I’m Bernie and I’m a Boxer. My parents are at work so to keep my paws out of trouble I thought I’d reach out. Hi! Or woof, woof, as I like to say.
I know Halloween (or Howl-o-ween, as me and my four-legged buddies call it) must be close because my dad, Adrian, started decorating our front porch. Truth is, I love Halloween just as much as he does. Thankfully, he never forgets to include me. Last year, I was Batman and this year I’m going to be Captain America!
This is just a friendly reminder to be sure to include your four-legged pals in your Halloween plans. Otherwise, we feel left out and lonely.
My 10th birthday was spent in the backyard while a bunch of men took our furniture out of the house. After they stole all our furniture, mum put me and Gypsy in the car. We each had a little space to sit in. It seems that she tried to save some boxes, our food, and Gypsy and my favorite beds. The rest of my
birthday was spent in the car driving to what mum said was “New home”. When we got to ‘new home’, there was my birthday present from mum. A brand new squeaky alligator. Gypsy and I played with it for a long time until mum went to sleep. The next day, mum took us to the biggest bathtub I have ever seen. It was gigantic! I couldn’t see the other end. Mum put her feet in the water and called me and Gypsy over but no way! We know what that is, BATH! We found these
big round toys that mum called horseshoe crabs. We cautiously sniffed them out. Gypsy was braver and tried to pick one up. Mum wouldn’t let her play with the horseshoe toys. I guess they must belong to other dogs. I was a great birthday weekend!
My son bought me the novel “A Dog’s Purpose” by W. Bruce Cameronfrom Amazon for my birthday. I am almost at a loss for words in trying to describe this novel. The first word that comes to mind is “emotional”. Emotional only if you’re a dog lover. If you’re not, you wouldn’t be reading it anyway. As I read through the pages, they made me smile, contemplate, laugh out loud (in public), and cry out loud like a puppy spending the first night in a crate. As I sobbed, Simba, my nine year old German Shorthair Pointer, would rush over to console me as she usually does when she senses a change in my emotions
This book has changed the way I look at my two dogs. It is as if I am watching them through different eyes. I find myself wondering if Simba could be my “Bailey”. Of all dog’s that I have had in my lifetime, Simba is very different. She has always been connected to me in more ways than physically. GSP parents know about their Velcro dogs. German Shorthair Pointers are referred to as Velcro dogs for good reason. They never leave your side. The world comes to an end when I close the bathroom door for some privacy. I’m not sure if she thinks because I watched her doing her business as a puppy, that she needs to watch me too. Even when I’m in the shower they both take turns poking their head in to make sure I haven’t been swallowed up by the drain.
GSPs are sensitive dogs to begin with, but Simba has always been in tune with my emotions. She runs around wagging her stubby short tail carrying as many toys as she can fit in her mouth when I’m happy or excited. She slowly approaches to watch over me when I’m sad. First she puts her nose real close to my face and waits (maybe she’s nearsighted) then she lightly nudges me with her nose. Finally, she lays up against me laying her head on me. I will admit that feeling the weight of her head is always somehow always comforting, like a hug. She has also mirrored my ailments and personality. She’s a true tom-girl. She also suffers from stress, IBS, and allergies. One thing she doesn’t mirror is my anger but knows well enough that mum needs space. It is the only time she keeps her eye on me from afar rather than beside me.
Simba’s one year old sister, Gypsy, joined the family at eight weeks old just like Simba did but the connection between her and I is different. It doesn’t go beyond being the normal Velcro dog. I love her immensely and she loves me but she is oblivious to my inner thoughts or emotions. After reading “A Dogs Purpose”, there may be an explanation to the difference between my two pups. Simba maybe a dog with a purpose.
1. Stop focusing on correcting or punishing bad behavior. Saying “No!” or squirting your dog with water might relieve your frustration but it can maintain or worsen your dog’s bad behavior. Corrections are deceiving. They momentarily suppress unwanted behavior so it seems to have worked. But if your dog does it again, it didn’t work at all! If you correct your dog often, you can diminish his willingness to listen and cooperate.
There have been numerous studies centered on how keeping pets has mental and physical benefits for people, and most of these studies reveal that being a pet owner can truly help people stay healthy. A pet can also be a huge advantage in a home with a senior, particularly if the individual is suffering from a long-term mental condition. Animal-assisted therapy can work wonders for people with different health disorders, which is why it is becoming an increasingly popular trend in places like hospitals and assisted living facilities for the elderly. The following are some of the benefits of using pet therapy for senior people with mental illnesses:
Maintaining a daily routine
As most caregivers know, elderly people suffering from mental illnesses like dementia often have difficulties in performing their daily tasks. However, having a dog can change this as dogs require a regular schedule for feeding, exercising, and so on. Doing the same things with the pets every day, like walking your dog, can help seniors remember routines and thus adds structure to their lives, which keeps them calmer. This also boosts their self-esteem, trust, and mobility, making it easier to care for themselves. If, for some reason, a senior citizen can’t have a dog of their own, becoming a dog walker is a great option. Though it may not be best for those with dementia, for those with depression, dog walking will provide many of the same benefits that come with owning a dog while also boosting their income. Continue reading →
I recently got my 8 month old female GSP “Charley” from her board and train program. She has received e-collar training for every command. The e-collar is not a punishment tool, but a communication tool. She is amazing in the house – no accidents, knows how to place/down/heel/sit/stay/come/off/etc. She has been introduced to agility and will start scent games and snake avoidance in the Spring. She plays fetch well and also has met my nieces and nephews this weekend for fun time in the backyard. She even did great while one nephew played the ukulele in the back yard. She does great off leash on hikes and while doing training at the training center we visit each week for polishing classes. We will be starting doggie day-care once a week this week! She really is so sweet and amazing…
However…. My problem is that she absolutely is fearful of getting on the leash to go for her morning and afternoon walks that last anywhere between 20-45+ minutes. It’s like she knows it’s coming and cowers/pouts. I try to put the leash on and just walk in the backyard/house and she’s totally fine, but going through the front door is a chore. The first couple days we had her she was exposed to some fireworks on a walk that were very very loud and ever since then she is pretty skiddish about loud buses/diesel trucks/construction noise near the house. Inside the house – fine. Backyard – alright, looks around at super loud noises and then proceeds to keep playing. We live in a busy neighborhood with lots of distractions and new houses are going up each day. I am doing my very best to remain calm yet assertive and even give her treats when we pass an object that gives her the shakes. Her whole body trembles. It’s really sad and makes me feel terrible because she NEEDS to go walk to get pushed through some of these issues, but I can’t help but think I may be making everything worse. 🙁 Sometimes she tries to run/escape away from me, but eventually settles back in with a “come”. It is taxing as I know she needs her walks along with some off-leash fun in the yard and neighborhood dog park, but the walks are difficult to start. I also know she is only 8 months old and has only been in our home since Dec. 29th. I’m running out of new ideas.
