The Big Sneeze

Part of the challenge of doing this new training with the dogs is the complete and total stubborn personality of…Sammy. Sammy is very independent, and he simply doesn’t understand why I think I’m the boss. [I am the boss, Mother….hello! ~Boots]

Six-pound bossy cats notwithstanding, I am one of the bosses and I’ve struggled daily with reminding Sammy of this. He will mind my husband almost without question. Even when I am at my calm-assertive best I struggle with Sammy. Molly will generally concede to me not because she thinks I’m the boss but because she is a love-bug and is thinking of future cuddles. She just wants to please.

Sammy is a different story. As soon as I give him a command, he sneezes. Then he sneezes again. And again. The first few times this happened I thought he was just sneezing. After almost a year, I can say definitively that he is not just sneezing. He’s saying no! He’s just like a toddler who learns to say no and then says it every chance he gets. I try hard not to laugh since that would be undermining the seriousness of my commands but it’s really almost comical when he does it.

I can get Sammy to mind me, I just have to say the command a few times (or a dozen times). It’s frustrating but every now and then he’ll do something without me giving him a command. He knows what I want him to do – he’s a very smart dog. He just generally doesn’t want to do it. I think what keeps our relationship going is that as stubborn as he is, he loves to cuddle (see previous posts) and I know he loves me.

That big sneeze, though….ohhh it gets me!




Render unto Cesar….

Okay, the name is spelled a bit differently but my husband and I have to give Cesar Millan his due. The guys knows dogs. My parents used to tell me about the Dog Whisperer show and we kind of didn’t believe it would be any good. However, last summer we started watching the old episodes on Netflix and we were amazed at how well this guy reads dogs. He’s really reading their energy, not their personality, and he’s also reading the energy of the owners.

We started implementing his training primarily to keep the dogs calm when someone comes to the door or when they are meeting new people. The dogs really didn’t understand at first. Why the heck are we making them sit all the time??? I went on an unexpected trip shortly after we started the training and Steve had to deal with the dogs on his own and keep the training going. He spent 45 minutes one day getting Molly to submit so he could give them their meal. He took both dogs for a run on leash, on his bike no less, and got them to heel perfectly. When I got home I had to immediately get with the program so I wouldn’t undo all the good work he did.

Luckily I was able to assert myself enough to get them to adhere to the training. You’ll notice on Cesar’s show that there’s always a weak link in the pack — that’s me. I’m the softie, so I had to toughen up to do this work with the dogs. As with kids, the key is consistency. If you give in just once, the dogs will assume you are no longer in control. [You never are in control, Mother!  -Boots]

It’s going pretty well overall. I make them sit on their beds while I prepare their meal, so there’s no more jumping around in the kitchen. In fact, they are banned from the kitchen any time I am cooking, which is so much nicer. They are no longer tripping me up and begging for food at the cutting board. If they stay on their beds they get a treat. It really has taken a lot of stress off me.

They wait before we go out the door – no more rushing around me and knocking me off my feet. They wait before we go down the stairs from the bedroom – no more running around me and tripping me as I go down the stairs. They heel really well when we go for a walk. It’s really been quite nice to calm down the frenzy we were used to dealing with. They no longer (for the most part) attack the door when someone walks up. This has been especially evident with Molly. She’s pretty calm now, which is nice.

The one habit we can’t break is getting up on the couch. I no longer bring them up for cuddles, I cuddle them on the floor. But they still assume the couch is their territory, so we have to block it off with baby gates. We also have to put a big book on Steve’s recliner before we go to bed at night or Sammy will sneak down there when he thinks we’re asleep and spend the night on the recliner. If the book isn’t sufficiently large to deter him, he’ll spend an uncomfortable night curled around it, just to prove he can.

All in all, I highly recommend trying Cesar’s methods. It’s the most effective thing we’ve found so far.