Tag Archives: Walks

7 Ways to a Tired Dog

Zekie exhibiting the benefits of a tired dog.
Zekie exhibiting the benefits of a tired dog.

A tired dog is a good dog. This is Zekie, my problem child. Can You Tell Which Dog Is Reactive? You can read more about him at the link. This is Zekie resting after today’s walk.

All dogs’ behavior will be at least a bit better if they expend some energy. Here are some ways to do that which allow you to maintain social distance from other people.

  1. Walk your dog. You can take a mask along incase you encounter others. There are many trails that should provide good opportunities.
  2. Play frisbee or ball. You can play in your yard or in a field at a school. Enclosed tennis courts may be an option if your dog needs to be confined.
  3. Kick the toy. Rather like the child’s game kick the can. We play this indoors, down the center hallway of our house when the weather is inclement. Extra points if we can get the toy past the dogs and down the basement stairs!
  4. Obedience or trick training. This expends more mental energy than physical, but this is also tiring.
  5. Hide and seek. Played indoors. Have your dog sit and stay. Or someone can hold your dog. When you’re ready, say ok, find me.
  6. Hide and seek variation. Confine your dog in some manner while you hide treats for them to find. Make the first ones easy until your dog gets the hang of it.
  7. Provide chews such as nylabones, rope bones, antlers, etc. Monitor so your dog does not swallow small pieces. Chewing does not use as much energy as running around but it does help.
Walk your dog.
Walk your dog.

Dogs are social, active creatures and need to be provided an outlet to burn off energy. Finding a way to do this make both of your lives happier.

A Proud Moment

The three boys-Zekie, Baxter, Cassius

This morning I took Zekie, Baxter, and Cassius for a walk. It was just me and the three boys. I didn’t take any other dogs because Zekie is often leash reactive and I knew this was the amount of dogs I could handle if that happened.

There wasn’t too much traffic today. Two cars passed us. And there was a large paving truck and a pickup truck at the intersection where we turn to walk to the park. Zekie did not bark or lunge at any of them! He also did not bark at the two workmen on the corner or the men working on the entry to the township hall. We walked right on by! I was so proud. Just me out here walking my well behaved dogs.

I wish I knew why Zekie was good today. Dealing with reactive dogs is challenging. But I’m so pleased he was good. It can be done!

Zekie having a proud moment

Benefits of the Sit-Stay

Zekie holding a stay in front of the irises

Zekie staying by the wygelia

We walked around the yard this afternoon checking out various plants. As Zekie walked by some of them, I thought what a beautiful photo that would make. So, I told Zekie to sit, and then to stay.

He is familiar with this process now. I can saw his name to get him to look at the camera and he continues to hold his stay. He waits for a release command which could be in the form of:

  • Ok-meaning you’re released to move about
  • Come-means come to me
  • Ok, let’s go-which means come to me and we will proceed to walk

These are just commands as I use them. Unless you are competing, it really doesn’t matter the words you use as long as you are consistent and can communicate with your dog to get the results you want.

With most dogs, keeping commands short, one or two words is best. This is what I do for all our dogs. Zekie is very communicative and seems to be able to comprehend sentences at other times though. Such as, “be quiet or you’re going in your crate”. (“Be quiet” when used by itself is less effective.) “Where is daddy?” “Go get your bone.” “I’ll be right back.” He responds appropriately to all of these sentences.

An intelligent mind can be both a blessing and a curse in a dog. They spend lots of time thinking. It is up to us to channel those thoughts in a direction that we find appropriate. Otherwise, the dog will channel them as he deems appropriate, and we may not agree!

Can You Tell Which Dog Is Reactive?

Shelby, upper left; Zekie, upper right; Baxter, lower left; Cassius, lower right.

Can you tell which of the four dogs above is leash reactive?

Leash reactivity, at least in the case of my dog, causes him to lunge, growl, and bark excessively at other dogs, people, or fast moving objects like cars, bicycles, or motorcycles. He is fine walking with any of our dogs. He is fine if people or dogs come in our house or gated dog yard to visit, be they known or unknown to us.

And this prompts my apology to the person we encountered at the intersection up the hill near the fire station of our township. I was walking four of our dogs this morning and a car approached the intersection where I was getting ready to cross the street. I waved the car on. The driver of the car waved me on, and kept waving, insistent that I should go ahead. This left me with no choice but to proceed. Very thoughtful, right? Indeed it was. The only problem was, this left me trying to walk with two calm dogs, one dog that was barking, lunging, and jumping at the car in an attempt to reach it and no doubt scratch it’s paint job, plus one dog who was barking because the reactive dog was going into freak out mode. So, I apologize to the kind driver, if the expression on my face was not warm and appreciative. I had my hands full and was doing my best. Oh, I was also carrying two bags of poop on my way to the nearby dumpster at the time.

