Sunday, 28 August 2011

The Dog Park

So here we were, last class of puppy school.  We would be mastering the Dog Park.  I was completely looking forward to this as I wanted to see my tough guy owning the park...showing the other pooches who's boss.

We got to the Dog Park.  Puppy's buddies/classmates for the last 6 weeks were with us.  Non of these guys had ever been off-leash.  What an experience this would be.

Not the experience I had expected at all!!  First of all, there were 2 other dogs in the park.  A scruffy little 11 year old mutt...cute as a button, and a 2 year old Rottweiler.  This was a very calm Rottweiler.  Owned by an 87 year old lady that had been raising Rottweilers for 55 years.  Very well behaved, well trained, and BIG.  I was terrified.  I refused to go into the park.

I know, I know, all my dog loving friends will lose respect in me.  They will tell me that if a dog is properly trained, there is never any danger...that all dogs are good dogs (it's the owners that create bad dogs).  Ya, OK, I know, I get it.  However, I was not prepared for my reaction.  I did not (could not) enter the park.  I knew there was no danger as I was perfectly comfortable letting my 14-year old in there NO PROBLEM.  It's not that I was even afraid of big dogs.  While on the outside of the fence, I met a woman with an 11-month old Great Dane.  Not properly trained yet and still tugging on the leash, but I was perfectly OK.  This dog stood at almost my height (5' 4").  Yet I was fine.

Anyway, on the outside looking in, I saw something that I could not believe.  All the dogs, minus mine, were all off leash, smelling each other, running around, interacting.  My little guy had gone to a corner of the park and stayed near the fence.  He stood by the woman who runs the park.  He had absolutely no interest in interacting with the other dogs.  I was quite disturbed by this until our class trainer told me that, as this was his first experience off-leash around other dogs, he simply did not know how to react.  Almost as though he felt his safety net was gone. In the meantime, the 6 pound schnauzer was chasing the 150 pound Rottweiler all over the park.  My little guy just sat there.  At one point, the Rottweiler got wind of my puppy.  He went up to him and preceded to nudge him and chase him.  My little guy was crying and whimpering, but the trainer told us not to intervene.  The Rottweiler was not aggressive at all, just a 2 year old wanting to play with a new friend.  By using his nose and body, Mr Big Guy was TEACHING my little guy HOW to play.

I have to admit, I was very scared for the little guy. The trainer then came up to me and told me that my pup was feeding off my negative energy.  He sensed that I did not like Mr. Big and therefore saw him as a pup to steer clear of.

That's when it all clicked.  Training isn't just about commands.  It's not only about teaching a dog not to chew on the carpet.  It's not just about what you say to him.  That's only 50%.  The other 50% is training via your body language.  Training yourself to remain calm.  Training yourself to remain assertive.  Had I been calm and entered the park, my pup would have had the time of his life...but, because I stayed out, I gave him the feeling that there might be danger around.

At this point, I made a vow to myself that I would pay more attention to the silent cues.  Whenever possible, I will steer clear of negative energy.  I will not allow my fears and phobias to taint a wonderful puppy experience.  I want puppy to play with all dogs, big and small...and hopefully, I'll be on the inside of the fence with him.

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Sunday, 21 August 2011

Forever a Part of Me!

It has been said that in order to grow your vocabulary, you have to use a new word in 5 different sentences.  That way, it becomes deeply embedded in your psyche, and you leave and breathe your new word.

Well, I've noticed that this works with phrases as well. Case in point, words like "sit", "stay", "heel", "down", "good boy", are said so many times during the day, that my day is not complete without them.  However, I've also noticed  it's the phrases that I mutter over and over again, that have made me wonder about the meaning of life

Ever since becoming a new puppy owner, there are phrases that I use dozens of times during the day.  These phrases will forever be a part of me.  Phrases I never thought I would ever mutter:

1-Where's the other half of that slipper? (Toe is missing)
2-Stop biting me!
3-I need to know the size of the poop.
4-Get your head out of the garbage.
5-Where did that kleenex come from?
6-What's in your mouth?  (As I'm trying to pry open his jaws on our leisurely walk)
7-Anybody see where the dish towel went?
8-No...not the Persian rug :(
9-I'd like to buy some biodegradable poop bags please.

