Mum has been finding destruction in the house when she gets home from work. However, she is blaming the wrong dog, me! My sister, Gypsy, is real good at being sneaky. Mum never sees her digging at the furniture. She doesn’t do it in front of mum.
I, on the other hand, do enjoy fluffing up my dog bed and my pillow but I don’t really scratch at it. The trick is to carefully hook my paws into it and with an awkward jump up pull it up at the same time. Mum shouts out “Simba stop it, just lay down” and then I do. Gypsy, on the other hand, goes at it like the pooch is digging to China. I don’t hide my need for a fluffy bed; why would I. But mum keeps blaming the wrong dog, me!
A week ago, mum got real mad. Gypsy tore open the new couch, oooooo. Mum pointed to the Continue reading →
Although the reason for pulling and what rules you must teach is the same for all dogs, some dogs are more of a challenge. My own GSP was one of those “super crazy pullers”. The thing to keep in mind is that law of learning applies to all dogs: Dogs Do What Works. In other words, whatever behavior the dog does that results in getting what he wants, even just a tiny bit of it, will be repeated. The more value the dog sees in the desired outcome, the stronger the behavior, even over-riding any equipment that might cause discomfort.
So for training not to pull, the answer is two-fold. First, use equipment that will mechanically and humanely reduce the force of pulling. I prefer something that controls the head like the Halti for strong pullers. Actually a few years ago I switched over to a Newtrix head halter for my dog because he seemed to be more comfortable in it. The mechanics of how it works is different from the Halti. You can find an explanation here: http://www.newtrix.ca/index.cfm?page=ourProducts It’s a little confusing at first learning how to put it on, but once you practice and follow the directions carefully, it’s not hard.
The second and more important point is to recognize how you are inadvertently reinforcing your dog for pulling. If you take even a single step forward while your dog pulls, he learns that pulling works. Going forward to explore the environment is the most powerful reinforcer there is. It was sure more powerful to my GSP than grilled steak when we were outside.
In training not to pull, the key is to teach your dog that the fastest and ONLY way to move forward is to turn toward you to make the leash loosen so that he feels absolutely no tension whatsoever on his collar, halter or harness. Then and only then will you allow him to continue forward. As soon as the leash tightens again stop and plant your feet so he is unable to take another step forward. This rule has to be black and white, not fuzzy where sometimes pulling works and sometimes it doesn’t. You will have to suspend your walks to really entrench this new rule into your dog’s brain. (Think about how hard it can be for us humans to break a bad habit.)
I used a clicker to mark (click) the precise moment my dog turned toward me to loosen the leash. Then I said “Let’s Go” and took a few fast steps forward until the leash tightened again. (Be very careful if using a Halti or Gentle Leader that can turn the dog’s head. Don’t let the head whip around if the dog suddenly hits the end of the leash. Use a short leash and soften the impact to prevent injury to the neck. It’s another reason why I like the Newtrix design better.) I like using a clicker because it is a much clearer form of communication. It means only one thing and the click sound is like nothing else. Black and white! This training takes a lot of discipline on the part of the human because the slightest inconsistency will impede progress. If pulling works occasionally, the dog becomes a gambler because the payoff is huge!
I highly recommend having someone take a video of you walking your dog so you can observe how you might be reinforcing pulling. Even extending your arm slightly after you stop walking so your dog can stretch his neck forward an inch can be enough to keep the pulling habit strong.
