Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Random Updates

I’ve really been slacking here. :( Let’s just say that I’ve had a horrible cold the last few days and with that on top of the pregnancy nausea I have not been in a good mood. Nor have I felt very creative or like writing anything.

And there’s plenty to write about. :)

Time has added a new item to his list of “what he’ll eat” … you know those Laughing Cow swiss cheese triangles? They come 8 to a circle and each wedge is covered in foil. I take one every morning to work for my bagel.

So I’m putting stuff on the counter this morning and went out to the garage for a minute and come back to Timber licking his lips in a weird way. I look at the counter and the only thing missing was the cheese wedge. The little turd ATE it, foil and all. I hope the foil doesn’t hurt him!

The funniest part is there were two huge sausage patties in a ziplock bag right next to the cheese and he didn’t eat those. Weirdo dog.

I had a thought today…what if my kid is allergic to dogs??? Can I send the kid back? *grin* Just kidding…but seriously…hubby is allergic and we just deal with it. No way would hubby live without dogs. But could I put a child through that? Isn’t that kind of child abuse? I know there are pills and sprays and things, but it doesn’t seem fair.

The only thing I can think of is that if he (or she) is that the dogs won’t be allowed in their bedroom ever. And we’ll teach them to do what daddy does - after rough housing or petting the dogs he goes and washes his hands…and doesn’t touch his face first. :)

Oh…and PETA’s 2008 killing report is out. I hate that organization with a passion of a thousand white hot suns burning in the heavens forever. Please do NOT donate to them. They are radical, people haters, who care more about publicity than about actually saving animals from harm. Give money to Saving Shelter Pets or your local rescue group instead…where the adoption rate is more than 0.32% and the kill rate is definitely less than 95%!!!

I’ll try to be more talkative the rest of the week. =) I’m sure the doggy monsters will do something fun or obnoxious!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Potty Training Doesn't Have to be Hard - Part Two

Writing about crate training Trooper was very timely. As you might remember, Trooper’s breeder just recently had a new litter and one of the new Malamute mom’s had a question about her new one and the tantrums of being in a crate. I laughed with sympathy and forwarded my post to her. :)

So now part two.

The number one thing I can recommend while potty training - PAY ATTENTION. Puppies are really pretty obvious (usually) when they have to go. And the second thing…use treats. :)

If your puppy is loose and walking around the house watch them like a hawk. Puppies usually give some very clear clues that they need to go potty…though every puppy is different.

If you are worried about your puppy not being within your line of sight at all times, use a leash. Attach it to your belt or waist and that puppy will stay with you no matter where you go (obviously don’t drag them around *grin*). If you’re sitting on the couch, make him stay within your line of site. If you’re in the kitchen (and you’re going to allow them in the kitchen) have her by your side.

This helps with two different things. First it gives you the opportunity to watch them like a hawk. The second is that it gives the dog the message that they do not have free roam. They can’t go anywhere they want and need to have your permission. Plus it’s a great bonding tool.

Trooper hated it at first but he got used to it (I think it helped us establish our Alpha role as well). We didn’t do this with Kodiak and we had a LOT more puppy potty accidents in the house. We just didn’t watch him closely enough.

Who Me? Make Accident? No!

Kodiak gave us plenty of signals, but since he was our first puppy we didn’t always recognize them right away.

Sniffing around or moving in a circle was one of his key alert behaviors. Of course, sniffing is common for puppies because there is a lot of new stuff to smell. But there should be a certain kind of sniffing and moving that your dog does before they go potty.

If we didn’t grab Kodiak and head outside fast enough, sure enough after a few circles he’d be squatting on the floor and doing his business.

If you see your puppy start to squat - grab them quick and run outside. Don’t yell. Don’t punish. They don’t know any better and haven’t learned where they should do their business yet. It is NOT their fault!

We had many interesting trips running from the apartment with our dog upside down in our arms…usually with a stream of pee shooting up! I’m sure our neighbors loved us.

Trooper wasn’t nearly so obvious. He liked to stare. That’s about the only hint he gave. No whining. No barking. He would stare at us for a few minutes or go stand at the back door (once he realized that is where he needed to go) and sit there. If we didn’t realize he was there he’d go right on the rug. It was not fun.

I'm All Potty Trained Now!

Finally we tied a bell to the back door. Every time we took him out to potty we lifted his paw for him and rang the bell. Pretty soon he got the idea and would ring the bell himself to go outside. Such a smart boy!

He still doesn’t bark or whine (he’ll be 3 in July). He will stare at you deeply (it’s a little unnerving) or just sit by the door. But thankfully he has more control now and doesn’t have accidents in the house. We usually get the message if he stares long enough.

I think most puppies go through a couple of training stages. The first one is when they can’t really control themselves. They’re too young to hold it for very long and if not given the appropriate opportunity to relieve themselves will go wherever they are.

The second stage is when they are a little older, 3-4 months, and do have more control but still don’t “get it” 100%. When they have to go potty they kind of know they’re supposed to go outside but just aren’t sure how to go from A to B.

