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At our house, Wednesday morning is Nemesis Day.
For Stormy, that nemesis is the Homestead Creamery delivery dude.
Sure, this guy SEEMS harmless as he delivers fresh and tasty dairy products to our next-door neighbors. But Stormy has always known that the fellow who arrives every Wednesday morning at 7 a.m. is there for some nefarious reason.
No one but Stormy knows this reason, but he makes sure to let us know that the evil MILKMAN is in our ‘hood by barking his
fool head off hear out for the entire 6-minutes the truck is on our cul-de-sac.
Except this Wednesday morning.
I woke up this morning to the sound of the truck as it was heading up the hill and away from our house, but not a peep was uttered by my superhero. Instead of standing at the window barking what I am fairly sure translates to English as “DANGER, DANGER, DANGER!” all I heard was the truck’s big engine drowning out the snoring of the sleeping dog curled up by my knees.
I was concerned enough that I wondered if he was OK. Phil didn’t think a trip to the vet was warranted for our dog finally behaving the way we wanted him to behave. A thermometer in an uncomfortable place seems like punishment for being good.
I don’t know if Stormy was just so tired he didn’t hear his long-time rival or if he has finally given up the fight.
All I know is that, as I got a few extra minutes of blissful, bark-free sleep, surrender is indeed very sweet.
Did you see today’s Daily Deal? You can send your doggie back to school for $10.
If you are not aware of the Daily Deal, it’s a bargain that is offered through roanoke.com that gets you savings on local goods and services. It’s a great way to save money at stores, salons and restaurants that you already patronize and to try new ones at a discounted rate.
I have been planning since last spring to enroll Melissa Moo in Field of Dreams day school, hoping it would help her learn some manners and the play better with other dogs. Our other two dogs, Coral and Stormy, get along with Melissa most of the time, but she’s a little odd and can be a real handful. They often look at her and then look at us as if to ask, “Was she dropped on her head as a puppy?”
If you have a dog with lots of energy, day care is a great way to work off the excess. When Six Wags in Salem was open, we took Stormy there twice a week and the time he spent in that park with the dog handlers and the other pooches did WONDERS to positively channel his puppy energy.
Field of Dreams, from what I understood from Hough when we spoke earlier this year, takes that concept a step further and tries to help dogs work on social skills and uses positive reinforcement for good behavior at home.
Do any of you take your dogs to day care or to any kind of obedience school? Do you have an A student or one that’s more academically challenged?
So, the question of the day here in Roanoke is, “Did you feel it?”
The answer from me is yes. I was at my desk on the third floor of the Roanoke Times building and I did indeed feel the earthquake yesterday just before 2 p.m. Any aftershocks that happened during the night? No. I sleep like the dead and the house would have to be falling down before I would notice.
The answer from my dogs, from what I gather, is an emphatic “YES!” — at least as far as my neighbor could tell. My husband and I were at work, but one of our neighbors called to say that the quake had Stormy barking his fool head off.
Later she called to tell my husband that Stormy had quieted down.
By the time we got home around 5:30 p.m., the cat just seemed as annoyed as he always does.
The dogs appeared back to normal, hungry for their supper and playful as ever. Typical summer afternoon: The pit bull runs around the backyard, the greyhounds think he’s a giant, lumbering bunny. They chase, catch and tackle him, then try to eat his head.
He rolls over and enjoys the attention.
How did your pets fare during the Great Shake of 2011?
While nature keeps teasing us with glimpses of spring, I have been thinking that every evening when I get home that I would like to take the dogs for a walk.
Since we have a fenced backyard, walking is not a requirement to for our muttley crew get their bodily business done. (However, we still prepare for the worst when we walk with our dogs and take plastic bags for when –not if — they stop for nature’s call. Cause you know, poop happens.)
But every night when I get home, I find myself too caught up in all the other things that need to be done in running a resort and spa for pampered pets — everyone needs fed, litter boxes need cleaned, clothes and dishes always need washed — that I run out of time and energy to get the leash and take to the streets.
I have a few more excuses too: There are three dogs and only two people in our family, which makes dog-walking a bit of a challenge. Our dogs do not have the best leash manners –tugging, wandering, yanking, crossing, etc. — so we never get very far before frustration and exhaustion forces us to turn back.
To our mutts, heel is that tasty part of the loaf of bread.
Of course our dogs will never develop better leash manners if we don’t walk them on leashes. To quote the less-than-lucid actor Charlie Sheen’s favorite phrase during his recent media blitz: “Duh.”
