Sunday, October 7, 2012

Driving Miss Doggy

I've been wondering what the best way to transport your little doggy might be.  It has become apparent that an unrestrained pup in the car can be a distraction to the driver, or in the case of an accident or sudden stop, a flying object that can do harm to others, or self.

If you're driving a van, I suppose you could urge the dog into a crate, but that might not be viable for sedans and smaller cars.

Any recommendations as to how to keep Fido safe and sound?

Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Dog is a Climber

Now over 40 pounds, Gunnar has developed a new bad habit, reaching up on to the kitchen counters.  We've laid land mines for him in the form of socks or such tied to penny bottles, but he has learned to ignore them.  Even worse, while Mary was making a batch of cupcakes, he stood up to the counter and got himself a taste of lemon curd cupcake batter. 

When grizzlies get accustomed to human food, they relocate them.  Not an option here.  Any thoughts?

The climbing / jumping isn't limited to the counters.   He seems to have increased the frequency and diligence in jumping on members of the household.   We've tried to react by shuffling our feet into his body and pushing him backwards, off balance, but that hasn't stopped the behavior.

Anyone else dealing with this issue?   Any tactics that might work?

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Taking the Dog Camping

For over 30 years our group of Wisconsin friends has been going for a week of camping at Rock Island State Park off the tip of Door County.   With our children all grown or working, it looks as though our caravan this year may be limited to just my wife, Gunnar and me, a seemingly more manageable total than when our 4 children accompanied us.  I can anticipate the obvious pitfalls, such as coming prepared with enough plastic bags.  We'll need to keep Gunnar on leash a lot, as the island has a lot of poison ivy, so there are definitely areas where he can't be left to his own devices.  Raccoons are the only critter that we have encountered on the island, so we'll have to take care with the dog food.   Other than that, does any one have any suggestions or warnings from your camping experiences?  Gunnar is not a barker, so I don't think we'll have to worry about campground courtesy issues.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

The Shredder

I'm wondering if anyone else is having issues with their dog destroying stuff.  We're not having so much of a  problem with him trashing the house, but he'll tear the bedding in his crate into little pieces.   Leave a towel out?   He'll gnaw on that and tear it apart.   Gunnar's also partial to small rugs.  Seems to like to gnaw on them and pull the yarn out.   We've removed most of those rugs from the house.  Spraying stuff with the bitter apple deterrent hasn't had much impact.

Playing catch with a plastic Frisbee is similarly frustrating.   Gunnar isn't at all good about dropping an object.  He finds more sport in gnawing on it, literally tearing it into tiny pieces of plastic, which if digested, I'm assuming would not be good.  Tennis balls are objects to be similarly torn apart.  He hasn't punctured one yet, but he's good at stripping the green fuzz from the ball.  We're told by friends that this is normal puppy stuff and that he'll grow out of it.  Sigh!

Monday, May 21, 2012

It's all About Pacing Yourself

We had a few other dogs join the group for morning run on Saturday.  Gunnar decided that he couldn't abide being BEHIND any other dogs, so he took off.  That was fine and I was willing to let him run a bit faster, but he wasn't content to being in front of those dogs, he wanted to be in front of the other humans as well.   Again, I gave him a little time to pass them as well, but he wouldn't back off into a comfortable pace.  He strained at the leash to the extent that he breathing was strained, and frankly, it was a pace I didn't care to run at.  He gave no sign of backing off, so I did.  I stopped, and we let the rest of the group go.  Gunnar certainly didn't like THAT!  But, we sat where we were for a few moments.  Then, we reversed course and ran by ourselves.  Gunnar again decided to charge out like the proverbial bat, but I stopped.  Every time he would run faster than he could handle with comfortable breathing, and without leash strain, we would stop.  Sometimes we'd walk, sometimes dead stop.  Until he would run at the pace I wanted.

Not sure if this is right or not, but it seemed to work.  Seems to tie in a bit with the leash training we did this past Sunday, though.  Anybody with other suggestions for pace control?

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Little Squirt

Legend holds that a spray bottle can be a useful tool in discouraging certain undesirable behavioiurs in dogs.  Finding myself in the local Menard's store's garden section, I spied a spray bottle for the exorbitant sum of about $1.88.  Gunnar provided the opportunity soon enough to test the bottle, as he started nipping at Mary whilst sitting on her lap.  From that stage forward, just showing the bottle is enough to send the pup scurrying.

