Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The Dog Diaries: Chevy gets a home "outside" of home for when we need to be gone for longer than a few hours.

First let me say that it is hard to type with a 60 lb dog on your lap.  For a few minutes there, I was doing more backspacing than I was typing.  But he has wandered away...probably to go eat something he isn't supposed to. 

Given my reluctance to crate Chevy for hours and hours, it became quickly apparent that I need an outside solution.  I was trying to never be gone for more than a few hours at a time but that just wasn't working.  We often have back to back activities and it was really limiting us to have to run home in between to play with the dog and let him out for a bathroom break.  Limiting, and fairly expensive in gas costs! 

So today I went to Costco and picked up a dog house they had for sale.  Check it out!
Scott had 2 helpers putting it together:  Cade and Chevy!

While I was busy picking up the doghouse, Scott found and procured a dog run on Craigslist.com.  What would we do without Craigslist?  It would have been $750 to buy a comparable dog run new and we spent $150 on Craigslist and the seller was here in our hometown.  I love it when things like that work out. 

For now, the dog run is on our back patio.  It will keep Chevy from being able to dig under the dog run (unless the dog has nails that can cut concrete) and it is shaded by the deck above (you know, for all the sun we've been having).  Eventually, I think we'll move it to the front of the house next to the garage, but  we'll need to pour a concrete pad for that. 

Now I have to figure out how to make it more of a home for the pooch.  Do you think Chevy needs any posters on the walls?  I wish I knew of how to give it a bathroom.  I assume that if he needs to "go", he'll probably do it as far away from his doghouse as possible...but it still seems quite unwelcoming to have to potty in the corner of a concrete patio.  Perhaps a few magazines?  He could read them, tear them to bits, and then poop on them.  Perhaps I should put down a mat or a rug? 

I'll keep thinking about that...

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Dog Diaries: Can I get paid for this?

I shall harness the power of my pen (or in this case my MSi S6000 laptop) to give a shout-out to StarMark for their awesome training collar.
Walking Chevy has been a painful experience.  He is just so exuberant!  We've tried a number of things to keep him from pulling us around when we go on walks.  First we tried just yanking his leash and stopping whenever he started to pull, but his response to that was to ignore us (and keep pulling) or bite through the leash.  Then, at the advice of our dog trainer, we worked on positive reinforcement by giving him treats and positive praise whenever he stayed with us.  That works for as long as you have treats in your hand or until he sees a dog/cat/squirrel/deer...whichever comes first. 

We tried retractable leashes, which he has a hard time biting through.  But that didn't stop the pulling either.  I was getting pretty frustrated because I wanted to take that blasted dog on a walk for both of our sakes, but I wasn't looking forward to the chiropractic adjustment I would need afterwards. 

I considered a pronged collar, but I just didn't like the image of my pooch having that metal chain and prongs around his neck.  I know when I look at a dog on a pronged metal collar, I think the dog looks agressive and I get a little nervous.  I don't want other people to think that way about my Chevy.  Then a friend told me about the StarMark collar.  It is great because it has a solid plastic outside band that hides the fact that it is pronged.  No one would look at Chevy and guess that he has a pronged collar on.  The prongs seem a little more gentle to me as well.

Our walks have been sooooooo much better with this collar on.  Chevy stays with me during 95% of the walk.  If something catches his attention, he might dart away but the collar "reminds" him to not pull before he's had the chance to disconnect my rotator cuff.  And I know he doesn't really mind wearing it because he is eager for our walks and he doesn't complain when I put it on him. 

I'm a believer!  I got my collar on Amazon.com for about 10 bucks!

Friday, March 2, 2012

The Dog Diaries: Cage or Crate?

Everyone says I need to get past the notion that putting Chevy in his crate is the same thing as putting him in a cage.  Everyone except that little voice in my head.  And, of course, that voice talks to me far more than the average person.

That voice says that Chevy is a dog made for hunting, a dog yearning to travel long distances looking for a tasty mallard.  That voice says that Chevy barely gets enough exercise between our walks and throwing the ball around the yard and because of that, confining him into a small space can't be pleasant for him....even if that is just for a few hours at a time. 

The other day I decided to undergo a trial run of leaving Chevy alone in the house without putting him into his crate.  I wouldn't feel as bad leaving the dog if he didn't have to be stuck in that little crate (cage).  I was gone for an hour and a half.  The trial was certainly unsuccessful.  I came home to broken dishes on the floor, chewed up Star Wars legos, Sydney's lunchbox licked clean, and the remains of boxes strewn about. 

So the next day, it was back to the crate for Chevy.  I put Chevy in the crate and left to work at Cade's preschool.  When I got home after preschool, Scott was home and Chevy was running around.  Scott said to me, "if you are going to leave Chevy out of his crate, you ought to make sure there is no food on the counter".  "Well", I said, "I didn't leave the dog out of his crate."  Apparently Chevy let himself out of the crate...again!  That makes 3 times that he has unlatched the top latch of his crate and squeezed himself through the opening. 

The next day, Scott put a bungie cord around the crate when we needed to head out.  Our hope was that even after Chevy unlatched the crate door, he wouldn't be able to open it. When we got back, Chevy was out.  He ate through the bungie cord and let himself out again.  The dog is smart and destructive...a fairly lethal combination!

Today I tried a good old twist tie around the latch on his crate.  Apparently all the dog's smarts can't make up for the fact that he hasn't fingers to untwist a twist tie.  Chevy was still in his crate when I returned home.  So for now, it is still the crate for Chevy, accompanied by a twist tie.  I still yearn for the day when he can be in the house alone without needing to be in a crate.  However, given the constant destruction of the dog of everything he can get his teeth on, he'll be in the crate for some time to come.