Friday, April 18, 2014

The Bed Hogs

We love our dogs so much that we used to let them sleep in our bed with us (okay, like three weeks ago "used to"). Well, Maggie is a fairly good bed companion. She curls into a ball and sleeps by my side or feet.

Seriously. I wonder if she TRIES to be adorable. Maybe it just happens naturally. 
Sometimes, I can't handle those ears.

Nigel, on the other hand, is the biggest bed hog I have EVER met. He starts as a little ball o' Nigel but then SPREADS out to take up way more than his 70 pounds of pittie body should inhabit. It's crazy.

He's just so cute though.

But they're just SO darn cute that we keep letting them in the bed sometimes to snuggle. I wish Nigel could just understand what it means to share.

Sometimes they even snuggle together.
And of course, both of them have lovely and comfy beds RIGHT next to our bed that COULD be comfortable all night.

Oh well. Good thing it's still spring break! Have a great weekend, pittie lovers!! And Happy Easter to those who celebrate.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Almost Wordless Wednesday

My spring break from classes has just begun which means...there is going to be a lot of book reading, cleaning/minimalist work, and snuggling happening around our house soon.

How lucky am I that these are snugglemates!? Happy Wednesday!!!

Friday, April 4, 2014

Loving the Leash Gremlins

Some pittie blog friends on Facebook shared a great post today from Dogs Out Loud about returning dogs to shelters because of behavioral issues. The post was great and it led me to another one of their posts about loving doggies they call, "Leash Gremlins."

Well, I didn't realize that someone had created a wonderful title for dogs like Maggie! Turns out, we have our own little Leash Gremlin and we have struggled with the same things so many dog owners struggle with when working with a leash reactive dog. Truth is, we would NEVER return a dog to the shelter but it has been an uphill battle since we adopted our little nugget. We don't always feel equipped to deal with her tantrums and we don't always feel like we're giving her the best life possible because she is often so frustrated and reactive.

But the other truth is that another family may have just returned our little Leash Gremlin. The easy thing is to return reactive dogs because they're difficult. Maggie is an amazing dog. At home, she is sweet and cuddly, obedient and smart, and makes us laugh with her funny sighs and groans. She loves to snuggle and play fetch. She is everything we would have ever wanted in a dog...except when we're outside of the house.

We would never consider rehoming her or bringing her to a shelter but we understand how difficult it can be to live with a reactive dog. But the love and joy she brings into our lives on a daily basis makes us want to continue fighting for her to be happy inside the house and out and hopefully one day, she will understand that she doesn't need to be a leash gremlin anymore.

Fight on, families of leash gremlins!! Love them anyway and love them hard.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Two Dogs, One Human

The husband is off scuba diving in the Bahamas...who said it's rough being a teacher?! Just kidding, he works very hard all year so this is a special trip for him.

BUT that means that it's just the pitties and me all week. He had them last week while I was away at a training so now I get some quality time with my little shmush heads.

Uh oh, she's got the clicky box out again...
So far, we have spent our time together cuddling on the couch and finishing season 2 of House of Cards (Maggie loves it, Nigel thinks it's "just okay" and doesn't really get the hype).

Is it just me, or is there a little 'tude in this look!?
In the last few weeks, we have been taking the pooches out for short walks for the last few weeks now instead of just letting them in the backyard. First, we did it because it was raining and the dogs needed more exercise anyway, but the other and more pertinent issue is that the doggies next door are outside in the their backyard most of the day and night, if not all day and night. They seem very sweet but our two really want to play with them and pace frantically by the fence and bark like demons. Then, Nigel starts eating the leaves and branches that cover our fence and scratching it up like nuts!

Since we moved last May, walks are much easier (no second floor walk up!). We also know that the pups love to get outside and see the world for 30 minutes throughout the day and look forward to the summer when we have time to take them for longer walks. We have found that we work on their obedience more when we take them for walks (by virtue of being outside and having space to practice 'heels' and 'sit stays' as well as necessity to offer commands when they get distracted by kitties, dogs, people, birds, almost anything else in Maggie's case).

Being alone with the pooches means that it takes a little more time to fulfill the walking duties but the pups and I have worked out a system. Maggie waits inside very patiently while I take Nigel out and then we trade. Easy peasy. Sometimes, Maggie goes first. They also work on their "not ripping apart the house when the people leave" skills since they are inside the house alone for short periods (about 5-15 minutes).

I would take them both out together BUT we tried that a week ago and Nigel got so excited about a nearby dog that he pulled me (on my knees) across part of our yard. I have the bruises to prove that though the pooches are MUCH better than they were one year ago, we are just not quite there yet! I'm fine but a piece of my dignity is still smeared on our front lawn.

How do you manage walking two (or more!) dogs on your own? Any tips or tricks to share?

