If you didn't read my first blog about Lexie, the foster who has been living with me for the past three weeks, then this video will probably just look like another cute dog video. BUT...
If you read my giant rant about Lexie, then you are sure to be impressed by how much progress this amazing lady has made.
This beautiful and sweet Weimaraner is definitely ready to move into her forever home. She's still full of energy since she's only one year old, but she's super intelligent and has so much love to give.
Be sure to check out the Great Lakes Weimaraner Resuce page to learn more about how you can welcome Lexie (or another deserving Weim) into your family!
About two weeks ago I welcomed Lexie to live with Gatsby, Dr Seuss and me until she finds her forever home. She is a very energetic sweet lady who has sadly lacked any structure during the first year of her life.
Our focus for the first week was adding structure to Lexie's life through introducing her to a schedule, leash walks and crate training which went hand-in-hand with potty training. Let me get on my soapbox for a moment and remind everyone that putting your dog out in the backyard for a couple hours unsupervised is NOT appropriate enrichment and exercise. Dogs look for a pack leader to challenge them and initiate exercise and play - that's where we are supposed to come into the picture. They WANT us to give them a "job".
Okay, moving on. As you probably know by now, my approach with dogs is very direct and all about consistent exposure and reinforcement. It is my belief that dogs, like humans, learn through repetition and positive experiences but also require someone to push them outside their comfort zone to grow and mature. We need to give our dogs more credit and stop babying them as if they might "break" when confronted with a challenge.
For Lexie, the introduction of boundaries and structures has translated into actual physical boundaries through crate desensitization both while I am out of the house and even while I am home doing work. Does this mean she should be in a crate 24/7 to figure out that it's okay? Most definitely NOT. It's all about balance. Currently Lexie probably is spending about 16 to 20 hours out of each day inside her crate. Yes, you read that correctly, she is spending close to 20 hours of each day in her crate, BUT for the 4 to 8 hours she is out of the crate, she is at the park on a 30-foot lead running with Gatsby, going on runs with Gatsby and me, practicing important skills like "stay" and "come" with me one-on-one, playing at the off-leash dog park, etc. Thanks to this intense attention while she is out of the crate, she is very ready for a nice long nap in her crate in between "workouts".
Before you call PETA, please focus on the results. One week ago, Lexie required 3 baths per day along with 3 full deep cleanings of her crate. Why? After being in her crate for only 20 minutes, she would pee and/or poop and proceed to pace through it out of nervous energy. Her barking was also a very apparent sign of her obvious lack of familiarity to structure and independence. This display occurred even when her bladder should have been completely empty. Today, Lexie willingly walks into her crate where she is greeted by lots of enrichment (aka toys), and for the past week she and her crate have remained clean and dry. Comparing the Lexie I knew two weeks ago to the Lexie I know today, I would have to say she is MUCH happier with her new boundary-filled life.
The other obvious sign of Lexie's lack of structure prior to moving in with me, is her diligent and even dangerous resource guarding habits. Please keep in mind that a dog is much more relaxed and comfortable if they have an idea of what to expect on the daily agenda - aka a structured schedule. For Lexie, the uncertainty of what time her next meal might come or whether she would get her toy back after having it taken away coupled with her inability to identify the pack leader (because none was ever introduced to her) resulted in a nervousness and aggression even when she was drinking water. Lexie would physically shake while growling when she ate or drank, and she would lash out at anyone (or any dog) who tried to approach her during that time.
THE GREAT NEWS is that thanks to consistent work and positive reinforcement, Lexie has stopped the shaking, growling and snapping with toys, water and food. The breakthrough for food guarding came from an awesome tip from the super talented Cis Frankel (www.canineintelligenceagency.com). Cis is not only an amazingly talented trainer based in Chicago but also a recognized Weimaraner breeder. As fate would have it, Gatsby, Lexie and I bumped into Cis in the park, and she suggested putting only small amounts of Lexie's food into her bowl while she was eating. This turned feeding from night to day! After only one feeding where I would continually dispense a small handful into her bowl as she ate, Lexie allowed me to start grabbing her bowl and removing it while she is eating. Coming from a dog who actually bit me only a few days ago during food desensitization, this is HUGE! THANK YOU SO MUCH CIS!!!!
So I realize this has probably been my longest post to date, but Lexie has also been both my biggest challenge and success, so I thought it only fair to dedicate a longer initial post to this superstar in the making! I can't emphasize enough how amazingly sweet she is
Don't forget to check out the Great Lakes Weimaraner Resuce page to learn more about how you can welcome Lexie (or another deserving Weim) into your family!
Christmas morning started off quite rough at the Get Pet "chateau" as Rolfe and I began the day with an argument about whether or not he needed to get off the bed. This meant that a training session was mandatory before anything else could happen, but that completely connected with Rolfe and he made huge progress today!
