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Pack Life and Cabin Fever

Posted on 02/06/09 5 Comments

John and I are living in this tiny little apt above a garage right now. We have been here for about 8 months while we are having a new house built. We used to let students use it when they were here for camps or lessons. For an overnight or a four day camp, it really is nice. For a year, perhaps it’s attraction lacks a little. It used to be called the “Crash Pad” named after one of John’s dogs (and because people crashed here over night). I now am calling it the Love Shack hoping positive thinking will predict only good things happening between two people living so close to each other for so long! It is one room, with two walls that separate out of the privacy of a bathroom. I would guess if you take away the space that is being occupied by our furniture there would be less than 200 sq ft of space to move around, and we share that space with our 4 dogs. On top of it, it is winter here. Yesterday it was -31 C when I took the dogs out in the morning, yes welcome to Canada. Poor Buzzy struggled on his walk so John decided I can’t take him anymore and when I take the dogs walking the field he will take Buzzy and walk equal time in the building (no 5′ snow drifts for poor Buzzy to try and struggle through). I think it is a great idea as I have try to get John to do some regular exercise and this could be the answer (at least for the winter). My dogs get cabin fever as much as anyone.  There is only one window in this apt that is low enough for them to look out of and it over looks the driveway, not alot of wild life playing there. Over the 8 months living in such tight quarters we have some naughty behaviours develop.  DeCaff has decided there is more room on the furniture than on the floor and so she (errr and Feature:)) have decided to do their lounging on our bed or the small couch that occupy most of the room in this apt. I can deal with that when we move into the new house. The one thing I can’t wait to deal with is the aggression developing when someone comes to the door. In order to knock on our door you first have to climb about 18 stairs. This gives the pack enough warning to start to whip themselves into a frenzy. When I observed this craziness recently, someone knocks, John goes to the door with the pack screaming as they trail behind him. DeCaff jumps up and takes a few nips at Buzzy’s face and recently Encore has done the same with Feature. Then John grabs Buzz’s collar to hold him back as he opens the door, at the same time pushing DeCaff back with his foot. All the more to get the dogs hysteria maximized. Ever seen drive work be trained? It isn’t much different. Funny enough if John is not here and someone knocks. Buzz is the only one that goes crazy. The other 3 take the lead from me. I have taken to not answering the door if any of the others are being unruly (I apologize profusely to those that I have made wait in the cold:)). Then I calmly walk to the door. However this has not tempered Buzz’s craziness to much. So last night I set him up and had Lynda and Penny (two of my instructors) rehearse coming to the door. I gave Buzz a target of a bed and threw cookies to him there for staying. I will first get him to not charge the door and then work on is ever-ready voice. In just a few reps we have it better already. Ideally it would be better to work on this one dog at a time, however that would require another room to put the rest of the pack.  I know the results will be slower this way but I am confident I can turn things around.

Enjoy your weekend. We are all off to a trial this morning.

Today I am grateful the windows are getting installed in the new house, one step closer to leaving this tiny abode behind.


  1. sharon empson says:
    Sunday, November 13, 2011 at 5:02pm

    I have trained my dogs to go to their mats when someone comes over. It is extremely hard for them. THey get rewards for staying on their mats. It began with mat training then progressed now to when someone come in the door they are learning to immediately go to their mats. My parson’s russel mix has the hardest time. We are still working on it every day.
    It is hard for people to not ooh and awwh over the dogs, which is very tempting for them. I instruct the visitors each time they come in. One day I too will be able to walk over to the door with confidence seeing my pups all lined up on their mat, obediently waiting for release.

    Thnks for sharing your story sharon empson


  2. Astrid says:
    Saturday, November 12, 2011 at 11:37pm

    Tough situation but a really nice to read posting. thankyou… keeping my fingers crossed for you


  3. Trudie says:
    Friday, February 6, 2009 at 1:05pm

    And where is your computer, I’m trying to picture your room… My doggie is sitting on my lap for a little quality rub and the way he’s staring at the screen it looks like he’s pretending to read some ‘o that naughty stuff !


  4. lori says:
    Friday, February 6, 2009 at 6:47am

    Hi Susan. I’m a recent reader and I’ve really been enjoying your posts. Do you ever have a post where you take random reader behavior questions (well, behavior of the dog, not the reader)?


  5. Cassy says:
    Friday, February 6, 2009 at 6:31am

    It’s hard to think of Buzz as growing up. I read Shaping for Success and in my mine he is still the wild funny dog from the book. Hope the house is done soon.


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