Friday, April 3, 2009

Conquering Canine Chaos

You've probably had to write an essay on your heroes at some point in school. I know I have. And, in fact, I've assigned such a task to my students before. I don't know why because I always have a difficult time discussing my heroes. I really don't have any. There have been people in my life I've looked up to or admired but never anyone I would label my "hero." Until now. If I were to write such an essay right now, I would talk about Cesar Millan, a.k.a. The Dog Whisperer.

Even if you don't follow me on Facebook where my status usually revolves around my "psycho puppy", you are probably quite aware of the fact that we have a new member of the family. I've had many second thoughts about this little guy. He has added a whole new dimension of chaos to the family, and this has indeed driven me crazy many times over the last couple of months. The puppy is an absolute delight between the hours of 8pm and 11pm because that is when he just hangs with me while the kids are in bed, theoretically sleeping. So it's obvious the little canine feeds off of the energy of 4 wonderful, sweet, yet very energetic children.

So this dog training is quite a task but one I'm determined to undertake successfully nonetheless. My determination stems from the fact that I do not want to teach my children that when you take on responsibility and don't feel like following through with it, you just get rid of it. I'm afraid we have, through poor example, already taught the kids it's OK to shirk responsibility, so now it's time to re-train them. As many times as I've considered graciously returning Max to the pound, that thought has kept me going. Plus...he's kinda growing on me. I'm starting to like him a little. I mean, just look at the handsome mutt with those quirky ears!
And he is beginning to improve, at least considering he is still a young puppy. Anyway, I'm depending on The Dog Whisperer to get me through this thing. Unfortunately, we don't get the National Geographic channel, so I can't watch him in action. Fortunately, he has lots of books, and I've rented Season 3 from Blockbuster, and it should be in the mail now. Unfortunately, Cesar says the most important thing in dog training and teaching pooch who is Leader of the Pack is The Walk. That part is difficult for us. First of all, it's been raining since I went to the bookstore to pick up the books, which seems like 40 days and 40 nights ago; it just won't stop. Secondly, we live in a rural lake community, and typical for such neighborhoods, there is just a narrow 1 1/2 car width road of sorts that runs to a dead end. And my friendly neighbors go barreling down this road like it's Route 66. Not really a safe option for me and my entourage.

But...The Dog Whisperer suggests another option. I laughed out loud when I read about putting the dog on the treadmill. Yeah, right. Maybe in the circus, I thought. I did try it, though; I took Max in our "gym", placed him on the treadmill, and turned it on. He freaked out. Did I expect any other reaction? No. He's a dog. But then I started hearing about dogs on treadmills from other sources like this is normal, like we might soon see dogs waiting at the local gym for their turn on cardio. So I thought I'd give it another try but approach it a bit differently. I let him sniff around the treadmill a bit (I was a little wary about this because he peed on it once). Then I let him lick peanut butter off my hands while I stealthily lured him on and quietly flipped the switch to ON. And then suddenly there we were, walking side-by-side on the treadmill.

Now, since it really has not stopped raining, this has become a daily activity for us. We are up to 15 minutes now at an almost 3mph pace, and he really enjoys it. In fact, when he's loosed from his crate, he comes running in to the treadmill. Who knew? I have to say, though, I still laugh out loud when I read Cesar's thoughts on a well-trained-dog-on-a-treadmill. According to my newfound hero, after the dog gets used to the treadmill, I may be able to just "leave him on the treadmill while I get ready for work." Hahaha. (Still laughing out loud.)


CrossView said...

What a sweet face he has! I'm just sure he'll have you trained eventually! ;o)

Darcie said...

I love watching the Dog Whisperer! He knows his stuff and he has really benefited a lot of dogs and their owners. The main thing he tells the people is that these are not dogs and they don't have these Feelings like adults. They don't carry a grudge they just follow the lead of others. If they are allowed to be dominate, they take that role. The exercise takes the energy so that it is easier to get the dog to submissive during training. Good Luck and I am glad you are taking the time to teach him. I know my dog is a joy for me. He is always happy to see me, never asks for money and loves me unconditionally. I wish I could say the same for my kids.

4 Lettre Words said...

Well, he certainly is cute!!