Penny Gets a Back Pack

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Cesar Milan says that putting a backpack on a pup makes the walk seem twice as long. I'm not sure about that, but I know that my Aussies are a herding breed and they like a job to do.

Ninja loves to wear his pack and carry his clean waste baggies in it, and maybe a bottle of water when we hike. Everyone laughs when they see him and says, "You make him carry his own stuff? Great idea!" Anyone can see how happy he is carrying his pack.

The pack I got for Ninja was pricey, and I was concerned about spending a lot for a pack and then Penny being afraid of it. She does not like having her tummy touched, and the strap from the pack goes around the belly of the pup.

My local Marshall's store had these cute packs for around $5. Can you believe that? Perfect! I brought one home for the beautiful Penny and she accepted it a lot easier than I expected.

We started by waiting until after a walk when she was mellow and a little tired and she still had the leash on. She seems much more comfortable with the leash on. Then my daughter and I let her smell the back pack. Next we set in on her back, and gave her a piece of chicken. That went well. After a few minutes I reached under her and clipped the back pack on, and my daughter walked her around the house wearing it. More chicken. No problems. That was enough for one night.

She looks pretty cute in it! Next walk we'll see if she wants to wear it out. I'm curious what the reaction will be from people when they see us walking two Aussies in back packs. With Ninja some people think he is being trained as a service dog, and praise me for what I'm doing. I always laugh- I'm training them for my family, people!

I'll let you know how the walk wearing the pack goes. I have a feeling it will go well.

Dog Behavior and Famous Trainers

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

So, I like to read. That's and understatement. I love to read. And since I have a new pup who has a fear issue, I've been reading everything I can get my hands on about dog behavior and training concepts. I've ready several of Cesar Millan's books, such as "Be the Pack Leader" and "A Member of the Family" as well as his first, "Cesar's Way." I really like his ideas.

I also read Jan Fennell's "The Dog Listener." These two are very similar in their approach. They say that most dogs do not want to be the leader and will gladly give up leadership status to you if you show them leadership. Both agree that you should ignore your dogs for the first minutes when you walk in until they are calm. This has worked wonders for me with Ninja. He used to nearly knock me over every time I walked in the door. I thought this was just , "I'm happy to see you" behavior, but after reading about it, I discovered it's more a dominance thing.

With Penny it's not an issue. She'll come to greet me but she'd never jump on me. The first day I decided to do the No Touch, No Talk, No Eye Contact (as Cesar says) Ninja jumped on me once, looked bewildered when I gently pushed him down and went on my way, and eventually went and sat down to wait for me to acknowledge him. At that point I was happy to greet my calm, submissive pup. After a few days of this, Ninja and Penny are both waiting calmly for me when I come home and no more jumping and acting crazy.

I wanted to see what the criticisms of this method are (mainly because I'm such a bookworm and I always want to see both sides) and people complaining felt it as cruel to ignore your dog. I don't get this criticism. I ignore them if they are misbehaving, and it stops. When they are calm I greet them. How can that be cruel? That seems like positive reinforcement to me. They behave, they get attention. They don't, they don't. I wonder if people are thinking of taking this to an extreme. I just don't get it.

Another book I'm reading is called Culture Clash which looks at how dogs really are, as opposed to how we "Disneyfy" them. It seems like a book all dog owners should read.

There's more to Cesar and Jan's methods, and I'll talk about them in later entries. I just thought it was interesting to see how quickly this one technique worked.

Walking Off Leash

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Ninja loves to walk off leash and I never have any concerns about him coming back to me. If we got to a park and no one is around, I often let Ninja off leash to run and burn off some of that energy.

The first time I tried that with Penny she took off up the hill. That was my fault because it was the first day we had her and of course there wasn't any bonding yet.

Tonight I gave it another try. Ninja took off and ran and ran (although he always comes back), and Penny stayed by my side. She didn't take off but she wasn't much into the running thing either. She walked right by my side the entire time. I do think she is much more comfortable with the leash on. She seems to feel much more secure with it on.

I thought it was cute that she stayed right with me. I think it shows that we are definitely making a connection.

Fun in the Car!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Ninja is pretty fearless in the car. He waits at the door when he hears me pick up my keys, and if it's safe I pretty much let him come along. By safe, I mean that it's not hot out and he won't have to be in the car for more than a couple of minutes when I'm doing whatever it is I need to do. Usually he comes along when we're going to a drive thru, or when I have a quick trip to Wal-Mart or something similar.

Ninja is starting to train Penny to wait at the door when I pick up my keys. It's pretty funny when I'm heading to the door and both dogs are at full attention, ready to take off and get in the car.

