Friday, December 19, 2008

The Dog Whisperer

Have any of y'all seen The Dog Whisperer? That show is AMAZING!!! I want that guy to come live with us! Tongue in cheek, I mentioned the show briefly in another post as maybe being the answer to problems with kids. In reality, it is through this show that I had a bit of an epiphany about myself.

If you've been reading this blog awhile you probably know that we crate our dogs. Some people have strong feelings against this but our vet crates his own dogs and advises others to do so as a safety for the dog issue. We knew some people in Mississippi that had their dog die under their Christmas tree two days before Christmas because he chewed on the lights. Anyway, crating them controls the amount of trouble they can get into. I've come to realize, however, that I've used the crates too much and in place of proper training.

Benny is very exuberant so he and Lu Lu are always crated when we have guests over. It occurred to me that I go to great lengths to control their environment. I keep all the doors closed to the areas I don't want them. I make sure everything is picked up and put away so as not to tempt Benny. If I cannot keep my eye on them I put them in their crates. Rather than teach Benny how to behave when people come to the house... rather than teach Benny what he can and cannot play with... rather than give him some room to make some mistakes... I crate him.

Then it hit me... I did that with my children. I spent more time controlling their environment than I did training them.

I've been accused on many occasions of being an overprotective mother. That is a common accusation made against those who homeschool. I couldn't see it because I wasn't sheltering my children as much as others I knew were sheltering their children. I told my children about others' beliefs and views...

If we had it all to do over again... we would still choose to homeschool. We would do it from the very beginning and then send the kids to school in Jr. High or High School. We did homeschool Double Shot that way and I think he's going to be much better prepared for life when he hits 18.

I can see now where we had the girls on too short of a leash. We sent them to an early college program for their senior year of high school last year. We were planning on sending Chai to college 6 hours away this fall. We thought it would be wise to have them take college courses on a college campus while still at home so that they could better transition from homeschooling to college. We let some slack into the leashes and allowed them to make more of their own choices. Chai Tea had been straining against that leash for a long time and when she got some slack she took off running and yanked it right out of our hands.

I'm trying very hard to use the crates less often. A couple weeks ago we had some friends over and asked them to please bear with us as we tried to get through Benny's excitement of being out while they were here. It was not easy because he could go from person to person which kept him wound up. We are having people over on Saturday and this time I think we'll try taking him on a long walk before they arrive. It would be nice for Lu Lu. It's really not fair that she gets crated because Benny gets upset if she is out and he is not.

And... hopefully, we have learned to gradually release our leash on Double Shot.


Just Me said...

My first thought on this post is "Wow."

I am also an overprotective mom. I don't homeschool my kids, but I know I shelter them too much in terms of television and friends and whatnot. I'm turning them into reclusive misfits.

The only time my kids are out of my sight is when they're at school or with my in-laws. I know it isn't good. I've set the pattern, though, and I am trying to break it.

We had new neighbors move in across the street, and their younger boy is my daughter's age. I am so awful a mom that only this summer did I let my kids go across the street without me to play.

Even then, they were ordered to stay within sight of the house. If they couldn't see the yellow paint, they were too far away. (And I lurked at the blinds the entire time.)

They're only seven and five, so I have time to reverse some of the damage.


For Benny, the sudden freedom around company will easily overwhelm him. You really need to figure out exactly what you want in terms of Benny's behavior. (You = "The household" so everyone is on the same page.)

When company is coming, keep a six-foot leash attached to his collar (a lightweight choker chain or training collar would be better) so you can quickly grab the leash and pop a correction (a quick attention-getting jerk with a firm "No!") on him when he starts getting pushy.

Have his leash in hand when company arrives at the door so you can correct him immediately.

Maybe you can work with Double Shot and his friends to practice with Benny. They can ring the doorbell and be let in numerous times to help Benny learn his manners. Arm them with pockets full of small treats so they can help correct and reward Benny with each entry.

Has Benny ever been to obedience class? Even if he has, signing him up again can't hurt. When I took Knucklehead to obedience class, the trainer said a very wise thing: "I'm not here to train your dog. I am training YOU." We have to be consistent so they can learn what is expected.

Sheri said...

I don't have to worry about kids, but I do have a dog that I've been through this with!

