Thursday, March 27, 2014

Training: Work To Be Done

I'm learning so much! Smart and a good kisser...
We have had two sessions with the trainer in our home. She has so much good info and her style is reward based which gets a better response from Barry than any other type of training. That's not to say that we haven't gotten upset with Barry or impatient with him and raised our voices. The thing is that raising your voice at him or talking sternly (some people say it's how you say it - NOPE) to him does absolutely NOTHING. He totally ignores this and will continue right on doing whatever it is that he shouldn't be doing. In fact I think he kind of likes it. He enjoys the extra attention naughty gets him. He knows we'll run after him and talk to him (in whatever voice) and play with him (he probably thinks we're playing with him when we're trying to get him to stop whatever it is he's doing). The best thing we can do is pay him extra attention when he's being really good (which he is 98% of the time) and then ignore the bad behavior as much as possible (there are times when we cannot ignore or let it go due to the specific nature of whatever he is doing at that time).

Last weekend Barry wound up getting diarrhea. We had planned on having him sit and look at us at each block section during our walk no matter what distractions were around. That was our goal. All that went out the window when Barry couldn't sit but instead would half run to the nearest spot to poo. Poor guy. We don't know what he ate or what he found on the sidewalk the night before. I think we have decided that he has a pretty sensitive stomach. A couple of weekends ago we went to Grandma's and he was given a bit of corned beef. I don't think he was given much but he had loose stools for a few days after that. I think I will continue to incorporate pumpkin with his KONG and food to keep his bowels a little more sturdy. ANYWAY, all that to say we slacked up on the training while he was not feeling well. He was tired and wasn't interested in playing or anything. We didn't want to push it with training.

This is a picture of him from last weekend when he wasn't feeling well. He was in
this position on the couch most of Saturday.
I feel like we fell behind a bit with our regular schedule due to going to visit Grandma (he doesn't go on his usual walks at Grandma's and our schedule is different and so it's not fair to try and train him when we're not following our usual routine) and then again this weekend when he was under the weather. This week will be different. I am determined to work with him daily indoors and incorporate what we can on each walk - well, when Husband walks him and I go out with them as support and treat holder.

Our next training session isn't for a few more weeks so this gives us plenty of time to really work with him and get creative. I can't wait for the next session because I'm confident that Barry will be doing really well at all of the new commands we're showing him and hopefully the weather will be much nicer out.

Here is an example of the chair command. This is the chair we
use for it.
Here is what we're working on with him now:
Chair: We will point and lead him to a chair we have in our living room that he will sit in. He will stay in the chair and he will get rewarded. This is so that when we have someone come over or food delivery we can say chair and he will respond by going to the chair and sitting and staying until he is released with the word okay.
Leave It: We will get an item of medium interest to Barry and have a treat in one hand. We will drop the item and tell Barry leave it. Once his focus is off of the item we will mark with the word yes and reward with a treat. We will eventually make the item he needs to leave it more interesting, like say a pretzel or milk bone type treat but we will still have a treat in hand but the treat we have in hand will be something much more exciting than the milk bone treat. Our goal is to have Barry see something he really wants (like a squirrel) and we'll say leave it and he then looks to us and we reward him for ignoring the squirrel.
Looking & Not Reacting: This one is interesting but it is pretty cool. When we are a safe distance from another dog (for Barry this means 15ish feet) we will have Barry sit and be calm and we'll all watch the dog from our safe distance. Barry will see that we are all calm and he will get rewarded for staying calm and looking at the dog but not reacting. This helps him to understand that seeing another dog is okay and he doesn't need to go nuts or meet the dog like he wants.

I should clarify that by safe distance I just mean the best distance for Barry to not really be interested in the other dog. He's aware but not super interested at that distance. Barry can get very close to most dogs and be just fine. He can even be cordial in an elevator with another dog, but sometimes he goes bonkers.

Now, back to training...

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

We Learn As We Go

We started this journey with Barry not knowing much. We've both had pets before. Our parents were pet owners and we took part in caring for and enjoying the pets. Our parents were the main care takers, though. We did little in the way of giving our pets basic needs (feed, clean up after them, take them to the vet, pay the vet bills, etc.). That's all changed now that we are adults and on our own. Everything is up to us.

I have vague memories of my mom cleaning our cat's litter box and our dogs having a fenced in area to hang out in all day. I remember there being pet food but I don't remember the kind they bought or how often our pets were fed. I think I helped with those sorts of things occasionally but not often. I remember once or twice cleaning the litter box, or at least scooping poop into a plastic grocery bag.

