How to Tell If Your Dog is His/Her Own Villian in Five Simon-Induced Steps

One: Dastardly deeds and deviousness.
He develops a jerk attitude, like he’s deliberately snarky. He gives off little growls of indignation. When you don’t pay complete attention to him he comes over and starts to nibble on my toes. He sneaks through the cat door to the garage when he gets a little too excited and running around the house doesn’t do anything to quell the surge. He looks for anything butter-related left out on kitchen countertops. And when I go to him, tell him to get off counters, get out of the garage, and leave my toes alone, you know what he does? He smiles.

Two: Luring you into a false sense of security.
After respectfully listening to every command he has been given for a good long while, he starts to be a little more subversive in his “goodness.” We become trapped in a frustrating cycle of “He knows what I’m saying, he’s just deciding not to listen,” because dogs are totally capable of this. In fact Simon has subtly been trying to overthrow the current regime that exists in our house by initially only half-listening to commands. I tell him to sit, he squats as if to sit until I turn away assuming he is going to listen to the command he has followed through on over one hundred times already, except he doesn’t. Pretty soon he’s not even listening to the command, just running circles around me.

Three: Constantly coming up with ways to take over the world, the house, the couch, or at least your cereal bowl.
After displays of indignation and flexing his choosing power, he starts taking what’s mine. He barks at the front window, staking his claim to all who dare pass by. He leaves his mark on the nice, pristine front lawn to ensure the neighbor dogs that get lose don’t get any ideas about moving in on his territory. Even more boldly, he puts his head on my lap at night, staring me down until I have no choice but to move over so he can take my spot on the couch. The cherry on top, he’s learned how to distract me, jumping on the couch so that when I go to get him off he runs away to my unguarded cereal bowl, lapping up the leftover milk with wild abandon. He’s got no regrets.

Four: Finding a secret lair.
When he doesn’t want to be bothered, meaning he has had to listen and “leave” his ball one too many times and he’s ready to rise beyond covert subversion, he goes and hides in his dog house. His dog house being the one place no one can follow him into, basically because no one else fits, not even Rosee. He likes to sit in his house and bark at me. I take this as his way of manically cackling at the intelligence of his “evil” plan.

Five: You have already, thoughtfully, decided upon a villainous name for your canine companion.
Simon, as you may have heard, is The Dew Claw. Rosee is simply The Boss. Her powers are infinite.

IMG_1657If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, I mean steps, please do not worry. In the end the Pawed Crusader always triumphs over The Dew Claw, no matter how determined the latter is because good always wins out over evil (uh, duh!). And if you don’t believe me The Boss may just have to come and convince you (she’s decidedly flexible in her nature when she wants to be), but she’ll be smiling while she does it.

An Itch, A Scratch, and Shampoo

Rosee Bath
Yes, Rosee and Simon get bathed on our front lawn. Not only do the dogs get clean, but the grass gets watered.

Rosee and Simon get bathed pretty regularly. Do they enjoy getting bathed? No. Do I enjoy having clean dogs? Yes. Usually every Friday I spend the day cleaning, which means the couch covers, dog bed covers, kennel beds, and dog towels/blankets get washed, the dogs get bathed, and the living room gets vacuumed. I like doing this once a week because it helps keep the dog smell away, and if I didn’t plan a day for it all nothing would ever get done. You see, I am not a big fan of messes and am pretty good at cleaning up as I go. However, homes have a tendency to become dirty just through living. And while I love my dogs to pieces, I don’t love the permeating dog smell that comes with them if they don’t get bathed every once in a while. Plus, Rosee and Simon tend to have fairly sensitive skin and so bathing helps keep their skin at its best.

About two summers ago Simon developed a really bad skin allergy to something in the environment and his back erupted in bumps. We took him to the vet and were told that he has allergies and if we notice his bumps coming back we could give him some Benadryl. (Of course, I recommend you talk to your vet before giving your dog any sort of medicine because they know best, and at least with Benadryl, while dogs can take it, the amount is based on a dog’s size. Still, make sure to talk to your vet before you give your dog anything that’s not prescribed.) Unfortunately, at this time his bumps were so severe that he needed to go on a stronger medication, and he was also prescribed KetoChlor, a medicated shampoo. We were directed to give Simon a bath with this shampoo twice a week for about three weeks and then once a week after that until his bumps went away. Luckily, with medication and this shampoo Simon recovered quickly, but since then we always keep a bottle of the shampoo on hand because when I say their skin is sensitive, I mean it’s Sensitive. Pretty much anything makes them itchy, and any shampoo that was tried only seemed to make them break out more (even baby shampoo, which the vet originally recommended for their sensitive skin). So, at first I was a little skeptical of this new shampoo, but I gave it a chance.

