Wednesday, October 19, 2011

A Dog's Life

Our dog Hunny…I know I haven’t written much (or anything at all) about Hunny since we first got her nearly a year and a half ago. Honestly, I wasn’t sure how long we would have her. To say this dog has been a challenge would be an extreme understatement.
We were not unaware of the perils of adopting a Labrador puppy. She’s not our first. We fully expected irritatingly boundless energy, destroyed furniture, chewed shoes, food snatching, behavior problems, and many trips to the vet due to ingesting any number of potentially harmful substances.
But, what I didn’t expect was to be constantly bullied, bruised, attacked, and bitten (sometimes aggressively so) by my year old puppy!
We did basic command training early. She is extremely smart. We tried to establish our dominance from day one by letting her know that we control the food, by not letting her sleep in our bed (re:photo, She knows she's not suppose to be up there.LOL)and by making her wait until we enter or exit the door first. We provided plenty of exercise; lots of play time and 2-3 mile walks every day, rain, heat or snow. But the biting and dominant behavior didn’t stop. So we finally contacted a private trainer. He confirmed that, yes, we had a difficult case on our hands. She was probably the “alpha dog” of her pack and was very reluctant to give up that title to us. He also suspects that she was separated from her mother too early and never learned what “too rough” play was. Surprisingly, she is submissive to other dogs and is fairly good around kids. With some of the techniques that the trainer showed us, things are slowly getting better. The biting incidents are getting fewer and farther between. But she is still too rough for me to trust her unleashed around small children or the elderly. After seeing some of my horrendous bruises, friends have asked why we haven’t gotten rid of her. Don’t think we haven’t thought about it! But, we take our role as pet owners very seriously. We adopted this dog and it was our responsibility to make her a good, stable pet citizen. And we knew that with our personal circumstances,it was possible.
I have high hopes that as she gets older and past the stage of the wild energy bursts that seem to be the cause most of the problems, she will be a wonderful, intelligent, gentle, and loyal dog.
And I have to say, to this dog’s credit, she has not destroyed any furniture or possessions with the exception of a few shoes, has never gotten up to the counter to steal food, and doesn’t beg at the table. She rides in the car like a dream, loves to play with other dogs, is friendly (although rough) with people, and is very good on walks. And let’s face it, she is a beautiful dog!

So, that’s my tumultuous year with Hunny. Here’s hoping the next year will be less painful.

Oh, and in that last photo you can see a bit of the new fence we had installed. More on that in the next post.


KatyDidStitches said...

Good for you, Kimberly! She is indeed a beautiful dog...and I'm sure that once she gets past this rough patch, she'll settle down and realize that you didn't give up on her...and reward you for it. Hang in there!


Abby and Stephanie said...

A total beauty. Miss Hunny is a work in progress and worthy of your time and efforts. Too many people give up without taking real time to make it work. Tim Gunn's words apply to dog training as well as runway designs.

Katherine said...

Hunny is a beauty. Sorry to hear that she also has some brutish behaviours. Bravo for not giving up on her and working hard to train her to be a better dog. I'm sure she'll come round.

Valerie Boersma said...

Hang in there Kimberly:) We got our dog Kona right around the same time that you got Hunny. Kona is also a challenging dog-she is half Border Collie and half Australian Shepherd and is high energy, too smart for her own good, and hard to manage at times. I know once the juvenile stage is over she, like Hunny will settle down. You did the right thing getting some outside help. It's good to know you don't have to go it alone, and that in the long run whatever you have to do to make Hunny a good companion is well worth it:) She certainly is a pretty girl!

Niesz Vintage Home said...

Thank you all so much for your encouragement!
I'll keep you posted about her progress.
And Valerie, I wish you all the best in raising Kona. Herding dogs are definitely another high energy handful!

Kimberly :-)

Pink Daisys Blog Spot said...

Kim, you took me back to Sampson's puppy days, 5 years ago and I still NEVER again will get a puppy lab! Hang in there.. We had one great one, as you did and then this one.. It took me forever to train him. He had more issues than a magazine stand, lol. He gets in ALL The food still, he does not chew up toys or furniture, but he too can be rough.. It calmed down after two years.. We were just use to good old labs.. You will get there and yes she is soo pretty! Hang in there! Did you make it to Burlington? It was the best one is forever!

Unknown said...

She is a beautiful lab and I'm glad you're working through some of her behavioral issues. I have two great dogs, one is a black lab, and I am very happy that neither one is aggressive! Good luck and thanks for stopping by my blog.