The reactive dog has shown improvement. It is just slow and ongoing. I have learned that if I go into the grass about four feet off the road, cars can pass without incident. Usually. This sometimes puts me in people’s front yards. I hope they don’t mind. It requires keeping a vigilant eye out for approaching vehicles in front of and behind us. I need to have ample time to get the required distance off the road, and must remain calm while doing so as not to insight a reaction

This is the kind of dog that is not for the first time dog owner, the physically weak, or the faint of heart. This is a labor of love. Ironically, if I kept the dog at home all the time, he would be friendly 100% of the time. Even with visitors. But, I want more for him, so we walk and try different training techniques. A work in progress.

By the way, the leash reactive dog is Zekie in the upper right hand corner.

Property Walk

Viburnum

I did a walk around our flowerbeds this afternoon to see what was in bloom. The viburnum beside the house is still in full bloom. The flowers are holding on a long time this year because of the unseasonably cool weather. The drift of scent every time we go near it is delightful.

Bleeding heart (Dicentra)

The bleeding hearts are just starting to bloom. Soon there will be a huge mound of them flowering. Their ferny foliage is an added bonus.

Dogwood bloom

The dogwood in front of our house is nearing the end of its flowering phase for this year although it is still beautiful.

Trillium
The trillium is at its peak right now. I would love to split it and have more, but they are so particular that I don’t dare.
Honeysuckle?

We have a few of these bushes. I believe they are wild honeysuckle, but I’m not sure.

Myrtle bed
Dogwood in full bloom
Corner of yard

The above three areas are from the yard in front of our house.

Rhododendron
Side yard

This side of the yard has plum bushes, river birches, and a redbud tree. The green bushes in the background are royal lilacs that will bloom in a few weeks.

Narcissus

The narcissus are still in fully bloom. They are staying around a long time because of the cool temperatures.

Flowering almost tree
Flowering almond

And last, but not least of our flowering plants is this flowering almond tree. It is tiny, but oh so beautiful!

What To Do?

What do I do when I’m staying at home to avoid the coronavirus? The same things I normally do!

We walked dogs of course. That goes without saying.

But I also baked bread. This was a Pinterest recipe for Italian bread. I wanted something a little heartier, so I replaced one of the cups of flour with whole wheat flour.

It was quite delicious, especially warm from the oven with butter and strawberry-rhubarb jelly.

Training and Walking

I have heard it said that racing greyhounds can’t or don’t sit. They are even exempt from the sit during Therapy Dog testing. Our retired racers have always learned to sit, some better than others. So I have started working on teaching Cassius the sit command. I put him into the position and praise like crazy. We will have to wait and see if he catches on like the others have.

In my renewed effort to walk dogs regularly, we have been walking this week. I always take Zekie because he has so much to learn to be a “normal” dog. He is doing excellent on his sits, downs, and stays. It will soon be time to work on these commands with distractions at a distance. But when it’s just us, he does great.

See how well Zekie holds his sit-stay. I couldn’t keep Cassius in a sit, but he did do a stand-stay. I’ll take it for now. He at least stays still enough for a picture.

Cassius was confused as to why were not going inside though. He thought since there was a door, that we should enter and see what there was to see. Zeke kept his sit but seemed puzzled as to what Cassius was doing. So was I, Zekie, so was I.

All these shenanigans were apparently very exhausting. Of course Cassius is originally from a racetrack in Florida so the cold may have played a part in wearing him out too. Cassius came home and felt the need to take a nap. A tired dog is a good dog. Good boy, Cassius.

New Adventures

I am enjoying my first week of retirement. This morning I decided to take Zeke and Shelby for a walk down the road and back for some exercise and some training. We walked down to the township park which is about 3/4 of a mile away. On the way we stopped occasionally to practice sits, downs, and stays. The picture above was taken while practicing stays in front of the local church. They had this pretty garland up for Christmas and I thought it made for the perfect photo opportunity while we were working on holding a sit. The pups did very well, especially considering that the recycling truck was emptying dumpsters just a few houses away. Shelby was not a fan of the grinding and banging but she did hold her stay.

We live in a small, rural community and apparently people are active in the morning. I never knew this because I was at work. On our way home a lady opened her front door to greet us as we passed by on the street. When she first saw Shelby, she thought her dog got out because she has a sheltie too. Once she realized it wasn’t her dog, she opened the door anyway to introduce herself and say hello. We talked for several minutes and I’m sure we will talk again as we had lots to say.

The dogs and I walked a short distance farther and another lady driving by in a van stopped to say hello and introduce herself. She said she knew where we lived and that I had visited another nearby homebound neighbor with two of the shelties before. We visited for a couple minutes then went on our separate ways. I learned that she also lives nearby.

What a lovely morning getting to meet two neighbors that I had never encountered before. I think that I am going to like this different life outside of the work environment. It is foreign to me but that just means it is a new adventure.

This is Zeke shortly after we returned from our walk and training. When the lady stopped in the van, he wasn’t sure if this was ok or if he should protect me. I told him it was alright and as the lady and I talked, Zeke relaxed. He was a good boy. This was a relief because he can sometimes be reactive to people or dogs that he does not know. But his response this time was just right. All the activity and decision making apparently wore him out. He needed a nap, so crashed on the living room couch with his head on the pillow.

I can’t wait to see what adventures tomorrow brings!