Tuesday, March 1, 2011

If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em

             Well, Calypso now has her own swimming pool, miniature as it may be. It is a dishpan to be exact. After filling her little water bowl five times yesterday only to have her climb in to drink and then proceed to splash all of the water out, I realized there had to be a better solution.
This is the way we drink our water.
            As I sat there thinking (in between filling the bowl up) and doing a running list in my mind of what I had on had that would suffice for a splash bowl, I came up with the idea of a dishpan. She has started trying to climb in to drink with all four paws and the dishpan could accommodate her latest endeavor. Although providing her with her own little pool might be a solution to this problem, I will miss watching her try to get all four of her little legs into the water bowl at the same time she is trying to drink. It is very entertaining to watch her try new things.
All of me or none of me. 
            Ryka, on the other hand, just sits and takes it all in. She is such a happy, content little lady. This morning while I was walking she picked up an orange that she has been playing with and started running with it. She is a magnificent animal in her own right and watching her run is a beautiful sight. She loves when I cheer her onward. Our back yard is huge and she loves running circles, especially with something in her mouth. I assume she is playing keep away in doggie world.
Mom's fingers are better!
            I have re-nicknamed Little Calypso from Monkey to Countess Dracula. That little stinker has a set of fangs that would make Count Dracula envious. The breeder (Johnny McCollum @ www.cagenkennels.com ) gave me some pointers on taming the bite. I will be working with Calypso on this as soon as I can purchase a puppy appropriate tug toy. For the moment, a towel seems to be doing the trick; it serves to distract her from the meat on my leg (and my arms and my fingers.) I am beginning to look like I have hike through a war torn country.
            For those of you reading my blog who have canines of your own I will impart Johnny’s bit of wisdom (and just so you know, he has yet to steer me wrong!) Johnny suggested that I get a tug toy to play with her. When Calypso has a bite on the tug and I want her to release it, I should use the short, firm command of “out”. The minute Calypso releases the tug toy, put it behind me, and mark the release with a kind, firm “yes” and give her a small treat.
            The treats that we reward our dogs with should be very small so that they are concentrating on our commands and not chomping down for a few minutes on the treat (small bites of hot dogs work well.) By rewarding Calypso with a treat once she releases the tug, I will be teaching her a new game.
            I am also teaching Calypso eye contact, which is crucial in getting your dog to obey your commands and to hold their attention. Once she potties, her habit is to come back, sit down in front of me, and look up at me so she already has some concept of eye contact. The trick is getting her to sit there longer and longer and to maintain constant eye contact.
How's this for eye contact?
            Ryka's previous training is already evident with her eye contact. She has very good eye contact. In this case, I am the one working on maintaining the eye contact. Maybe you can teach an old dog a new trick after all (I will keep you posted.)
            One last suggestion is to have your dog always walk on your left side. They will become used to being on your left side and when you begin teaching your dog to heel, you will be one-step ahead in the game. I have been working on slapping the side of my left leg when I tell Ryka “come”. My goal is to tap my left leg and Ryka (and eventually Calypso) will come and sit on my left. We are very close to reaching that goal.
            The most important piece of information to take away from this story is animals, like humans, need consistency; and it is our job as their owners to provide that uniformity.

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