Recently I added a purebred Newfoundland puppy to my life. She has quickly grown into a sizable and determined individual. I estimate she weighs about 65-70 pounds and is 22 weeks old. In her pedigree is the dog that is in the Guiness Book of World Records for strongest dog. Yikes. More on that later.
Yesterday, I posted about dog jealousy and raised a question of how to actually define and measure jealous behavior as a first step toward scientific inquiry. This morning I still haven't got a clue. I haven't spent any time thinking about it either. Perhaps these two things are related?
I have observed that my new Newfy is quite a problem solver. This morning marked the third morning that she has pawed my other dog's head when he refused to sit on command before I dish out their food. I always make them sit now to prevent a repeat performance of the Happy Hippos Game when Miss Exuberance jumps in excitement at the appearance of a full bowl and noses it, sending the pieces flying in a thousand directions only to be hoovered up by the wrong dog. Now that she has to sit, we haven't had any more spilled dishes. They thing is that I have both of them sit. Why? I ask myself this every time Mr Curmudgeon just stands there refusing to sit. He does eventually sit, though sometimes I have to ask 3-4 times (even though my hand signal is staring him in the face so he can't 'forget' what he has to do) or prompt him with a tap on his bum. She sits right away and then has to wait what must seem like forever before she gets the reward for sitting. In the meantime, she gets frustrated - I think it's safe to say - judging by her moan-yelps and her paws to his head. I tell her "good dog" sometimes and wonder if this is a good idea because he might be taking that as a reward for not sitting, and other times I pat her on the head. The thing is, she appears to know exactly what the problem is - HIM. With every tap on his head she seems to be saying "Hey Mister, you gotta sit now!" It is adorable, funny, and very clever of her.
Back to Miss SmartyPants the Incredibly Strong Dog - She tugs at the leash with all of her strength ONLY when our other dog walks with us. The rest of the time she walks on a loose lead to my left like she's supposed to. I have a choke chain collar for her which has helped a lot. It takes most of my strength to keep her in line. Lately she has started to dart off the sidewalk to try to catch pine cones, grass clumps, leaves, sticks, walnut husks, etc. The lateral movement really pulls a number on my back and I have a strong back. She is just going to get bigger and more unmanagable, but I refuse to admit defeat and walk them separately, so I have got to find a clever solution to this canine problem.
I get tired of saying no and jerking at the collar, but really what else can I do? Persist I suppose. My willpower over hers. I have also got to give her more exercise during the day. That has not been a priority over the past two weeks. I have been busy with other things. In short, I need to prioritize that until we get this solved. I know I'm doing the basics correctly, I just have to be tenacious with her training and give her more exercise.
On that note - lunch (!) followed by running around the quad... I mean Ankeny.