Happy Birthday Simon!

The 14th of February is a special day in our household, and not because it’s Valentine’s Day. In our house February 14th is Simon’s birthday and this year he is turning 3. Normally you probably wouldn’t think that turning 3 is a very important milestone for a dog. Except from everything I’ve read and dog-people I’ve talked to 3 years old, for their breeds at least, is the age when Simon is supposed to have achieved adulthood. He’s not supposed to have any problems stemming from puppyhood and he should have outgrown all of the adolescent quirks he may have picked up along the way. However, the operative phrase in that sentence was “supposed to” because while he is a good dog he does sometimes regress into bad behaviors such as stealing food off of the counter every once in a while. Still, even I have to admit that Simon has grown up a lot over the past year. He doesn’t go crazy in the mornings as we get ready to go for a walk, he seems to actually listen when he’s given a command, and he is much calmer than he has ever been. Of course, these changes are also due in large part to changes on behalf of us humans such as learning to be patient and calm, and most importantly being consistent with him. Nevertheless, Simon is growing up and I can’t stop from thinking back to when he was just a young pup.

Simon as Puppy

Simon got his start in life as part of a litter of puppies that someone left on the doorstep of one of our local fire stations. The firefighters sent out an email to all city employees, which my mother happens to be, asking if anyone was interested in adopting a puppy. After we saw the attached pictures as seen below it was pretty much a done deal.

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The puppies were only going to be held at the station for a day and if they weren’t adopted the firefighters were going to take them to the local animal shelter. Fortunately, all the puppies were adopted that day, and Simon was welcomed into our lives.

As a puppy Simon was energetic, and even now he is still mostly a…mystery, if you will. It has never been clear exactly what kind of dog he is and he seems to defy any category we try to put him in. He loves being the center of attention, but hardly pays attention to things himself. Sleep has never been one of his priorities, but he is a natural born cuddler with any blanket. He can learn a hundred new tricks a day, but only chooses to perform said tricks when he wants. He loves water and to swim, but barely tolerates baths. Perhaps it is these contradictions that we love most about him.

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 We had hoped once he was neutered he would calm down a bit, but it didn’t seem to change him at all. In fact, the veterinarian told us that almost as soon as he was taken out of surgery he was awake and wanted to play. All I can say though is that’s Simon for ya.

Now as we approach his 3rd birthday I appreciate all that I have learned from him. He’s definitely a special dog.

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How to Not Stop Barking

Below I have compiled a few tips on how to not get your dog to stop barking, either at the front window or the front door. These tips are based on very scientific research and thoroughly tested hypotheses. I hope you find them of some use, so that you learn what may not work for you and your canine doorbells.

Tip #1: Do not think that you can out-yell your dog. Attempting to yell over your dog, as if your voice can somehow top theirs, is a bad idea–one that is sure to only lead to a pained throat and a lot of frustration, none of which will have affected your dog’s countenance at all.

Tip #2: Do not use a worthless treat (i.e. carrots for my two) to try and distract your dog from whatever has caught their attention outside. In the immortal words of many trainers, make sure to use a “high-value” treat (i.e. hot dog, cheese for my two) to lure your dog away from said window or door.

Tip #3: Do not attempt to physically remove your dog from the front window or front door. It is pretty impossible, in my case, to move my two behemoths, both who weigh in at over 70 lbs, away from the front door or window when they see something worthy of their barking skills. Attempting such a physical act is a surefire way to only increase your own frustration, and I’m sure it is already up because you did not listen to Tip #1.

Tip #4: Do not use a spray bottle if your dog loves water. Since your dog loves water, much like my own Simon does, spraying them with the liquid substance will do absolutely nothing. Even adding vinegar or lemon juice, things dogs are not supposed to like but are not harmful to them, may produce no promising results either if you also have a dog that loves everything.

Tip #5: Do not listen to anyone else when it comes to dealing with your dog. You know your dog better than anyone else, seeing as you spend the most time with him or her, so only you can decide what is the best way to try to stop your dog’s barking (or any other problem behavior). Find out what your dog likes and doesn’t like, what he or she responds to, and go from there.

And don’t be upset if nothing works to completely rid your dog of its barking tendencies. Barking is what a dog does, to try and stop it completely would be like trying to take away a person’s voice, cruel and strange. Even after working with Rosee for over a year she still barks at the kids who walk past our house every afternoon when school lets out, and you know what? Those kids have learned to ignore her. I’m so proud of them.

So here’s to all the barking dogs that exist in the world today, because believe me you’ll miss it when it’s gone.

Pawndered Thought: Feb 10, 2015

The first vet we took Simon to promised that getting him fixed at six months old would help to calm him down. When that didn’t quite work, everyone we talked to said that when he hits a year old he’ll be calmer. Our mother said he gets until he’s two. Several training books have hinted that medium to large breed dogs (such as Simon is) don’t truly calm down and mature until around age three.

Well the third birthday is closing in on us this month, and the entire family can only hope.

We hope that Simon stays his crazy, upbeat, energetic self for as long as he lives.