So help me out here, folks. How do you get yourself motivated to walk your dog(s), especially if you don’t *have* to do it, and what do you recommend to make the walk a more pleasant experience for all involved?
Johnny Cash once sang the blues about a dirty old egg-sucking dog.
I was singing the blues last night with our pretty little shoe-chewing dog.
Girlfriend likes brand names. Sperry Topsiders? Destroyed. Clark’s sandals ? Ripped to shreds. Keen athletic shoes? Now hanging by a thread.
If I had a pair of Jimmy Choo shoes, that would almost be ironic.
Shoes are her favorite thing to chew. When she can’t get to my shoes (I try to keep them in the closet out of her snout’s reach) her next choices for amusement are washcloths and socks that she can pilfer from the laundry hamper.
Last night I caught her with my shoe in her mouth and snatched it from her, yelling, “No chew! No chew the shoes!”
I waved the shoe at her in a menacing way, trying to make her afraid of it. She looked terrified and I felt horrible.
Then she decided to take out her frustration by chewing on Stormy’s face. While he didn’t seem to mind (I think the little weirdo likes the attention, actually) I yelled at Melissa again, “No chew! No chew the pit bull!”
In a moment of soap-opera-like drama, she dragged herself onto the couch, buried her face, let out a huge sigh and pouted for 15 minutes.
Raising a teenage daughter was easier than this.
Any advice on what to do with a dog –well past her puppy chewing stage — with expensive taste? We have a a pet store’s worth of toys and a rawhide only lasts so long.
Click here to read today’s Happy Wag column about two local dog trainers that use positive reinforcement to train dogs and, as it turns out, their pet parents. Click here to see the awesome photo gallery put together by photojournalist Stephanie Klein-Davis.
One of the side benefits to doing an article like this is osmosis learning: I took some of the suggestions I observed in Karen Hough’s classes and Hope Cogen’s training sessions and tried them at home.
So far, good results.
Our pit bull-mix Stormy is a great dog, and for the most part, he’s well behaved. But he channels his inner sentry on a daily basis and loudly alerts us to any activity on our cul-de-sac he can see through our living room windows.
For Stormy, kids riding their bikes is a red alert situation.
We’ve been trying to discourage this with positive reinforcement, removing him from the windows, claiming that space, and telling him what a good dog he is when he’s not barking.
A true test came last week, when a man and his young daughter, whom I’ve never seen before, came riding into our cul-de-sac. Our little circle of the world is on a fairly steep incline, and the little girl was having a blast running her tricycle down hill over and over again as her dad peddled around on his bike watching her.
She had to have made the joyous trip sailing down our street 20 times. And Stormy was just DYING to give us a play-by-play.
He watched, and he grumbled, but with constant reassurance that he was being a good boy by remaining quiet, he didn’t bark.
He got several cookies and lots of praise. While I can’t say that he will never bark at the window again, I can say that was the best experience we’ve had and it sure beats yelling at him to pipe down.
What methods work best for you to correct unwanted behavior?
Photo by Stephanie Klein-Davis/The Roanoke Times
I am working on a story about behavior problems that many dogs experience, especially when they are new in a home, and what methods their pet parents can use to discourage naughtiness and encourage goodness.
I have read a few dog training books, and I have read countless articles on the subject. I had a professional dog trainer to my house and enrolled a dog in classes. And I still struggle sometimes with what to do when a pooch acts up.
No one wants their furniture destroyed, their carpet peed on, or there to be friction between pets that could result in someone getting hurt. While I am very fortunate to not have any serious issues with my pack and my lone feline, I know that behavior problems are a major reason that many dogs end up in shelters.
There are two major influences on cable television: “The Dog Whisperer” with Cesar Millan on the National Geographic Channel and “It’s Me or the Dog” with Victoria Stillwell on Animal Planet.
Millan is renowned for his philosophy of “discipline, exercise, and affection” pack-leader style of training. I read one of his books and while I see his point on many topics, I can’t say I totally embrace his methods, especially when it comes to harsh corrections.
He does make, I think, excellent points about needing to stay calm and balanced when dealing with an upset dog and that exercise will help burn off energy that can lead a bored or nervous dog to undesirable behavior.
Stillwell is a positive reinforcement trainer — in the most simplistic terms, she advocates rewarding the dog with praise, toys and treats when they do good and ignoring them when they do bad. I see a lot of wisdom in this as well, since my dogs seem to learn desirable habits much faster when there is consistently a treat or a belly rub in it for them.
