Sunday, 29 July 2012

Dogs eat EVERYTHING!!!

My dog is a lean dog.  He's got that perfect doggy shape where you can see his butt, legs belly and ribcage perfectly.  Also, because he's an extremely active dog, you can even say that he looks rather cheetah-like while he's galloping across a field or playing tag with other doggies.  We try to give him only the best food available.  He gets exactly what he needs for his size, age, and activity level.

We didn't use to give him snacks but we broke down.  He only snacks just before or after a walk and once again, his snacks are the healthiest we could find.

So..why is it that dogs will eat absolutely everything off the street?  They eat tufts of grass, worms, sticks, rocks..and occasionally, I'll have to try to get him to drop a bottle cap he may have picked up.  I just don't get this.  They don't have taste buds so what are they getting out of this experience.  Don't even get me started on what he eats out of my wastepaper basket in my bathroom.  But somehow, everything goes in their mouths.  They can't possibly be hungry!  At least I don't think so. 

This brings me to something strange I saw in my doggy.  He has always eaten a particular type of dog food.  But, we slowly started phasing it out and changed his diet to something just a little more healthy and suited to his lifestyle.  It was a very slow introduction so that we wouldn't upset his tummy..(mind you, I don't know how we would be able to tell if an upset tummy came from the new dog food or the snails he was eating after a rainfall!!)

Anyways, once the phase out was complete, doggy ate this new dog food for about 3 days and then he stopped eating all together.  I couldn't believe it.  Here he was, ready to eat any garbage he could find, but he just wouldn't at his new food.  I had to start slowly giving him his old food.  I went back to the pet specialty store and told them my story.  They suggested I buy 2 sample bags of 2 different types of meats.  I had to put them side by side in 2 different bowls and I was supposed to see which one my doggy preferred.  I could not believe that this garbage-eater was so finicky when it came to real food!!  But, we tried it and it turns out he hates chicken, doesn't care for lamb, but is ok with beef.

And so it went, we started giving him the beef daily when all of a sudden he decided he didn't like it anymore.  After about 2 days of hardly eating, I had to re-introduce his original dog food to the blend....and so it's been going.  One week he loves the all beef flavour, and the next week he wants nothing to do with it.  Remember, this is the dog that eats used Kleenexes off the street!!  Somebody suggested to me it's because the weather has been quite warm and he's probably not all that hungry.

We'll see how it goes.

Which brings me to yesterday....We were at a friend's cottage for a BBQ.  Tons of people and food everywhere.  As I mentioned, my doggy only gets healthy food and never, ever, people food.  But what did he do?  As soon as we got there he jumped on a little 7 year old girl...tossed the plate out of her hand..and ran off with a ketchup covered hotdog!!!  First time he ever has people food..and it's the worst kind around!!!

Oh yeah, and he never touched his own (good) food...

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Monday, 16 July 2012

Dogs do NOT speak English!

When I first got my little PWD, he was all of 8 weeks old.  I had never, ever had a dog before so I was really clueless as to how to raise him.  I'd see people walking down the street, being dragged by their dogs..and I'd think, "Wow, that's how I'll happily walk my dog!!"  Like I said, I had no clue.

Whenever my little guy would so something I didn't like, such as pee on the carpet, or chew on the coffee table, I'd yell "no" to him.  I figured that if the "no" word worked when hubby and I were raising our son, then only naturally the "no" word would work on the dog!!  Whenever the doggy would tear across the house with a slipper in his mouth, I'd yell "drop it" to fact, every time I'd yell anything at would only make the puppy more excited!!

At that point, I started watching Cesar Milan episodes.  I began to notice that Cesar never actually spoke to the dogs..he would just use his body or the leash to correct unwanted behaviour.  Cesar would talk up a storm to the owners..but his communication with the dogs was always silent.  I decided I was going to try that!  Hey, if it worked for Cesar, it would work for me.  However, things on TV always have a way of working out way more quickly than they do in real life.  The first time I decided to go out with my new "silent" attitude, my puppy saw a squirrel across the street.  In the blink of an eye, he was at the end of his leash..making choking noises..never letting the fact that he couldn't breath stop him..while all the while I was yelling at him to stop..or sit..or stay..or heel..whatever words I could think of.

The leash would always get so taut on our walks, instead of snapping the dog out of his "squirrel" zone, I would just pull and yank him.  All the while, not only using words...but using them very loudly!

At 3 months old, we enrolled our doggy in a puppy class.  The first thing I noticed was that the only time the trainer actually spoke to the dogs was to give them praise.  She never used her voice for any corrections.  Somehow, that just never sank in with me.  Of course I would always praise him when praise was merited, but I would continue to use words for everything else.  A year went by and I was still yelling at my dog to stop doing things he wasn't supposed to do.  My goal, at his point was no longer about the furniture..I figured I could always get new cushions for the couch.  Nope, my goal was to keep the little nutball alive.  For over a year, I tried to keep him from running out on the street in the path of oncoming buses.  I would never let go of the leash so I could yank him back onto the sidewalk before any serious harm was done..but his behaviour was borderline suicidal!!

