We’d gotten a glimpse of what our Catahoula Leopard dog did while home alone when we put a dog collar video camera on her. Now it was time to spy on the reformed bad dog that I’d written a book about.
Dakota’s days of being a bad dog were long over as we’d trained her well, but still we wondered what she did when we weren’t home.
The dogs were predictable in that when we pulled out of the driveway, Sierra the Catahoula Leopard dog watched us leave from the upstairs bedroom window, while Dakota the Australian Cattle Dog/Husky mix looked out from the downstairs kitchen window.
The dog collar spy cam filled in the blanks on what happened once we disappeared out of sight. Dakota, who’d been a rescue dog that was shuffled off from place to place including two stints at the dog shelter during her first few months of life, paced for most of the time that we were gone. Round and round and round she went in a giant figure eight.
Our kitchen has both an eating table and an island, adjoined by a dining room with another table, plus smaller tables in the living room all in an open floor plan. This made for difficulty with dog training but the layout was ideal for a dog who wanted to pace for hours on end.
Dakota laid down a couple of times but even then, her head was up and she looked around as if watching and waiting. Even the windows held little interest and her interactions with our Catahoula dog were brief and uneventful. The two dogs sat side by side looking out the window but Dakota quickly grew bored and went back to her pacing.
She stopped several times to drink water, which did not end up as potty in the house as it would have in the early days, and she chose her resting locations differently than when we were home. Dakota liked to snooze upstairs but the dog collar video camera showed her camping out in the living room or dining room, usually with a bird’s eye view of the door we’d come in. This was a clue as to what she was thinking about – our return home.
The only deviations were to sniff the Christmas presents sitting on the fireplace hearth, sniff a known treat location, and lick a milk jug. We played Find It games with the dogs where we’d hide dog treats for them to search out. This was a fun dog game and sometimes they didn’t find all the treats which made for interesting diversions when we were gone.
Whether Dakota sniffed around the Christmas presents just to see what they were, or whether she was hoping to find a dog treat, I don’t know. We did hide dog treats on and around the hearth for the Find It game and as soon as she was done sniffing the presents she went and sniffed the other treat location hoping to get lucky.
Watching her lick the milk jug was unexpected. When we first adopted her, empty milk jugs had been one of the items we had to train her to leave alone. Now we could leave them sitting on the floor next to the garbage can without worry as she hadn’t bothered a milk jug in years. Perhaps she was remembering those early days when she gave the milk jug a couple of quick licks. She did not attempt to chew it or move it from where it sat.
All in all the impression I got was that Dakota was bored as she wandered aimlessly, pacing and watching the door for us to come home. A conversation I had about the dog video with a girl who I’ll call Lauren turned out to be very enlightening.
Lauren didn’t do well with dogs and her dogs were so awful that nobody wanted to dog sit when she went on vacation. For years I’d listened to her sob stories of bad dogs pottying, chewing, barking, and not listening to her. Of course she considered it the dog’s fault rather than her own for not taking time to train the dogs, which is an all too common problem.
I’d given her a copy of the book Bad Dog to Best Friend in the hopes of guiding Lauren into a more positive relationship with her dogs, but two months later she still hadn’t read the book.
I hoped that telling her about Dakota’s boring dog video would prompt her to get busy reading, and she asked what Dakota did when we were home that was less boring.
I told her we played dog games such as the Find It game, interacted with the dogs both physically and by talking to them, and how even feeding time was turned into a training game. I told her that Bad Dog to Best Friend described some of the games and training exercises.
Lauren replied, “It sounds time consuming.” By the tone of her voice it was obvious that she wasn’t on board with investing time in her bad dogs.
Lauren’s attitude got me thinking about all the people I knew who were happy with their dog’s behavior versus those who were frustrated like Lauren. The happy dog owners all had one thing in common: they spent quality time with their dogs.
That’s when I realized why Lauren hadn’t read Bad Dog to Best Friend. As long as she avoided the subject, she could continue to complain about her bad dogs. She didn’t want to feel obligated to engage in the “time consuming” task that being a good dog owner entailed. Lauren did not want to learn something new that would help both her and the dogs. It was so much easier to complain about her dog’s misdeeds.
Taking time out to interact with your dogs, play games, and train the dogs goes such a long way in improving their behavior. Dakota was willing to be a good dog when we were gone because she got a payout when we came home of spending happy time with us, not to mention having freedom when we were gone versus being in a dog crate.
Take away the fun dog games, head and belly scratches, treats, dog training games, talking to her, and all the little things we did to include her in our human pack and what incentive did Dakota have for being a good dog? None. Dogs need incentives just like people. They need something fun to look forward to, which carries them through a boring day. Otherwise, why be good dogs?
You have the power to redefine your dogs. You can be like Lauren whose dogs are so awful that nobody wants to be around them, including Lauren. Or you can be like me and my husband, whose dog time brings us joy and laughter and happiness. Once you get the hang of how to interact with your dogs, all the dogs in your future will be good dogs.
|If you know someone like Lauren who needs a boost in how to interact with their dog, give them this book. Dakota was a semi-adult shelter dog who was the Queen of Bad Behavior and the Master of Dirty Tricks when we adopted her. Bad Dog to Best Friend takes you from Dakota’s awful beginnings to her amazing transformation, and includes detailed how-to’s for potty training an adult dog and stopping your dog from chewing your house to pieces.|
Bad Dog to Best Friend: The Book
Category: Dog Tails of Adventure