Monday, May 27, 2013


After writing this post last week about our adjustments to having a new dog around, I would like to say that they are all getting along great and enjoying lot of great times like these. Though Gina remains a recluse and wary of our new friend, so I'm hoping she starts coming around now that Sophie has more restrictions.

A "safe" spot in the closet...

That being said, there is nothing like having a new dog around the house to make you really appreciate your own. While Sophie really is a great dog - she's sweet, gentle and friendly to all people and dogs - there are things that I realize I've taken for granted that my dogs just "get" either from training or because of who they are naturally. Here are a few of the differences so far...

Separation anxiety - Kaya & Norman regularly wake up and go outside to sunbathe. Sophie goes with them but then whines to be let back in right away, even from a relaxed lying down position with the door open! She also gets upset when we leave the house or even the room she's in if she can't come. I haven't thought about how nice it is that Kaya and Norman will entertain themselves for hours outside, whether they're sunbathing or wrestling and they're always relaxed when I walk out the door.

Sunbathers for life...

Hunting instincts - Since I work from home, Kaya & Norman are used to lounging around until the afternoon when I take them out. Sophie is mostly on the same page...until a fly comes in. At which point she turns into a prancing pony all over the apartment, she'll run into walls, climb up on the windows and knock things off tables for the chance of getting one of those suckers. And once it's gone she continues to hunt for it like a meth addict looking for something to clean.

Hanging out while I work...

Resource guarding - This might be the biggest thing I have overlooked with my pups. I've never given a second thought to having them share things together, whether I'm at home or not. Though Sophie is not much of a chewer, she randomly chooses things to guard against the others. We always crate her when we're out and watch her while we're home so it hasn't been an issue but I haven't considered how little my dogs care about sharing their things!

Is this close enough?

Patience - Whenever I feed my dogs, cat or give out treats she barges her way in front and center for first dibs but if you try to give her something without the competition she's rarely interested. I get it that she expects a treat too but she has a way to go when it comes to patience and learning that not everything is for her. I didn't realize how polite Kaya and Norman are while waiting for goodies.

We're waiting...

Cat love - And I suppose I've taken for granted how easy my dogs are around cats too. I take them unleashed into my courtyard to get to the basement to do laundry and several times there have been random cats out there. Sometimes the cats arch their backs, hiss and run away, while Kaya and Norman don't even bother to glance in their direction. My pet sitters bring them on all their mid-day pet-sitting/dog walking calls with dogs, cats, etc. in the home and they even brought them to their apartment to help socialize their own cat with dogs. We regularly see cats in the neighborhood and sometimes in pet stores who they are friendly to also. Remember when Kaya rescued Marty from an aggressive neighborhood cat by merely going to say hello to it when I told her to?

Calmness - I haven't realized that for 2 young dogs, who are very active when we go out, they are so calm at home. For some reason, a lot of activity in the house bugs me and I've always taught them to keep play outside so they know to never even try to start inside. Sophie is by no means hyper, but she gets pretty exciting when she thinks she's going out, when she's first let out of her crate or when she just feels like playing. I just didn't realize how much my house rules have set in! I now see that Kaya and Norman never move faster than a walk indoors unless I purposefully pick up a toy and throw it or invite them to chase me around. Then as soon as I stop, they plop down again.

Kaya was calm in the house from our early days together...

Affection - I suppose this is basically personality differences or maybe a bit how Sophie was raised, but I love and adore how cuddly and affectionate Kaya and Norman are. They're always happy to dish out kisses to me, friends or strangers and they'll never turn down a lap to curl up on or a warm body to snuggle up to. And of course they love to cuddle their kitty too:) While Sophie has a sweet nature and likes to be nearby, she is just not down with getting close or having a lot of physical contact. Not everyone loves it but I do! Kaya and Norman even like to "make out" with each other. They sometimes do it to Sophie too. She doesn't mind but she never returns the favor.

Can we both fit on your lap?