Simple, and effective.!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Gunnar Goes to College

After some change of heart, we decided that Gunnar would accompany us to his sister, Bailey's graduation ceremony at Macalester College in St. Paul, MN.  There was a bit of anxiety being crated up on the way up there, but after about 20 minutes, he calmed down, and I took 3 breaks in the course of the 400 mile drive so that he could get a walk and stretch his legs.   The way home was beautiful.  I think he may have slept the entire way. 

He did get to meet a number of collegiate types and professors, and made appropriate impressions and was very well-behaved.   No bites.  As is the case with us, I think he's wiped out after his travels.  After this afternoon's walk, he entered the house and flopped down on the wood floors.

On a completely unrelated topic, I took him to PetSmart to get his nails done.  The folks claimed his nails were too short already.   Hmmm!   They did take a Dremel tool to his nails, though.   Quite the eventful day for the pooch.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Testing .....

Today we worked on leash management.  Or, dog management via leash.   Whatever!  Through trial and error, I think I've concluded that for OUR dog at least, a series of short corrections works better than a long, drawn out tug of war, constant-strain-on-the-leash approach.

In other news, we tired of Gunnar shredding the old towels and blankets we used to line his crate.  He seems to enjoy shredding them.   Tearing everything into tiny little pieces, some of which occasionally hang from his canines.  So....., we replaced that stuff with a nice padded cushion from the store.   Which lasted ALMOST one day.   Mary came home from morning run to find it demolished.  If this continues, the plastic tray in the bottom of the crate will be all he has. Grrrrrr.

Saturday, May 5, 2012


Well, 2 out of 3 ain't bad!  In Gunnar's case, the throw and fetch thing works well.   In his case, the game becomes throw-fetch-chew.  The goal seems to be to shred the tennis balls or devour the Frisbee.  Oh, well.  Perhaps he'll eventually come to enjoy the repetition part of the game.  I hear that those proverbial puppy teeth will fall out and that he'll be a lot less chewy, if there's such a word.  Hmmm.  Spell-check seems to think there is. 

We did have an accident this afternoon, though.  Gunnar violated the zone of our invisible dog fence and got the reminder that he shouldn't do so.  The flags are down now so the visual cues are gone.  I imagine that this will be something he remembers.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Weather & Other Phenomenon

We had a VERY uneventful walk this afternoon, with virtually no pulling or straining at the leash.  I'd like to chalk that one up to diligence in training regimen and consistent rewarding of positive behaviours, but, there's an outside chance that the high temperature and high humidity may have had some impact.  On our way back home, Gunnar clearly had enough, and mosied over to a nice-cropped lawn in a shady spot, and plunked himself down, full recline, soaking up the coolness of the grass. After that brief break, we made the slow march back home. 

Now, the internet news sites are full of articles about some "giant moon" we're supposed to have this Saturday.  So, thinking about all that hard-wiring in my cattle-breeding puppy, will the lunar influence drive him to another kind of beast?  If we're not at class on Sunday, you'll know that he has evolved into something horrible.

The penny bottle traps have gone untouched all week, until this evening.  The temptation was too great, and Gunnar went for a nice, white running sock.    Yummmy!  The crash sent him scurrying.   We'll see how long before he strikes again.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

The Storm Before the Calm

I have to wonder what behaviours are hard-wired and which are just that, a particular behaviour.  Gunnar continues to give strong resistance to Mary.   I'm including a pic of tonight's work through the "down" command.  He spent much of the time biting the leash.  After about 5 minutes, he did comply, but......

Sunday, April 29, 2012

The Stocking Thief

We lost a few socks this week.  Gunnar is an opportunistic shredder.  So, I put out a penny bottle setup for him.  Sure enough, it didn't take more than a minute for him to spy the sock, and drag the bottle crashing to the ground.  He left it alone until the next day, when he gave it another shot.  Same result.  It's been untouched for a few days now.   Mary set him up with one of her socks hanging from the laundry basket.  Sure enough, he went for the bait and scurried off when the bottle crashed to the laundry room floor.

We have a few bottle planted around the house, working on that extinction thing.

First Attempt at "Down"

Mary gave the command a shot.   On the first attempt, he fought for about 3 minutes before giving in.  Biting, jumping, turning, the whole range of tricks.  The second attempt took only about 20 seconds.

I gave it a shot after dinner.  No challenge here!  Almost immediate response.  Obviously needs to be worked on some more.

Is Puppy Training Exhausting?

