Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Back to Basics

Anyone who knows me at all, knows how much I love my dogs, Lucy and Ricky.
Ricky Ricardo
Lucy McGilicuddy
When I first got them, I worked really hard to train them good manners and funny little tricks.  For about the first year of their lives raising them to be sweet, well behaved dogs was my job. 

During our extended trip in Asheville this month, every day is a new and big adventure- Lucy and Ricky have gone on walks and hikes in wonderful new places, with all kinds of new scents, they've been staying in a different house, they even got to stay one night in a hotel, they've been to a farm, they've been to a lake, they've been to a few restaurants, and they've met lots of new people and dogs.  And that all sounds exciting and stimulating, right?

And it IS. But too much of a good thing, as we've heard before, is NOT a good thing. All this excitement hasn't brought Lucy and Ricky joy, but instead, anxiety.  Slightly bad habits they've slid into little by little over the past few years have become very apparent this month.

They do okay when it's just a one-on-one situation (as in ME, with ONE of them), but when Fermin and I take one of them, or even worse, when Fermin and I take both of them somewhere, all hell breaks loose and our world becomes an unrehearsed and very chaotic circus act.  Ricky has started doing this yodeling/howling thing when we take him to a spot where he sees other people or animals.  Lucy barks, and also starts nipping at Ricky, I think trying to discipline him.  Oh, it may sound cute, but it is NOT cute.

Last night was the final straw.  We tried taking them on a nice little stroll around the lake nearby our house after dinner.  They were barking, howling and pulling on their leashes so much that we had to skip the lake and instead just walk the streets, away from where other people were.  It was embarrassing because I know enough to realize that NONE of this is their fault.  It's all on me.  I've dropped the ball and something has gone very, very wrong in the dog behavior department around here.

I felt so ashamed, and also so desperate.  When we move here, I want to be able to take them out hiking with the whole family, not just one at a time.  I want them to get to go with us to dog friendly patios.  I want them to get to meet new people and make friends.  But for that to ever happen, I know I need some help.

So, I texted my friend Ashley late last night.  She's a talented dog trainer and I knew she'd have some good tips for me.

Not only did she have good tips, she had a lot of great articles and videos she shared with me.  And she suggested I work with a dog trainer she thought would be great for our specific problems.  I started looking at some of the stuff she sent me today and I feel so excited.  And hopeful.  I know how smart Lucy and Ricky are.  And I know they aim to please.

I've thrown so many knew things at them all at once during this month in Asheville.  I was expecting way too much from them. It wasn't fair.

So here we go.  Back to square one.  Puppy steps for them, baby steps for me.  We'll figure this out.

More moments like THIS, coming soon.

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