Thursday, June 20, 2019

I need this habit

Oh dear me. I am in real danger of being overwhelmed with puppy love! It is time to get serious.

I have three collies who love welcoming Col. Potter Cairn Rescue Network fosters into our home. The collies are well-trained, and they are sensitive to the needs of fragile rescued dogs. I fostered CPCRN’s frightened Westie "Mayfly" in April -- and I immediately fell in love with her. I adopted her, and I'm happy to report that Maybelle (new name) is blossoming. Then CPCRN rescued Roan, a cairn puppy who has multiple heart defects and a prognosis of 1-2 years. I am now providing hospice care for her. My challenge: neither Maybelle nor Roan has had any training. No house-training, no obedience training, not even a few manners.

When I ask the terriers to "sit," they both stand on their hind legs! I will start capturing this with "up!" -- but I still can't get them to sit, even if I lure them with high value treats.

Getting smothered with terrier kisses is the best feeling in the world. But it loses some of its charm when you stand up from your cuddle session and step into a pile of poop. As I look at these two lovebug terriers, I can’t help but feel a little overwhelmed. Where do I start?

Tiffany Lovell (CPDT-KA, CSAT, AAI) wrote a great article in Whole Dog Journal, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Dog Owners.” One of the habits is exactly what I need:
“Prioritizing is a necessity in all aspects of our lives. Working with your dog is no exception. There will probably be several things you wish to change or work on with your dog, but certain ones should take precedent… Focus on teaching your dog whatever behaviors meet your immediate needs; usually, the rest can be handled with proper management such as baby gates, fences, a leash, stuffed food toys, etc. There is nothing wrong with using management to keep everyone safe and happy until you have a chance to work on that next issue with your dog.”
I am setting priorities now. “Let’s go potty” is #1 on the list, closely followed by “come.” I have a feeling I will be trying forever to get "sit." And is "stay" even a remote possibility?

In the meantime, I am focusing on management techniques. 

  • I worry about Roan scooting out the front door, so I’ve put up a freestanding pet gate at the entryway.
  • Roan, who came from a backyard breeder, fiercely guards her food from any dog who is nearby. I give her a special table that she can hop on, eating her food up and away from curious doggie companions.
  • Neither terrier knows how to go up and down stairs. They love to cuddle in the morning, so I’ve put dog stairs next to the bed, and they are learning the concept of steps while coming up in the bed to greet the dawn (LOL, pun intended).

What are some of your most effective management techniques? Please share your experiences in the comment section below.

— Dawn F.

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