Month: March 2014

Reality check and Chili’s death wish

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Today I took Salma to Vondel park where she can run free without a risk of getting under a train. But I guess that’s where advantages of that park end. It is beautiful and spacious but one warm day is enough to turn it into a junkie/tourist paradise. Left overs from last nights BBQs and human poop are all too frequent for me to enjoy my walks. And it gets busy really early. We did have an overall nice walk but I definitely got a bit of a reality check. I was so busy lately I didn’t spend enough quality time with Salma and I could feel our bond is not as strong as it used to be. Salma is naturally more focused in her environment (I spend a lot of time getting her more focus on me when se was small) and it takes more effort to stay interesting for her. Plus she is a lady with serious responsibilities like checking all the bushes for potential rabbits. She didn’t misbehave in any way but she was definitely more focused in her surroundings.
When I got home I found out that Jochem didn’t walk Chili yet (he is sick and spend all day sleeping actually), so I changes into my running clothes and took Chili for a run. She is a wonderful running companion, she is most f the time trotting next to me and usually doesn’t pay attention to other dogs.
But today I thought I will kill her. It all went great till she decided to chase and barked at a female bit bull. So stupid. Fortunately this is a nice dog and se ignored her but it could have end up really bad for her. So yes another reality check for me. Even though she is doing better she has to be on the leash whenever there is a dog chasing a ball (that was the cases). I started immediately. A woman was passing by with a black lab running with a ball. I put Chili on a leash and she immediately focused on me. She healed and I rewarded her for looking at me. Just seconds later when she was of leash we met two dogs and she was perfectly fine with them. But they were not running.
So battle plan for me. More quality time with Salma. And Chili on a leash around all running dogs for a start. Then I will use a long line in a situations where dogs are running as we will practice recall. I will need to find a right distance and use better treats.



Dogs and respect

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Jenna McDonald's Feathers and Fur

One of the very common themes I hear among laypeople and dog trainers alike concerns respect.

“Your dog should respect you,” or “I want my dog to respect me” are common statements.

I like to think my dogs respect me. However, consider this. I’m standing in a burning building. A local teacher, S, whom I greatly respect, is saying, “Jenna! Jump through these flames! It’ll be all right!” I think to myself, Have you lost your mind, S? It won’t be all right! In that moment, I don’t need respect. I need trust.

When someone says to me, “I want my dog to obey me,” that really has nothing to do with respect. Respect is a sense of admiration for someone. Am I going to obey someone I admire? Welllll… maybe. It depends, doesn’t it?

So what do people really want when they say, “I want my dog to…

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Doggy sandwich

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This is how I relax this afternoon 🙂
I was cuddling Salma but Chili hates to left out so she squeezed behind me. We are still laying like this while I’m posting this.


Salma’s empathy

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Last night we combine evening walk with a drink in a bar (that’s why I love Netherlands, you can take your dog almost everywhere). I didn’t want to leave girls alone after whole week plus I do want them to get more used to going into public spaces. Bar was almost empty and we got a nice big table. Salma relaxed very fast and found a spot to lay down. Chili was bit more stressed but also lay down (in a place where she could see the whole room). I didn’t want to solve this with treats or giving them command to stay (which chili would be really happy to do) I wanted them to relax on their own. If they had to stand a bit and look around, sniff, would sit rather than lay down all f that it’s fine. I want them to make a decision which behavior to chose (of course in their case we are not talking about barking or anything stronger). I only lingered their space by holding the leash and I made sure I’m relaxed. We had a very nice evening overall. Stayed for two drinks not to make it too long for the girls.
And as we were getting ready to leave a guy (the only other customer) came up to Chili who was under the table (it was on his way out and I thought he will just pass by). He tried to pet her and talk to her and Jochem told him she is afraid and she doesn’t like it. But the guy of course was “good with the dogs”. No one who is indeed “good with dogs” would ever do that. Chili moved away from his hand, she was waging her tail just a bit (she goes into the greeting behavior but she really does t want to have interaction with strangers). And then Salma rushed from her place behind the table and walked between Chili and the stranger (I didn’t stop her because I trusted her to make a right decision). She separated them and got all his attention on herself. She was sweet and cuddly and Chili had a chance to move away. I was so impressed by what she did. It was amazing! I saw her to this when there is conflict between dogs but also once when a dog was afraid of a guy who was trying to pet him. Dog started barking and Salma rushed between them and leaned on the guy. Again he started to focus in her and the other dog could walk away. And as soon as the dog was away Salma was also gone. And in moments like that I get so impressed by the skills dogs have and we don’t even understand most of them.

