We have been working on a two-part skill called Take It and Hold for some months now. This one is tricky for the dogs because they have to take a PVC dowel in their mouths right behind the canine teeth, where there is a gap before the molars start, and hold it without biting or gnawing it.
Seva is a nibbler and getting her to take and hold the dowel was a process! Mainly, she didn’t do it. She’d nibble the pipe or she’d let it slide out of her mouth if I moved my hands even a little.
Last week, when Cash was here, we didn’t do much training. I felt badly about that, until today. I got out the dowel and the bag thinking we had to make up for lost time, but maybe the break was what she needed, because she took the dowel and held it on her own until I clicked (the signal that she had accomplished the skill). After a few of these, I grabbed my camera.
Another of Seva’s newest skills is Snuggle. Here she is practicing it with Scott. Some of the recipients of these dogs don’t have feeling below the neck and Snuggle is an important way for them to connect with their dog.
No matter how well trained, how wonderful, how loving, they’re still dogs.
Seva has had 3 Helping Paws dogs stay with her. Last fall, Percy spent a few days with us while his foster mom traveled. Stubbs spent a night with us in July. And this week, Cash is staying with us. Seva has also stayed with other Helping Paws foster families on occasion.
Just like with children and playdates, you can’t put two dogs in a room and assume fun antics will ensue. There is some interesting dog psychology at play. This is some of the stuff I’ve observed.
Seva & Percy
1: the guest dog is usually very well behaved. It’s not his territory, so he’s minding his manners while he settles in. That doesn’t mean he won’t have fun, but he’ll defer to the home dog and humans.
When Seva stayed with Jed, we warned Jed’s dad, John, that Seva steals fabric and paper and ate a sock while on her first overnight. She didn’t steal anything, even when the laundry basket was right there in front of her! Scott and I got excited, thinking maybe she’d turned a corner, maybe Jed had taught her that eating socks is bad. But no. We were home no more than 15 minutes and she’d stolen a sock off the bedroom floor. It turns out she was just on her best behavior for Jed and John.
When another dog is here, Seva is the instigator. It’s her territory and she doesn’t need to mind her manners. In fact, she might be out to prove something. If there is wrestling in the house, Seva started it. Just ask Cash.
Seva & Cash–oh, sure, they look cute when they’re sleeping.
2: not all dogs are a good match for each other. Percy was a big lap dog. All he wanted to do was lay down next to me and Scott. Seva would rather play until she crashes. Every time Percy settled in, she started biting his ear. Read about that weekend here.
Stubbs and Cash are better-suited for Seva’s favorite pastimes: run & wrestle. Here is Stubbs taking charge!
3: as with children, they will teach each other things. Cash will take a Frisbee out of your hand—and you better watch your hand!—then take a bite out of the Frisbee, then refuse to give it back to you. Guess who can’t have her balls until after Cash goes home? That’s right. Our little bear has begun resource guarding her toys. Cash is a really sweet boy, but some dogs just love their Frisbees more than others.
Seva and Cash were wrestling on the deck yesterday and look what they did!
Seva & Cash broke my pot.
It’s not all bad. When Seva stayed with Chuda Lono, he showed her how to leave kibble on her paws until his mom, Wendy, said Release. He also showed her how to spin around. She came home with 2 new skills that we still practice.
Seva & Cash find some tree and make a mess.
4: puppies get jealous, too. As sweet as she is, Seva doesn’t always want to share. She doesn’t mind someone playing with her toys or eating her food, but if Scott and I are paying attention to the other dog, here comes Seva. Our very-much-not-a-lap-dog inserts herself just to make sure we remember whose dog is whose.