Adventures with Dexter: Day 8

There are as many opinions about dog training as there are breeds of dogs.  Like any human endeavor, we are always looking for the Holy Grail of (insert your interest here) when the simple fact of the matter, there are no Holy Grails:   Not in dog training,parenting, managing, lawyering, cooking accounting, doctoring or Indian Chiefing.  However, there are always some fundamental precepts that are important to know and follow in whatever it is that we chose to undertake. I'll have more to say about this later.

June was such a benign month.  I was merely learning Sequel, Databases and Crystal reports. In August, I'm immersed in how to train a dog that someone else gave up on. We are in Day 8 of our Adventures with Dexter.

Part of Dexter's 'problem' is that he's 'going through a phase"--adolescence.  Here's a great explanation of the stages of a dog and how it differs from one dog to another.

On average, smaller dogs mature faster and live longer than larger breeds; bigger dogs mature later and generally know shorter spans of adulthood and senior citizenship. That said, every dog develops and ages at her own rate. The following is a rough breakdown of the stages of canine life:
  • Puppyhood ends between six and 18 months of age.
  • Adolescence starts between six and 18 months of age.
  • Adulthood starts between 12 months and three years of age.
  • The senior years begin between six and 10 years of age.

I know this from parenting:  part of success is avoiding failure!  You would have better results finding a unicorn than looking for a teachable moment in taking a tired, hungry child shopping with you and expecting to reinforce good behavior. Did you know?  A great many of the dogs that end up in shelters are in this stage.  If there were human shelters, no doubt, a great many parents would turn their teenagers in.  The idea is for all parties to 'survive' this stage without harming themselves or each other--either physically or emotionally.  Well, that's all I'm hoping for at this point.

I have three senior dogs.  One adolescent allipython.  He's interested in chewing everything, not just the chewing toys that I have purchased--which frankly have not held his interest long.  (Nylabones, etc).  He gnawed the cord off of my paper shredder.  I think that he was fortunate that (1) it was not plugged in  Or (2) he managed to unplug it before.  Geez...that could have been a problem.

Time to pull in the big guns.  This a.m. (between paragraphs) I visited Northstar Farms on line. They have a smoked bone bundle for $118 that is shipped for free.  I'll write a review upon receiving it.  Here's what it includes--and that includes free shipping.  Frankly it is a bit hard to comparison shop with other places, but it appears that the Ask the Meatman  also has offerings.  While there is a range of what the sizes are for the products, I'm not quite clear how many pounds the total offer is there.  Nevertheless, Here's what Northstar Farms offers--and I liked the variety.  From their website:

21 lbs of Smoked Bones for your 4 legged friend!
  • 4 Beef Whole Knuckles
  • 8 Beef Shanks, 3-4 inches
  • 8 Bison Lower Shanks, 3-4 inches
  • 8 Bison 1/2 Knuckles
  • 2 Elk Lower Shanks, 2-3 inches
  • 2 Elk Whole Knuckles

I think that I can get alot of chewing hours out of these, AND save some valued household and personal items.  Not that the price is cheap...but it's cheaper than eye glasses, furniture and other beloved things/

There's lots of information on the web about making your own dog toys.  (Best to re-purpose items to make them unrecognizable.  No need to give your dog a sock or t-shirt without accoutrements.   A sock with a sponge in it is a fun toy).

While I await my Kong super bouncy ball to arrive in the mail today, I am desperate this a.m.  (post the shredder's unscheduled "cordectomy") to find something that Dexter will find interesting--and I can use to wear him out PRIOR to my being worn out.  I remembered that I had some old burlap coffee sacks that we used in my daughter's wedding that I bought for $1 at the salvage store.  Into the garage for materials to go 'dog fishing'.

To be sure, it needs some finessing, but within just a short while of foraging I 
"Dog Fishing Burlap Lure"
  • located burlap.  Cut it into a 8" wide band with Fiskars.  (Broke the Fiskars, but job was done.)
  • Searched for a suitable handle.  Found an old mop left by owners at one of the rehab projects.
  • Searched for 'whip' material.  Found some flexible green vinyl covered wire that was both strong and easy to work with.
I tied the wire around the burlap in the middle to have a floppy, but dog-safe end.  (My first attempt was not well thought out and came loose.  My second attempt scored.)  Fastened it to my pole (some more engineering is needed here).  Out to dog test.

Well, this contraption was quite the hit.  With but a flick of the arm, burlap could be tossed hither and yon.  The ratio of my energy spent v. his energy spent was about 1:300 -- those are good odds when it is but 8 a.m. in the morning. No high work....I just kept it down on the ground.

I let him catch it a few times.  He gave it a good shake (which is why I keep him on a lead at home around my cats).  He then pulled hard.  I had quite a bit of leverage and the wire was wrapped around a sturdy pole.  Once we topped playing tug of war, he then promptly started biting and pulling back hard; hence the 'shredding'.  Hey, I don't care, this was about 1/6th of one bag, and I have 15 of these. 

The green, vinyl covered wire cannot hurt his teeth, or poke his eye, and I have to believe that it is unbreakable.  I hope that he does not tire of this too quickly.

I understand that I have as much to learn as he does. First and foremost, I need to learn to be patient, keep his escalating behavior in check by keeping my own escalating emotions under control. A bit of reprogramming for both of us. 


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