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!
Down...stay...got it.
Anyone had any success with doing anything like this?