Charlotte Peltz Living with Your Dog "Hi! I'm Home!!" brought to you by Joy Beckner Artist/ Bronze Sculptor

Living with Your Dog

Hi! I'm Home!!

By Charlotte Peltz

On the wings of these words, Bonkers comes bounding from the garden, and bounces off of the chest of the newly arrived, feeling-very-guilty, bi-ped of the household. Ah, yes, just another of the wonderful welcomes they enjoy. Enjoy?

Well, maybe we need to evaluate that for a moment. Adoring Andy does indeed love his canine buddy. And, equally, he feels guilty for being away for such a long time. The greeting of Bonkers is A.A.'s way to help make up for his time away. So far so good. Sort of. The big problem is that Bonkers is getting more and more boisterous with these greetings, and as he gains weight and agility, A.A. is in a losing battle to stay on his feet each time he enters the house.

This is "jumping" taken to its limits, I'd say.

Starting with the guilt -- a little goes a long way. Better to take that energy and direct it to a productive outcome. Is Bonkers getting enough exercise to sustain his needs for those extended periods alone? If not -- clearly that must be addressed. We are very fortunate to have some experienced dog-walkers right here in San Miguel, and the prices are certainly competitive. Watch out, Manhattan! There is little doubt in my mind that most of the behavior problems that people encounter with their dogs could and would be solved if the dogs had enough outlets for their energy. Exercise and toys come to mind immediately.

Then, the exits -- departures, if you prefer -- must be kept low-key. Just a "See ya later," will do. Now, here comes the biggee that causes all kinds of problems for people: No big entrances. Yup. Just walk in and keep going. That is, if you are still on your feet. If not -- pick yourself up, dust yourself off and begin again. Do not say a word -- no, not even the ones you wish to mutter under your breath!

Whatever it is to which you give attention will be repeated. Please write that 50 times on the blackboard.

If you want uneventful, non-jumping entrances, this is a good way to start. I repeat, "start." Next is that you must reward a behavior that is satisfactory in exchange for the maniacal presentations you usually get. Sad to say, this is where about 90% of the people fail the course. They holler, yell, knee the chest, and in general act as though they, too, are enjoying the chaos of the entrance. The big thing here is that the person who enters really and truly believes that the dog understands, but will not cooperate and -- guess what? -- the dog reads it the very same way! "Gee -- if I could just get this person to settle for a moment s/he would know I simply want to say, 'Hello' and say how much I missed him/her."
It is your choice. The dog has no choice without your help.

"One can measure the size and moral progress of a nation to how she treats her animals." Mahatma Gandhi.

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