Encourage your puppy when they go potty outside. My mom thought I was a complete nutter. When Trooper went potty, I’d say over and over again “Good boy go potty” … as he was going. And then he’d immediately get a treat. Going potty outside is FUN!

This encouragement really does help get you to stage three. A little bit older and wiser and able to hold their bladder longer, your puppy KNOWS that it is supposed to go outside and should know how to tell you. But if you ignore the signs too long or if he is left home alone he may have no choice but to go inside.

I think that stage three might be the hardest phase to get over - especially if your dog has to be by themselves for long periods of time. By around six months old Trooper could hold his bladder for at least 6 hours but if we slept in or left him in his crate for longer than that he had accidents.

Again, NOT his fault. Don’t punish or yell because they won’t know why. Just clean up the mess and start over again.

I know that some people use potty training pads but we found those just encouraged the dogs to go in the house (we use them now for Quinn but she is a different situation).

Do you have some good potty training tips? Was it hard to potty train your puppy?

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Now We Keep the Bathroom Door Shut

Timber is still a puppy. I wish we could have had him when he was puppy sized. *grin* But for now we’re just trying to work through his big puppy stage.

Hubby woke me up last night when he got home from work to inform me that Timber is now eating soap.

Yes, soap.

I knew he liked licking up bath water after hubby’s showers. I knew he liked drinking bubble bath water (don’t ask). I knew he didn’t mind soapy water in the sink. But I didn’t think he’d actually EAT soap!

I just laughed and went back to sleep. So now we have to keep the bathroom door shut because he actually crawls into the bath tub to get the soap.

I’m sure he’ll grow out of all these weird behaviors. Trooper did. Kodiak did. Quinnie came to us without these weird things. Hubby was laughing and asking Timber when he will grow out of these things. :)

Who Me?

He IS a good dog though and I’m happy to let him be his puppy self. He doesn’t get in trouble when he does naughty things, unless of course we catch him in the act.

Punishing a dog long after they’ve gotten into mischief is completely counter productive and does nothing but make the dog fear you. If a dog has an accident in the house, rubbing their nose in it does NOTHING to explain to the dog why they did wrong. If a dog chews up your favorite shoes and you start yelling at him after you find them…he doesn’t know why you’re mad.

The only time that “punishment” works is when you catch the dog immediately in the act. When Timber counter surfs and I catch him I can tell him “off” and pull him down off the counter. He’s starting to get that “off” means to get down. Dogs will learn if we humans are patient and do our jobs properly.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

A Sale for Jethro

Andy Mathis is a really talented artist who also cracks me up with his wit and sarcastic humor. His dog Jethro has started having some doggy health issues so Andy is having an art sale to help pay for the special procedures.

Check out his blog post here.

He has a shop on Etsy as well as 1000 Markets and his own website where he links to his art. He’s a big animal lover as you can see through his work and his website focus. I hope you will find something you love.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Never Leave a Child Unattended

You must read this. Seriously. It’s very important.

Never Leave Your Child Unattended…especially with so called dangerous breeds.

You just never know what can happen.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Potty Training Doesn't Have to be Hard

One of the bloggers I started reading just got a new puppy and expressed a little trepidation about potty training. I left a long comment on her blog but then thought I should formulate my experience here.

Trooper was our last potty training experience. Quinn was an adult when we got her and only peed once in the house - on her first night - so we chalk that up to nerves. Timber has never had an accident in the house since we brought him in (thank goodness!). All I remember from Kodiak is running with him in my arms (up side down like a baby) and having pee flying up in the air!

Little Trooper Bear

We brought Trooper home when he was 8 weeks old. Just a pile of fur. But already full of personality and spunk. He knew what he wanted and what he did not want. And he did NOT want to be in a crate.

That was just too bad for him because we were crate training and that’s all there was to it. I was the strong one. Trooper screamed…not just howled or barked…but screamed at night for at least 30-45 minutes every night for two weeks. I am not exaggerating. He would work himself up into such a dither that he’d try to bite his way through the plastic crate holes with his tiny little jaws…and end up getting his little jaws stuck. Imagine a squealing little pig with lots of fur. And yes, we did get up at that point to ‘unstick’ him (it was really obvious when it happened). We are talking full out tantrum.

Hubby constantly said, “can’t we just take him out for a few minutes” but I would immediately veto that idea. He has to learn. We have to win this battle of wills because he would learn how to get his way if we weren’t stronger willed.

Every night we had the same routine. All the dogs would go outside to “potty”. Then we would go into the bedroom. Trooper learned very quickly that if he went into his kennel he got a treat…so getting him in was no problem. A good thing too, since he’s now 85 pounds of muscle and I’d never be able to force him into a kennel.

But for two weeks he complained every night. He also did not go potty in his crate. He was young so we took him out to potty every few hours the first few weeks we had him. As he got older he started sleeping longer and longer. And he stopped complaining. His kennel became his home and his bed. He loved it!

As we would start getting ready for bed he would run to his kennel and stare at you “where’s my treat?” and sometimes we’d find him in there just for no reason (not just at bedtime).

