Text

Instead of asking ‘How dominant is this dog?’ we need to start asking ‘How trusting is this dog?’  

You can’t google dog training without coming across abusive training techniques based on loose and outdated theories of dominance. What are we even talking about? Ask someone to describe what they mean by dominance and most people look at you like you have four heads. They throw the word alpha in there and submissive and pack… and blam… everyone references an unproven hypothesis as fact and now has license to use psychological and physical intimidation in the name of training.

This is where it gets dangerous. These dogs are typically the fearful and under socialized ones. Human hands don’t mean treats are coming and going in the crate turns to a bait and switch. These are the ones that are understimulated - learning that the only interesting thing that is going to happen in their day is barking at the dog on the other side of the fence or the mail man at the door. Rehearsing it over and over again - what starts as interest turns to frustration turns to aggression. In most cases these dogs are terrified and have learned what works to keep those things away.

It’s cathartic for people to use physical corrections and intimidation on a dog they can’t control. It’s an immediate release for us. Fear works. It works so well that you can punish out all warning signs your dog would normally give to let you know he is uncomfortable. Congratulations, you have now created an extremely dangerous and unpredictable dog.

Let’s give dogs a reason to trust us. We have to build it in them - not break it out of them. We all want the quick fix but like in any relationship that doesn’t exist. Trust comes from truth, repetition and time. We got time for that.

(Sorry for the rant… more light-hearted material to come!)

Text

As I sit here trying to sift through my pile of life stuff… finances, work, relationships, house cleaning, procrastination… Rex is bouncing around me wondering ‘why aren’t we playing’?  I limbo between the one attitude of ‘this stuff means nothing and I should just be happy that I am alive, breathing, have love, give love, and live a great life’… and the other attitude of ‘this stuff feels like it is all crumbling around me, it is everything and it is me’.  In reality I find myself somewhere in between.  This noise means as much as I let it mean.  And if I let it be louder than all the other good things in my life to the point where I can’t appreciate what is going right then I’ve failed. 

Dogs have no bank accounts, no hidden motives or secrets, no shame. They sort things out with each other from the get go.  I like you. I don’t like you. We play well together. You’re boring. I’d rather play ball. I eat poop and dead squirrels. I feel like a nap.

Meals come to them, love comes to them and hopefully they get what they need.  Most of all though, they live in the moment. They do not dwell on things that may or may not happen and spin out to some other useless mind set that humans do all the time. What if this happens? How will I deal with it? All the worries and woes about circumstances that have not even presented themselves.

I guess what I am saying is that for this moment I am taking a lesson from my dog. BE HERE NOW. Look what is around you, accept it for the good and the bad and be present through it all.

That is why I am leaving to go visit friends, have a few beers, hear some live music, laugh and interact.  Thank you Rexy!

Photo Set

Rex mid play and Rex post play!

Text

On days like this with a dog like mine, it means whether I like it or not I am going to be romping through this snow as if it were any other day.  I suppose I should first introduce you to Rex.  He is a 16 month old white, deaf Boxer with a Curious George personality who needs lots and lots of mental and physical stimulation in order to be ‘normal’.  I started fostering him in August of 2010 and now this little cow pig is mine :) 

Rex has a very regular routine; daily appointments if you will.  It took a while to find a way to manage Rex’s need to exercise and investigate the world in a way that didn’t make me go insane.  So once we found a groove we stuck to it.  Wake up at 7am, let out of his crate to snuggle til 9am, bark at mommy, food puzzle toy until about 10am, then we hike down to the graveyard to hopefully encounter doggies and say hello to his choice people friends who sit on the Broadway benches, nap from 1-3pm and repeat. Yes he gets two 1-2hr playgroups a day.

We burn hours in the cemetery.  Since Rex is deaf and inquisitive it was a total find!  He has some great buds there and expends more energy than any walk I could give him.  To be honest, I quite enjoy it too even though sometimes it feels like a chore to get out of the house.  But once I am there, I realize I do this just as much for me as for him.  Twice a day I have an hour and a half of walking around a beautiful place where I can let my mind go where it will… and all that is on the agenda is play.

That’s the funny thing about routine, you forget that it didn’t always start that way. You started doing this thing because you really enjoy it… so on days like today when it is just me and Rex in the graveyard with no tracks of any other dogs and the wind is blowing icy snow straight in to my exposed face, I think ‘Hey we are doing what we want to,’ because when I get home you will be a tired snuggly dog and that is rewarding enough for me to do this for you.

Photo