Monday, December 31, 2007

A Different Kind of New Year’s Baby

For the last couple of days we've been taking care of our neighbor's dog who is a 75 lbs. grey mongoose. When he's still, he's one of the most lovable dogs in the world. When he's not, the situation makes you wonder, "When I have real kids, will they be this difficult?!"

We've taken it upon ourselves to start breaking him out of his biggest habit - barking incessantly. It's a problem he's always had since we've known him. Per a book that we were given, we read that a dog that barks for everything has a great deal of separation anxiety. It makes sense as his owners leave him alone anywhere from 6-10 hours a day due to their work schedules during the week. They come home to let him out when they can, and sometimes we let him out. This dog is the kind of dog that needs to run in a big arse field 3-4 times a day and needs a lot of attention. He makes it out to a doggy day care where he's off leash twice a week but it's not enough for him. So, barking is his only way to really express himself. The most annoying part of his barking is when he's in the lobby of our building. Because of the cavernous nature of the building, his barking at full volume echoes and reaches everyone's eardrums in the building. It's almost as if he waits just to bark in that area. He barks and doesn't really know why he's barking. We decided to try to do something about it.

Using a spray bottle, we've been spraying him with water every time he barks and giving him a hand sign coupled with our patented "SHUSH!" command. He hates it! Every single time he does it, he gets sprayed like Afro Sheen! Sometimes, the fool is soaked at the end of a session . He cowers from it now which means he knows it's "bad" and he's being punished. Once he complies, we give him a bit of love telling him "Good Shush!" or "Good boy!". We're supposed to give him a treat but it seems like the attention suffices.

As a result of doing this over the last couple of days, his barking tendencies have gone down to a tolerable level. I've been able to take him out and back through the lobby with him not even barking once. Of course, it takes 3 times longer to do so than it does with Lola, but, hey, it's progress . I force him to sit and stay at every opportunity. He's got some bad habits he's picked up which leads me to believe he's got some "alpha dog" issues. So, I've been flexing those AD muscles with him and reminding him who's the top dawg in this house! I've also been putting my scent all over his food by handling it so that he gets it in his system (I only wish this worked with human females ). If I had maybe 3-6 months with this dog, I'm sure there would be a big difference as I'm home a lot more and have a lot more water to spray!

If his owners notice the subtle change in him, I'm definitely going to give Caesar a run for his money soon!

Currently watching :
Dog Whisperer With Cesar Millan - The Complete First Season
Release date: By 23 May, 2006

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