KetoChlor is a medicated shampoo that claims it is for dogs, cats, and horses.IMG_1407 Of course, I’ve only tried it on Simon and Rosee so I can’t say if it works for cats or horses. It is supposed to help “delay…irritation” and “disrupts micro-organism colonization on the skin.” According to the directions once the bottle is shaken thoroughly, you can work it into your dog’s coat, let it sit for 5-10 minutes, and then rinse it off. It’s simple enough, but be warned that this shampoo does not soap up very much and therefore it can be kind of difficult to spread around. Also, this shampoo tends to be a bit pricey and is only available, from what I’ve found anyways, at veterinarian offices or online. Now, normally, I wouldn’t mind spending the money on a quality shampoo as long as it really made a difference in Simon and Rosee’s skin, but when it feels like I have to use almost a quarter of a bottle on just one of them during one bath it can quickly become an expensive habit. Furthermore, while the shampoo seems to help both dogs’ skin from being too irritated when allergies or other environmental factors hit, it doesn’t really keep their coats clean for very long. Typically, their weekly bath keeps them pretty clean and smelling nice until their next bath, but with the KetoChlor I felt that within a couple days Rosee and Simon could have used another bath. IMG_1416Their coats looked dingy, felt grimy, they had a lot of flakes, and the dog smell made a return. Then, if you add in the amount of shampoo used in one bath and the price of it, it just wasn’t practical to use the KetoChlor as the main bath time shampoo. Plus, my mom found a locally made, all natural bar of soap that is made up of about five different oils, and has worked out much better for the pups, but that’s for another review.

Overall, if your dog has sensitive skin and needs a little more than just flea medicine to keep the itchiness at bay then I would recommend trying the KetoChlor shampoo. I don’t use it all the time for Rosee or Simon, but it comes in handy when they get bumps from seasonal allergies, or after spending a day at the beach (sand flies) or the river. However, if your dog’s skin tends to be on the drier side, like my dogs, or if it’s a bit too pricey for you (which I understand since dog stuff can get expensive), then I would recommend finding something else for bath time.

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Pawndered Thought: May 21, 2015

His villain name would be: The Dew Claw.

IMG_1758Powers include: never-ending energy, everlasting determination, a bark that can annoy to no end, and most importantly he has the ability to ensnare all with a snap of his wrist and his Dew Claw!

His kryptonite: Rosee, for she will always be the Batman to his Robin (he just tends to forget this at times).

Tethering: Simon Dos and Don’ts

Simon knows no boundaries, and it’s not for a lack of trying. Really. My family and I tried and try and will try to always give Simon limits, borders, and edges. However, he is a very willful boy. Apparently, that has meant just being calm and assertive when telling him what to do is not only harder than it looks, but needs to last through every minute of every day. Simon needs his people to constantly and consistently be calm and firm. Turns out, Simon is extremely sensitive to everyone’s wayward emotions. When I’m upset, he’s upset. When I’m excited, he’s excited. When I’m tired, he’s not tired (have I mentioned he could play for 23 hours a day before?). Anyway, learning to be Simon’s point persons and taking control of his defiant ways has been a seemingly endless rollercoaster ride, one that probably won’t reach its end until Simon does, but of course I wouldn’t have it any other way. This doesn’t change the fact that Simon needs boundaries.

His love for butter knows no limits.
His love for butter knows no limits.

When Simon was a puppy my mother stumbled across the idea of tethering. Tethering usually consists of setting up a slightly long, slightly short leash somewhere within the house, and when he is attached to that tether Simon would be forced to stay in one spot instead of being allowed the free reign of the house. Ultimately, tethering would provide a way of teaching him boundaries and limits because he would be unable to just do whatever he wanted whenever he wanted. Simple idea with a simple action.

So, armed with new knowledge and fledging optimism my mother purchased a rubber-coated leash to attach to the leg of something in our living room that could act as a tether for a puppy Simon.

IMG_1737Now, the tether is useful for many reasons, the main one being it ties Simon down to his bed. When both Simon and Rosee (who received her own tether when she joined the family) are left alone they cannot be left to their own devices. My family tried to leave them outside in the backyard, but unfortunately that caused more problems what with Rosee barking at the fence with the neighbor dogs, so that idea was quickly squashed. Instead, it became much safer and quieter to tether the pups to their beds and leave them waiting comfortably inside the house. And since they each had a tether of their own it worked out perfectly. Scoreboard standing—tether: 1, free reign: 0.

