Puppy Breath and People Training
Dexter came into my life a few short months ago. He’s little. He’s sweet. He’s cuddly. He’s ferocious, and he’s smart. Most days, I’m pretty sure he smarter than me.
I like to think I’m training Dexter, but it’s working the other way around.
How Dexter taught me to take breaks: I trained Dex to go to the door and scratch on it when he needed to go outside. He quickly learned that if he scratched on the door, whether he needed to relieve himself or not, I would get up and go outside with him, and he would start to play with me. Eh, nine times out of ten I needed a break anyway.
How Dexter taught me to pay attention: I taught Dexter to jump up and grab his pull toy when he wanted to play tug-of-war with me. I usually sit on the sofa when I type on my netbook. Dexter quickly figured out that if he jumped high enough he could tap the back of my netbook just hard enough to slam it shut on my fingers. That’s his way of saying, “Hello. I’m here. Love me.”
How Dexter taught me to stick to a routine: I try to make a habit of getting up at the same time every day, get dressed, and go about a routine even on days when I feel bad and need lots of bed rest. I may not be up long, but I get prepared for the day. I started getting sloppy about this during my last Lupus-flare. I was in bed or on the couch in my PJ’s most of the time. Then Dexter took off up the road at six a.m. , and all I had on was my PJ’s. Everyone was leaving for work and there I am looking like the Wicked-Witch of the West chasing Toto up the road. I quickly got back to my routine.
How Dexter taught me to shut up and listen: We have a sizeable yard for Dexter to wander in, but when he spots the neighbors, he’s off like a shot. He doesn’t discriminate. If they’re moving, he’s on the way to find out why. At first, you could hear me screaming, “Dexter! Get back here! Dexter!” Then, one day he made several trips over to my neighbor’s yard. He’s a wonderful man who is always quiet and easy-going.
Dexter took off again and headed straight for him. I couldn’t catch him, so I walked over and apologized. “I’m so sorry. Dexter hasn’t learned how to ‘stay’ yet.” I smiled.
He held Dexter out in his hand and said, “Dexter is young. When you’re young you just want to see what life is all about. Dogs do this when they’re young. Don’t yell at him. He will learn.”
Sure enough, when I stopped yelling and getting angry when he took off, Dexter starting returning to me when I called softly. I’m sure the neighbors don’t get startled as often either.
Who knew I lived next to the Dog Whisperer?
How Dexter taught me to be a better caretaker: Dex is crate trained. He stays in his crate at night or when he’s frightened. Most of the time the crate door is open so he’s free to come and go as he pleases except at night. When I let him out in the mornings, we have a routine. I sing “Good Morning” to him. (The Debbie Reynold’s version that’s on a fruit juice commercial now.) Once I sing to him, he stretches, he eats, he goes outside, and then comes back in and we play.
If I forget to clean his crate or I forget to sing to him, Dexter tosses his cell. He drags all his bedding and toys out of his crate and looks at me as if to say, “What’s your problem?”
Dexter is showing great patience in dealing with me. I’m trying to do the same for him.