Dog Parenting Fail – Trainer Error

It happens. You forget, you overlook, or you just plain ignore it, and next thing you know you’re cleaning up a mess.

“It” being a potential issue – an object or situation – that causes your dog to act in an undesirable way. Did your darling steal food? Dash out the door? Lunge and bark at a passing person or dog? Chew up something?

Like this?

image

That is a very expensive walking boot.

And this

image

Is an even more expensive custom orthotic insert. You’ll notice they both have tell-tale teeth marks on them. I’m going to let you in on a training secret. Trainers make mistakes too. *gasp*

In my day job, I’m a nurse. Two careers and over 20 years of being on my feet all day (or night) on concrete floors has taken its toll on my feet and the boot is just the latest round in my on-going bout with plantar fasciitis. The new boot was literally just a day old when I forgot and left it in the kitchen overnight. Where this guy sleeps.

image

Xander at just over a year and a half old is still very much a puppy in his head. While he is very good about not doing the destructo-puppy chewing thing he is not 100% reliable when he is not supervised. This is normal; teenage dogs, like teenage kids will want to test their limits, explore their boundaries and push limits. It’s up to you and me as dog parents to establish clear boundaries and maintain them. It’s also on us to ensure the dog is able to understand and follow the rules.

So the first place to look for what went wrong if your dog is misbehaving is at yourself. Because what likely happened is you made a mistake. Trainer error is one of the most common reasons for poorly trained dogs.

My mistake was that I tucked my boot out of sight so I wouldn’t trip over it as I was working in the kitchen last night. I forgot I left it there and didn’t see it when I went to bed and gated Xander in the kitchen for the night. The kitchen is Xander’s safe zone; it functions like a giant crate, keeping him safely contained so he can’t get to things that are easily destroyed, like couches or pillows. In his safe zone he can move, stretch and sleep. He knows that if it’s on the floor in the kitchen he can chew it. So he figured I’d just left him a brand new chew toy.

No one to blame but myself. I was just very very lucky he wasn’t too excited by it and gave up after just a little mouthing, both are still fully functional. He could have completely destroyed both.

What did I do when I saw the damage? Nothing. He would not have connected any scolding or punishment with the act of chewing up the boot because too much time had already passed. Xander did nothing wrong. I did.

Too often owners blame the dog for bad behavior that is entirely preventable. As responsible dog parents we need to think ahead of our dogs and set them up to succeed. In Xander’s case, he simply needs a little more time, and a little more maturity to be able to direct his chewing behavior on appropriate toys at all times. I knew I should have moved the darn boot. But it was out of sight, out of mind. If you’re going to have a dog, you have to take responsibility for the dog’s behavior, good and bad.

Trainer error is going to happen. So you need to be present and pay attention to your dog and your surroundings so you can minimize the times your dog presents inappropriate behaviors. Think ahead of your dog. Pick up, put away, or remove tempting objects your dog could chew. Restrict your dog’s access to just one or two rooms to prevent chewing or eliminating behaviors that happen out of your direct line of sight.

I cover this and more training techniques in my book Dog Care and Training For The GENIUS. In it I’ll show you how to teach your dog your rules and your boundaries. Look for it to be released in the next month or so.

Has your dog chewed or destroyed something he wasn’t supposed to? How did you react? What could you have done to prevent it?

Dogs and Cats Living Together! Mass Hysteria!

Who said that? Oh, yeah, Bill Murray in this classic scene:

Have you been wanting to get a furry companion to your first fur kid but thought that dogs and cats were mortal enemies? I love Ghostbusters, but I’m happy to say, Peter Venkman is wrong. Cats and dogs live together quite happily and form lasting bonds of friendship.

Meet Sage.

Sage1
“I do what I want.”

Sage is my patriarch. At 19 years old he really does do whatever he feels like. While the dogs have to display their best manners when we’re eating dinner, Sage just comes right up and inspects the plate. And gets a handout. Don’t judge. He’s 19. When a kitty reaches that age in my house he’s earned extra special treatment. And a taste of chicken. Or bacon. Especially bacon.

Sage is also the unquestioned ruler of the couch, the pillows, the dog beds and even the dogs. It all started, well, 19 years ago. I brought Sage home as tiny kitten and my Belgian sheepdog, Pagan immediately appointed himself Kitten Guard and Personal Groomer. Sage learned from the very beginning that dogs will comfort you, clean you and cuddle you. That’s pretty much been his expectation with every other dog in my house. Of course from Sage’s point of view, they’re his dogs.

SageXNander

SageNGolly

XNSage1

Nothing like a warm, soft dog pillow on those frosty winter nights. In Sage’s world, dogs must be cuddled and dogs must be cleaned.

The bonding that can happen between pets is heartwarming and can be incredibly strong. If you’ve been wondering if your fur kid could use a companion, here are some things to consider:

  • Dogs and cats can experience stress, fear and anxiety when they are all alone in our homes. Having another furry friend eliminates this.
  • Bringing in a second pet, while ultimately rewarding for you and your current fur kid, will require some effort on your part to ensure a smooth integration into the family.

Think about how your pet reacts right now to other animals or visitors in your home. If you have a dog, do they enjoy other dogs? How do they react when they see another animal? With excitement? Interest? Or fear? Have you had other animals in your home?

Consider a trial run if your pet has never seen another dog or cat and you’re thinking of expanding your household. Enlist a friend to bring their (well-socialized!) pet over for a visit – for a few hours or even volunteer to pet sit for a day or two to get your fur kid used to the idea of other animals in the house.

As you can see from my household, I have pets in multiples. They keep each other company while my husband and I are at our day jobs. Indeed, most pets will benefit from having a full-time friend. It can help reduce anxiety and loneliness. Of course before you bring in a second (or third!) pet be sure you can devote the time, energy and finances to giving your new fur kid the same love and attention as the first.

Do you have a single fur kid? Have you thought about adding another but weren’t sure it would work? Tell me how your fur kids get along! And take a look at this adorable compilation of dog-cat buddies.

Dog Parenting Fail!

 

I love animal videos! Every day I see something that showcases the beauty, the empathy, the intelligence of the animals that share our planet and our homes.

And then, I see this…

 

i’m dead …. Epic Vines

This is a dog parenting fail. An Epic one. Poor pug probably knows he has crazy for a mama, but to use the little guy as some sort of bludgeoning weapon is just all kinds of wrong.

Ok, ok, go ahead and laugh. I’ll grant that it looks humorous. But then take another look at the poor lil’ guy’s rigid limbs and try to understand the fear he’s feeling. Not to mention the pain and potential damage being done to his neck and body from the jerk and impact. Then the further pain of being dragged off with his front feet high off the ground. I would not be surprised if this pug sustained damage to his windpipe at the very least.

Not quite so funny now?

We are conditioned by the TV and movies we watch to think of cartoon like violence being, well, a cartoon – not real. Except, it has very real consequences for that pug.

I’m not asking for a campaign against these sorts of videos. Just next time you see a video that shows animals in situations like this one, look past the pratfall laugh and consider what the animal is feeling.

But I would not want to leave you on such a downer note so here’s a bit of cuteness to brighten it up a bit.