Pup turned nine months old today. I still can't believe that I've had him for seven months! I never, ever had a dog before, so I never had any idea what my life would be like. People with dogs always made it look so easy. They'd walk their dogs, feed, their dogs, and play with their dogs. Everyone always told me how dogs were their best friends. Everyone said that having a dog would be the best thing ever....
... I'm not so sure....
Of course I see the benefits to having a dog immediately. Because our dog is so high energy, hubby, son and I walk the little fella a lot. Whenever possible, we run him, take him to parks and socialize him. (Pup actually has a 12 month old girlfriend... a pretty Golden-doodle that has the same energy level as he does) We walk him morning, noon and night. This puppy has forced us to go from being sedentary people, to being real out-doorsy kind of people. I love what all this exercise has done for us. Hubby has lost close to 30 pounds just by walking. I look great in a skirt! For the first time ever, I can honestly say I love my legs. Also, walking right before or after meals has many health benefits too. So, for this, I am very grateful for my little puppy.
Pup hates me! He does not see me as alpha at all. In his eyes, the chain of command is Hubby, followed by "14-year-old son," followed by the pup himself... followed by various twigs, rocks, and toys... maybe followed by a few other dogs, an afternoon nap, his favourite meal... and maybe, just maybe, I might be hiding in a little corner of his mind as an afterthought! Pup does not respect me, not one iota. When he was three months old and we took him to puppy school, the trainer actually had hubby and son sit in a corner of the room. She worked hard to get the pup to listen to me. A few times before and after the classes, we had the trainer come over to the house so she could observe my relationship with the dog. This dog just would not listen to me.
So, fast forward six months after the courses were over, and pup still won't listen to me!! Whenever I'm alone with him, he'll jump up on the furniture, hump the cushions and eat our shoes. Pup does not DARE do this when hubby and son are around. The worst is our walks. I come home from work ever day at lunchtime to walk him. Well I gotta tell you, the walks have been getting shorter and shorter. The reason being is that as soon as I put the leash on him, he jumps in front of me, puts the leash in his mouth, growls and pulls. It makes no difference if I put the leash on his collar or on a harness... the outcome is always the same..he pulls, barks and growls at me. We went from taking 40 minute walks to only one quick walk around the block.
Last week I was in tears!!! I couldn't believe that this is what my life had been for the last 6 months. I saw no end in sight... and sadly, pup's behaviour with me was really hindering me from bonding with him. It's not that I didn't love him, it's just that I really didn't like him all that much... and I'm absolutely certain the feeling was mutual on his part. Finally, after another disastrous walk, as I sat on the stairs in my house, sobbing, when hubby told me that he had left a message for the trainer. Almost on cue, the phone rang and there was that comforting voice on the other end of the line. All she told me was one thing, "Ignore the dog."
So I did. I acted as though there was no dog in the house. I walked right past him, I only paid attention to the humans in the house. Also, instead of telling him what to do, I only used silent cues, finger snapping etc.. Three days later, a miracle happened. Hubby was asleep and son was in the basement watching TV. Pup was alone with me. I saw that twinkle in his eye as he went for the Christmas tree. I snapped my fingers and blocked his way with my body. Seeing he couldn't get to the tree, he ran for the cushions on the couch. Once again, I snapped my fingers, blocked his way with my body, and put my hand out indicating that he should sit. 3 days ago, had I done this, he would have barked or growled at me all the while ignoring my commands and going for the couch. But, because I had ignored him for 3 days, all of a sudden my status was elevated! He sat down at my (silent) command, and then lay down next to the tree. He started whimpering. He was not happy. This went on for about 10 minutes. When he saw that I wasn't going to back down, he just lay there until I walked away. He then went to the top of the stairs, whimpered some more, and fell asleep.
I felt strangely liberated that night. Like a huge weight was taken off my shoulders. Now I'm at five days of ignoring him. Our walks aren't perfect but they have gotten better. Time can only tell. The only thing I am looking forward to now, is that bonding sensation so many people have told me about. I'm hoping that in time, he too will become my best friend.
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