In my personal quest for physical fitness, I have many lofty goals: triathlons, marathons and getting my youngest hound to behave nicely. Let me explain that last one…Tetsy, our youngest dog in age and in family member status has several behavioral problems. It’s all the parents’ fault, as is usually the case; Jerritt and I didn’t work on socializing him and once he started showing signs of being unable to cope with certain situations, we removed him from those situations instead of working to correct his embarrassing behaviors. Hey, give us a break, we have FOUR dogs! But even so, we really should have gotten him used to seeing people instead of hiding him away once he decided that strangers are scary and out to get him and take away everything he loves. Maybe if we had taken preventative measures, we would be dealing with a well-mannered handsome hound instead of the fearful, howling, maniac that we have now. We took the easy way out and now we’re paying for it. Let this be a lesson to all you dog parents out there.
So although people-hating isn’t the only problem we’re dealing with right now, it’s the most disconcerting. Last month we had a trainer over and she graciously evaluated his behavior. I could have crawled under the couch and hidden when Tetsy freaked out on her. He howled and barked and could not settle down while this invader was inside his house. We were barely able to hear her advice over his baying, which I guess was to let us know that this person was STILL inside and would not make a move to leave despite his protests. And so it goes when the seldom guest comes over. Tetsy has to be hidden away like the red-headed stepchild and people have to be told to please ignore the racket coming from the back room. Not one of his more endearing qualities (which he has lots of, by the way).
Though the trainer did not say it aloud, I could tell from her expression that we had let this get far beyond out of control. Enter Mission: Reclamation of Control. My project is this:
1. Exercise the Tetsy.
2. Gradually expose him to unfamiliar situations.
3. As he becomes able to cope, introduce people to the mix.
Jerritt and I have theorized that A) He does not get the exercise he needs. While our older dogs are pretty content to lay around the house all day with the occasional romp in the yard, Tetsy is young and virile and needs to get all that pent-up energy out. (Lab owners will know exactly what I mean.) And B) We have not done our responsibility as parents by taking him out and showing him that the world is not so big and bad. And believe me, if you want any chance of getting a stubborn hound to sit once excited, you need the handicap of having him worn out.
So since my running had recently taken the back burner to biking and swimming, I am taking Tetsy along for my short runs so that we can work on commands, exercise, socialization and bonding.
He is doing great ☺. Since Chloe, Paco and Misha cannot run a full mile without tiring out, I’m looking to Tetsy to fill the void I had always felt when people would tell me that they run 5 miles with their dogs every day. I love running with Tet-tet. He stays on my left, looks to me for direction and has only tried to pull me down a couple times to infiltrate the squirrels’ diabolical world. He loves being outside (it’s what he was bred for) and spending some one-on-one time with his mom (though he does not love the car ride there. It displeases him so much, in fact, that he has pooped in the car). He now seems to be more apt to listen when I tell him to sit and sleeps when we get home instead of barking out the window. And it’s only been 2 weeks! Generally, life with exercised dogs is good and I’m hoping it just gets better and better.
If you run with your dogs or not, heat stroke is a real risk now that Florida is heating up. Here are some tips to keeping your dog safe:
1. Never, ever, leave your dog unattended in the car. It only takes minutes for the temperature inside a car to reach 10-20 degrees hotter than it is outside.
2. Watch for symptoms: excessive panting, red or white gums, vomiting, weakness, dizziness.
3. Always have fresh, cool water for your dogs to drink. If you think your dog may be overheated, move him/her to shade, rinse with cool (not cold) water and monitor temperature.