Paying attention - This last one has more to do with training than anything I think. My friend tries to get Sophie to work on helpful things like making her wait to eat her food, however, she does not use any cue for eye contact so Sophie hard stares her food dish as my friend repeats wait over and over. After about 20 seconds she can see that Sophie is about to time out and she tells her to eat it. One of the first things I taught Kaya and Norman is a "watch" command and it applies to pretty much everything - waiting to go out the door, out the gate, out of the car, to know when to stop and sit on leash walks and again when to get up a walk with me again, to know when to eat or get a toy and my favorite, after I unleash them, they still have to stay with me, "watch me" and wait for me to give the ok to be "free." The same applies when they return from a recall or come back to a heel position. I never realized how much this bonds us and how much it strengthens their trust in me while they look to me for guidance and permission. It also lessens the need for verbal commands and so after I say "come" or "watch" they do most of their basic commands by hand signal or even a nod of my head, especially Kaya. Norman's a little slow on the uptake and needs a little extra at times:)

What we do next, lady?

I'd like to work on these things with Sophie and I think she'd really benefit from things like clicker training and morning training walks to balance out her time on the tie-down and crate and then an off leash activity later. I think if I show my friend how I started out Norman and Kaya, she will be excited to do the same things with Sophie. I keep trying to remind her that these things do not happen overnight and they do not always come naturally...all dogs are different!

All in all, these are minor things to work on with Sophie and I know she'll get it, but it does make me realize that there are so many little things that I should remember to appreciate about my dogs!

For those of you that foster or care for other dogs, does this ring true for you?

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Tuesday, May 21, 2013


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We are still adjusting to our new canine roommate, Sophie. The dogs have been getting along great. Although Sophie has some resource guarding and territorial issues, there have only been a few minor incidents. A couple times Sophie growled when Kaya or Norman came near her bone and once she growled when we walked by her on the dog bed, I think because we were out for a while and she had gotten used to it being her own space for a few hours. And she growled the first time we had her in the car because we loaded Kaya and Norman in after her. Since then we have loaded her last and there are no more issues. Luckily, Kaya and Norman are either completely oblivious or they just walk away.

3 dogs in the backseat...

There is one odd thing she does. She is not a very chewy dog and though there are regularly many bones, antlers and cheese chews lying around, she never chooses to pick them up and gnaw on them. However, once in a while, when one of the other dogs walks by (not even heading for the chew) she'll lunge for it and grab it. It's an odd tactic for a dog that is not actually interested in chewing things. Still, nothing has ever come of it and we always take the item from her anyways.

Group shot!

The troubles with her remain with her interactions with Gina though. Everything was fine in the beginning. So great that we were astonished. Sophie was curious but calm around her and Gina was perfectly content to have another dog in the house. In the very first hour, Gina even went up to Sophie and touched noses with her. Sophie sniffed her a bunch and Gina had no problems with it. Later, Gina rubbed her face back and forth on the open crate door while Sophie was inside and Sophie nudged her back. It was so cute!

A good start...

The next day, trouble started. In the warmer weather, my apartment fills with flies that like to swim around the middle of the room. Sophie has a great passion for tracking them down and leaping to catch them. So she jumped up to get one and Gina was standing in the way. My friend caught it out of the corner of her eye and yelled "hey!" thinking Sophie was jumping after Gina. So Gina freaked out and ran outside. After that she was very wary of Sophie and a bit of my friend.

Kaya teaching Sophie the art of sunbathing...

I only blame myself for the situation. Although things were going great, I should have insisted on more controlled interactions in the beginning. I think I was trying too hard to show my friend how happy I was that she drove half way across the country to come live with us and I did not want to step on any toes or making her think Sophie was a "bad dog" by putting restrictions on her. I also should have considered that the fly hunting could have affected Gina and overall was a horrible idea to let Sophie exercise any prey driven techniques in the house, even if just after flies.

I'm a good dog, I promise...

After a couple days, Gina was beginning to regain confidence around Sophie and even went right up to her a couple times. Again, I made a stupid decision and let my friend play with Gina and her toy in front of Sophie. Though I was still thinking that the last time was a misunderstanding and not a direct interest in Gina. Also, Sophie was tired and resting quietly on the dog bed but she leapt at the toy and my friend thought it was funny. Before I could get the words out of my mouth, Gina ran after the toy and so Sophie ran after Gina. Gina freaked out, ran away and once again, lost her confidence in Sophie. And to top things off, Sophie had a new found interest in Gina as a target as well as all of Gina's toys.

After that, I had to implement some strict rules that I should have from the start. Sophie had to be on a tie down at all times in the apartment and crated at night or at times when Gina was in the apartment. I hope the situation improves. Sophie is getting used to her new boundaries, but Gina is still fearful and spends most of her time outside:( Gina braved it up and came inside late one night but as she walked by the crate, Sophie guarded her crate and it scared Gina out again...

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