1st of all, people know that my house is a "dog friendly" one, and they know that Britney gets excited around people. I tell them what some of her "triggers" are (hands up, clapping) that get her worked up. If you want to play, fine, but be prepared! I also tell them how to say no. The long walk really helps, as well as giving her a raw hide bone to entertain her. She'll usually then come over and lay at my feet. It's taken a long time, but it's worth it! Good luck to you!

Gladys said...

I too have a huge crush on Ceasar. I love how he puts the animals problem back where it belongs on the owner. You see I think he teaches us a valuable lesson about being responsible for one's self. Once we own our own issues then we can deal with what we have done to create issues in others. Loved your post!

Oh and I use his methods on my dogs all the time. It really does work.

Angela said...

Yes, I've watched the show and have learned alot. My toy poddles YAP, AND YAP AND YAP. Have I told you they YAP. When the daycare parents come, they go NUTS, when people come, they bark insane. If Asher is being a stinker and saying' hello' (pretending that people have come into the house,lol) they will bark.I've done the water spray bottle, but they have gotten used to it, and DRENCHED...SIGH!!
As for my children, well I'm in one of my moods that I REALLY don't want to think back to how controlling I was. Sigh...Thank God though I've come to realize I was, and can be, and I'm working on it..((hugs)) You want two more dogs???? Pure bred, FREE!! I keep threatening them I'm shipping them off,lol.

MaBunny said...

I've never actually watched that show. I've never crated my dogs but I do know some people who do.
I've never crated mine because I really don't know anything about crating. If I had a spastic dog I might try that , but I understand what you are saying about keeping dogs/kids on too short a leash.
I sometimes try that and her dad after expalining why, lets it out a bit... it can be very very scary.

I may let my 10 yr old watch some stuff on TV that others her age aren't allowed to watch, then again I may not let her watch something that others her age are allowed to watch and/or do.
Its her knowing what is allowed and what isn't when she is away from us.
I love her having friends, but try to teach her what being a true friend is what having a true friend means. She has been hurt in the past , and I wish I could have shielded her from that discovery, but I think it helped her. I had to stand on the sidelines when they were together and let her discover that what I said was true and be there for her when she got hurt.

sorry this was a rambling post, lol.
hope you have a great weekend

Flea said...

What a great epiphany. Girl, you got it goin' on. I assume you're going to have this conversation with your girls, admit what's happened and ask forgiveness? I mean, when they're a little older. :) You da bomb, CB!

Practically Joe said...

My wife gets excited easily ... especially when company is coming over.
When she knows we're having guests she can't help cooking and cleaning up a storm.
I find that talking her into going for a long walk prior to letting her know that company is coming helps a great deal.
And NO! I do not crate her.

Mary said...

I scrolled down to look at your beautiful tree, decorations and ornaments. Thanks for "inviting" us to your home. I enjoyed looking at everything.
I love Christmas and I love to hear stories about special ornaments. I'm still hoping to get a few pictures of some of my ornaments but I don't know if time will allow.
Thanks for visiting. I just felt the desire to post something about Christmas.


Chris H said...

I read your post, very interesting I must say.
I found something for you! Read my blog tomorrow chick! Like that would be saturday to you, but it will be sunday here.

Trisha said...

You always seem to find inner meaning in the most interesting things. The analogy of "crating" your kids - brilliant and so true (well, I don't know for sure but from what you say it is true). You are a wise, wise woman, Coffee Bean!

How is your neck today?

Just Me said...

Practically Joe: ROFLMAO!!!!!!!

Just Me said...

Oh, shoot. I sent it too soon.

For those unfamiliar with crating a dog, it IS an excellent training tool. First of all, it's like their own little den and they feel safe in there. It's good for housebreaking a young puppy, because they don't want to mess where they sleep. It also keeps them out of trouble (chewing, trash raiding) when you're not around or awake to correct them.

I crated my Shedder for the first few months after she first arrived (she was an adult when we adopted her). She's free to roam now, but she's pretty much out of the shoe-chewing stage. Her hiding place is under the dining room table these days.

Not being crated means I can't leave temptation around for her. I would never leave two trays of cookies out to cool overnight, because they WILL be gone by morning. Unlike people, dogs do not choose when it comes to temptation. If it's edible (or only smells that way) they'll eat it.