Both my hubby and my son had figured out that our doggy didn't speak English.  They'd just magically snap their fingers and doggy would do whatever they wanted.  I guess I wasn't as quick as them..until one day, I was walking the dog, alone, and lost in my thoughts.  At one point (and I swear it only took a split second), doggy was pulling so hard on his leash..he almost fell from an overpass 20 feet from the ground.  I felt myself come out of my body..I was looking at myself...holding the leash taut..yelling at the little guy whose tail was wagging with delight at all the excitement!

At that moment, I took it upon myself to re-register for another doggy class.  I finally realized that doggy would never would be up to me to be able to communicate in a canine fashion.  Well, week 6 into the course and our walks are fantastic.  Doggy no longer has a death wish as he walks dutifully by my side.  I've learned to recognize the signs and I'm able to snap him out of the "zone" before he tries to run across the street.  Once I finally "got"  that my dog does not speak English, we've never communicated so well with each other.

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Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Dogs are NOT Cats!

Welcome to Clueless Puppy Owner's new blog!!

Technically, my dog can no longer be called a puppy, given he's 15 months old.  But, because it is cathartic for me to keep on writing about my trials and tribulations, I've decided to start up a series on what I've learnt over the year since becoming a dog owner.  My older blogs can still be found on  and if there is enough of a demand, I'll go back to my posts describing the torture my little fluff ball keeps putting me through.

So, what have I learnt?  Well, the one point that has jumped up and bit me in the nose is that "Dogs are NOT Cats"!!   Let me explain.

I have had cats for most of my life.  When I was a little girl, we had a little male cat that I loved very much.  We had him for about a year, but then he ran away.  I was devastated.  I guess someone must have left the back door open, because the cat was no longer in the house.  About a year later, an identical cat  appeared in our backyard.  Difference was, however, that this cat was female!!  We took it in where it stayed on as our pet till her last days.  I'll always remember my parents telling me it was a "miracle" that our cat went from boy to girl, and I always believed them.

Since then, I had a goldfish for a couple of years until I finished elementary school.  In University, my younger sister brought home a cat.  That cat stayed on for many years, even after my sister and I had both moved out of the house.  That cat had become my parent's subsitite child and certainly enjoyed more priveldges than we ever did!!

Living on my own, I got a my own pet cat.  Once again, this little fluff ball lived with me for years until I met my future husband.  Poor hubby was sooo allergic to her.  He landed in the emergency ward more than once during our 2 year courtship. Hubby and kitty cohabiting was not an option.  When our son came along, we got ourselves a goldfish.  That darned Cynprinidae tried to outlive us all.  He lived for about 5 years, although the last year and a half  he was floating mainly on his side!!!

Then finally, after 8 years of coaxing my hubby, son and I were finally able to convince him to say "yes" to a doggy!!  We had done tons and tons of research.  Hubby didn't want to be placed in a situation where he would end up in the Emergency ward on a weekly basis.  We found that the PWD was probably the right dog for him, but just for good measure, we spent 4 hours at a PWD breeder's house, where about 6 dogs were running around.  Hubby was great with them.  Then, he also visited a PWD from the same breeder (IE lineage), that didn't live too far from our home.  Once again, hubby was fine with we made the decision to finally get a dog!!

OH MY GOD!!  Nothing would ever prepare me for that 1st night!!  This was no goldfish, and no cat!!  Dogs BITE!!  He was all of 8 weeks old when we brought him home..a little 11 lb ball of fluff!  But, high energy..holy smokes!  He tore through our yard and through the house like he'd owned it for years.  He jumped and bit and snarled and peed everywhere!!

Hubby an I looked at each other and in that moment, we knew our lives would change forever.  I realized then that I had better learn canine language fast, if I ever wanted this to be a success.  None of those Cesar Milan episodes on dog training would help me with my doggy.  Even Cesar didn't deal with puppies (only adult dogs), because in his words, "Puppies are clueless".   I had to endure the "advice" of every single well-wisher I would meet.  What none of these people would realize, however, was that most of these "training" techniques work better for older dogs.  Eight  weeks is just too young to start establishing the Alpha role..puppies just don't get it!!  I know this now because I see how my doggy (now 15 months old) deals with dogs he meets for the 1st time..and how he dealt with them back then.  Night and day!!  Back then, the new dogs he'd meet would either turn their back to him or try to bite him.   He had to LEARN how to play and interact..and also had to LEARN his limits.  It took me a full year, but I finally got to understand that part too.  I was even more clued-out than he was!!

And so the name "Clueless Puppy Owner" came to be.  It took me a while to realize that my dog was not a cat...and thanks to his training of me, I've learnt a little about communicating in the canine world.  It's taken a year, but I think I finally love the little guy.

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