Do you have any suggestions to help her emotional state? Is there something else I should try? I really want the best for our GSP. Again, thank you for the blog. 🙂
Rachael from Texas
When doing behavior modification for fear, it is crucial that you understand that Charley’s behavior is not voluntary and she is not being stubborn or defiant. Fear is a survival state and is thus treated differently than regular training. If food is used, it plays a different role(that of creating a positive association rather than as a reward for a voluntary behavior that is offered by the dog). Charley has clearly demonstrated a deep fear of going for a walk. The fear starts with the leash, then going out the front door, and peaks outside. This is a classic example of a negative association created with a scary experience and the events that led to that experience (which now are predictors of something scary. If you press to get the leash on her and coax her to do something she is afraid of (even when you try showing her there is nothing to fear), you risk sensitizing her to the situation and making her more afraid. What is desired is de-sensitization, which must be done gradually to be effective. A good explanation of the concept can be found here- https://positively.com/contributors/counter-conditioning
It would be best to enlist the help of a force-free trainer that is knowledgeable in science based behavior modification to help you design a program to help Charley overcome his fear. Make sure the trainer does not employ any kind of flooding technique (making a dog “work through” scary situations) because of the risk of overwhelming and sensitizing that I mentioned. You can do a search for a trainer near you through this site – https://apdt.com/trainer-search
My advice to you would be to temporarily suspend your desire to take Charley for a walk and find ways to exercise her with games and enriching mental activities (lots of examples can be found on Youtube). Start with desensitizing very gradually (without eliciting avoidance) to the act of leash clipping leash (with professional guidance). If she runs away at the mere sight of the leash, that would be where you would start, not with attaching the leash to her collar. If she is not afraid of car rides, try taking her to a different neighborhood or a park for walks, but only if she enjoys it.
Fear is best addressed with a willingness to make her sense of safety be your top priority. Being assertive is counterproductive because this is not a disobedience issue. When an animal (or person) is so afraid that she trembles, the mind is not in a state to learn. Survival mode has kicked in and that primal state will overshadow “logic” or obedience every time. That is why helping her feel safe while you train in small baby steps is so important. http://somuchpetential.com/the-value-of-empowerment-to-our-pets/
Hope this helps steer you and Charley in a positive direction.
We just received the following letter from one of our readers. This is not the first on the subject on potty training an older dog so I decided to post it.
Hello German Shorthaired Pointer Greatdog GSP, hope you can help us with a potty training issue we have encountered with our newly rescued German Wirehaired Pointer. We rescued an 18 month neutered male German wirehaired pointer 10 days ago and we have been following your website with interest, as it has been very helpful in settling our new dog down. I have attached a doc which explains the help we are looking for in helping our new adolescent dog potty outside. We would be very grateful if you could perhaps give us some pointers as to how we could best approach potty training an older dog as what we have been doing doesn’t seem to be working.
The dog we adopted, Breac, is an AKC registered neutered male German Wirehaired Pointer, age 18 months old. He was born, Aug 2015 and at age 4months, our new dog was purchased from the breeder and brought home to live indoors with a family with three kids (age 9, 12, 18) and their two dogs. The dog has always been “a handful” and needs daily exercise. Family fed him 5 cups quality dogfood daily. Dog let himself out of the house into the family’s 18 acre property on a regular basis as the door handles pulled down when he stood on them. He is VERY prey driven.Continue reading →
My mum is the best. Today she left us these great toys to play with. They were white soft balls. The balls were shaped funny, they weren’t completely round but fun nonetheless. She bought 12 of them so that Simba and I didn’t fight over them. She was in such a rush put the door this morning that she left them on the counter and forgot to give them to us. It’s a good thing that I’ve grown and can reach everything on the counters. We had so much fun. The balls released like snow stuff when I pounced on them and threw them around.
Oops! I was wrong, again! Mum’s squeaky voice and fiery eyes told me so!
Christmas is right around the corner. If your pup is anything like mine, especially Simba, they love to open presents on Christmas along with the rest of the family. Toys don’t seem to last very long with these two. Buying toys can get expensive so I want to share with you a couple of DIY dog toys you can make by recycling some items that you have at home. They’re all very easy to make. First of all, go through your sock drawer. This is a great way to put those old socks to good use. SOCK BALL: If I have a bunch of ankle socks, I stuff a bunch into one sock leaving 3 or 4 for the end. After you’ve stuffed them and created a tight oblong ball, put the ball into one of the ankle socks you saved for the end. Insert it with the open side first, then insert it into the next sock again with open side going in first and continue until out of socks. You can insert one of those squeakers Continue reading →