[Pet Training] The Power of Not Giving In
This past January, my husband and I decided to take on a BIG challenge. We adopted our friend's dog temporarily while they were in between houses. We had their dog Bailey for one whole month. I was ecstatic - Bailey, who was now 2 years old, had been in my life ever since he was a puppy. I really spoiled him bad, and I wasn't even his owner. I let him sit with me on the couch, sit on my lap (even though he's not really lap dog size, and I'd feed him human food by "accidentally" dropping it on the floor. Whoops!)
Well, when it came time for us to take Bailey into our home for a month, we were prepared (at least we thought we were). We got the correct dog food, we bought him some treats, and we made sure his bed was all ready and set up.
Well, let me tell you - owning a dog is a lot different than visiting a friends dog!
It was more work than I thought - even though I'd been told over and over how much work really went into it. The first 2 weeks, I came home on my lunch break to give Bailey an afternoon walk. I tried to walk with him for a half an hour to an hour. But even after an hour, he seemed to still have so much energy and want to walk more! My husband and I walked him three times a day the first week. Then, three times turned into two times a day. And, sometimes, we'd only get in one walk a day with him. I honestly don't know how people do it when both working full time.
Spoling pets, whether they are yours or someone else's, is never a good thing.
Another thing I learned, since I had spoiled Bailey so much - he thought I was his. He would get jealous if my husband was cuddling with me. He would try to sandwich himself between us. What I thought was cute when something like this happened at my friends house... was still cute, but not at home. Bailey needed to learn that he wasn't the center of attention - but I had trained him to think he was when around me by the way I treated him before he was at our house.
Now, I definitely think it's fine to cuddle with dogs and of course you need to give them attention and exercise according to their activity level. They need loving too, just like us. But they do not need it from you 24/7. They are dogs, not humans and they need to know their place. So, I tried to train Bailey to sit, lay down and stay when my husband and I were trying to just relax together. And he got it after awhile especially after we gave him an incentive with these....
Treats = great training technique.
Animals are extremely motivated (from my experience) with food. So, we bridged this idea into another training area with Bailey. Staying close to us or coming back to us when walking around our yard. Our yard is 10 acres, so it's a nice size for a dog to roam around in. However, we have no fence. We have to make sure that dogs don't wander too far and into our neighbor's property.
Treats are excellent for this. As soon as Bailey went a little too far from my sight, I called his name. When he came back to me, I gave him a treat. This would be AWESOME if I had thought of this idea on my own for him...but his previous owners did. :) So, I just made sure to keep the training going and make sure he knew he wasn't off the hook with me. He still needed to know I was boss and come back when I called him.
"You can't find me."
"Oh wait, you called my name! It's treat time!"
These were experiences I briefly had with training and learning about how to take care of pets for the month I helped watch this adorable pup. At the end of the month, I realized I wasn't ready for the time commitment and perserverance it took to have a pet. Eventually, someday I hope I will be ready. I love dogs, but I still want freedom to go away from my house for long periods of time and not worry about what to do with a pet. *sigh* I guess I'm still a little selfish. ;)
But the message I take away from my experience is to stick with training, make time for training and take care of pets, love them, but make sure they know you are the boss.
And remember - never be swayed from training with those puppy dog eyes. ;)
Or kitty ones