What your dog needs

The theme for this month’s Positive Pet Training Blog Hop is training mistakes. Before I caught on to this whole positive training thing, I made so many mistakes that I wrote a book about them, called Bark and Lunge: Saving My Dog from Training Mistakes.

Everyone makes technical mistakes, like using the wrong gear, or using the right gear in the wrong way. Beyond those, one of the fundamental mistakes I made was trying to get Isis to fit the mold of the dog we wanted her to be, instead of putting her needs first.

miapenos

Mia on a father-daughter date

As I write this, Rob and Mia have gone out for a beer together. Leo and I are sitting on the back patio, where the air is cool against my arms, in contrast to the gust of hot air that greeted us when we came in the front door.

I would love to take Leo with us to cafes and patio bars, but that would be for our own enjoyment, not his.

Leo doesn’t require a ton of stimulation or exercise, but we take him somewhere every day. We cheat with the dog park during the summer, because there’s too much activity on the streets during these long summer days. It’s tough for a leash-reactive dog.

Tonight, we did half and half. We drove to an off-leash field that Leo walks in and out of on leash.

The flaming orange sun hung behind a thick haze from nearby wildfires. We saw three other dogs one at a time. I made small talk with one woman, who might have found it odd when I told her my boyfriend was having a beer with our other dog.

After she and Checkers left, the crispiness of the field made me think of a post-apocalyptic wasteland. Some of my best walks with Leo are like this: solitary. I remember one around our neighborhood in the rain, where I felt like we were on patrol.

Leo would be a really good Apocalypse buddy, especially since he wouldn’t have to be on leash.

Nights like this make me happy, and remind me how low maintenance Leo really is.

I know a lot of people had a hard time over the weekend with fireworks. Our dogs aren’t afraid of them, but Leo barks at the noise. I hate the noise more than he does.

Heat Alert

Handy little item Banfield is giving away. Lets you know when it’s too hot for a dog inside your car. Also raises awareness when others walk past your car.

The other problem we’re having is the heat.

Last year, we took the dogs to Port Townsend for July Fourth weekend. I remember being thrilled that it wasn’t too hot to leave the dogs in the car while we went inside places to eat. We always parked within sight of our table, and left the windows down, but one of the pleasures of the Pacific Northwest is that it is rarely too hot to leave a dog in the car. For a short period.

That has not been the case this year. We’ve had a couple of weeks already of record-breaking temperatures that not only make it unsafe to leave your dog in the car, but also prompt warnings about walking dogs on hot pavement.

I wouldn’t have thought that 80-90 degree temps would make it too hot to walk dogs on pavement… until I stepped onto my own patio barefoot the other day.

A dog trainer friend commented that she saw two people running their dogs in the middle of the day and that the dogs were very clearly stressed. Probably those people thought their dogs needed the exercise; probably they mistook their dog’s panting as a good sign, not of heat exhaustion. Or maybe they’re such obsessive runners that they didn’t give a second thought about whether it was good for the dog or not.

I don’t run, but I had just recently walked Mia at noon. We were on a woodsy path, not pavement, most of it shaded by trees, but I did wonder if it was too hot for her.

That was a reminder to me to put Mia’s needs first. Maybe she doesn’t need a half-hour walk at noon on a record-breakingly hot day. And when we do take the dogs out at the hottest part of the day, we make sure it’s someplace like the Best Dog Park, where they have kiddie pools and a hose.

Positive Training

Positive Reinforcement Pet Training Week is hosted by Cascadian Nomads, Rubicon Days & Tenacious Little Terrier. This month we are sharing stories of our flaws as trainers. Like every month, any and all posts or comments about positive reinforcement pet training are welcome. The blog hop is open all week, so if you are a blogger, add a post and if you are a positive pet training enthusiast, hop around by clicking the thumbnails below, learn and share. Next months Positive Reinforcement Pet Training Week begins August 3rd and the theme is improving our pet training skills.

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14 thoughts on “What your dog needs

  1. Great post! I am so tired of the heat, too! I can’t wait for rain! I hope we get some relief soon!

  2. Yep, so many people run with their dogs in the heat and it really makes Mom mad. We run all year long, but early morning so if it is hot out, it isn’t as bad. Our run and walk duration is always adjusted for the weather conditions.

  3. I think the ability to put our dogs needs first is the sign that we’re becoming true dog people and not just dog owners.

    It’s a growth process. And only a lucky few are born being perfectly empathetic to the animals in their lives.

    Mia and Leo are very lucky to benefit from your growth process like I know Honey is benefitting from mine. I only wish my earlier dogs wouldn’t have had to suffer so much from my growing pains.

  4. It’s easy to mistake our wants/needs for our dogs. I believe most dog parks are teeming examples! I’ve so often seen grumpy dogs hiding under benches and wonder why their owners don’t just take them on a quiet solo walk instead. We reactive dog owners especially have to give up our visions of taking our dogs everywhere we go. Ruby would make a great Apocalypse buddy as well, with the added bonus of catching rabbits for us to eat (if some rabbits survived of course, and weren’t radioactive…)

  5. I saw someone walking their black dog at noon with a backpack on. I felt so sorry for that dog. It’s been so hot in the PNW lately! Thanks for joining the hop!

  6. I think that Apocalyptic Dog Fantasy sounds like a great genre! I can just picture a graphic novel starring you and Leo (and Lara and Ruby, too).

    And I just love this post. I try hard to remember that it’s important for Nala to get what she wants and needs, but I am sure I can do better.

    • There is a book called The Dog Stars, and the movie I Am Legend has a wonderful German shepherd of course… But I want one where the dog lives as long as the human.

  7. Nice post! It was 80 up here in Alaska today but I loved it, since it’s a very rare thing. Most days are in the 60s. P.S. This post really, really made me long for a dog companion to walk with. How I miss my walks with a good dog, those long walks in solitude yet never alone. I’ve been looking but haven’t found the right one yet. I’m sure I’ll know when I do. Cheers and have a great week.

  8. Wonderful post! Thanks for reminding us all to do what our dogs need rather than what we need!

  9. Great post! Ziva is not my go to crowds girl. For big events like cheering my mom on when she runs a marathon we bring Dante because he does really well in crowds, loves people, and loves dogs. For Ziva it would be very stressful and exhausting. It is definitely important to meet your dogs needs.

  10. Wonderful article, and I’ve been trying to be more aware of my own dogs needs rather than my own lately. It is really hot here in the summer – and although my dog wouldn’t outwardly complain about it I’ve been shortening up our walks & spending more time with the kiddie pool.

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