Two things I do know for sure: Correcting chronic behavior problems are NEVER as easy as they make it look on television, and consistency in your method is key to teaching a dog what you want from him or her.
What do you think about these schools of thoughts and what has worked best for you? Is the answer one way or the other or does the best path seem to be somewhere in the middle?
So we adopted Melissa Moo a few weeks back and she is settling in nicely. She wants to be a good girl. She wants to fit in. I like to think of the few stumbling blocks we’ve had as learning experiences, more for me than for her.
She did destroy my favorite pair of Clarks’ sandals, which made me sad, but it also reminded me not to be so careless with my shoes.
She’s had a couple accidents in the house, but that is a lesson to me that I have to watch for signs that she needs to go outside. She’s a newbie and needs more attention.
The biggest struggle by far has been getting her to accept going into her crate when it’s time for the last human in the house to leave for work. While the other two dogs know the command “crate” and instantly head to their day beds and wait for their cookies, Melissa has been hesitant to pick up this habit.
One might even say obstinately opposed to it.
Not that I don’t need the aerobic exercise that comes with chasing her up and down the stairs and wrestling her toward the crate; indeed I need all the sweaty work-outs I can get. But I prefer to have less drama in the morning and I hate leaving feeling like I man-handled her into something she didn’t want to do.
Today, when I said “crate” Stormy and Coral headed directly to their respective homes and Melissa, as usual, ran up the stairs. I called her name and promised her cookies.
Seconds later she came bounding down the stairs and willingly went into her crate.
I was ecstatic, showered her with praise and cookies and tossed the other mutts a few extra cookies in celebration.
It’s the little victories that mean the most.
This post was written by Lindsey Nair, the food writer for The Roanoke Times and my favorite foodie blogger over at Fridge Magnet on our new culinary web site, Plate Up. Lindsey and her husband Howard recently adopted Indie, a smart, friendly and handsome boxer/Lab mix.
Our new dog, Indie, has brought us immense joy mixed with periods of extreme stress and anxiety. I guess that’s what being a new parent, even a pet parent, is all about, eh?
But a lot of our anxiety – and Indie’s – could have been prevented if someone had taken the simple step of feeding him a heartworm prevention pill once a month.
Indie wandered into my sister’s yard near Spartanburg, South Carolina a few weeks ago. She knew almost immediately that he was a special dog, because he was incredibly friendly and very smart. He figured out how to get into her fenced yard, through a doggie door in the garage door and onto her dog’s bed within about one day.
The stories she told me about him over the phone sealed the deal. We’d been talking about a dog and he sounded like a wonderful rescue. So my sister took him to the vet for a check-up. They estimated him at 3 to 5 years of age, said he’s a black lab mix and said he was extremely healthy – with one exception.
Indie tested positive for the early stages of a heartworm infestation.
The recommended treatment was three nights of kenneling and a series of painful, deep muscle shots in his back. But that wasn’t even the worst part – the worst part is that this beautiful bundle of love and energy has to be contained as much as possible for the next six weeks. Why? Because when the adult heartworms die, they have to disintegrate and be flushed naturally from the dog’s body. If his heart rate gets up too high, a piece of worm could rush to his lungs and cause a pulmonary embolism.
The first night in the crate went well. As soon as I let him out the next morning, he took his leash in his mouth and handed it to me. “Let’s go outside, Ma!”
But further crating has begun to drive him bonkers. He has now destroyed two crates. For a while, leaving him alone in our office with the door closed worked beautifully. We were greeted by a happy, smiling, tail-wagging bundle of joy whenever we went in.
But when we came home for lunch on our first day back to work, we found that he had torn down a mini-blind, destroyed a basket and chewed a section of our windowsill. Not only is there property damage; there’s the risk that he will get himself too riled up and become ill.
We can’t take him outside and throw a ball until he’s exhausted from play. I can’t take him for a run and jog some of that energy out of his little body. And when he drops his toy duck at my feet, we can’t even engage in a spirited game of tug-of-war.
In short, it sucks.
With my good friend Nona’s help, and a lot of advice from the vet (and perhaps some doggie downers), we will all hopefully make it through the next 6 weeks in one piece. But I hope our story can be a good lesson for other dog owners.
Please keep up with those heartworm treatments. If a dog is infected, it means one of two things: agonizing death or extremely expensive treatments and weeks of frustration and anxiety – for the humans and the critter!