Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Boomer Behaviour

While I was in Rome, Boomer went to the kennel. I was a little concerned as he would be there for 10 nights and I wasn't sure what he would be like once I got him back home. Much to my own joy, he seemed fine. He still knew his commands and still remembered me and the apartment. When I got home from Rome, the heat hadn't been turned on yet (as described in my previous post) and so Boomer was sleeping in my bed. Needless to say, even though Boomer seemed fine I did not enforce our routine right away. Not such a good idea. If you are a dog owner I'm sure you understand the importance of consistency, 100% of the time. Slacking off after my trip probably wasn't such a good idea.

The week after Boomer started being more aggressive at the dog park. He's always been very playful but now he was barking at other dogs and even got in a bit of a fight with one. Boomer was becoming very obnoxious very quickly. Yesterday, I was leaving for groceries and I tied Boomer up as I always do. Normally he will just sit down and kind of look at me as I leave. This time however he went completely BERZERK. He started barking at me as I was putting my shoes on and didn't stop even by the time I'd gotten to my car. I came home and he was obnoxious all evening. By that point I was sick of it and began plotting how I could sedate him without feeling guilty (NO, I would never do that, I was just VERY frustrated!!). Instead of continuing with my cruel thoughts I remembered I had bought two books on dog behaviour. One was a bit passive and the other was Cesar Milan.

When I first got Cesar's book I found it a bit aggressive and not gentle and caring enough. Then I spent time with Boomer. Boomer is very hyperactive. Sort of like an ADHD kid. Disciplining Boomer with a gentle "No Boomer" wasn't going to work. So I started reading. The conclusions I had made are as follows.

1. Boomer must be calm before ANYTHING happens.

This means Boomer was sit still before being fed, before getting affection, before I open the door, before I put his leash on, before I give him a treat... EVERYTHING. This requires a lot of patience but we are getting there! He is a pro at sitting before we cross the street, I only have to say it once!

2. Erica comes before Boomer... or as Cesar says... Erica is the Pack Leader

This means I go in the house and exit the house before Boomer, Boomer walks at my side. Boomer sniffs when I give his leash slack. Boomer is on my schedule and vice-versa.

3. Be consistent.

This means creating rules (eg: not allowed to sleep in my bed) and sticking with them 100%. This was very tough this morning when Boomer woke up at 6:30 and wanted into my bed and proceeded to whine right next to my face. No cool, Boomer. I did not give in! Eventually he went back to bed. Yay, that's a win for the Pack Leader! Consistency also lies in when we walk and when Boomer gets fed. (I made a schedule!)

4. Remind guests to ignore him.

If Boomer is hyper when guests arrive and then he gets attention immediatly then he perceives this as a reward for his behaviour. Not so! Ignore Boomer at first and then once he is calm, proceed to smother him with hugs.

5. WALK before PARK. PARK does not equal WALK.

This was a big one for me as I was taking Boomer to the park everyday as a means of exercise. This is not true, the dog park is a form of socializing. Boomer would go bonkers as we'd be driving to the park and then he'd get all pent up and go nuts once we got there. It is a common misconception that excitement means happiness when in fact excitement often means frustration. Boomer was entering the park very frustrated and so he was very irritable... hence the fight. As such, Cesar recommends that you walk your dog before you go to the park and then once they have had some exercise, take them to the park. This is going to be a tough one to get over as Boomer is very excitable and nervous. For now, we are avoiding the park as Boomer learns to calm down and gets used to his new lifestyle.

I've heard many people that disagree with Cesar's methods but I feel that they are suitable for Boomer as he is so high-strung and needs a stricter environment if he is going to stay with me.

We'll see how it goes!!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Tips for surviving when your apartment is freezing

...or How to Survive Sub-zero Temperatures With All the Amenities of a First-World Home

1. Always stay dressed in many layers. Some basics include long johns, flannel pants, sweat pants, wool socks, slippers, undershirt, long-sleeved shirt, sweater, large hoodie, scarf, toque, and blanket. I suppose when I wrote 'suggestions' it may have come across as "some separate ideas you many want to try" when really I meant "this entire list is one suggestion of one set of clothes you could wear... at once" just want to be clear.

2. Never undress. Do not risk skin exposure. You will be cold when you sleep so just crawl into bed dressed as such. Sure, that seems kind of gross going to bed in what you have been wearing all day but desperate times call for desperate measures, sheets can be washed. Really, you're already wrapped in blankets, going to bed just means turning your body from a vertical fetal position at your desk to horizontal on your bed.

3. The shower is both the best and worst part of your day. The time you spend in that seemingly magical spray of pure goodness will be the greatest 10 (...or 25...) minutes of your day. The 5 minutes prior to and afterward are the worst of your day. Getting in and out of a shower requires nudity (I know, you're shocked) and there is no way around. You get in with your clothes on and those clothes are going to turn frigid as soon as you step out. It's not worth it, trust me. Instead, enjoy the pain-turned-pleasure of your fingers thawing out.

4. Spoil the dog and let him sleep on the bed. Did you know that a dog's natural temperature is roughly 15 degrees warmer than a humans? No way is that extra heat going to waste. Trust me, when it's 4c in the house, that dog is not leaving your side. Not to self... get a bigger dog...

5. Go out for meals. Your fingers are too stuff to cook and you can barely get up from your chair. Going out for meals means showering (described above...mmm....), getting a hot meal made by someone else, and being in an establishment that likely has heat as it would be closed otherwise given the temperature outside and it would be considered cruel and unusual punishment to allow humans to suffer as so (HMMM FUNNY THAT).

6. Go to bed early. The more you sleep the less you have to endure in this frozen hell.

Fun things to do when your house is the same temperature as outside which happens to be less than 5c:

1. After your shower allow your wet hair to freeze into icicles so that you can crack them like you did while waiting for the bus growing up

2. Fog up mirrors and draw funny pictures

3. See how many scarves you can fit twisted around your body without getting tangled up

4. Leave the house because it's ludicrous to stay instead. Bring puppy and head to brother's house.

...to be fair the heat came on about an hour ago though it is sure taking it's sweet ass time filling the house. Perhaps it's karma for my posting a slightly bitter blog entry.