Wednesday, March 27, 2013

No more excuses

A post by the momma:
Have you ever found yourself making excuses for your dog's behavior?
"Sorry, he's acting that way because he's not feeling well."
"I think he must be having a bad day..."
"He's not a fan of the vet's office."
"Oh, sorry, you caught him off guard!"
"He's normally a good dog, he's even a Canine Good Citizen!"
"Oops, you're standing kind of funny and frightening him."
"He doesn't really like short people, or tall people, or people of average height..."
"You must smell funny."
In reality, what I should be saying is: "Sorry, I haven't been giving my dog the proper attention and training that I should be, and, because of my lack of responsible pet ownership, my dog has spiraled down a windy road of misbehavior."
Me?  What's wrong with my behaviors?
That's where I'm at. I'm not saying that Corbin is a horrible dog, he's no where near that, nor am I a horrible owner.  I just haven't been the best owner.  When we adopted Corbin, we knew we adopted a life long commitment of training and enforcing positive behavior. Last year with his mystery pain, we slacked off on the walks because he wasn't allowed much exercise while we tried fixing the problem. But, when we were able to start exercising him more, we had fallen out of the routine of daily walks and it was hard to get back into it. So, as an awful dog momma, I'm here to admit that Corbin has not had regular exercise or training in over a year.
There, I said it.
It wasn't bad at first... his back pain kept him at a lower energy level and he was satisfied with a hard core game of fetch in the back yard. Plus, we've done a lot of training with him, so it took a while for him to realize no one was going to enforce it. A day without a walk turned into a week without a walk, turned into a month without a walk and so on. He's been walked, just not on any sort of a regular basis. Then, my mom had back surgery and I was distracted by that, so Corbin's lack of training continued. And, my dad was hospitalized, diagnosed with lung cancer and passed away 5 weeks later last fall... so, that took up all my time and energy. Learning how to accept and deal with my dad's death still takes up a lot of my time and energy, which also causes Corbin a lot of anxiety.
See, momma... we've practiced SOME trainings.
Now a year has gone by. A year of minimal walking and minimal training. We've gotten lazy and his behavior has slowly been getting out of hand... Corbin's behavior when visitors come to the house has gotten slightly worse each time. It was such a subtle amount worse each time that it was hard to detect until all of the sudden you realize the dog who used to calmly sit in the kitchen to wait for people to enter the house and his signal to calmly greet them was now enthusiastically flying nose first off the couch into the face of your family and friends. The dog who used to be able to greet and socialize with other dogs was now growling and unfriendly to nearby pooches. Seeing other dogs often happened at the vet, and since we were still able to bring foster dogs home, I excused it by believing he was upset and uncomfortable at the vets. But, I started realizing that it's not just at the vets office, and he was starting to develop a problem that I needed to correct.  I needed to stop making excuses and do something. 
His energy level has also changed. After his last back flare up in January, the steroids have really helped his pain. So, he's feeling good and his energy is back to what is was before any of this happened. After a year of a pretty calm dog, I was pretty unprepared. And, since he's a little cranky around other dogs, having a foster to play with him was no longer an acceptable outlet for his energy.
Bwahaha, I run this place.
So, here I am... realizing that my lack of a simple 10 minutes of training a day, or a 30 minute loose leash walk a day has resulted in Corbin pushing his limits and being allowed to get away with his misbehavior.
What am I going to do to correct it?
I like Kongs and dental chewies... it takes the edge off of my energies.
Well, for starters, Corbin has been getting a little less food in his food dish and instead getting a frozen Kong when I leave for work with a mash of veggies and meats. We've been able to cut out enough food in his meals to make up for the calories in his Kong so he doesn't get chubby. This is a bit of mental activity for his crate time when we're away. I also recently ordered a Kong Wobbler, which I've heard so many great things about. Corbin will be getting his dinner out of the wobbler, more mental work. And, on days when it's raining or muddy and fetch or walking isn't available (Corbin's not a fan of being wet)... we play hid and go seek in the house. Corbin does a sit/stay in the kitchen and I hide throughout the house, call him, and he has to come find me.  It may sound silly, but it tires him out WONDERFULLY and we play it quite often.  Plus, he really seems to enjoy it.
Does this mean I have to put my snood into summer hibernation?
Now that the weather is getting nicer, it's more enticing for walks. So, hopefully we can get back into the routine of daily walks. We also have a great park near us where we used to meet up with some other dog friends for walks on the 3 mile trail. We'll be calling Maggie Mae and Max soon to have them meet us!
We worked with a great trainer when we first adopted Corbin and learned a lot of great techniques, so we know what needs to be done to get these issues under control again. But, I also enjoy doing training classes with Corbin and like the opportunity to learn more. So, Corbin and I are set up to attend a "Focus and Self Control" workshop at our local shelter in a few weeks. It's a one time class, 2 hours long. I can't commit to a 6 week class at the moment, so this sounded like the perfect class to get us back on our feet.

Shhhh, momma.  The Corbin is perfect.

