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.