After high school my best friend and I moved in together and cared for one dog briefly then got a dog of our own. I won't go into detail but I was an awful pet parent. I feel like that anyway, looking back on everything. I didn't care for the dogs in the way they needed. I never exercised them, who knows what I fed them, I didn't love them in the way I should've. I've always loved animals. Always thought of myself as an animal person, an animal lover, what-have-you. My first experiences with pet ownership show otherwise. I didn't know what I was doing. I was immature and didn't deserve to have a pet at that time in my life.

Fast forward to now. I'm more financially and emotionally stable. I am mature enough now to take care of a pet properly. I had no business having a pet back then. I made little money and my priorities were all screwy. It's not that I was emotionally unstable but I was quite young and things weren't as concrete then as they are now.

I'm not the best pet parent now but I'm certainly doing everything I can to make that happen. I'm trying to get to know Barry better and have better communication with him. I realize how smart Barry is and how much he understands. He picks up on small things and I don't think about him understanding or knowing what Husband and I are talking about. Somehow he just knows. I've read that dogs have no sense of time and that when you're gone for a couple of hours it could be like 10 hours or a few minutes to a dog. I don't buy that. He has a great sense of time. He wakes up on the weekends at 7AM sharp. Around 9:30 at night he starts giving us this look... His body is facing the front door but he is looking back at us with a very serious look. To me he's saying, "It's 9:30 and it's almost bed time so it's time to go outside now."

This is the only picture I've taken where Barry is doing The Look. I can't
believe I don't have more since he does this at least twice per day. 
He knows when we have someone coming over. We had people over this weekend. Husband had just gotten off the phone with his brother discussing coming over and Barry went to lay by the door to wait for our guests before we even started cleaning and getting the guest bed ready. He knew right away after Husband's phone conversation that we had guests coming over. We don't give him enough credit for how smart and intuitive he is.

Someone's coming so I'm waiting because I will be the first to greet them.
We're still learning and I think it will always be that way. We're settling into this life with Barry nicely and we still have a few kinks to work out but it's all getting easier and better as we go.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Carpet That Can Take No More

A quick update from yesterday's post: Barry did poo in the back room again. Twice. The scene was similar to Wednesday. We cleaned it up and we moved on.

Nuthin' to see here guys.
This morning I'm glad to report that we had a great AM walk and he went #2! I cannot believe how excited I get when he poos. The trees were interesting this morning but not that interesting. Hopefully this means no accidents in the back room at all today. We did get a text from our dog walker a bit ago letting us know there were no accidents! That is truly exciting for us.

I think Husband and I have decided to get wood floors in the back room. Before we adopted Barry we thought of getting wood flooring in our back room anyhow. It's a large room that can be used as a bedroom/office and den. Plus now that we do have Barry that carpet has been ripped up, glued back in, ripped out again, peed on, bleached, poo'd on and cleaned with numerous enzymatic cleaners that haven't worked well for us. The carpet got ripped because of the crate incident from this post.

It wasn't me! I was sleeping the whole time!
At this point we are unable to get the smell out 100% and I know that if I can smell it a tiny bit by sticking my nose to the carpet I KNOW Barry can smell it and he'll continue to go in the same spots until we get rid of the carpet and the padding. Wood floors might not be the answer but we really don't know what else to do. I feel like Barry will stop, maybe he won't. I hope he will. I know the smell will be gone so he won't really have any reason to go back there anymore. The only reason he ever started in the first place was because he got sick. It just continued from there. Wood floors will be nice.

We've used three different types of Nature's Miracle enzymatic cleaner. The Original, the No More Marking, and the Urine Destroyer. They all smell nice. People love them and they have great reviews. I think the key is to use the cleaner as soon as the accident happens. We have never been able to use it as soon as it happens because he has all of his accidents when we're at work during the day. We don't know how many spots there are. We don't know, as we pour the NM over the supposed spots, if we're covering the full area because it's no longer wet. We don't know if this stuff is soaking into the underneath pad properly to really get the urine out. We just don't know. So I'm sad to say that Nature's Miracle hasn't really worked for us. I know it works for like 99% of people who try it so don't let this deter you from giving it a try.

