I decided to address a few issues that cropped up in our household, that were starting to cause stress and get on everyone’s nerves.
Our first issue was Wonder-Dog Rex. He has a wonderful, German Shepherd-y personality. He is extremely affectionate, playful, and silly. He is also very smart, courageous and faithful, but he tends towards high excitement. Typical of GSD’s, he is very vocal. When he is excited and happy, he let’s the whole world know about it. BARK! BARK! BARK! Head pointed to the sky, and that loud guard-dog bark going off and making everyone’s ears ring.
One of his favorite times to bark has become when I let the dogs outside, especially in the morning. It’s chaotic enough with 380#’s of dog all trying to be first out of the door, eager to see what the new day has in store for them. But, throw in the barking and UGH. I quickly realized that my attempts to shout “QUIET!” louder than Rex’s barks was getting me no-where. Probably in his mind, I was just joining in on the excitement!
I tried putting on his leash, and doing a leash correction. That also did no good, as now he was TEN TIMES more excited, because he was at the door AND he had his leash on!
I decided to go to the source and got out the good ol’ Bitter Apple Spray. I quietly and calmly advised Rex of the rules. You bark, you get your mouth “washed out” with Bitter Apple. You’re quiet, you get a click and a treat.
It really made me feel bad the first time he barked, got a shot of bitter apple and he just rolled his eyes and GROANED. (LOL) But he learned pretty quick how to get treats. I’ve only been working with him a few days, and the barking at the door has decreased DRAMATICALLY. AHHHH, peace. He is still learning to self-inhibit and occasionally forgets and rips off a bark. A gentle reminder, some rolling eyes, and he remembers his new job.
"Well that tasted yucky........."
"I promise I'll be quiet"
"See? I'm a good boy!"
The second issue in the house involves big giant doggie feet trampling little baby girl feet. Bayden is 104# of fast moving dog. One of Samantha’s chores is to let the dogs out of their bedroom in the morning. Unfortunately, when Samantha is leaning forward to push the gate open, Bayden goes flying through and has been stepping on Samantha’s bare foot. Ouch! No one wants to start their day like that. This behavior is just unacceptable.
On a side note, I would like to brag on my husband’s woodworking skills. We’ve had years of a hideous baby gate across the doorway to the dog’s room, having to step over the bar, and having it come crashing down on occasion. (Releasing the whole Thundering Pack out to come face to face with any visitors we had over.) Travis made this FABULOUS gate!!! He milled all the pieces from one piece of wood, designed and built and finished the gate of a lifetime. I told him he could make a mint selling this to dog fanciers. It is just the right height, the hinges are right in the door frame, and the handle goes right where the door handle was. It swings so smoothly, and looks SO NICE!
Anyway, back to Bayden. So Bayden is very, very obedient. (Proud to be home-schooled too!) I just got some treats and the clicker, and reinforced a nice sit-stay. First I had to teach her to do her sit-stay back away from the gate’s swing radius. Then it was just a matter of proofing her, by opening/closing the gate repeatedly, and clicking and treating each stay.
I always say you get out of your dogs what you put into them. A little extra effort on my part, will hopefully make for much more peaceful mornings around the homestead! Whew J