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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  1. I take so many things for granted with my dog as well such as his willingness to stick close when off leash and his ability to respond to sit, stay and come almost no matter what. I trust him with my cats and all other animals and people. And he is so calm in the house. Like you, I get irritated when dogs can't settle down in the house.

  2. As I was beginning to read, I started thinking about our current foster Twiggy. As you said, when a new one arrives, it makes you realize how well behaved the resident dogs are!

    Twiggy had little manners towards dogs or people but is catching on very quickly and has also calmed down considerably. She too would lunge and grab for treats but has learned if she sits and waits quietly, she gets one. Yes, it has made me more appreciative of the pack's manners and behavior in general.

    1. Twiggy is learning such valuable lessons with your pack! She will be such a well-balanced pup when she moves on:)

  3. I don't really take anything for granted with Ray since he was just such a hellion as a small puppy. I'm grateful for how far he's come but mindful of how far he has to go.

    The "we're waiting" picture makes me swoon with the cuteness overload!

    1. I do often think about the things that kaya used to do when she was younger and remember how far she's come but I guess there's plenty of things that were not on her list of antics!

  4. Since starting to read your blog, I have always envied your luck with the dogs you adopt or find! I adore my rescue to pieces, but she is a piece of work with similar traits to Sophie and then some. I have learned over time that a lot of it is just her personality. My girl is a bit insecure and introverted (which can translate to snarky and aggressive) and always will be to some extent even though the changes she has gone through in the last 3 years are huge. If i'm lucky, one day I will have a lower maintenance dog, but as I'm a sucker for the hard luck pups, I don't think that will happen for a long time. Life with dogs. :)

    1. Thank you:) Something tells me that Sophie wasn't paid much attention to in her upbringing which would explain why she is somewhat detached and I know she lived with another dog who was quite pushy so I think that is why she is defensive and obviously some dogs need more space than others. Hard luck pups can be so rewarding but I find that my easy going dogs are always a work in progress anyways and I still get excited about the little things that we accomplish.

  5. Your dogs are sort of the poster children for a "Good Dog." As food-obsessed as my pups are they also are remarkable when it comes to patience and waiting. They also are not busy at all and pretty much just hang where we are but are amped and rearing to go when are too.

    1. Sounds good to me! One thing I need to work on...keeping them calm when people come over. They are so used to it just being me around they get a little too friendly. Kaya tries to jump up and Norman likes to lick feet and roll around:/