Tonight I took them both with me and my daughter to grab a couple of tacos. Ninja has no manners in the car. He'll sit in the back with his paws on the center console and bat at my hands with his paws (hoping for petting) while I'm driving. I'm sure Cesar Millan would be horrified. I've been better about making him stop and not rewarding that behavior lately, but it's hard when you want to love on your pup. It makes driving tough.

For the past couple of weeks Penny has been riding on the floor in the back, where the rear passenger wold put their feet. I think she feels secure there. She climbs in and out of the car with no issue. She even will come along without a leash. Tonight she decided to sit on the rear seat and look out the window. And then I found her with her paws on the center console with Ninja in the back seat! Oh, the bad habits he's teaching her!

It's still good a good sign that she's not so afraid of us and is not hiding as much. She's so smart- she found a blanket in the back seat and moved it around with her paws and snout so she could lay down on it. My daughter and I laughed at that. Apparently she doesn't much care to lay on leather seats. What's next? Having her paws done at the Paw Spa? :) She's a lady after me and my daughter's own hearts, that's for sure!

Wonderful Progress!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Things are going so well! Penny is using the dog door as if she's been doing it her whole life now. She hasn't had to be kept in her puppy pen at all since Monday night and she's had no accidents. Yippee!

She and Ninja are so funny. Every night Ninja used to sneak up to my room in the middle of the night and sleep on the floor next to my bed. Penny's other parents said she slept in their room under a chair. So I figured they'd both come up and sleep in our room. Nope. They seem to be really into snuggling with each other downstairs at night. I guess they don't need me at night. :) Well, that's OK. Whatever makes them happy!

Penny seems like she's starting to trust up a little more each day. I've found that she gets very frightened when you stand over her and try to reach down. Like when you want to reach down to pet her. So, we don't do that. Instead, we let her come to us and use her natural curiosity to want to come closer.

The other evening I sat on the floor and called Ninja over and began petting him. Penny came over and watched what I was doing, just out of reach. I talked to her while I petted Ninja, saying things like, "I'd pet you too if you wanted me too." I didn't reach out to her at all. After a few minutes, she came and laid down right next to me. . . and let me pet her! I had one dog under one hand and the other under the other. So cute!! The key with Penny is to sit down and let her come to me.

Last night I brushed Ninja with a great shedding brush and Penny did the same thing - came over and laid down next to me while I brushed Ninja. I guess she wanted to be brushed too. So both pups got loved on and brushed.

She's funny- when you pull out the leash she lays down and lets you clip it one her collar. We went to the dog park tonight and when we were ready to go home, she laid down and waited for the leash to be put on her.

I think we are really bonding because tonight at the dog park I walked around the track and both dogs followed me around and walked right by me or just behind me (off leash). I didn't make them heel or stop from running off -it's a dog park, for heaven's sake- but even when they went off to investigate, they headed back to me every time.

And Penny even let my husband cuddle her tonight and that's a first. He's a very tall guy and a little pup probably finds him a bit intimidating. But tonight she let him pet her and even came up to him at the dog park, looking for some attention.

Tonight makes two weeks since Penny Lane came home with us to keep Ninja company and brighten my family's days. I read earlier that two weeks is the honeymoon period for a new pup. Let's see how next week goes. I have a feeling it's going to continue to go well!

Good Night. . .

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

I mean, it was a good night. Penny's first night out of her puppy pen was uneventful (good) and accident free (even better)!

I found her curled up and sound sleep this morning, but of course when I went to take the picture she looked up at me. There are no less than 5 dog beds in this house and my pups like to sleep on the floor. Silly Aussies!

This evening we went to a new dog park. This one has a section for agility work with lots of neat equipment. We put Ninja and Penny in there. Ninja ran right up the see saw but when it came down the other side he leapt off of it and refused to do it again.

There were some people there with a chihuahua and they kept hitting the dog every time it barked and growled. Gee, it got more aggressive as the time went on and they kept whacking it. Some people should not be allowed to raise dogs. . . or children.

I like this picture. My daughter leashed them up and they were ready to go! C'mon, Mom! Aren't you ready yet? We're burning daylight!

Here's a great shot of them after burning off some of the famous Aussie energy. They kind of tag team and keep a look out for each other.

Penny is still showing some fear, but I think in time we can help her get over that. She only is afraid when you come over to her and try to pet her. She's OK on her own terms. But I guess we are all like that sometimes!

Guess Who's Using the Dog Door?

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

I got a call at work today from my hubby (he works at home) and very excited kids (who are off track) all chattering at the same time. My daughter put our Aussies out in the yard for a little play time and a few minutes later they were both back inside. No one opened the sliding glass door, so Penny must have come through the dog door after Ninja.

To be fair, this has happened once or twice before where she gets tired of waiting for someone to open the door and she sneaks in through the dog door. But I've never seen her actually go out through the dog door, and that's the key to me of her being ready to do her business outside on her own.