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Increasing Demand

Maggie and Nigel are doing quite well with their new course of stricter obedience in the house that we have moved to a new level of helping them succeed. They listen to commands about 50-75 percent of the time instead without training collars on so we are focusing now on increasing our demand of proper behavior WITHOUT training collars so we can help them step it up to the next level.

For the next two weeks, we are randomly asking them for obedience behaviors. So, we'll be sitting on the couch having cuddle time or pets and randomly ask them to get "off" (one of Maggie's harder commands to obey right away) and then ask them to do a sit-stay or down-stay.  Then we'll release them and give praise, if they do what we ask.

Please don't ask me to get "off" right now, I'm so comfy!
Essentially, we are trying to teach them that it's great that they know their commands but that we really, REALLY want them to listen to us no matter what collar they are wearing! We are still having issues with Maggie freaking out at other dogs on leash so we are working to get her focused on us in the house so we can eventually work with higher level distractions outside.

They're responding well and enjoying our little play sessions followed by short bursts of obedience commands. It's like a new game for them! it.
Anyone had any success with doing anything like this?

Monday, February 24, 2014

Minimalism and Dogs

Lately, I have become fascinated by the minimalist movement. I have been reading through archives of The Minimalists, Becoming Minimalist, and Zen Habits. I gave away a bunch of clothes, threw out unneeded stuff, and have been paring down my books as a result and I am already feeling lighter and happier with less stuff weighing me down.

As I was going through our closet in the office, I came upon the dogs' possessions and had to stop for a moment. I thought to myself, "How much do our dogs REALLY need?"

We have somewhere around 7 collars and maybe 8 or 9 leashes for two dogs. This is partly because we were figuring out what worked best for us but why keep old leashes around that we don't use when we could donate them to a local shelter?
"I like going 'naked' anyway! Less to get in the way of cuddling."
"You're not going to throw away my antlers though, right!?!?"
"I am still skeptical of this minimalism thing but just keep my blankies. I love those."
I settled on a minimalist dog possession list: a crate or bed out front, 1 bed each in our bedroom, 2 leashes each, 2 collars each (one for daycare because they get smelly), some medications and treats, shampoo and a brush, bowls for food and water, a few toys, and some extra things for when we take them camping (like their snoods, hoodies, bug lotion, travel water bowl for the car, etc.) and of course, poop bags. They don't need any more than that and yet I have a full drawer packed with stuff that I keep for them "just in case" I may need it.

Don't get me wrong...hoodies, jackets, rain boots, those are ALL necessary when your dogs are walking around Chicago in nasty snow storms (hey Miss M and Mr. B!) but our California dogs don't need extras right now.  I love that some of you out there have room to make a full closet of doggie goodies but we just don't have that space in our current home,

Do you keep a wardrobe for your pups or do you tend to lean towards minimalism?

Monday, February 3, 2014

The Post No One Likes Writing

I have read a LOT of dog (and more specifically pittie) blogs since adopting Maggie in September 2012.  So, I know that it's perfectly normal for dogs, especially those who are still learning their manners and who are in "delicate" stages of reaching adulthood, to sometimes cause trouble or have a rough patch.

Welllll...we're there.  Mr. Nigel was temporarily suspended from daycare about three weeks ago.  He was chillin' with the other dogs, towards the end of the day, and a dog bumped into him and he went and started a fight.  Thank GOODNESS that he was the only one who had a nick in his ear and one other dog got scratched but jeez, I almost had a heart attack when the husband called to tell me.

Sigh.  They told us that he had been getting a little "cocky" at daycare.  He was sort of bullying other dogs and him and Maggie were being rotated into the playroom throughout the day because they were kind of ganging up on other playmates (my babies??!?!  I couldn't believe it).  Our trainer at daycare is awesome and he called my husband and basically said that it was only temporary, hopefully, and that once we brought Nigel back in for a lesson with Maggie and talked about what may be causing his weird aggression, he could be temperament tested again and come back to daycare.

I had so many emotions that day.  I was so happy that he didn't hurt any of the other dogs (him and Maggie have had a few scuffles and he's a strong dude).  I was so mad because I felt like we could be doing more to make sure that this hadn't happened (obviously not rational to think that I could have totally helped avoid it).  I was upset to think that maybe we were bad doggie parents or that Nigel was getting some kind of aggressive attitudes as he began to reach maturity.

The next step is to take him in for a lesson on Saturday and figure out what we can do to teach him that that behavior is totally unacceptable.  Then, we just have to go from there.  Hopefully we can find a way to show him what's right and what's wrong and be able to give him the experience of hanging with dogs.  And if not, we'll continue to love him to pieces and teach him what's right in every other part of his life.

Anyone else experienced anything similar?  What did you do after an event like this??