Sunday, December 30, 2007

Teenage Dog, other stuff too

My baby dog is growing up! And all the sudden I'm noticing it in a big way. Last night we had "Fight Night" at our house where we order a Pay-Per-View of UFC Championship. We've hosted it a couple times and I have fun because I get to entertain several people and cook for them. I've made my home made chili the last two times and it's a hit. But anyway I digress....

Foenix is now almost 14 months old and starting to test me and he's trying to find his fit in to our lives as an adult dog. This is a hard time for both the dog and owners and the most common ages for dogs I get in my training business (around 12-16 months of age is average.). This is due to changing dynamics in the pack. The dog is maturing, but not yet fully trained, tests training/manners boundaries and if so compelled the dog will try and move up rank in the home and with guests. A young dog, just like a young adult human is very unsure of himself, and yet strives to change without the complete set of 'tools' they will need at this time. They will try and make things happen even if it's unwise timing.

Foenix is testing Eric and I a little bit. It could be worse and we are dealing with it well, its just small things at this point, like marking in the dog room. So I've taken back some of his freedom in the house and implemented a leash-drag to give us more control of him. Sounds like a lot but really it's average things we are doing. Foenix is a secure dog who is pretty sure of his place and well trained and that makes so much difference at this time of his life.

Back to last night.... Well one guy we had here watching the fights on TV was a person we've known for a long time and Foenix has met him several times. I had Foenix in his crate most of the night because I was cooking and stuff. So when he came out I gave him his beloved bucket to play with. He loves to "kill" buckets and he will really tire himself out playing. I love it because he will keep himself occupied and give me some space. Anyway Foenix had his bucket and this man came over and started rubbing Foenix on his back and ears. And my pup decided he didn't like that and growled a very obvious warning to our guest. He looked so scary!! He was lip-licking (a clear sign intent) and he froze over the bucket (another clear sign of aggression, even without the growl) and his pupils blew up huge and his eyes glittered green!! (again a clear sign of agitation).

And you know what the guy did? He continued to pet and rub my dog without acknowledging the clear warning!!! I stayed where I was and had to yell at the guy to get away from the dog three times before he looked up at me and stepped away. Let me tell you I was so proud of Foenix for his control and not biting this guy. Foenix was actually very appropriate and his reaction was very good. He showed excellent restraint in the situation. However I will never put him into that position again because I cannot risk my dog for the stupidity of a person!! Foenix will play ball or tug with anyone, but now I know that he will guard his toys from people and I will work on him with that to make sure it does not get out of control. With Eric and I Foenix never guards things, he will allow us to take anything from him, even food items. But with others I would never alow this to happen and I won't make this mistake again.

Rules for Teenage Dog.... and Teenage People!!

1. Define rules and boundaries clearly -- Black and White!
2. Keep consistent expectations!
3. Practice manners and reward good behavior!
4. Keep consequences fair and just, but also swift and to the point!
5. Give them lots of good things to do, otherwise they will find plenty of bad things to do!
6. Be patient, losing one's patience makes you seem weak and therefore ineffective!
7. Spend time with them, even whey they'd rather be doing something else!
8. Make things fun and upbeat no matter how much you'd rather go hide!
9. Remind yourself that this to shall pass...
10. Don't forget they are not quite adults yet, therefor still in need of your constant guidance!

Some other stuff...

We have only about six more weeks to go before Hannah is due :) I'm looking forward to her being on the outside cause she is getting too big for the inside, LOL. I'm tired lately and feeling ready to be done with this, I feel as big as a house. Yet people tell me I'm carring her small, that's nice to hear. Her room is not even close to being started let alone finished so Eric and I have a lot to be doing in the next month.

Ok I'm done for now.....

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