IMG_1738However, as much as tethering was winning the battle, it had (and still has) yet to win the war.

You see, Simon never “got” the tether and whatever it was trying to teach him. This being the same dog that even when buckled up in the car will pull on his seatbelt and collar until he’s practically choking himself, so clearly the tether was yet another object for him to just pull, and pull, and pull. . .

Where Rosee will give up and give in, though not when it comes to giving up her favorite rubber football, Simon’s brain just does not have this function. He would steal food from the kitchen counters while I was making dinner or jump on people walking through the front door, so he would promptly be tethered in order to show him some restraint and his place when certain exciting activities were happening. However, Simon never seemed to understand the connection. Anytime I walked into the kitchen to cook he would be there. No matter how many treats he received for being good while tethered to his bed, the lightbulb never went off signaling the fact that he realized when I go into the kitchen to cook he goes to his bed. Now, my mother might disagree with me, but I believe that tethering Simon wasn’t actually making him learn anything. Tethering just forced him to stay in one place, it did not actually teach him to do so.

IMG_1743After more than a year of fighting with Simon and the tether, and him not actually learning from it, I stopped. My sister Theresa and I decided, a little more implicitly than explicitly, to just stop tethering Simon and at this point Rosee too unless we were leaving and they needed to be left on their beds. No more having to deal with Simon’s whining howl voicing his displeasure with his tether. No more having him endlessly gnaw on the tether as if he could try break through the wire one day. Instead, Theresa and I just told Simon what to do. When I started to cook in the kitchen we would make him sit in “his spot” right off to the side, so he could see what I was doing, but he was far enough away to not be a nuisance. Anytime people come through the front door both Simon and Rosee have to go “park it” on their beds. Sure, their commands didn’t work overnight and once in a while Simon doesn’t want to stay in his kitchen corner, but for the most part it does work. Simon, when he’s feeling cooperative, will put himself in his spot while I cook. The first time he did it I was amazed! I couldn’t believe that this was my dog deciding to actually give himself boundaries!

Of course, I had to be frank with myself. Simon was learning what behaviors were expected of him. He was learning what was considered good and acceptable. Case in point: he was learning!

Simon resigning himself to "his spot."
Simon resigning himself to “his spot.”

Now, I say he because Rosee has never exactly been the chowhound that Simon is. Sure, she loves her food and any treats she can get, but she’s never been as pushy or audacious as Simon. Where he has jumped up on the kitchen counters to steal food since the time his tongue was long enough to reach (his legs hadn’t quite grown tall enough yet), Rosee is content with just sitting and waiting for food scraps to be given to her. Rosee has always had a better sense of boundaries and limits than Simon. She just has a more people-pleasing personality whereas Simon is a little more self-centered. I believe this personality difference is mostly due to Simon being an only child for the first year and a half of his life with four people constantly doting on him (yes, I take one-fourth responsibility for his rascally ways). However, a slightly older dog can certainly learn new tricks and Simon did wonderfully.

Don’t take my split from tethering as any indication that it doesn’t work for other dogs. It just isn’t a useful technique for Simon. Tethering has really only shown itself to be beneficial for both pups when all adults are gone from the house and they cannot be left in the backyard or to wander the house unsupervised. The fact is Rosee steals pretty much anything she can find around the house (socks and tissues being her favorite) so she can chew, and Simon would just break everything left on countertops because he loves to surf on them without any regard. At least when they are tethered to their beds while we are all gone they do have to stay in one place, but they still have enough length to move around and be comfortable. However, for my guy Simon it is more important for him to learn commands by way of his people directly teaching it to him, rather than the more indirect way of tethering forcing him to exist only in one place. So, learning boundaries and limits is certainly still a work-in-progress, but it is actually progressing.

She thinks she's so sneaky.
She thinks she’s so sneaky.

In fact, it seems this whole foray into tethering was a way for me as a human to recognize the ways in which my dogs learn. I had to distinguish between making Simon do something and teaching him good behavior that he will know for the rest of his doggy life. And it seems that Simon’s brain is particular in that forcing him to do certain actions, making him stay in one place for instance, had absolutely no effect on him whatsoever. He needed to go through the process of sit, stay, good boy. It may take longer, it may be more frustrating, but it is also very gratifying.

As for Rosee, well she’s always a good girl compared to her crazy brother Simon!

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