My daughter reported that after watching the pair, she saw Penny follow Ninja though the door several times, going both in and out. She says she doesn't fly through it like Ninja- she's a little more cautious, but she does go in and out. Oh, happy day! Tonight I'm going to leave her puppy pen open and see how she does! No getting up at 4am to let her out. Yippee!

Penny and the Paw Spa

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Note to self: Don't take dogs to the Paw Spa the day before a holiday. Apparently everyone wants a clean dog when they are going to someone's house or people are coming over for a holiday, like Easter!

But darling Penny had managed to find a mud puddle by our sprinkler valves and she loves water. . .and mud. So my daughter and I decided to take her yesterday and get her cleaned up. Plus my Dad wanted to see her on Easter and it was their first meeting, so I wanted her to look her best! I wanted to get Ninja a bath too but I had the sense to take Penny alone for the first trip to the Paw Spa.

The first thing Donna said to me was, "Another Aussie? Two hairy dogs! Are you crazy?" Yep, pretty much! :) Penny wasn't too enthusiastic about getting a bath. Apparently loving water is on her own terms, not when a bath is being enforced.

The place was packed! I've never seen so many dogs in there at once. I was very glad we didn't have Ninja there too because as much as I feel in control of my dogs, with so many others there it might have been tough.

You can see how Miss Penny pulled all the way to the other side of the tub, which is oh so much fun for my back! She doesn't fight me at all- she's a very docile pup- but she wasn't loving the bath thing either.

She was really filthy from that mud puddle. I don't know if you can see it in the picture, but when we scrubbed her legs and paws the dirt came off in rivulets. I kept washing the tub down because I didn't want to get it back on her.

Even the insides of her ears were pretty dirty. She must have scratched at her ears with dirty paws! A good rinse and a blow dry (which she also did not enjoy) and a spray of vanilla cologne, and she was one sparkly Aussie!
Here's a shot of her on the blow drying table. She doesn't like her legs and belly messed with, so I try to be somewhat sensitive to that and I don't blow dry her feet. And the hair around her ears is still a little wet, but she looks a lot cleaner than when we took her in! I don't think she looks too miserable, and boy did she smell yummy. When we got home, Ninja had to come over and investigate. I'm sure his sensitive nose said, Oh! The Paw Spa, huh Penny? His turn is next.

Happy Easter!

Happy Easter Day hi5 comments

A Walk in The Wilderness. . .

Saturday, April 3, 2010

OK, so it's not really wilderness. It's in Norco, about 5 minutes from our house, but it might as well be miles and miles away. I got home the other day in time to get over to the Hidden Valley Wildlife Park before it closed. I knew it would be a quick trip, but I wanted to check it out and see what the dogs thought about it.

Not a tough question, really. Are there wide open spaces? Check. Can they run? Check. Can they get filthy? Check. Are there birds and squirrels to chase? Check and check. Yeah, they loved it, even for the short time we had there.

When you get to the park, you drive in down a short dirt road, park, and then walk a paved path down towards the Santa Ana River where are the trails are. There is a lot of animal droppings everywhere so I don't recommend taking a puppy there who hasn't had all his shots.

People ride horses along the trails, so you need to pay attention to what is going on around you. We let Ninja run a bit off leash, but I'm not totally secure with letting Penny run off leash yet. Do you see that field in the first picture? Would you want to chase an Aussie through a field like that? Me neither. She seemed perfectly happy to walk with us on the leash.

This shot is the path that leads down to the river. You can see how fine the dirt is on the path, which lead to a couple of very dusty Aussies. I still have dusty paw prints in the back of my car!

We walked along at a brisk pace, then took a break for a minute. Here's a shot of the dogs both thinking we should go off in different directions. Maybe they are just watching each other's backs. :) There is just so much to look at in this park, such as squirrels, lizards, birds, water, trails, horses, and on and on. I'd like to go back on a Saturday and spend a few hours there where we could really play and let them get really dirty!

My daughter caught a cute shot of Penny Lane. I like the look in her eyes. She seems very content to be out in the Norco wilds!

When we came across a mother and daughter with a white pit bull, they warned us that they'd pulled off 4 ticks from their dog that afternoon. Yuck! I immediately checked out dogs but no ticks, thank goodness. They also warned us that they had seen several coyotes. Coyotes rarely attack humans unless they are totally desperate, but since it was getting close to park closing time I decided to get us all home. I didn't want to be responsible for two dogs, a little girl and me if a coyote came around!

It was a quick trip but a fun one. The pups came home a took a nap, both on their sides with legs stretched straight out. Isn't that the universal sign of a relaxed and tired doggy?

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