Sunday, May 10, 2009

It's Me or the Dog

While Dad was visiting, I became addicted to a couple shows on Animal Planet. These addictions are usually short lived as after awhile the episodes all start to look alike. One was Escape to Chimp Island, which makes you want to climb trees and hug a chimp (until you see them charge each other with those big teeth). The other is It's Me or the Dog, with British dog trainer Victoria Stilwell changing the lives of those living with unruly canines. (So much better than the Dog Whisperer's nonsense.)

After a few episodes of It's Me or the Dog I began to appreciate even more how terrific Chaucer and Frosty are! They don't have nearly the number of obnoxious behaviors that so many other dog owners semi-tolerate. That said, I certainly have identified some areas that need some work!

Chaucer (a poet at heart)~
You have to look hard to find fault with laid-back Chaucer, our four year old black spaniel mix. He rarely barks or demands attention, a real sweetie-pie. He proves he has a competitve, playful side, though, when we bring out the retrieval toys to toss. His demeanor changes: ears up, posture alert, he is quick, and he will bring the toy back to you. He has even more pep in his step when I go in the kitchen and he wants a treat. Ahhh--there it is. The training behavior I want to work on. He will come up behind me and scratch the back of my calf to get a treat. No matter how much I ignore him, he continues to dig at my calves. Ouch.

Uncle Frosty (named after my great Uncle Forest whose nickname was Frosty)~

Frosty is our six year old maltipom (half Maltese, half Pomeranian). He's a different story. I've heard that poms are big dogs in little bodies. Yes, he has attitude and is a bit spoiled as he is definitely my lap dog (though at 20+ pounds he's not exactly tiny). While Chaucer is a bit shy, Frosty is the extrovert. He loves everyone he meets -- he's even great with kids. He seems to wake up with a "Hey, it's a great day!" attitude every morning, tail wagging, spring in his step. BUT, he is our barker. From his perch on the back of the couch in the upstairs home office, he guards not just our house, not just our yard -- but our entire street. Everytime the UPS guy drops off a package or someone walks by with (or without) a dog, we are subjected to Frosty's incessant bark until they disappear. Thankfully it is low pitched, and not a high pitched yap! And heaven help us when the door bell rings and someone comes to the front door. We have to put them outside, or on a leash, or hold them so they don't bolt out the front door or scratch other people's legs.

So I have identified the negative behaviors, have my treats ready to go, and Victoria Stilwell's voice is in my head. I'll let you know how the training goes. Wish me luck.

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