It’s been a while

October 29, 2007 at 2:04 am | Posted in dogs, life | 3 Comments

I guess I’ve been avoiding making this next entry.  A couple of weeks ago, our dog, Eddie, went to his new home.  After 3 or 4 months, he and the cats were just not coexisting in a good way.  The cats would run away if he got too close, then his play-drive/prey-drive would kick in and he’d chase.  The cats were hiding most of the time, and some of them were skipping meals rather than come out, even when Eddie was out on his walk.  And that’s NOT like our cats! He had coexisted with cats before we had him, but I guess ours had never seen or lived with a dog before, and they just weren’t having it.  They were curious to a point, and we gave it months, but it just wasn’t happening. Luckily we were able to find a good home for him.  It’s with someone we know who has a slightly older female black lab, and lots of property outside of town.  We’ve kept tabs, and he’s adjusting well there.  We’re adjusting too, but it sometimes makes us sad that it didn’t work out.  I guess that’s why I haven’t made any entries in a while.  Sorry ’bout that.



September 13, 2007 at 3:07 pm | Posted in dogs | 6 Comments

Yesterday I was woken up at 5am with a case of E.D.D., explosive doggie diarrhea. So much for waking up early to do lesson plans. It took almost an hour to take care of. Everyone at work said I looked so tired. It was the first day I came to work in jeans this semester; I usually save that for casual fridays, if at all.

I put yogurt and pepto-bismal in yesterday’s breakfast and dinner, and also today’s breakfast. Last night was also diarrhea, but he was outside in the driveway, so cleanup was relatively painless.

This morning, normal poopies. 🙂 (*does happy-dance*) No vet visit necessary, and we’re NOT buying any more of those cheap bones from the supermarket anymore! Back to Agway for the bones he likes and don’t result in E.D.D.

On a related note, we also need a toy for him that can stand up to his mighty jaws. Any recommendations, you big dog owners?

Lots of stuff

July 31, 2007 at 5:52 pm | Posted in dogs, life | 5 Comments

Not much time to blog recently. Lots of stuff going on.

Eddie: He’s gotten to the point where he goes to bed in the crate and doesn’t whine or cry at all. When I leave for work in the morning, he goes in the crate and only whines for about a minute. I’m very happy he’s started to accept this. Next step is being able to walk, talk, and generally be in the house in a normal volume while he’s in the crate. I understand, he just wants to be with people. He wants to be with us. But sometimes we’ll have people over who are scared of dogs, or with very small hyper children, or something. And we’ll need to crate him, and he’s got to accept that.

That being said, we’re also having him be with us more often when we’re just hanging around. He’s always on a leash when he’s in the house so far, until he has “come” and “sit-stay” and “down-stay” much better. I just got the book How To Be Your Dog’s Best Friend by The Monks of New Skete. I don’t know when I’ll have time to read that, but I will. Maybe on the plane to MathFest.

House: Jenny’s having family over this weekend while I go to MathFest. (Overlap not on purpose.) I’ll be back for the end of their visit. Hopefully we’ll be able to go to Canada together. Anyway, we made the last unpacking push this past weekend. It’s so nice. You can walk through every room and not trip! Mostly, anyway. And some of the pictures are going up.

Work: Now that Eddie is settled into a routine, I’m doing much better at getting to the office and getting work done. I’m not quite up to during-the-semester productivity, but I’m getting there. I’ve been working on my paper this past week, and I’m making slow progress.

Misc.: It’s hot and humid. Hoo boy. Our house isn’t too bad, but the bedroom is the hottest room in the house, and if we don’t remember to open the windows and turn on the fan up there (the door is closed because of cat allergies) at 7pm, it’s nigh unbearable by the time we go to bed. As houses go though, it’s not bad. Pretty well insulated. Hopefully that works in our favor come winter!

I try to put on a good face about Eddie, but it’s equally true to say that his addition to our family has been a royal pain in the keyster. He’s taken away a lot of time I could have spent on work (that’s why I didn’t teach summer classes, to get work done), and time that I could have spent with Jenny. I got him too soon, before I was prepared, before I read up on being a dog owner, before we got completely moved and settled into our new house. As a result, I’m stressed most of the time, my nerves are frayed, and I’m not being a very good dog-owner, professor, or husband. I’m trying hard not to resent Eddie for it; it’s not his fault, it’s not anything he did. But I sometimes wish I never met him. And I feel bad that I feel that way. He deserves better. No, I don’t plan on getting rid of him. But something’s got to change.

