion has mastered this trick, and he's out on a walk and becomes distracted, I'll test the magical command and see if that works.

Hey, you gotta do what you gotta do when you deal with wayward dogs, so long as what you do is humane.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Another dog gets a loving home

A few weeks ago, one of my neighbors was given or adopted a dog, an all-white little poodle. It's a cute little thing that barks on the slightest provocation and would rather sniff grass than do what its owner wants it to do.

I mention this neighbor because I know that she loves animals, especially dogs. The other thing about her is that she always said that she'd never own any pet because she couldn't stand losing it someday. I understand completely. I can't even imagine losing any of my four cats.

So what amazes me is that this woman finally decided to own a dog again. (She's owned dogs before, but had that thing about coping with their deaths.) And the other thing is that this woman treats her dog with respect and kindness, and puts up with his barking and refusals to poop outside. I have a high regard for her because the dog she adopted was probably homeless and/or unwanted to begin with.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

So close to adopting another dog, yet so far.....

My sister loves dogs so much that if she did not adopt Chloe or Aries, she would have gone to one of the local shelters and adopted one there. One time, she wanted to replace a dog who passed away with a dog that looked similar. The deceased dog was a gentle, sweet Rottie named Roxie. And the amazing part was that my sister got this close to finding what she was looking for at the local shelter.

What happened was that she told them about the type of dog she was looking to adopt and the people at the shelter let her look through a thick looseleaf binder just filled with photos and brief descriptions of available dogs at that shelter.

Now you would think that my sister would have found at least one dog that way. But she didn't.

And she isn't likely to be adopting another dog anytime soon, as she's got her hands full with Aries and Chloe.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Training for dog owners too?

In some books that I have read, the authors suggest that dog owners should receive training as well. Reading that shocked me at first.

But those authors, who happen to be veterinarians, may have a point. There are probably a lot of owners who are inexperienced in handling and caring for their pets, and may be in need of some orientation. Basics, such as how to walk a dog, might be covered as well. Even more important, owners and dogs should be trained together. That way, mistakes can be corrected immediately. The owner would be happy. The dog would be happy.

Having been around dogs, I know that I would have benefited from such training. Then I would not be likely to allow a dog to pull me during a walk. I would likely overcome a tendency to feel that a dog will always be a dog, and should therefore be indulged whenever possible.

Friday, July 31, 2009

I enjoy playing Foster Mom

Chloe and Aries are like little kids. They have their idiosyncrasies, like Chloe enjoys eating raw stringbeans, especially if they are hand fed to her.

And I enjoy watching them and sometimes, if the weather is just right, and I happen to be at their house, I will consent to walking one of them, usually Aries. Of course, Aries still likes to go where he likes to go. But I'm wise to him and stand like a pole the minute he begins to pull. Once he realizes that I'm serious, Aries will just settle for going where I want to go.

As a foster mom of these dogs for several years, I enjoy perks as not having to buy dog food or walk them on a daily basis.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

getting in sync with your dog

Probably the best training results in owners and their dogs reaching a point where they are in sync. The owner understands his or her dog and has the resources and smarts to guide that dog in a positive way. For example, knowing that the dog will run to the door once the doorbell is rung and wind up jumping on the visitor, the owner commands the dog to sit instead. And the dog obeys. Over time, that dog has been conditioned to doing something when something happens, but in a positive way.

You can believe that getting in sync takes a lot of time, effort, and patience. After all, as a dog owner, you are conditioning yourself to refrain from saying things like, "NO" when you see your dog rushing to the door. You have to restrain yourself from physically guiding your dog away from the door. It really takes a lot. And you have to be consistent about it. There's no point in starting something that you can't finish for some reason, especially in training a dog.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

On retractable leashes

My take on retractable leashes is that they encourage and prolong the unwanted behavior of pulling. It's only natural for the owner to extend the leash as the dog begins to pull to allow him or her more slack. And that's exactly what the dog wants! If he gets away with pulling this time, he's already controlling his owner instead of the other way around.