He doesn't understand why I keep sticking the camera in his face. 
Thankfully today is Friday. The carpet will get a much needed break from Barry's assaults because he doesn't dare do his business in the house when we're there. Today is also the second day of Spring. I'll believe it when I see it.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Good Days & Bad Days

Yesterday we got our usual noon time text from our amazing dog walker. She let us know that Barry "...went #2 in the back room." That stings a little when I hear that. She's texted us that before but it's been quite some time since he's done that. The same morning on our normal AM walk he didn't go poo. I always have that in the back of my mind; that if he doesn't poo with us on our morning walk he might go in the back room again. And he did. Not only that, when Husband got home yesterday after work, Barry had gone once again in the back room. He went poo twice in the back room in one day.

I got home and Husband was cleaning the carpet and scrubbing. Heart sunk.

What can we do at that point? Just clean the mess and move on. Discuss a strategy. Did we clean the carpet well enough? What are we doing wrong or differently? Should we change the times we feed Barry? Wake up earlier? Am I giving him too much in his Kong? Should we get new carpet? Wood floors?

This morning for Barry's morning walk as we waited for the elevator a nice lady and her small pug waited with us. Barry was adamant about meeting this dog. He wanted desperately to sniff the pug. He did his whistle whine and continually jumped at the dog while we waited for the elevator. When the elevator arrived the lady with her pug went in and I saw there was another lady in the elevator with a baby in a carrier. I gulped and silently called on all of my calm energy to direct to Barry and we all got onto the small elevator. Disaster. The lady with her baby carrier is just a prop in this story, but an important one. Barry wasn't interested in her or her baby. He wanted to KNOW this pug. He wanted to MEET this pug. He needed to SNIFF the pug!!!!! 10 seconds of banging around, heavy dog panting, knocking into the poor lady with her pug, pug running behind her legs and cornered, Barry wrecking into Husband, pulling on the leash and jumping up at the dog (that was all for show because there was no need to jump since it's a pug) all between our laments of, "Sorry!", "I'm so sorry!", "Sooo Sorry!" Meanwhile Lady With Baby is huddled into the corner covering her child for fear of the safety of the baby. I don't blame her. She was not on Barry's radar and was on the other side of the elevator but Barry made such a ruckus that she was justifiably scared.

I'm just a dog after all. Sometimes I go nuts. Sometimes I don't.
Finally the suffering ended and we were all off the elevator and onto our separate routes. No one was hurt, the pug was fine but Husband and I were very embarrassed. We couldn't do much about it. I know a few people that would suggest beating/spanking him. Some would say to us that we just need to control our dog. Others would assign some other form of punishment. For punishment and beatings - well, once we're off the elevator it's AFTER THE FACT and doesn't do any good anyhow (not to mention that Husband and I would never beat Barry anyway). Beating Barry will will create more aggression - or spark aggression I should say. For controlling our dog, well, anyone that thinks it's that easy has either never had a dog, has never dealt with a leash reactive dog or has a dog that never has to be around other animals ever and probably doesn't go on regular walks. Don't judge until you are in our shoes. Here is what we should have done: We should not have gotten on the elevator in the first place. Barry was already in an excited and keyed up state that we were not going to be able to get him down from. It was just going to be that much worse in a small space combined with the fact that there was a woman with her small baby also on the elevator. Some day we hope that Barry can be calm and mind his own business in a similar situation. We're just not there yet. Not today anyway. We will move on for now and consider this a learning experience.

We're all learning together. Barry sitting for Husband and sliding on our wood floors
trying to keep himself still.
Our AM walk was good. Barry walked mostly fine. He stayed close and didn't pull too much (he's getting better with the pulling). He did NOT go poo, though. He was very distracted with the trees today. Even though his pulling was minimal he was still super focused on the trees. This is something that started around a month ago. We've been slowly working with him to unlearn this new talent. When we walk next to a tree Barry will bolt to the tree (or fence, he also likes to do this with fences) and want to jump up with hind legs on the ground and front legs on the tree or fence staring up into the tree or top of fence. Some days he's overcome with curiosity and can't snap out of this obsession. Other days he's okay and only stops and looks up at all the trees rather than trying to jump up the trees. Either way, nowadays, he's always at least interested in all the trees we pass. Today was a Bad Tree Day. He was obsessed with all the trees today. So obsessed he couldn't go poo.

Here's a look at some of the trees we pass everyday. These are at the back of our building
in the parking area.
Tree and fence all at once!!!!!
I don't know if he'll poo in our back room today. Maybe he will. Maybe he won't. I guess we'll have to wait and see. Or wait to hear it from our dog walker.

