I should have known there was truth from the common phrase, “Let sleeping dogs lie.”
Things were going well here with our new addition. Slowly we began adjusting our routines to fit Riley into the family. There were some bumps along the way, sure. But isn’t that to be expected?
I mean, the whole “eating the cake off the counter” thing happened, but you have to give the dog some credit. He did wait a whole 20 hours with them justing sitting there, tempting him, before he did it. I think the only reason Country Boy didn’t eat all of the pieces himself is because he was sleeping/working for most of the time they were there.
And, sure, we had the “getting the scraps out of the garbage” thing. I have been trying to think back to a time when I reclaimed something that a loved one inadvertently just threw away (because, honestly, haven’t we all done that maybe once?), but my mind is blanking. I do recall two close friends going after the scraps in a cake box that was just tossed. In their defense, they had just served that cake for the previous 40 minutes and no one saved them a piece. Still, they did it, and I think they’re normal people. I wasn’t thinking that they needed any additional obedience training.(My sister who walked in on them eating it might not agree, but that’s beside the point.)
So why didn’t I just leave well enough alone with Riley? Well, the main reason was that he nearly pulled Zoe down the street last week and Madeline almost was walked into a garage. I thought that maybe if I knew a little, teeny tiny bit more about training, I could help make the walks better.
Instead, I talked with my good friend, Googie (I’m so tight with Google that I can call it that) and discovered the gazillion things I was doing wrong as an owner. I was being too lenient of a leader with Riley. I was heading him down a path of unhappiness and ill manners. I needed to change my ways and exert my dominant role with him. I needed to become….(cue the exciting music)…an Alpha Momma.
Several clicks later and I was learning the top 25 things a dog owner needs to know to be the Alpha Momma and have the proper behaving pet. These were things I had no clue that I had been doing wrong. Things like:
- Do not let your dog enter a room, go down stairs, or through a doorway before you. Have you ever tried to stop a 120 beast who really, REALLY needs to go potty from running out a doorway? We’re working on this one, but I’m giving him some slack at times.
- Look them in the eye and do not be the first one to avert your gaze or they will think you’re weak. That was followed up with a warning to not have your kids get into a staring contest with your pet. Good to note. Again, I’m working on this. Picture to prove it:
- Feed your dog after you feed your family. Make sure he sees you with food and eat it near his bowl so he thinks you’re eating from it. Considering I get him up a half hour before the girls, this one is tough. I’m happy to eat a breakfast bar in front of the dude, but not sure I really want to do it next to his bowl.
- Reward him for tricks – roll over, crawl – but not for behavior – no jumping, sit, stay. OK, this one seems like something I can do.
- Stay calm and use very little words for your commands no matter what the situation. Dude, if I could master that, I might make Country Boy the happiest man alive. Stay calm AND fewer words coming out of my mouth? That’s his definition of heaven I think. Just not realistic for me. It’s not in my genes.
- When taking them for walk, do not let them walk ahead of you. They must be just off your hip and slightly behind. You must lead the way. Do not let them walk ahead of your children either. They must know that they are NOT the alpha dog. You and every other member of the family is Alpha. OK, this one was good advice. Riley was a little on the “take me for a walk” side of things. It was this tip that made me think I should really try something new.
Starting on Wednesday, operation Alpha Momma was begun. Poor dog didn’t know what hit him. Suddenly I was staring at him and making him stay in the basement until I got fully up the stairs. I was using the gentle leader leash on him and making him sit whenever he tried to pull ahead on walks. I wasn’t letting him get his mark in at the tree where Zeus likes to mark. I was eating bars in front of him when he was dying to have his food.
Wednesday Riley had his version of a spaz out. It was probably close to being as bad as it was the first full day he got here. He didn’t know which was was up and was jumpy. I was second guessing myself. Not good.
Thursday seemed to be moving towards getting back into a groove. Still jumpy. Still second guessing.
Today, there are still challenges to who is Alpha. He won’t listen to me all of the time. But, walks are better. There’s less sniffing every 10 feet or running ahead, and my shoulder thanks me for the change.
Morning meals are pretty much the same, but he does sit well until I get the food into the bowl.
We’re working on getting him to wait to got through a door until we’re through. I thought Zoe was going to be run over last night. We’ve all had a laugh when he’s tried to sneak up the stairs when I have told him to stay. Maybe the girls will start to see how easily I catch him and remember that when they try sneaking out as teenagers.
He does seem to listen to the girls with their commands. Zoe was able to get him to wait for her to get up the stairs and she gets him to sit well. Madeline was able to get him to come and drop the ball.
Best of success of all? The big dude was heading to the pond but instead came to me when I called him. I gave him a treat after that and I am embracing the Alpha Momma role. Maybe I can teach a couple of old dogs – myself and Riley – some new tricks.
And, if it really works, maybe I’ll start using it on the kids and Country Boy, too. They might not like scratches behind the ears as a reward, but I bet I can figure something out.