1. He ate both of his meals in full - that's a first in the week he's been with me.
2. He stopped trying to eat Dr. Seuss and actually cuddled up with him on my bed for a nap.
3. He successfully stayed on his bed (with Gatsby at his side) for 30 minutes without trying to break and eventually fell asleep curled up next to Gatsby.
4. He finally let loose a little and played chase with Gatsby, Tugboat and Chainsaw at the dog park.
He still has a lot of work to do, but I'm super proud of this affectionate little man. Enjoy the pictures and video from our crazy fun Christmas day!
And REMEMBER THAT ROLFE IS AVAILABLE FOR ADOPTION! Visit http://www.great-lakes-weimaraner-rescue.com/application-requests.htm to get your application process started
This blog is dedicated to all my clients who have endured a very loud barking dog in a crate and argued with me that it's impossible to overcome. Rolfe is not super happy about being in his crate and works very hard to let me know that he's there whenever I return home.
As I've told my clients, consistent practice of stay will build confidence/independence and ultimately resolve other behavioral issues. In time and with consistent training, Rolfe will also learn to curb his noisy calls for attention as he gains confidence, and I want my clients who think I don't understand because Gatsby is "perfect" to know that I am right there with you now. Rolfe, like any dog introduced to a new environment, will certainly test my patience, but it's my job to provide him with clear and consistent messages. He is super smart and he's got Gatsby to help teach him so he'll be great if I don't mess up :-)
Our training began with "Stay" because I truly believe that a dog's ability to master "stay" and "watch me" are the keys to a strong training foundation. Rolfe successfully stayed in his crate for a total of 5 minutes today with only a few reminders, and we will work up to 30+ minutes over the next few weeks.
He did very well overall for his first day. I was actually able to move away, sit down at my desk and take my attention off of him for part of the time. He did "sneak" out at one point, but he quickly returned to the crate when asked. After the pre-determined 5-minute duration, I released them both by simply saying "ok, come".
In the short clip below, notice how Gatsby's attention is nearly 100% fixed the entire time with only a brief glance at Rolfe to check in on how he's doing. Also, please ignore my lovely outfit of medical scrub pants and a t-shirt...it was a long day :-)
Rolfe has officially survived more than 24 hours in our crazy household. When I left this morning to go walk dogs, he barked in disagreement, but when I came home he was quietly napping.
Although he doesn't seem to be overly interested in playing with Gatsby yet, the two of them are definitely getting along well. I just need to teach him that Dr. Seuss is not tasty :-( Thank goodness Dr Seuss is such a chill understanding kitty; I'm sure that Rolfe will figure that out soon enough.
Since it snowed today (again), I decided to put Rolfe on the 30-foot lead and let him run "free" at the park with Gatsby. Rolfe seemed apprehensive about it all, but he did just arrive so I wouldn't expect much more from him.
On our way home from the park we met a bulldog named Lenny who was vicious to poor Gatsby but seemed to love Rolfe. Right now Gatsby is napping in my bed and Rolfe is curled up on the very edge of his bed. I caught him yawning (the picture above)...too cute!
Don't forget to visit www.GreatLakesWeimRescue.com to learn more about how to adopt Rolfe or another Weimaraner who needs a forever home.
Hugo decided to join Gatsby, Meshach Rolfe and me for the afternoon, and there's nothing quite like seeing four large dogs completely passed out after an hour at the park. Whoever said that large dogs are not suited for apartment living clearly never exercised his or her dogs...all the large breeds I know LOVE to nap.
Two separate pictures because Rolfe chose to snuggle up under my desk at my feet while I did some work while the "grown ups" took all the beds.
Our first foster, Rolfe, from Great Lakes Weimaraner Rescue just arrived at the Get Pet "chateau". Rolfe is a 13-month-old mouse-grey male, and I can already tell he's got a super sweet disposition. He seems to be a quick learner; Gatsby should have an easy job teaching him the ropes. I'm sure he's going to fit into the family perfectly while he's here, but the goal is to find him a forever home.
Meshach was staying with Gatsby, Dr. Seuss and me this weekend, so it's kind of Weimaraner central right now at the house, but everyone got along splendidly right out of the gate. As I type this, Gatsby and Meshach are napping and Rolfe is sitting attentively next to me.
We are dedicated to helping Rolfe prepare for his forever family, and I encourage you to keep checking in to see how he's progressing - I will do my best to provide regular updates and photos as Rolfe learns all about being a dog in Chicago.
Also, if you or someone you know, have always wished Gatsby could be your dog, Rolfe is your chance to have the next best thing :-), Be sure to check out the GLWR website at www.greatlakesweimrescue.com to learn more about how they are helping Weimaraners and for information about adopting a Weimaraner.
Growing up in the country in Pennsylvania gave me tons of experience with animals from a very early age. I later pursued a career in horseback riding and also have experience as a veterinary technician. I have a strong passion for animals and have an uncanny ability to connect with all sorts of furry friends.