I'll try to make you proud today.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

To Grandmother's House We Go

 I can't really express how disgusted I am by the weather in the upper Mid West. I haven't been to other parts of the country lately but I've heard other areas are having equally awful weather experiences. The Chicago area and Southern border area of Wisconsin are having a brutal, horrible and maddening winter. It's not letting up. We had a couple of days where the sun came out - but it was still cold. Another couple of days appeared where it was nearly 50 degrees - but it was accompanied by thirty mile and hour winds and no sun. The snow melted and things were looking up even though it was windy we could see Spring in the near future. Until the next day when the temps dropped to single digits and all that melted snow turned to an accidental ice skating rink where all the ice skaters weren't trained properly and weren't wearing ice skates.

Mmm... More snow!
It was time for a change of scenery. A weekend away. Just a quick trip to Wisconsin where we could let Barry run around in Grandma's yard and get some good outdoor time, exercise and fresh air. I had the strange idea in my mind that it would be nicer during our weekend away. That the snow would be melted and it would be warmer out. I was quickly brought back to reality when we pulled into Grandma's driveway. My delusions are usually fleeting and typically I become hastily aware that my idea is a delusion and not reality. I blame the weather for my mind no longer distinguishing reality from fantasy. Like I said, this weather has been maddening.

We were very prepared in other ways for our trip this time vs previous trips. We had some toys ready for Barry to help keep him occupied and we gave him new calming treats that have been reviewed highly. In the past we never thought to give him a toy to chew while we were on our way. So we prepared a couple of toys that Barry seems to like quite a bit. This and this.

Those are great road trip toys. You can stick treats in them and keeps Barry busy for quite some time. The calming chews we gave Barry were these.

I'll do a review another time on the different calming chews, drops, methods we've given Barry. I know that many people think giving your pet something to calm them seems mean or wrong but I've done some research and these are safe and the ingredients are all things you've heard of. It doesn't cause Barry to become drowsy or lose mobility like some other types of medication could. This is simply a calming treat for him. To help him cope better with the drive and so he doesn't get so upset or antsy. He's still completely alert and I think this helps him enjoy the ride so much more. If you have a dog that gets anxiety at all you'll understand. Not only that, we only use these for things like travel because Barry's anxiety has pretty much gone away, except for when we travel.

The weekend was nice! Even though it was cold out and there was snow on the ground Barry still had a blast running and galloping all over the yard and pretending he was a wild beast. 

He would forage and live off the land eating of the local flora and wild growing grasses.

And lose a purple bootie somewhere in the thick of the wilderness
 during his forage for nourishment.
He would hunt and scavenge for meat such as birds, rabbits, and squirrels but definitely mostly squirrels.

Sniffs the ground for signs of life.
Sniffs the air and he catches a scent... 

It's either up the tree or behind the tree... Okay, maybe he's not the best at hunting. So he went back to the wild growing grasses and also he's a peaceful dude and would rather not actually hurt his prey.

Sticks kind of taste good too.

Aww, Dad! Please don't take my stick!

Can I have it back now?

Off for more adventure!

Aaaaand I'm out.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

I don't think Barry is too fond of St. Patrick's Day. He doesn't want to wear the beautiful four leaf clover I made him. Or maybe he didn't like that I didn't buy him a cool hat or necklace but instead used old magazines and some left over cardboard to make this beautiful piece.

Still not impressed with this four leaf clover. 

This was the original idea. It would go on his head. This is the best shot we got with it on his head. We didn't really want to push it or make him sit still with a strange thing on his head.

In the end Barry told us he'd settle for the ugly homemade necklace and he'd smile as long as we gave him a treat. So here it is. Happy St. Patrick's Day!!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Thirsty Thursday and Boot Update

Tonight, while Mom and Dad enjoy complicated drinks for their thirsty Thursday I will enjoy cool, refreshing, filtered water. Mmm... I love thirsty Thursdays!

Boot Update:

Remember the boots Barry ate the back of that I decided I could try and fix? Well, here's a picture of my attempt at hot glueing the boot back together along with a sort of bigish piece that I could not fit back in place...

They look almost okay...

After wearing them all day on Wednesday and trudging through ice and snow and slush every single piece I glued in fell out and they wound up looking exactly like they did before I glued all the pieces back in. At least I tried. I did find out, though, that I cannot feel the difference between missing pieces from the heel and a full-intact heel - it feels exactly the same! So I can continue to wear these throughout this weather mess and then I'll toss them and buy new ones for next winter season. 

A drink and a nap.