For my part, a good leather leash is the best and most reliable. It works well for trained and untrained dogs. And owners do not have to feel guilty about not allowing a pulling dog more slack than necessary.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

tried one technique and was pleasantly surprised

After awhile, books on dog training begin to sound the same. Having gone through about twenty of them, I should know. All of the basics on teaching a dog to sit, heel and come when called are included.

Got to admit, though, that some of those techniques are pretty neat, like the one I tried to keep a dog from pulling. Actually, the dog, named Aries, was my sister's dog. Aries began to pull me onto the wet lawn, which is exactly where I didn't want to go. So I stood as still and firm as a lamp post. After a few seconds, Aries stopped pulling. He looked at me, then began to lie on the grass.

I'm beginning to think that a lot does depend on the owner and the dog's personality.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

What I wished I had known about Siberian huskies

I've posted a few things about one of my sister's dogs, a Siberian husky named Chloe. Looking at Chloe, you would never guess that she would be the kind of fickle dog that she is.

Three years ago when my dad was still alive, I had to bring Chloe back indoors. It was a hot humid June day and I was uncomfortable as it was. So I went over to the tree where one end of Chloe's leash was tied. I had to unhook that leash and put on another before walking the dog back to the house.

Right in the middle of changing leashes, Chloe bolted and took off like a bat out of Hades. Fearing that she would run across the street and get hit by a car in that suburban neighborhood, I took off after her, running across five sizeable lawns. Chloe would stop, wait for me to get a couple feet within her distance, then take off again even further. Luckily, a neighbor who also knew Chloe happened to be standing in his driveway and looked up when he saw the commotion. As Chloe raced toward him, I yelled for the neighbor to hold onto her.

By that time, my sister arrived in her Jeep and gave me and Chloe a ride back to her house. Once we got there, I saw my poor dad standing, looking in our direction. He was terminally ill and in no shape to go out, but he did. I was really sweaty and overheated, but relieved that Chloe was finally back home where she belonged.

From that point on, I didn't trust Chloe anymore. I told my sister that if Chloe took off again like that, she was on her own.

And my lesson? I should have seen this coming and watched Chloe more carefully.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

turning the tables around for a dog whose bad habit is tugging at her leash

Thinking about my sister's dog, Chloe, I would probably saved myself a lot of trouble had I set things right with that dog in the first place.

Like getting Chloe to walk calmly on the leash. Now Chloe is not a puppy. She's very strong and when she tugs, she can literally drag you anywhere she wants.

Aside from the probable fact that Chloe did not receive obedience training, I should stood still while holding tightly to Chloe's leash and let her keep tugging. Maybe at some point, she would have stopped and looked at me, as a few books on dog training suggest. Then I would have walked in the opposite direction with the dog in tow. After a few brief sessions like that, Chloe might have stopped her tugging and walked in a more civilized manner.

But perhaps, this is merely wishful thinking. After all, Chloe has been allowed to tug as much as she wants to, probably because her master thinks such tugging is only natural and even cute! Well, I, for one, don't think so, and am grateful that I don't get stuck walking her on a daily basis. Now how stressful is that?

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

How I became a foster mom of dogs

All my life, I have loved and owned cats --- and still do! But only a few years ago, I began to appreciate and love dogs as well. The dogs belonged to my sister, who named a few of them, but loved them all. Of those dogs, I will always remember Roxie (a Rottweillor), Cooper, and Paco.

I used to love walking Roxie and Cooper. They were my favorite dogs of all time.

Then what happened next even surprised me. I slowly turned into a foster dog mom. That is, I pet and walked the dogs every time I visited my sister. I got to know the dogs and their personalities and learned how to mind them without going crazy.

And so far, it's working.

I've learned to deal with Aries, a pit bull mix, and stop him from constantly tugging. Then there's Chloe, the Siberian Husky mix, who still seems to enjoy tugging and pulling at her leash. I often kidded my sister about that, saying that she could practically saddle Chloe up and ride her like a pony. Everyone in my sister's suburban neighborhood knows Chloe. How could they ever forget a white dog with blue eyes? Also, Chloe is NOT a puppy, but a mature adult dog.

Having shared a little of my background with dogs, I thought that I would focus on what it is like to be a foster mom for two of a family member's dogs --- and all of the lessons I learned by just being among them.