Thanks to my puppy, these phrases have now become a huge part of me.  Excuse me now.  I have to sit, stay and watch my little puppy grow up!

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Sunday, 14 August 2011

My puppy...Lucky to be Alive!!!

I always had the misguided notion that nature took care of itself.  That animals had a survival instinct.  They are born knowing how to communicate, how to walk, and short, animals know how to stay alive.

However, I've come to realize in the last week alone, that puppies were last in line when that big light in the sky was handing out the survival instinct.  Maybe they were too busy running around, or yapping too loudly, but puppies don't realize how lucky they are every day, breathing, running, living.

Case in point:

Monday: Puppy ate rocks, sticks, and tufts of grass....he's lucky to be alive

Tuesday: Puppy discovered the garbage bin in the laundry room.  He ate lint, kleenex, paper hand towels, and gum wrappers...he's lucky to be alive

Wednesday: Puppy gets a fresh bowl of water 5 times a day.  However, he's discovered puddles of water left by rain, car washes, sprinklers...loves to lap it all up (soap and all!!)...he's lucky to be alive

Thursday: Puppy discovers a water bottle while I'm running him in a schoolyard.  Only, it's not an entire bottle..just a broken shell of itself..he's lucky to be alive

Friday: Puppy runs over to the only piece of trash in the whole yard.  A Styrofoam cup must have blown over.  Puppy loves the millions of pieces it becomes in his mouth...he's lucky to be alive

Saturday: Puppy is playing with his bone.  He loves his bone.  He's going at it with an enthusiasm I haven't seen since he was 8 weeks old.  He's at the bottom of the stairs.  I'm at the top.  I praise him for being such a good puppy.  I tell him he's a good boy.  I come down the stairs to watch an episode of Entourage I had PVR'd.  I'm looking for the remote..but all I find is the puppy's bone.  Yep, you guessed it, I praised him for 10 minutes for chewing on the remote.  When hubby came home, hubby reminded me that puppy was lucky to still be alive.

Sunday:  I'm sitting in the home office writing this blog.  I hear a noise behind me.  I turn around.  There's puppy, chewing on my Anne Klein red wedge (left foot).....oh yeah, puppy is sooo lucky to be alive!!!!

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Sunday, 7 August 2011

Coming to terms with "Doggie Terms"

So,here I am, I've been a new puppy owner for exactly 2 1/2 months now.  In this short time, I've come to realize that I am not the only clueless person around when it comes to dogs.  I've begun pondering all the phrases and idioms that include the word "dog" and I've realized that none of them make any sense at all.

To wit:

1.  It's a dogs life.  I wish.  Dogs have the best life ever.  They sleep all day, get pet constantly, food and fresh water is readily available, they get monthly pedicures, plenty of exercise..what's not to like???

2. Dog eat dog.  Yeah right.  A dog will eat anything (slippers, mud, sticks, rocks, grass, furniture, stairs), but other dogs?? way!!

3. At the end of my leash.  Supposedly it means exasperation, however in doggie terms it just means that Master is not walking him fast enough...too much to see and do..not enough time

4. Dog tired.  What the heck do they have to be tired about?  They sleep 14 hours a day.  Expression should be changed to "refreshed as a dog", or "dog lazy"

5. Dog days of summer.  Yeah, best time ever!!!  When else does puppy's dutiful master take him out to every water fountain in the city?  Let's him run around splashing and swimming, lets puppy get thoroughly soaked, while master constantly wipes the sweat from her brows cursing that she forgot, yet again, to get herself a water bottle :(

6. Let sleeping dogs lie.  No way, you'd  never get anything done!!  (Please see No. 4 for reference)

7. Barking up the wrong tree.  No such thing.  According to my puppy, all trees are the right trees.  He never met a tree he didn't like.

8. In the doghouse.  Yes that would be a bad thing, if the dog house wasn't actually a split level dwelling with central air.

9. A dog's breakfast.  Supposedly meaning a vast smorgasbord.  Alas, in my puppy's case, he only eats one type of food...really healthy if you happen to ever bump in to him, please don't mention the people-food thing!!

10. Every dog has his day.  Only one day!!  No way, my puppy has captured my heart for life!!!

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