Damn it, finishing grad school was supposed to decrease the stress! What a year.

He talks in his sleep!

July 17, 2007 at 2:36 pm | Posted in dogs | 3 Comments

Eddie is sleeping on the floor of my study as a blog. He just started barking in his sleep! Not full volume, but a low volume, sort of breathy bark. I wonder what he’s dreaming about?

Eddie update

July 17, 2007 at 2:27 pm | Posted in dogs | 1 Comment

For a while, it seemed Eddie was all I could talk about, so I made an effort to post some other stuff. Of course, he still takes up a lot of my time. Mostly because he’s never been trained properly and consistently. Some well-meaning folks have taught him some good stuff, but it’s been intermittent. He’s a good dog, but he’s becoming a much better behaved dog.

What follows is a lot of detail that non-dog-owners will probably find rather boring. Heck, many dog-owners probably will, too. But here goes.

He’s really good on a leash. Sometimes when he’s full of energy it takes more of an effort to control him, and when there are more distractions it’s harder for him to focus, but overall he’s very good. Most of the time he walks right beside me, and only a gentle tug on the leash is necessary to speed him up, slow him down, or avert him from a distraction (someone’s garden I don’t want him going in, a hot girly dog across the street, etc.). He’s also got a good short-term stay, a sit-stay, and a down-stay. (Short-term = 30-60 seconds.) When we’re waiting to cross the street at a light, I’ll tell him to sit-stay, and he’ll just chill until I say let’s go. Once in a while he’ll think he’s supposed to go in the middle, but I correct him and he goes right back into the stay.

When I got him, he’d never pee or poop on our property, just somewhere along our morning/evening walk whenever he felt like it. I want to get him to pee and poop in a certain part of the yard, and only there. Once he’s used to it, it’ll be very nice to not have to worry about him peeing on someone’s house we’re visiting, and when winter comes, he (and I) will appreciate being able to go out, quickly take care of business in an appropriate place, and get back inside. I devoted Saturday to this effort. Just taking him back and forth from the house to that spot, and not going anywhere else. I gained a partial victory. Now he pees there. But after 30+ hours of not pooping, I capitulated. So he pees in the side yard before and after walks, and poops somewhere along the walks. I’ll wait till the peeing there is solid, and try again in a couple of weeks.

Sometimes, when he is bored, or when he thinks he should be given treats when he isn’t, he can get annoying, pushy, and a little aggressive. This I want to stop right away. Unfortunately he knows how to push my buttons, and he really pisses me off like no human being over has. I know that when he jumps up, for instance, pushing him off or grabbing him and holding him down is a form of positive reinforcement. (Any attention is better than no attention.) And yet, in the moment, I get so angry that I don’t react appropriately. I don’t hit him or anything, but I will grab his collar and hold him down, for instance. Bad owner, no biscuit. So I need to have appropriate reactions to this sort of behavior at my fingertips.

Part of the problem is that I haven’t read up on dog owning/training. Everyone who knows me has just assumed that I read up on dogs before getting one, but I didn’t. Not one bit. See, we were going to get a dog soon after moving into our house, but Eddie came along before we moved, so we took him only days after moving. And of course I was busy packing and moving and stuff. So, no time to read. Now I have some good recommendations (thanks, Anne!), and I’m going to get a book this week. Probably “How To Be Your Dog’s Best Friend” by the Monks of New Skete. I’ve heard good about it from more than one source (everybody’s got a recommendation for dog books, it seems), so I’m getting it. First I’m checking the library.

On an up side, it seems he’s accepting the crate better, becuase he cries, whines, and barks for a shorter amount of time these days after being crated — sometimes for as little as a few minutes. This could be because I’ve been able to tire him out better the past couple of days (we had over a week of rainy days, but the past couple have been beautiful). (Yes, I’m being careful about heat exhaustion.) However, this is mitigated by the fact that he’s harder to get into the crate. I’ll be working on that this week. I started feeding him in the crate, and chucking treats in there at random times. We’ll see. It’s a lot I’m asking. “Sit in there away from where all the people are, and like it!” He doesn’t mind the crate itself, it’s not being where the people are all the time. But until I can train him to be in the other rooms of the house and be well-behaved, he’s got to stay here.

