Tag Archives: dogs

Funny things my kids say #23

 

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My youngest son just turned 8 and he is going through a very observant stage. You really can’t get anything by him these days.

Since we got Dexter, ET has been following him around and studying canine behaviour. This weekend he came to a conclusion…

“I wish I was a dog. They don’t have to go to school, they get lots of treats…”

He paused, then added in a loud whisper,

“…and they can lick their penis!”

Ahhh, the good life.

Previous: Funny things my kids say #22

 

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Then and now

So it has been just over a week since we adopted Dexter and, on the whole, it is going great. However, there have been a few little issues. Although Dexter is housetrained and can hold his pee all day while we are at work, he really isn’t trained in any other way. He bolts out the front door, jumps up to greet you and mouths your arm when he gets excited.  And tonight during our walk, he proceeded to greet another dog in a strange sequence of unbridled excitement, fierce growling and enthusiastic humping. Hence, we have enrolled in dog training classes. 

I’ve only been to one introductory class (without Dexter), but I’ve also been doing A LOT of reading and I’ve learned things have changed a lot since my family got our dog Pax when I was eleven.  When my dad was in charge of training, things were a bit more “old school”. Here are a few of the differences I’ve discovered:

Now          Clicker training – a small mechanical noisemaker is used to mark the behavior being reinforced and helps quickly identify the precise behavior that results in the treat. 
Then          Swat on the nose – a swat on the nose was given to mark negative behavior;  such as stealing and eating our Chapstick.

Now          Bitter Apple spray – used as a gentle taste deterrent intended to stop dogs from chewing and licking things they shouldn’t.
Then          Tabasco sauce – used as a not-so-gentle taste deterrent when the dog wouldn’t stop chasing and chewing our ping-pong balls.

Now          Bell training – used in house-training so a dog is able to communicate their need to go outside.
Then          Rub their nose in it – a post-event tactic used to communicate our profound anger at the clean-up job ahead of us.

Now           Gentle Leader – a head harness that reduces pulling by applying gentle pressure to the back of the head and snout – where the nose goes the body will follow
Then           Choke chain – a collar that reduces pulling by tightening around the neck until the dog literally chokes – if they can’t breath they longer have the strength to pull.

Now           Ignore them – what you do if your dog is “mouthing” you. They soon learn that a bite means no more play.
Then           Bite them back – what you do if your dog “bites” you. They soon learn that a bite hurts.

Now           Crate them – a crate in your bedroom is a good way for a new dog to settle at night and adjust to being away from their litter.
Then           Trick them – if you wrap a hot water bottle in a t-shirt and place a ticking clock in their bed with them, the dog will think it is still with his mom and sleep all night in the garage.

Now           Can of pennies – if a dog is repeatedly doing a “negative behavior”, you shake a can full of pennies at the same moment as a deterrent.
Then           Can of whup-ass – if a dog is “being bad” you screamed “No!” and scare him straight.

Before you draw any conclusions, let me tell you that Pax was a sweet and gentle dog and the occasional nose swat and taste of Tabasco didn’t seem to cause any long-standing psychological trauma.

However, I think I have to go with the science…

Studies that have placed the two dog-training methods head-to-head have almost universally shown positive training to be more successful than punitive methods in reducing aggression and disobedience. The dogs became more obedient the more they were trained using rewards and, when they were punished, the only significant change was a corresponding rise in the number of bad behaviors.

Also, positive reinforcement led to the lowest average scores for fear and attention-seeking behaviors, while aggression scores were higher in dogs of owners who used punishment. In one study on Belgian military dogs, positive training methods routinely resulted in better performances than punishment.

I guess the path of least reprimand, and more reward, will be the one we’ll be taking. I better bake some more treats!

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Meet my new therapist…

He doesn’t say much but he is a great listener.

Dexter (formerly known as DJ) is a previously chained dog who was rescued from a shelter by Good Bones. He is currently with us on a “trial sleepover” but I don’t see this guy ever leaving us. He is a 2.5 year old Lab mix who looks and acts all lab, just a little bit smaller.

Have you’ve noticed that I’ve been away from the blog for a long time. (Hello?… have I lost all my readers?)

November was the first time I went an entire month without writing on this blog. Now here we are, the Ides of March, and I’m finally back! 

My kids have been as funny and infuriating as usual, and news events have pique my ire, but even with all of this tinder, the writing spark just wouldn’t ignite. 

How could I write about humdrum daily happenings when something so much larger was looming? The simple fact is that I couldn’t.

Someone very important to me has been ill and this has dominated my psyche since the summer. I write about what is going on in my life, what is occupying my thoughts. There has been a whole hell of a lot going on… but it hasn’t been my story to tell. Thus, I’ve been silent.

My loved one is now through the roughest of the rough and has started to shine anew. Once again, I can think about the mundane.

As is my trend, I had a rough winter. Here is an excerpt of a letter I wrote to my doctor trying to describe how I had been feeling.

I wake up each morning and force myself out of bed to get through another day. I feel as if I’m wearing a suit made out of lead and I have to use all of my strength to keep taking the next step; to wake the kids up, to smile and kiss them good morning, to pack their bags for school. Then I sit down and rest so that I can summon up more strength to get myself to go to work. Some days it takes me just a few minutes, some days it takes an hour. Other days I have a panic attack and can’t do it at all.

I’m not stressed, or overworked, or underappreciated. However, none of this matters. Even the easy things are hard to do when you are wearing a leaden suit. 

People talk to me and I respond, but the smile takes effort. My muscles pull hard to make it happen. The words in my mouth feel off, like a movie soundtrack that’s slightly lagged. One step at a time, I make it through the day. At home I struggle to be “normal”, to ask about everyone’s day and try to remember mine. My reactions must be appropriate enough because no one seems to notice. After all that needs doing is done, lie down for the rest of the evening because Mommy’s tired. Some nights I’m asleep before the children.

As is her modus operandi, my wonder doc immediately got me sorted out. We did a couple of medication adjustments and tried something off-label. The change is remarkable.

First of all, I got bangs…This sounds frivolous, but it’s not. This is me caring about how I look. This is me having the energy to style my hair in something other than a ponytail. This selfie (my first ever) is me feeling good enough to show you my face.

I have energy for the first time in a VERY long time.

This will sound insane to anyone who knows me, but I am now a morning person. Suddenly, the morning is my favourite time. I am appreciating the peacefulness of the house before anyone else is awake. I am writing.

I wake up in the mornings now and I want to take a walk, or go for a run, but I needed a buddy for that. I needed Dexter.

He is my favourite drug side-effect ever!

Friday Flashback – Pax

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When I was young, my first pet was a hamster. I named him Super Ben and even made him a little cape to wear. Sadly, he died in the first month of owning him (nothing I did, I swear). Turns out that replacing a dead pet on the very same day that it died is a great way to alleviate a child’s grief! Thanks to Mom, I quickly recovered from the loss and named the new hamster Super Ben 2. He lived a long and full life. Continue reading