My furry sibling, Gypsy has really changed since we’ve moved. She doesn’t destroy the entire house everyday while mum is at work. Although she slips once in a while. Yesterday, mum was home sick and she had just opened a new box tissues. While mum slept, Gypsy decided to decorate Continue reading →
A noise in the middle of the night awakens me from a deep sleep. Simba, my first German Shorthair Pointer, is still asleep with her heard on the pillow next to me. I feel around for Gypsy, the other German Shorthair Pointer, on the bed and couldn’t find her. I sat up wondering where she went and then remembered that I noticed during our afternoon that her stomach was a little off. A few minutes after putting my head back down on my pillow, I heard her coming up the steps. She jumps on the bed and comes over to me to nudge me on the shoulder so that I raise the covers up as she slides in. Both Simba and Gypsy start snoring and are sound asleep. Me on the other hand, could not get back to sleep. I tossed and turned for about 20 minutes when my foot came in contact with Gypsy’s cold wet nose. I moved my foot around wondering why her nose felt so slimy and squishy. The more contact I made the more I thought it just didn’t feel right. I tear the covers off the bed and there it was lying next to my foot. A dead toad stretched out on its back! I was on my feet so fast that my head spun as I yelled, “EWE! EWE! EWE!” for about 20 minutes. I couldn’t get myself to pick up his poor little dead body but knew that I had to. I knew that once I did pick it up, I would have to get rid of it as soon as possible in order not to vomit. Running down a flight of stairs and across the living room was not an option. The only other option was sending it to fishy heaven via the toilet. The rest of the night, I laid in bed wondering if I would have to explain the toad in the trap to a plumber. Why does everything seem so much worse at night. By morning all was back to normal, including the toilet. Gypsy being a German Shorthair Pointer will continue to hunt and bring me gooey gifts. I just hope it’s not in the middle of the night and under my covers.
As you know, mum, Gypsy and I moved to a new state. We drove for hours and stayed in an apartment for one month until our new home was finished. We finally moved into our new home and mum started her new job a couple of days later. I could sense that mum was worried about leaving us alone while she was at work. Mum had a dog walker stop by at noon every day to take us out. We really like our new sitter. She takes us to her house and we get to play with other dogs. It’s lots of fun. I like to watch from the couch but Gypsy loves to wrestle with the others. It’s been a month since moving into our new home. I believe we are all well adjusted. We are all happy especially mum. We love our trips to the beaches together especially when we stop at Starbucks for puppacinos. Here are a few pics of my happy fam!
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.
I brought Simba home 9 years ago. I must say it has been a learning experience every step of the way. I have had many breeds in my lifetime but none like the GSP. The first lesson was that GSPs is a very high energy breed. They aren’t kidding when you read that if they don’t get enough exercise they can be very destructive. Another detail I learned is why they are called “Velcro dogs”. Simba lives up to that label perfectly. She is glued to my hip at all times. It doesn’t matter if I’m outside, inside, upstairs, downstairs, in bed or in the bathroom; she is there watching over me. Simba has hundreds of FB friends and one thing I noticed in pictures posted was that there was always more than one GSP. There were usually two if not more and always huddled together. Even when sleeping, they seem to all sleep on top of each other. For years, I contemplated with the idea of getting her a sister GSP to keep her company during my work day but I was worried that she would change. Not that I wouldn’t mind some privacy when in the bathroom or getting dressed but I love how she cuddles up to me. I love how she likes to sleep right up against me, I love that she can read my moods and acts accordingly. I didn’t want any of that to change. As you may already know, we adopted Gypsy one year ago because she needed a home. This has been my observation having two dogs. I would suggest that if you’re going to get two,
make them closer in age. The nice thing is that I don’t have to worry about fitting in at least three hours of ball play with Simba. Gypsy makes sure to keep Simba on her toes and running quite a bit. Sometimes, it can be a little too much. There is a great difference at this point in energy levels. Gypsy has become very attached to Simba. She wants to sleep on top of her. She wants the same toy Simba is playing with. She follows her around and wants to be next to her. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still her mum. When the loud red monster trucks are screaming their sirens, it’s me she looks for to comfort her as she howls them away. Simba is still behaving as the only child. They say that the first-born of two children who are more than 5 years apart will grow up with characteristics of an only child. I believe this holds true for dogs as well. Simba still wants to cuddle with me, sleep with me, lay on me, play with me, sit with me and everything else she can do with me. However, she does not let Gypsy lay on her or too close for that matter. If Gypsy lays near her she will wait a few minutes and then move away. Granted, Gypsy being a puppy has pushed all of Simba’s buttons and has exhausted her patience. Simba will play with Gypsy for a little while but then brings the toy to me to play with her. If I had to do it over, I would probably have kept them within two years of each other. At least they would be similar in energy and play with each other a lot more.