I wonder if others in the class are experiencing the same thing we are.   Gunnar is exhausted after the class.  Kinda' nice!  Right now he wandered off into the bedroom and is sacked out, away from the noise and hubub.

Uh, oh!   I think he heard me typing.   He's back!!!!!

Dog Training, No. People Training, Yes.

I can't say that I've ever watched any of those Dog Whisperer shows, or others of that ilk, but I guess I thought "training" a dog would be sort of straight forward.  After all, I grew up with lots of dogs, and we never did anything special to get them to become well-behaved members of the family.  Turns out the intuitive part of dog training just isn't there.  It all seems so obvious as we hear interpretations of how dogs think/ act/react. 

A fun class today as each puppy was introduced to the "down" command.  We'll have to see how things go when we attempt this outside the classroom setting.  Nice to pick up a take-away on how to deal with the jumping habit that Gunnar has been displaying.  With genetics working against us, I don't know that we'll ever completely eliminate the nipping behaviour, though.   But, there's several class sessions left, so who know?   I'll keep an open mind on that point.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Walking Adventures

Day 3 of controlled walking, and progress is being seen.  That's not to say that Gunnar didn't challenge the control thing.  In fact, he tried a new tactic today;  trying to walk on my right side instead of the left.  I'll give him credit for persistence.  He gave it a shot about 6 different times, and finally gave up.  By the end of the tour he was walking with slack in the leash, right where he belongs.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Day 2 -The Battle Continues

Today's walk was better than yesterday's, but Gunnar still spent a fair amount of time resisting the leash.  Progress, but no overnight miracles here.  We spent a good amount of time playing in the backyard, and I know he was certainly getting tired.  House guest Kristine came in, and Gunnar began his jumping routine.  It took almost a half hour to get him to calm down.  Excited breathing, wagging tail, snapping jaws!  Eventually, he became accustomed to her being here and started to behave.   As the evening got later, though, the teeth came out.  He started snapping at me as I settled in on the couch.  That's game!  Rather than lash out and resort to physical punishment, I led him off to his crate for the evening.  Not sure if that's the right thing to do, but I think he was getting into hyper spaz mode.

Monday, April 23, 2012

An unusual dynamic at play with Gunnar.  He gets TONS more affection from Mary, yet he is snapping at her, biting the leash, rolling over.   I guess these are signs that he's trying to be the dominant one.  Maybe he gave up on hassling me.  We really need to get this under control before he gets too much bigger. 
Play time turned into an opportunity to practice a few more commands.  Perhaps commands is too strong a word.  Associations is better.  I had just stumbled across the Dog Training Homework section on Peggy's site, and saw that we could work on "Stay" and "Drop" and "OK".  I think this one will take some repetition.  "Stay" was more coincidence than response.  "Drop" was just me tagging the event, and "OK" was essentially validation of Gunnar's decision to chase the ball.  Baby steps.

First Doggy Blog

We just completed our 2nd week of dog training 101 and with no exaggeration, the class is an eye-opener and at times, depressing.  It's mind-numbing to realize how many things you can have done incorrectly in so little time.  When you hear Peggy give an explanation, it makes so much sense.  So, why didn't we understand this up front?  Stupid humans!

You would think that we couldn't screw up something as simple as walking the dog!  Another incorrect assumption.  Turns out we probably have.  With that focus in mind and the weather being pleasant, Gunnar and I went out for our afternoon walk.  Previously I would attach him to the retractable leash, give him room to roam and explore, and reel him in as I anticipated dangers or saw him heading in a direction I didn't want to go.  I understand now that Gunnar was doing most of the leading in these sessions.  Today, I locked the leash at about 2-3 foot length, and with Gunnar at my left, we set out on our normal route.  Honestly, the first 3 blocks or so had Gunnar straining at the leash, gasping as he strode.   Me, I had the leash in my left  hand, with my thumb tucked into my left rear pocket to provide additional support against his resistance.  It took about that long before he finally figured out that slowing down and walking at my pace might be a bit easier on the lungs.  The rest of the walk was pretty manageable with only occasional pulls on the leash.

We took advantage of the numerous intersections to work on the "wait" command.  Gunnar aced that!  My insight into this simple walk was that I had to plan ahead along the course and decide what we were going to to at a given point, and how I would react.  We'll keep working on this.

Now, I think he has earned a little play time, so it's out to the backyard to toss the ball and chase the Frisbee.