A blog about my life with dogs.......

Friday, July 6, 2012

Exercising the Functionality of Obiedience

     It is another busy week here, as usual. How did you and your pooch fair the fourth? Poor Bugsy, he is shocked by each and every bang. Poor me, as my neighbors care not for my dogs fear and exploded fireworks directly over my backyard for 2 hours. I sure hope they got it out of their systems. The heat is unforgiving and today I hiked with out any dogs. Nor did any of my dogs even get so much as a walk. The heat is extreme. I am dripping sweat just taking the trash out! Poor Comet, his coat is perfect for playing in the snow and weathering extreme cold. His skin is easily sunburned and I will not be shaving him.
Comet staying cool in our new pool.
      Today Bugsy had a vet appointment. I had just finished one of my long overnight shifts and came home to give the dogs some love and let them out before leashing up and heading back out again. I'm happy to report Bugsy has a clean bill of health and had his vaccines updated. As the vet finished the last of the blood draw he and his tech assistant both commented on how good of a patient Bugsy was. They said he was "a nice change of pace from the bouncing and wrestling we have been doing all day.". Good boy, Bugsy! I felt a little grin coming on for all the times I felt like I was getting looks from people who may have been thinking....why is she carrying dog treats around with her? That dog must be so spoiled!
Spoiled? Who?

     I always bring treats to the vet with me. I try my best to come early and I always walk around the outside of the clinic so my dog can sniff and pee on things before he goes into the office, thereby lessening the likelihood of my dog marking in the office. I don't know about your vet office, but mine has a corner of desk that each dog must walk by going in and out of the clinic. I have seen so many dogs mark that spot. Even a potty trained dog will find it hard to resist marking a spot like that, but if they are out of pee and you recognize and avoid the marking zone then you will start out your vet appointment on the right paw!

     Each time I visit the vet some one takes us to an exam room and we wait there, just me and my dog, for the vet to arrive. I take this time to remind my dog how the slippery metal exam table is a wonderful place where rewards happen. I lure my dog onto the table with a treat or give him a command he already knows (in this case the command "paws up" for Bugsy). Then when my dog is securely on the table I give him a yummy treat. Then I give the "off" command and when he jumps off, yup you guessed it, another treat! Then when my dog is comfortable with that I use the foot petal on the floor to raise the table while my dog is on it. I do this just a few inches then give him a treat. Repeat.
No, I didn't ask my vets permission to play with the power exam table.

     Bugsy has been to enough appointments that he knows this drill. So we had our whole routine done well before the vet arrived and so I just sat and petted him and told him he is a good boy. Then when the vet arrived I used the same methods, and rewarded him again. When the vet drew blood from his paw I asked for a "watch me" and Bugsy drew his eyes away from the vet and the needle in his paw and watched me. I gave him a yummy treat.
     My vet is an old fashioned fellow. He's been vetting animals for my family for longer than I've been alive. He is a wise man who knows many things I do not, no doubt. But years ago when I fed Natures Variety and rotated the protein sources they offer, he disagreed. He is a science diet man. He sells it from the front of his office and I've seen him recommend it to customers. I, as you know, now feed raw. I am vehemently opposed to feeding my dog anything that has corn as the first several ingredients. So, I never told him that I began feeding raw. He doesn't know now. We disagree on this issue of food so, I chose not to discuss it.

     All that considered I was ready for a battle when I broached the topic of delaying future vaccinations or having titer tests done to measure my dogs immunity levels instead of vaccinating him when it may not be necessary. More and more I read evidence that we are over vaccinating our dogs, and that it may be causing cancer and other ailments. While I want to protect my dog from the dangers of rabies for example, I do not want to over vaccinate either. To my surprise my vet agreed.  "It's a topic over morning coffee" he said of conversations between him and the other vet in the office. He agreed to put Bugsy on a three year schedule for testing and see him annually for a check up.

Captain with his new hedge hog toy. Comet hamming it up.
.....On the Subject of over vaccinations and titer testing......
I wish I had a great website I could recommend or a source of any kind that I felt was worthy of passing on to you. At this point, I just don't have that. I am learning and I encourage you do the same. It seems like titer testing and vaccinations are a hot topic and discussions get heated. Everyone wants to do the best thing for their dog! I encourage you to do your own research and make your own decision on this topic. Good luck!
And remember to take into consideration the age, health, and lifestyle of your dog as you consider this as an alternate to annual vaccines. Bugsy does not board at kennels, or go to doggy day care (he doesn't like doggy day care and he is naughty there). Bugsy is an adult dog, lives inside and is in good health.

Practice makes perfect!
     Above is a picture of the boys doing my "settle" command. This routine has grown and changed over the years I have had dogs. "settle" means do not move forward and show me you are relaxed by sitting or laying down. I use this command at the door when they are going to go outside. Then I release each dog by name one at a time(or, I release them all with "okay"). I use a body block-I put my body between the dog and the door- if a dog becomes over eager and tries to sneak out early. This exercise prevents door guarding issues that can sometimes happen in a pack. Also using this routine helps the dogs learn patience. And they look cute doing it if I do say so myself. Good boys!

     Another way obedience saved my day today involves a kitchen full of broken glass. My glass of water was safely-or so I thought- on the kitchen table. The dogs were playing together on the floor, when Quimby cat came in, the dog play startled the cat who suddenly jumped on the table and knocked my glass onto Bugsy where it then bounced off of him and onto the ceramic tile shattering and scattering across the floor.
Captain and his hedge hog.
"wait" I said and looked sternly at each dog-unsure if they would do what I hoped they would do and freeze. The wait command means- don't move forward or backward. Captain has had little exposure to this command but is a quick study as he is very observant of the other dogs and one smart little smooshy face! Each dog did exactly what I had hoped, they stopped in their tracks and looked at me. I held my hand signal for wait out to Comet and Captain who were on my left and near to the door to outside. Bugsy was across the room to the right, a sea of broken glass between us. I looked at Bugsy "Backup." I said giving him that hand signal with my other hand. "Good." I said as he backed up. "Down" Bugsy laid down in the far corner and watched me eagerly. "Bugsy, stay." I said firmly. Then "Comet, out" I said and waved my hand to the doorway into the living room. Comet walked out of the room. "Captain out." I said wondering if he would follow, but he began walking in a path of glass and I swooped him up and carried him out of the room. I sent Comet and Captain outside, shut Quimby in the bedroom and then went back to sweep up the glass. Bugsy kept his stay and I handed him treats as I finished the job.

     All these events in my day exercise my dogs obedience skills. These skills are so functional, and I use them daily. Don't ever let anybody tell you that obedience is for the show ring, or for single dogs or dog packs only, or only for weirdos like me who call their dog "smooshy face". Obedience is for every person and dog. It opens a line of communication that will deepen the bond between you and your pet and could save your dogs life someday. Today, obedience definitely helped save my dogs paws from broken glass.

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