*** All the pictures are links to bigger pics ***

A little while back, I was approached by an editor who worked on a dog training article. It discussed over-coming fears and anxieties and training in general. As a quid pro quo, we would reference each other's website.

I thought – sure – why not?

I then read it and thought about things I see are completely different in my furry world. It's easy to get overruled by your furry mob so it's a good idea to not get outsmarted by a dog just like our Sasin!

The longer I’ve had time to think about this and the more I’ve read on the authors, the more I’m thinking this was a ploy to get free marketing/traffic on my site. My website is my personal hobby site and I don’t rely on any sponsors to fund me. As far as overcoming dog fears and anxiety, what I have done works far better than retraining the dogs on how to play me for food.

From all that, I think here would be a good place to state a few things that I've learned along the way to not be outsmarted by Sasin. That said....

Dogs pick up on your fears and mirror them. I’ve seen so many friends ruin their dogs’ confidence this way and when I brought it their attention, they gave me the stink eye and got angry. What? People don’t like being called out like that – no matter how polite and delicate you try to be.

During thunderstorms, I simply re-direct their attention. I’ll say something like “come here, turkey… What? Thunder and lightning can be cool!” <pet pet pet> <rub their preferred spots> (ears or belly or chin) When they don’t see or feel or hear fear in me, they lighten up. Tails wag. Even when a lot of sirens go blaring by. Mine no longer bother moving most of the time.

I find that giving treats at stressful times just trains them to feign fear to get fed. The video of this dog is at the bottom of the article proves what dogs are capable of doing: "Wounded" Dog.

Banshee and Sasin are notorious to pull off shenanigans like this. Echo is too smart to try this. Akula studies the other dogs and observes me to see how I react. If there’s no rewarding the show that’s put on, Akula goes back to sleep.

In the ranking process of rewards, I always work with each problem dogs’ preferred toy. I learned a lot from spending a little time with my city’s police K-9 department. The dog does what its trained to do, the handler rewards with a bounced ball or a quick tug of war with a knotted rope. In training, the police will withhold food so the dog is very attentive and quick to learn new things. I would never withhold a pet’s food but I will agree to shift feeding times to various training times. With four dogs though – this doesn’t happen too often. Mostly, the training is completed and I don’t want a frenzy on my hands – my dog pack turn into swarming zoo fish wherever the fish food dispensers are located.

Instead of a clicker, I use a squirt bottle. It never took long or used much water to discourage bad behavior. All I have to do is point to the bottle these days. Or mimic the squirty sound with my tongue and teeth. Or I’ll return their unblinking stare and “speak dog” this way. I’ve worked at home for 5 years so they know me like I know them. I lucked out with this set up and set of dogs.

Sasin and Banshee taught me how to teach them and Banshee is really good with giving me her paw as a "high five". Echo and Akula not so much. When we adopted Banshee, I taught her to ring the bells at the back door when she needed out. We adopted Sasin and I watched as Sasin learned from Banshee! Echo and Akula both decided to come and sit in front of people when they need out. Who trains who?

Now – back to the adventerous part of this page.... I was kinda worried about what to put here cos we don't go out for a lot of woodsy adventures. Then the more I thought about it the more I realized just how much of an adventure owning 4 dogs is!

Even putting my tank top on Sasin AKA "Sassy" was an adventure!



I have Thundershirts for the 3 females cos Echo hates thunder. Sassy likes the tank top better – probably cos it smells like Mom. Echo prefers her Thundershirt – I suspect because Sassy hates hers!
 


Feeding time is fun when you have Huskies – they are not far removed from wolves where they are not known for sharing. Here's a good place to start reading about Huskies and food aggression. I started raising exotic reptiles as a teenager and the primary rule I lived by – first and foremost – is that my lil buddies in the monitor lizard realm are wild animals!

Rasputin, a black rough neck monitor, would happily gobble down canned monitor food 1 minute then pretty much inhale "pinky" mice babies or crawdads.



He was cool with me but I never tried to take his food away. Once a crawdad fought back and clamped on his snout where I had to intervene with hefty tweezers and pry open the claw. It lost that fight. "Thanks, mom!"



Clipping his claws were sooo much easier than a Huskies' claws! It's an adventure in itself with young adult Huskies from a shelter like we have.

The best way I found to incorporate Huskies into feeding them together – have a guess?...



Protect the bowl while the new dog eats!

MY bowl!



With a FLIR thermal heat signature camera attachment for my cell phone, here's what Akula and Echo look like:



If you're not the lead dog the view does not change....





How quickly can 2 dogs tangle themselves up? About 5 seconds if you take your eyes off them.



When we brought Akula home it didn't take us long to figure out he was marking the COUCH as his!



I quickly learned about Pet Pee Be Gone. It works BUT I found this works better: Eco-88 Pet Stain and Odor Remover. As punishment, I kenneled him up the first night thereafter....





To which we woke up to see this....







The damn dog beat me at my own game! And he's smiling about it!

You can't be mad at him – gotta give it to him – Me 0 – Akula 1.

Now.... If you weigh 17 lbs – it's happy adventure time on a treadmill!



Going out on the boat was an adventure for Brimstone! In his little cow print life vest, Dad put the boat into water then proceeded to park the truck and trailer. Brimstone so much wanted to go with Dad that he jumped out of the boat and onto the pier! Well, almost. He missed the pier "by that much" and proved his life vest was a wise investment!