Monday, August 14, 2006

Sick As A Dog!

Wow! I am as sick as a dog. Which is an odd expression. I have 8 dogs here right now and I am the only one who is sick...
It started with a sore throat on a Thursday night and on Friday the world was spinning.
I'm managing to feed the dogs twice a day and I've propped the door open so they can come and go as they please while I stagger from the couch to the bed and back again, stopping in the kitchen once in a while for some juice and antibiotics.
A friend brought by some soup and wondered who was caring for the dogs. I think they've pretty much reverted to feral.
They just happen to be a great bunch of feral dogs.
Bailey - a 70 pound lab tried to give me the Heimlich maneuver thinking that might help.
Coby - a 90 pound lab is certain he can lick me back to health.
Becky - a little Dobe/mix is concerned every time I cough and shows that concern by trying to leap up into my lap.
They all do perfect sits when I get the cough drops out.
For the time being I have put the care and training of my new 8 week old pup, Said, (pronounced "Sigh - eed") into their hands, or paws as the case may be.
He is learning great bite inhibition and only goes to the bathroom outside!!!
The dogs here are not quite as strict as I am when it comes to chewing so they either sat and watched, egged him on, or helped him out when he chewed a shoe and the leg of a wooden stool.
It seems a small price to pay for the luxury of being allowed to sleep until my fever breaks.
And if they keep bringing large sticks into the house and chewing them into bits?
Well, it just brings us all that much closer to nature.

Monday, August 07, 2006

The Dog Has Run off Again....

I hear this a lot.

"My dog runs off." "She doesn't come when I call." "I'm too scared to let go of the leash".


There are a lot of things that go into getting your dog to come when called.
You have to teach him to respond to a word that means "Run to me as fast as your 4 little feet can carry you". You have to be judicial in your use of that word. It can't mean "come over here", or "come on".

You have to practice it in safe places, starting with your dog on a long leash, then moving up to a fenced yard off leash.

Only good things can happen when you call your dog to you. You can't call your dog to you and beat it. (Hopefully you don't beat your dog under any circumstances.) You can't call your dog to you and give it a bath unless she loves to jump in the shower with you.

You can't call your dog to you to give her medicine unless she's the type that will eat a pill right out of your hand and think it's a treat.
If you need to do any of those things, go to your dog and get her, don't call her to you.
Make sure you are aware of what your dog considers a good thing also. I had a client who got her dog trained off leash. He did a wonderful recall, coming every time she asked, so she took the show on the road.

She started taking the dog to the park off leash and all went well until the 5th day when she phoned me to say that the dog had not come when she called.

I had her talk me through it and it seems that she was letting her dog off leash, going for a lovely walk, calling the dog to her and then putting him back on the leash and taking him home.

In the dog's view he was being punished for coming - he had to go home!!!

I had her start calling the dog 5 or 6 times while she was walking through the park and when the dog came to her she gave him a treat or a pet or a kiss on the head and then sent him on his merry way.

So that when it was time to go home the dog came because, who knew? This might be one of the times he gets a bit of roast beef.

There are a lot of little techniques like that to help you get your dog off leash and be assured that she will come when called.

But the secret to getting your dog to come???

You have to let her go.

(You can read Mary Oliver's entire poem "The Dog Has Run Off Again" on my website )