Monday, August 21, 2006

Dog Days of Summer

Well here’s a change of pace; something positive. Last week Mowry started jumping the fence again. (Obviously, this isn't the positive part.) We have no idea what was setting him off. In the past the blowers, lawnmowers, etc…have been known to freak him out enough to get him up and over the fence. While he still doesn’t like them AT ALL, he hasn’t gotten upset over them like that since around the time we moved in (last November). The other morning he was barking like crazy. This is really unusual because he wears an electric bark collar (part of his anxiety is that he’ll bark excessively, mostly when we aren’t home. Really goes over great with the neighbors. Makes us very popular.) Anyway, I didn’t think it was him at first because the collar works so well that he won’t bark unless he has a really good reason. When I realized it was him I walked into the backyard & could hear him, but couldn’t find him. I thought maybe he gotten stuck under our deck or something. Then I realized he was in the next-door neighbor’s yard! I walked out front to get him out and saw “M” the neighbor who lives on the other side of us. She proceeded to tell me he’d been out front earlier, but when she tried to approach him he’d run away. Just then he jumped the fence & joined us. Jeez. I put him back in the yard & about two minutes later lots of commotion. He had just jumped the gate into our side yard (supposed to be our dog run, but he kept jumping out of it.) As I turned the corner to the gate more commotion, I got to watch him jump onto our garbage cans & into the neighbors yard again. Jesus Dog! WTH is wrong with you? I still have no idea what was setting him off. I went out front and he promptly jumped their fence to the front yard again. This time I tied him to a lead in our yard (I hate doing that). After a couple hours I let him off & he seemed to have calmed down. A few days later (gardener day) he got out, but was nowhere to be found. I had BS napping & TS with me, so I couldn’t go looking for him. It was just about the time DS got home, so he walked out the door to look for him & Mowry came walking right up to him. Little turd was probably hanging out in the neighbor’s bushes watching while I’m calling for him in the front yard.

So here's the good news part; I walked him this weekend. We’ve become huge fans of The Dog Whisperer and have utilized many of his techniques with some success; however the biggest thing this dog needs is to be exercised. He’s a high-energy dog and tiring him out would go a long way toward lessening his anxiety level (according to what Cesar Milan teaches & I’m a believer, especially after today). I had great intentions with all the exercise I was going to get these dogs while on maternity leave. We were all going to get into great shape together this summer. Riiiight. I wasn’t comfortable walking Mowry by myself, much less w/another dog (Merit, who is a really shit on lead & a huge part of the problem), a baby in the snuggli and a toddler in the jogging stroller. But Cesar (we’re on a first name basis you know) has this technique with the way you put the collar/leash on them that puts them in the right frame of mind (it forces them into the accepting you as Alpha, this stance puts them into the zone or something). I wasn’t really convinced it would work all that well to be honest but hadn’t a free moment when DS was home so I could try it out. This morning the free moment finally happened. I took him out & walked him for 10 minutes with no incident. He was excellent! He was one of those dogs with a loose leash! He healed, he stopped, he slowed, and he sped up all just by my change of pace, no need for verbal commands even! It was amazing. Who are you and what did you do with my dog? I walked back home picked up Merit & walked her around the block. She too got it right away. And she’s a tougher case; more years of bad behavior on lead (she pulls like crazy till we would end up letting her off. The irony; she’s great off lead, but a turd on lead. Who’s in charge here, huh?) So I circled the block with her & then picked him back up. They were awesome! We even had a squirrel in the path & a cat, which would’ve meant lots of pulling in the past. Not so this time, a quick correction from me and they continued on, no pulling, no problem. Back around the block to pick up the jogging stroller. Once more around the block with both dogs & (empty) jogging stroller. I’ll need to practice the maneuvering of a dog in each hand while pushing the stroller, but we did it! I can’t wait to do it again tomorrow. It was awesome, why did I wait so long to try it? They were awesome. I was so proud of them. I was so proud of me.
Hopefully it wasn’t a fluke.