When I adopted Sydney, I read his owner surrender form. His second owner reported, “He bit groomers and veterinarians.”
Not a good sign. Not at the age of one-year-old. He must have thought he was still a puppy. He acted like a pup when I met him, jumping all over me, bashing and barking.
After reading a note by the shelter veterinarian dubbing Sydney, “A handful,” I zoomed in on his birth date. January 4th?
“Born on my birthday!” I told him.
From his dirty-white dreadlocks, he looked up as if to say, “What took you so long? I’ve been locked up in jail for three weeks.”
To be fair, the Petaluma Animal Shelter had several good reasons for wanting an experienced dog adoption for him. They wanted to get Sydney a forever home. Good humane shelters want happy dog rescue stories. They want the best for the pets in their care.
At the age of one, losing two homes made him a stressed out dog. Volunteers nicknamed him, ” Sid Vicious.” He liked chewing on fingers!
Also I learned that his first two families failed to house trained him.
These things put him at risk of being returned to another shelter. He, badly, needed a firm hand by someone who had successfully adopted and raised other dogs.
Sydney on his #2 Birthday Photo credit: Alexandra Leeds
So we are off for a happy tales walk on a sunny trail.
From the very first day we brought Sydney home, he showed us that he would work for food. As you can see nothing has changed.
We switch up the treats we use. Sometimes his breakfast kibble, sometimes canine-chicken jerky or tiny bites of a low-fat sausage roll make him eager to please. Baked dog biscuits don’t sit high on his list of favorites, but in a pinch….
This dog training tip came from taking our dog Sydney to a dog agility class. In a fenced off area, where dogs were not allowed to mark, each person had his or her dog sit and watch while our instructor demonstrated how to teach “With Me.” Our instructor cued her dog through the course. I loved watching them work together.
We were told to practice this at home. The best place to work is in a hallway or a room with no other pets or people in it. This allows you both to tune into each other.
Teaching “With Me” makes you partners with your dog. Both of you need to walk together, within about three or four feet of each other. Your dog must stay beside you so he can see what directions you will give him and what direction you want to walk.
This command helps your dog learn to walk beside you off leash.
Get a dozen or so bean-sized treats, choose the kind that your dog loves.
Put the treats in an easy to pullout pouch or bag at your waist. Keep one treat in your hand.
Use treats at first to keep his attention on you.
When your dog starts following you for about 4 or 5 steps say, “Good” and give a treat.
After a few days of teaching, just give a treat every other time he walks with you.
If he gets tired, stop and go outside or rest.
Everyday play “With me” and give treats when he follows you.
Always praise when your dog does what you want.
Never drag your dog by his leash or collar. You could hurt him or get bitten.
From one dog to another, I’m glad for a romp in the park. Today, I raced around in circles for no good reason. Dog parks make four-legged guys like me happy. A dash from room to room just doesn’t compare with a freewheeling frolic. I met a new old guy who invited me for a frisky chase. He tired quickly so then I was off on a treasure hunt, sniffing the lawn.
He didn’t introduce himself. And neither did I. After a bow, he did some fancy jumping for an old dog.