We have a friend (I’ll call him Bob) who has just gone through a horrible divorce and when his wife moved on and left town; he was left with the burden of selling/closing up the house, dealing with his business, etc etc and found himself with not a lot of time for his dog.
I feel terrible for both Bob and his wife and for what they have been dealing with (breaking up is never easy) but unfortunately their dog Dexter is feeling the brunt of it. 🙁
When we heard that their dog was on his way to the SPCA (with anxiety, insecurity and peeing in the house issues) Gerry and I decided to intervene. We all know that dogs with issues like that are not adopted and the last thing we wanted was for little Dexter to be in a cold cement pen over the holidays (when everyone has x-mas trees on the brain). Dexter has already been in 2 different homes … we want to make sure his next home is his fur-ever home!!
I don’t want “Bob” to feel bad … but Dexter was quite neglected. He hadn’t had any real exercise in 6 months. His ears, tail and backside were matted and when we went over to his house (without Fergus); Dexter was full of CRAZY psycho energy. But after spending some time with him I could see that he was a good dog. He sat when I asked. Dropped the ball when I asked. I knew instinctively that he was sweet and just needs some rehabilitation.
So Gerry and I loaded Dexter up into the car and drove him directly to a hockey rink. Why a hockey rink? Because I was not about to bring that kind of crazy energy into my house. We took Dexter to the rink, shut all the doors (so he couldn’t flee) and proceeded to throw a tennis ball back and forth until he lay down from exhaustion. I’ve never seen a happier grin on a dog. 🙂
As soon as we got home; Gerry waited outside with Dexter and I went and grabbed Fergus so he could meet Dexter outside. Instead of letting them sniff each other … I immediately started walking with them. I learned this from Caesar (the dog whisperer). I know a lot of people don’t dig how he deals with dogs but some of what he says makes sense to me and I’ve found that when I introduce Fergus to new dogs by walking first (and sniffing later) that they bond a lot faster and there is a lot less “marking” and fights over boundaries. This was no exception … the boys walked around the block together and we got back into the house and they were immediate buds. Yay. 🙂
I think it also helped that we had drained Dexter of all his energy before meeting Fergus. If he had met Fergus in the state he was in when we first met him … I think it would have been chaos.
We got home, got settled and I decided to let Dexter run around the house without the diapers that our friend had been using. I wanted to see if Dexter was peeing in the house because Bob was never home or if the peeing was out of stress. Well he pee’d in the house. Damn. 🙁
So I put the belly band on and decided to not focus on stopping the peeing just yet … but rather to focus on getting to know Dexter a little better.
- He’s neutered. Yay.
- He’s quiet. Yay. He only seems to bark if someone knocks on the door or slams a car door outside.
- He’s good around dogs. He and Fergus are politely ignoring each other. They hang out but in a “I respect your boundaries” kind of way. Yay.
- He’s crate trained. Yay. That means he can sleep in the crate at night (I don’t want him on the bed with me. That’s a habit that not everyone who is adopting is interested in).
- He’s a fantastic fetcher. Wow. Throw the ball and he’ll bring it right back. Ask him to drop it and he does. Fergus could learn a thing or two about fetch from Dex. 🙂
- So far I’ve figured out he knows the words: SIT, NO, OFF, DOWN, COME, STAY, WAIT, GO OUTSIDE?, CRATE TIME and he comes to his name. Yay!
- He’s a super snugger and has a really sweet nature about him.
- Best of all? EAGER TO PLEASE!! He really wants to make me happy and do my bidding *laugh* and that’s a good thing … that means he’ll learn the Kramer Dog Etiquette rules fast. 🙂
- He’s good at being handled. I molested him like crazy and really pushed his physical boundaries to see how far I could touch him. He let me look/examine his teeth, ears, paws. And when I needed to cut out his dreadlocks he sat perfectly still for me. This is a good sign. 🙂
- Rescue Remedy. A little dose will do ya!! And anytime Dexter exhibited “manic” energy (by pacing, panting, etc) I would give him a small dose of Rescue Remedy and he would settle right down. Yesterday I gave him a dose in am, pm and the evening. Today I haven’t had to dose him yet because he’s been pretty mellow. YAY!!
But for all his good qualities … he has some bad ones too.
- He is toy obsessed and not in a good way. I noticed he would get “manic” when the toys are out (balls, stuffies, etc). At Bob’s house he had free reign of the toys and I think the toys trigger separation anxiety. So for now I’ve put all the toys away and only use them for “outside” play. I want to get him to be as chill as possible when we’re in the house and then expel all that energy outside the house when we’re at the park.
- Walking. UGH. He’s terrible on a leash. Pulling, lunging, crossing over in front of me, etc. So I got out my trusty GENTLE LEADER that I used on Fergus when he was a puppy and he is doing MUCHO better on the walks now. The Gentle Leader is DA BOMB!! 🙂
- He’s a jumper. Jumps on legs, chairs, furniture, jump, jump, jump. But he knows the word “DOWN” and “OFF” so I’ve been vigilant about not allowing him to jump and he’s learned pretty quickly.
- He’s woefully insecure and that manifests in acting out (peeing, etc) … I would be insecure too if I was bounced around from house to house but we’ll work on that. 🙂
- Separation anxiety. Oh lord … I think this is going to be a tougher to break then the peeing in the house. He travels in the car by crate (so he doesn’t jump around) and he’s fine while we’re driving but as soon as the car is in park he starts shrieking!! I’m going to limit his time in the car for now … and focus on the other stuff. Then we’ll work on the car.
In conclusion your Honor *laugh* I think Dexter is a fine dog with massive potential. 🙂 The flaws in his personality can be fixed with exercise, discipline (by discipline I mean training) and a lot of love. With his eagerness to learn I truly believe that he will be a wonderful companion… but first? We gotta break these nasty habits and I need to stock up on some Nature’s Miracle.
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