Crating him was the very best thing we did for him and for us. When we went somewhere, he went into his crate and didn’t wake the neighbors up. It was his home. And he didn’t have accidents in his crate (well, he did but it was a stomach issue not his fault…and we worked through that). The few times we had to leave him for multiple hours he did good.

We would have had way more major issues with Trooper if we hadn’t crate trained him. Ignoring the tantrums was hard but temporary. It also established our “alpha” position with him as much as anything else.

Next post will be about how we potty trained when we were home and awake. :)

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Do You Wash Your Own Dog?

As most readers know, we have four large dogs. Three of them have the double coats typical of the Northern breeds. It’s a wonderful thing…super soft and fluffy. But a pain in the rear to brush or bathe.

Ever since we got our first Husky, and our second, and our first Malamute, we’ve taken the dogs to a professional groomer. Kodiak and Quinn take awhile but Trooper wins the prize for taking the longest. I think his last grooming the lady tracked the full time she was hands on with him … six hours! From bathing, to drying, to brushing, to clipping his nails.

Look at all that fur!

It’s worth $60 to let a professional make my dogs all fluffy and clean again.

Except that we’re not sure if I’ll still have a job in another month or so. We won’t be able to afford to spend $200 plus on grooming four dogs, four or five times a year.

On the other hand, I have no desire to try to trim their nails or shave the extra fur that grows on their paws. Do your dogs have that? Northern breeds grow that fur out and it can get really long and intrusive.

The Passive Dad wrote an article about whether or not it’s worth $15 to take your dog to a self cleaning place. We have a couple in our area and they are nice. They have big tubs with hoses and even special dryers. Some of them provide shampoo even.

But is it worth $15 to groom your dog yourself?

Not for me. In our coming future, if I do lose my job, I still plan to take the dogs to the professional groomers. They won’t go as often though, maybe once or twice a year. And I may ask her to just trim their toes and brush them out instead of the full wash and dry service. When they dig in the mud and get icky we’ll hook up the special nozel with a spray that attaches to the shower.

Thankfully Malamutes and Huskies like to keep themselves clean … I love it when they groom themselves like cats. :)

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Growing Puppies

Remember the teenie tiny Malamute puppies I wrote about?

Well these cuties are getting all grow’ed up! Why can’t they stay puppies? *grin*

Malamute Puppies

Malamute Puppies

Malamute Puppies

Tuckered Out

All photos were taken by Carmen’s friend Twila. You can see the rest on her Flickr page.

Can you imagine if we had decided to get one of these cuties? OMG! I’d be a mess. I don’t even have the energy to walk Trooper. The poor guy.

I love watching these cuties grow up though. Maybe someday when my two legged pup is older we’ll have room for a new Malamute puppy.

And THANK YOU Carmen for sharing the pups with us!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Luckiest Dog in the World

I want one of these!!!


That dog is so flippin’ lucky. My dogs would be in heaven. And I totally think we could train them to use it.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Escape Proof

When Kodiak and Quinn were younger, and a little more agile, they were quite the escape artists. And destructive escape artists at that.

We had only had Quinn for a couple of months when hubby fell asleep while she was outside. She ate through part of our fence and dug out. She was gone for 12+ hours before someone called us. She had managed to find her way, miles away, to a house near the train tracks. Not okay.

Kodiak, when we had a rental and a short 4 foot (or 3?) fence, managed to get out. I looked out the window and all of a sudden there’s a white fluff ball walking by in the front yard. Sheesh. I think he climbed out.

Who me? Escape?

Huskies are especially notorious escape artists. Quinn was taken to the kill shelter FOUR times before the Husky rescue finally had a space for her (and her previous owners abandoned her). They did testing to see how dogs escaped or not…she managed to climb under less than a 12 inch space under a fence. She’s that good.

Hubby and I decided that we had to be very proactive in keeping our dogs in our sphere of control. I hate it when people let their dogs wander, or don’t secure their dogs enough to keep them fenced in.

Our recipe for success?

Horse Mats.

On top of concrete blocks (those flat kind…ours are 12 x 12 but they have bigger ones) that we laid out over ground that we cleared ourselves. It wasn’t *that* expensive.

Then we bought a kennel - 6 foot high chain link fencing - I think it’s 6 x 12 feet but it might be larger.

We didn’t buy the top of the kennel … we put tarps over it and that seems to work best. But we also don’t have any sort of dog house within the kennel. I KNOW that Timber would climb on top and try to climb the fencing. Seriously…they are amazing dogs.

Even this set up wasn’t 100%. One day hubby came home and all the dogs were in the back yard and not in their kennel where they belonged. Somehow one of them figured out how to flip up the little latch on the kennel door. Damn smart dogs.

So now we have bungie cords that we use on the door and so far (5 ish years) that has worked out well for us.

I believe people need to be more responsible with their pets. They are not just objects…they are special beings who deserve our attention and safety.

Please don’t let your dog wander. Because as I commented in this post here, I will shoot a stray dog who threatens me or mine.