20 Mar, 2012
We should have called her Snowy
Posted by andrea tomkins in: dog stuff
We have passed our two year anniversary of dog ownership. We brought Piper home over March Break in 2010. I can’t believe we’ve had her that long already. She has made herself quite at home.
Piper makes me happy – incredibly happy – and every day I am thankful that she has come into our lives.
I have been thinking about the things I think we’ve done right as new dog owners, as well as the things we’ve done wrong. Let’s start with the “right”:
- Although I used to roll my eyes at the thought of crate training, we did some research and realized it was the best thing for a new puppy. Not only did it teach her to sleep through the night, but I also think it sped up the housebreaking process. Today we have a dog that almost always sleeps in longer than we do.
- We chose “positive reinforcement” over punishment when it came to training her. We went through loads of cookies in those first few months. There were small dog cookies sprinkled in her crate, I gave cookies out to the kids at school so she wouldn’t be afraid of them, I had cookies in every single coat pocket for every single kind of reward I could think of. Today, she’s not afraid of people, dogs of all sizes, and she loves little kids. I think it was because of all those cookies!
- Speaking of cookies, we even put them in the bathtub. We taught her to not fear the tub very gradually over time. First, the girls sat in the tub (fully dressed without water), and I let them hold Piper and feed her cookies. Then we put Piper in a dry tub alone, with cookies. Then we put in a bit of water (more cookies), then we gave her a short bath (more cookies). She doesn’t love getting the bath, but she doesn’t turn ever tail and run either. (Or jump out of the tub before we’re done.)
- We taught her some basic commands: sit, stay, come. She also knows how to do a dance (stand up on her hind legs and turn around in a circle), sit up (beg), shake a paw, play dead, roll over, and show us her tummy. She kills me with cuteness every day.
- I recently trained her to let me clip her nails (!). I think I need to write this up in separate post because I am still amazed that I was able to pull this off. And yes, there were cookies.
- We buy good quality dry dog food which I supplement by a few tablespoons of homemade “wet” dog food every night. She eats really well!
- We taught Piper to ring a bell if she wants to be let out (no scratching at the door)!
Now, here’s what I think we did wrong:
- We took the car through the car wash while she was in the car with us. She freaked out, and she hasn’t enjoyed being in the car ever since (no matter how many cookies are in it for her).
- Not trusted our gut when something was wrong. She had a big itchy spell last summer, and we waited too long to take her to the vet’s thinking it would pass with different shampoo. Turns out she has a ragweed allergy. Sigh.
- Jumped to scary conclusions when something small when wrong. Remember this? Turned out to be pretty much nothing.
It’s hard being a doggy parent sometimes, isn’t it? And how much of the “bad” behaviour is your fault? How much of it is genetic? We’ve never been able to overcome Piper’s stubborn streak, something that her breed is famous for. I’m not sure if it’s the terrier in her, or a shortfall in her training. For example, she almost always comes when she’s called, except when she’s having too much fun. Watch this short video to get an idea of what she can be like (I shot it before our BIG MELT):
What about you? What have you done “wrong” with your dog? What have you done right?