For those of you who know me well, BleuBird Mama loves her dogs! The funny thing is that I didn’t grow up with dogs, not even a house cat, and the little goldfish lived about two days. I had no experience with animals until I was in college. I liked other people’s pets, but I didn’t know how to interact with them well. I also didn’t understand the context of a species and their particular behaviors.
I always knew- even when I was a kid- that I’d marry an animal lover. My husband told me he wouldn’t have married me if I didn’t love animals. He grew up with Labradors and outdoor cats in the mountainside of a pacific coastal town, so he was all outdoorsy and acclimated in ways this wimpy suburban girl was not.
When we got married we inherited Ian’s old black lab Luke Skywalker, also known as Pookie or Lucus Maximus and Pook-pook-pookie-the-pooper. He was a wonderful dog. Loyal as the day is long. Simple minded. Obedient. Affectionate. Quiet. Sweet.
Of course, since Luke was Ian’s dog -but very dear to me as well- I really wanted my own puppy. I really wanted a pup to train and nurture in order to stave off making babies. -But that plan didn’t work because a month after we brought the puppy home I was pregnant.- Anywho, we stuck with the lab trend and that’s how we acquired Molle.
Good lil Molle-Wolly-Poo, as I affectionately sing to her. She’s a very smart, tenacious, gregarious, extremely loving, somewhat hyper, river dog. Any ball, any spot of water, any morsel of food she loves. Molle is a typical yellow Labrador in that she was easy to train and easy to schedule into a routine. But oh her stubborn ways….
Training a domesticated dog is much like training a little child. They need reasonable boundaries, simple instructions, lots of positive reinforcement, sweet affection, plenty of playtime, and a steady routine.
- Crates are the best for instituting boundaries and safety. Similar to a baby, puppies need their comfy place where they rest and recoup.
- Schedules are a must for dogs because they thrive on predictability. They do best with a routine walk, a routine potty break, a routine play time, a routine bedtime, and so on. A lot like humans!
- Space and boundaries allow them to have the most fun during the day! Unfortunately, when Molle was a puppy we had a tiny yard and no fence, so it was difficult to let her roam free; now that we live in the country Molle & Gunner get to play within an electric fence (above ground) area, and they love all the space they have to run and leap and chase.
- Naps are practically one of their favorite things. When I lay down for a nap, they nap with me. If I take time to rest, they also take time to rest, and that’s good for them just as it’s good for me.
- Words and intonation are everything in a dog’s world of communication. I use particular terms to indicate the meaning of something, and I can use those terms any time, any where to communicate with them. For example, “That’s naughty” goes for drinking out of the toilet, jumping on the door, or whining by the bed; “It’s night-night time. Go to your place and lay down” is immediately understood at that time of day and they comply by flopping onto their cushions.
There are tons of resources out there if you’re still in the dog-training phase, if you’re considering getting a dog, if you’re curious about the whole dog-training thing. My favorites were Cesar Millan’s show The Dog Whisperer and some of his books…
And here’s a great guy that posts all his tips and tricks on YouTube. Zak George is AWESOME! Highly recommend if you have an old dog, a silly dog, a tiny puppy, a cantankerous pup, these videos are for any dog lover/owner! The thing about George is that he understands the species of canines very well, their behaviors and why they do what they do, and how to interact with them in safe and positive ways. Here’s one of my favorites:
Have fun with your pup today and enjoy all their soppy kisses!