We are so looking forward to the time when he can sit calmly with us watching TV, or lie down in the same room and not beg or jump up when we are having dinner. And it will come. But we’re impatient for it.

Rainy days

July 11, 2007 at 9:00 pm | Posted in dogs | 3 Comments

Wow, it’s hard to exercise dogs when it’s raining cats and dogs. Anyone have any ideas? Please tell me! What are some indoor methods for exercising dogs?


July 5, 2007 at 6:33 pm | Posted in dogs | Leave a comment

I’m sitting here doing office stuff (which apparently includes blogging; I may have to look at that) in my study with Eddie sleeping at my feet. I just got up between tasks and tossed a treat into the crate as I have been doing intermittently for a couple of days. Eddie woke up from the noise of me getting out of my chair and went over, ate the treat, and came out.

Then after 10 seconds or so, he went back in the crate and laid down to sleep! On his own!! He hasn’t done that since the first time (see previous entry). Wow!!

Ok, the title of this entry should probably be “progress,” not “victory,” but it sure feels like a victory! He has his head on an old smelly (like me) shirt that I put in there a couple of days ago.

I’m not going to close the door on him this time. I don’t want to turn this into a negative association for him.

I’m dancing in my mind!

More bumps in the road

July 5, 2007 at 6:17 pm | Posted in dogs | 3 Comments

So the crate training is progressing.  I’ve taken to just throwing treats in the crate at random times so he’s used to wanting to go in there, at least to look for treats.  I’m also feeding him in there.  Sometimes without closer the door (mostly) and sometimes with closing the door.  If I close the door, when he notices he won’t eat.  I think that if we can someday get to the point where he’ll be comfortable eating with the door closed, he’ll have taken big steps toward actually being comfortable in there.

We had folks over yesterday evening, and I crated him about 30 minutes before they got here.  He cried, whined, and barked for about 15 minutes before settling down.  Then when our guests got here and he heard different voices, he started up again for about 20 – 30 minutes.  Luckily they had dogs too, so they understood and just dealt with it with no problems.  Sometime around dinnertime he settled down and was good for the rest of the night.  They left around 8, and I walked him (in the rain!) strictly for a pee break.  Then after I got him back I hung out with him in the study for 15 minutes or so, then I crated him and left.  He cried and whined for only 2 minutes before settling down!  He must have worn himself out.

A large concern of mine is that he has been getting a bit more aggressive lately.  It’s probably due to me spending less total time with him, but I have to scale back the time I spend with him.  Period.  To some extent, he’s just going to have to be disappointed.

But some of the behavior is not nice.   Bugging me to play persistently, getting more aggressive the more refusals I make.  It sometimes gets to starting to chew on shoes — WHILE people are wearing them!  This has happened a couple of times during the later part of the afternoon as dinnertime approaches.  He’s probably trying to tell us that he feels it’s time for him to be fed, but that is NOT acceptable.

The other thing I’m concerned about is being able to be in the rest of the house with him.  I need to work with him on coming reliably when called, and staying reliably with told to.  Furthermore, he needs to be able to chill out when he wants attention and we aren’t giving it to him without being annoying or destructive.  The crate solves some of that, but I’d prefer if he could be good in the house.

My trainer gets back in town today, so hopefully we can talk tomorrow.  Maybe we can arrange for her to be here when we take him into the living room for the first time.  (On a leash, of course.)

One step forward, two steps back.

July 2, 2007 at 4:14 pm | Posted in dogs, life | Leave a comment

Avoid cliches like the plague; they’re a dime a dozen.

I think we accelerated the crate training too quickly. He was doing good at first. He would always go in for treats. His first time in the crate with no one else in the room he cried and whined for 40 minutes. Then his crying got down to 20 minutes, then to 10, and 5 most times. Things were looking up.

Then something happened. He started crying for longer again — between 20 and 40 minutes. It happened when I stopped sleeping in the room with him. That was Thursday night, 6/28/07. (I got him on Monday, 6/25/07, and stayed in the study with him closed in the crate overnight for three nights.) Furthermore, he started full on barking in addition to whining and crying. He is no longer on the road toward loving the crate.