As for the situation in the bar I am angry at myself that I want the one getting between Chili and the guy and that I didn’t react faster (even though it took less then a minute it is still not fair towards Chili)
Here the problem is that most people don’t listen when you tell then nicely not to bother your dog. I need to find a way to do it in a more firm way. And honestly just telling someone don’t touch my dog should be enough. And you do t need a reason.


Friday afternoon

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Yesterday we had a very good afternoon walk. Chili was mostly off leash and she did greet some of the dogs that she really likes. We also met Star (still her greatest love) but it was on a street so we kept it short.
I did out her in a leash twice. First time when we were approaching group of dogs. They were mostly small dogs and atmosphere was calm. As We were getting close one person left the group and started walking in our direction (to get out of the park). She came up to me and complemented the way I use leash and how Chili moves together with me. It was very nice to hear. I do feel that we really are connected wherever we go but it’s nice to hear it from a stranger who turns out works with dogs.
Second time Chili was on leash was because we were approached by very energetic beagle puppy. She doesn’t always know what to do around puppies if they keep on running around her and jumping. That went fine but as I turned I saw two German shepherds charging at us up the hill. Fortunately they were still far enough so Chili had enough time to stand behind me and I had enough time to take my stance. We exchanged one look and they stopped and turned around. I did have a it of adrenaline rush afterwards. I know they are not people aggressive but I also know that one of them bit Star and I was not going to take the risk. Overall I think that me and the shepherds had a very nice and clear communication. I didn’t want them co come up to me and my dog and they respected it and moved on.
The rest of the walk went fantastic. We played and enjoyed beautiful weather and there were no more issues.

It’s been just a bit over a week since I’m figuring out changed in Chili’s behavior. Here is what I think at the moment (which may changed really fast): she is maturing and hormonal changes can be making her more outgoing and pushy towards other dogs. BUT I don’t think her behavior was just due to hormones and it just switched on like this. She still is the same dog that is afraid of stronger bigger dogs and sometimes people. She still likes to stay close to me in potentially scary situations. Additionally she is still greeting dogs in a very polite and submissive way, and she gives space to dogs that are fearful and just not happy to see her. She will not approach them then. So I think that this behavior we had problems with (it was her barking at dogs and running around them or chasing in some cases but not as often) appears I situations when interactions are too long or too stressful for her (excitement also can be stressful) and she doesn’t know how to deal with them. I need to film her interactions with dogs more often.


Still figuring it all out

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Yesterday I took Chili for a walk mixed with running (I wanted to exercise so we did and hour of running mixed with walking and playing). Her behavior towards dogs was like it used to be. She stayed with me, didn’t approach dogs herself and the ones that approached us she greeted shortly. We even were chased by over manly chihuahua (I don’t even know where was his owner). Chili also greeted him and ignored his chase.
So I do think that she has a good base but something changed that made her pushy in certain situations. And the way she barks at dogs seems to he intended to get their attention and activate them.

Today I want to see her during a normal walk.


Full time job and dogs are not a good mix

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It’s one of those evenings (many) that I come home and I don’t have energy to do anything anymore. Usually I manage to get home a bit earlier and then I walk Chili for at lest 40 minutes, come back and make dinner. By the time were are done eating it’s almost 10 p.m. and time to go to sleep so I can get up at 6 to walk Salma before I go to work. There are of corse other things that need to be done like laundry, vacuuming, lunch for the next day, shower. So pretty much after walking Chili I don’t have that much time for the girls in the evenings. It sucks. It is not a lifestyle fitted for having a dog. Ehh I needed to complain a bit.
Recently it wasn’t even that bad because we had a girl that walked Salma and Chili when we were at work but today I had to cancel it. With Chili’s changed behavior I don’t want anyone but us walking her. d