For those that don’t already know, Teddy is a 2.5 year old Flat-Coated Retriever. He’s almost 70 lbs and is a whole lot of dog. He also has cancer so we weren’t quite sure he’d even be here to come along on our trip. Our decision to pursue Eastern Medicine options seems to have paid off with a currently thriving young dog but cut into my time and money and effort for prepping Ted for the trip regarding training/acclimation. I’m not sure how well it’s going to go over to play the cancer card against general unruliness. “Sorry he’s humping you! He has cancer you know!” I’m hoping I can use the people’s confusion to make my getaway, “Huh? What does that have to do with him peeing on my truck??” – yeah, Idon’t know, bye!
So, we are figuring it all out on the road.
Things That Are Good
Teddy is being trained with positive reinforcement methods. That means people smile at me when I work with him because we look happy together. No mad faces, no yelling, no droopy tail. It also means he has a number of default behaviors that come in handy, particularly Relax on a Mat.
Teddy is also generally a pretty quiet dog. I’d like to attribute that to my training but that might just be his nature. So far, a few woofs here and there but other dogs have been barking more so we’re good by comparison.
What We’re Working On
Lots of stuff to work on, of course, but the big one for today is riding in the motorhome.
Teddy can’t be loose because he will try to come up front to be with me or he will get into stuff or kids will say, “Hey, he’s stepping on me!” and it will be a big pain to sort out. Plus, he should be secured for safety.
Thanks to my friend Barbara’s suggestion, we realized we could fit his giant crate in the entry area so it would be very similar to how he goes into the back of the car and right into his crate:
Problem is, the step up and angle into the crate is very steep. We’re not sure if it’s a tough climb for him or if he just doesn’t want to go in there or if it’s our own fault for not shaping/practicing ahead of time.
I got him in reasonably okay at the house with a Kong and some click/treat shaping but we had trouble when we stopped for a break and had to start again. Ground was hot, motorhome was warm, it was already rattly for him in the crate, we were stressed out, etc.
Me: Hop up!
Teddy: Standing there
K: Why don’t I just pick him up?
Me: You can’t keep picking him up or he’ll never learn to jump in!
K: I think it’s too steep for him to get in there.
Me: He doesn’t like to get picked up. He’s going to start avoiding your reach earlier and earlier each time until we won’t be able to get him even near the motorhome! Ahhhh, I think his feet are burning!! OK, pick him up.
My older son had the good idea of turning the crate around so the door is on the inside. That way, he he can climb in through the cab area and it also gives us access if we need to get him out or tend to him. We’re going to try that today to see if we have enough room to open the door. We’ll also put some rubber pads under the crate to minimize the road bumps. Wish us luck!
This water bowl thing is turning out to be a good purchase. It’s called Water Boy and it’s a mystery to me how it works but you can fill it with a bunch of water and it will continue to replenish the bowl area with about 1/2 inch of water and will not spill if you turn it over. You can also step on it or squeeze it to get more water in the bowl area.
Teddy met a little girl, about three years old. I usually don’t let kids touch my dogs at that age or younger but she met my criteria of:
a) Being able to hold a conversation with me (vs. parroting what the parent is saying)
b) Actually stopping a few feet away to ask and waiting for the answer! The waiting for the answer part is often missing in the sequence.
So I sent her back to go confirm with her Dad that he was okay with her being with me and my dog. Funny how parents get slightly annoyed by this but you really need to turn around and at least watch what your three-year-old is doing.
I told the dad, “He’s going to lick her,” and he thought that was fine, “Ha, ha, won’t have to give her a bath” and all that.
Girl comes back and I’m holding onto Ted sitting on the bench with me and I tell her, “I am holding him so he will not jump on you, but he will lick you.” (Kid has food on her face, too – irresistible!)
Girl tentatively touches Teddy. Teddy licks her. Girl shrinks back, “He licked me! I don’t want him to lick me! Don’t let him lick me!” This all confirms my idea that very young children don’t always want to be as up close and personal with dogs as they think they do.
It was all fine, though. She hung around long enough to be comfortable stroking Teddy’s side and the licking was minimal so it was a good encounter.