He is once again down to crying to 15 minutes when left alone in the crate, but yesterday he started not going in for a treat. I had to gently push him in. He didn’t go in voluntarily, though he didn’t resist very much; I only needed a gentle push. But that’s not good. The strategy is to make the crate a place where he likes and feels safe — a refuge, a den of sorts. Google “dog crating” to find many resources on it. It’s for more than just potty-training puppies, and its not cruel if it’s done right. The problem is, something’s not quite right in the way I’m doing it.

Some people go the “tough love” approach and say just put him in there. He’s a dog. He’ll get used to it. Well sure, I admit I need to have a certain amount of tough skin to do what is good for him even though he may not like it at the time. But if I can make this a pleasant thing for him that he’ll do, that’s better than an unpleasant thing that he’ll do. And many sources (including my trainer) say it’s possible.

Unfortunately, my trainer is out of town and gets back on Thursday. I’ve decided to start working from home this week (that was already part of the plan) and make the crate a good thing again. I’ll put treats in it at random times and not close the door every time he goes in for one. Sometimes I will close the door, and I’ll let him out about 3-5 minutes after he stops whining and crying. I’ll feed him in his crate with the door open, and after a few days close the door while staying in the room. I’m determined to make this a good association for him. There’s no need for it to be a bad one, and it just takes a little extra work in my part.

I just tossed a treat in and said, “Eddie, kennel up.” He went right in, took the treat, and came right back out. Then I praised and petted him briefly and came back to the blog. It’ll work. (I hope!)

If anyone reading this has any advice they’d like to offer, I’d love to hear it!

Also, Jenny’s worried that I’m spending too much time with the dog, that I’m not going to get any work done this summer. If I keep going as I am now, that will be true. Therefore, I must not continue as I am now. I working out a schedule that will give Eddie enough exercise, and me a good work/home schedule that can be continued into the semester. I’ll put it up here when I figure it out.


In other news, Jenny has (thankfully!) taken the initiative to restart us doing the unpacking and cleaning of the new house. We started with the kitchen first, and the dining room is next. If we keep done all rooms that we did already we should be settled in a week, two at the outside. We’ll be having people over on July 4th for bar-b-que. I’ll be crating Eddie when we eat, and during the fireworks, since some dogs freak out when fireworks happen.

They made Jenny promise not to clean for them, but we’re going to anyway. That’s one of the best side effects about having people over; we clean a little more than we normally would, and get the place more in the condition we’d like to keep it all the time but don’t because we let life get in the way. So we’re going to break the promise, and use that sense of obligation to spur us to actions we want to take anyway.

So if you ever visit us, you can tell us not to clean specially for you if you must. And we may not. But don’t sweat it if we do. We really want to.

More about Eddie

June 28, 2007 at 5:24 pm | Posted in dogs, life | Leave a comment

We’re keeping my study as the only room in the house that Eddie is allowed in. We’ll grant him access to other parts slowly as he’s better trained. (He is potty-trained already.) I’m trying to be with him as much as possible since he’s got separation anxiety issues, which means that I’ve been spending a lot of time in the study.

We’ve decided to crate train Eddie. The link gives specifics. I bought the crate before Eddie moved in. I spent the night in the study the first night we got him, because we decided he would not be sleeping in our bedroom. After pushing him off me about 30 times, he actually went and slept in the crate by himself! Joy!!

Based on this, our trainer suggested we accelerate the crate training. The first time I put him in there and left the room, he cried for 40 minutes. That was the second night, Tuesday night. It’s Thursday now, and most of the time he cries for less than 5 minutes before settling down. This is really good progress, but I think I may be overdoing it a bit. Our trainer is making a house call tonight, so I can ask her about it.

I got him a ball today and we started to learn fetch. First we went to the park by the river, but there were other people and dogs there, and he doesn’t do well with so many distractions. So we went to a school (no one there) and played some fetch there.

The commands he’s pretty much got down so far are “sit” and “c’mon” (like heel, but more like loose leash walking). He’s just learned “down” (lie down), “Eddie” (turn your attention to me), and “here” (come here now!), which means he can do them in controlled situations, but not when distractions are prevalent. As I said, we’re working on “fetch” with limited success in controlled circumstances. “Stay” has had limited success also. I think I need to be teaching “stay” in a different way.

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