I know the Corbin shown to you on the blog is just about perfect -and he is.  But, just like with any dog, he needs to continue to be set up for success and continue to have limitations and expectations.  For Corbin, it really is just 10 minutes a day of training: practicing sit, stay, down, wait, etc.  And he loves it, he loves training, he loves walks, he loves to work.  So, although life has gotten in the way recently, I still find time to brush my teeth, shower daily, do my laundry, comb my hair... training my dog should be one of those things so stuck in my routine, I don't leave the house or go to bed without doing it.  Corbin deserves that.  And, it clears my head... something I could definitely use some more of.  He knows his commands so well, it's not a frustrating experience for either one of us.  And, what's a better feeling than working on the communication and bond with your favorite 4 legged friend?

We'll keep you updated on our progress the next few weeks!


  1. What an excellent post and a reminder to all of should be a normal part of our day...just like getting kids ready for school...we should get our dogs ready for each day. Just as a side do know prednisone can increase aggression. It's a common side affect in dogs and people.

    1. Ah, yes, I did know this but it has slipped my mind the past few months! Thanks for reminding me, we're still weening Corbin off of it, I hope to be completely done with it some day. We have noticed a lot of changes in his personality since he began it last year.
      -Corbin's momma, Jenn

  2. I agree with Reilly/Denny Cowspotdogs - this is an excellent reminder to everyone. I know that at our house life lately has been like a tornado stalled right on top of us, yet that's not a good excuse for not working with our own dogs. Thanks.

  3. we have to agree with the others. We humans NEED to remember to keep up the training. Mostly we're well behaved, but occasionally we forget our manners.....because things have been slack. At least you've noticed it, and know how to remedy it.

    XXXOOO Daisy, Bella & Roxy

  4. This is just the post I needed to read. Plus, the photos and captions are perfectly hilarious!

  5. MayzieMom here. As you probably know, the last couple of years around here have also been ridiculous. So much going on. So much to deal with both mentally and physically (losing a parent or even having an ill parent definitely takes a toll on our health). So yesterday, Mayzie comes and sits quietly by my office chair and just looks up at me. I slid off the chair onto the floor and she snuggled up to me. We sat there like that for the longest time. And I realized at that moment that I'm not making as much time as I should for my dogs. Okay, they get a 30 minute walk a day but my mind is usually elsewhere. And training? Sheesh. Haven't done training in...well, I can't remember when.

    I think activities like the ones you mentioned not only help with self-control, discipline and excess energy, they let you bond with your dog and solidify a foundation of trust. And that, in turn, (I believe) leads to better behavior.

    Sorry that was so long. :-) Great post and once again, Corbin is very lucky to have you!

  6. Wonderful posts.... And it sound like you have a good plan going there.

    We're kitties who behave perfectly, so don't be passing any of your secrets to HH.

    Have a great day.

    hugs, Bugsy and Knuckles

  7. What a FANGtastic post... It is GOOD to remind our peeps that they need TRAINING and REMINDING in the daily list of activities... THEY furget SO easily.. Bunch of Slackers actually. Corbin you just keep adding some training time into your peep's routine and they will be PEREFECT in NO TIME.

  8. I loved reading this! We all slip from time to time. Now that the weather is nicer, it is definitely more enticing for walkies. We love the wobbler. We have the Bobble. Finn looooooooooooooves it! Good luck!

  9. Oh you are talking about you! We thought you were talking about our momma.
    Benny & Lily

  10. We still apologize for Monty by telling folks he is still a puppy - at 5 years old!


  11. Great post. I know I slack sometimes with Lola too. And the Kong Wobbler is great. We have it and Lola LOVES it!

  12. This is such a wonderful post and I thank you for being so open and willing to post it. Recently I've been feeling like we've been slacking a bit with Athena and then I get this major anxiety that everything she knows now is going to go out the window and we may have to start back at square one. We've just been extra busy recently with work, so it's true that we haven't been spending as much time on training as we should be. And let's not talk about the walks.....For a while there Athena was turning into a PERFECT walker when we would walk her every day, sometimes twice. Now she's lucky if we walk her twice a week and I can definitely tell that her leash manners are gone. She pulls me the whole way and I think that's why I don't take her on walks more often, because I feel like I don't have the same amount of time to commit to training her to walk well on leash....soooo, I kinda let her pull.

    But, just like you, I've had to remind myself that all Athena needs is a quick 10 minute training session each day. She LOVES training, so it should really be a breeze. I'm sure that when Corbin starts back on a regular training routine he will show improvements quickly.

    Even though we've been busy, we've continued to feed all of Athena's meals out of food dispensing toys. We like the Kong Wobbler that you got for Corbin. Our other favorites are the Magic Mushroom, Buster Cube, Bob-A-Lot, Tricky Treat Ball, Twist and Treat, Contempo Tessa, and a slew of others. Athena also gets Kongs here and there like Corbin. Kongs really wear Athena out, but I don't want to make her fat so she only gets one per day. We recently got a great tip from someone though. They put a piece of string cheese in the stopper of the Kong, then fill it up with water and bits of cheese, then freeze. It makes a super low calorie Kong that isn't at all messy. I'm sure it doesn't last as long as a frozen food filled Kong, but it would be a great little afternoon mental exercise! We are going to try it soon.

    Sorry for my ramble. Best of luck to Corbin and his mama! I know things will be getting back to normal for you guys soon!

  13. What a great (and honest) post! Good to be reminded that our pups are important and need to become a priority.

  14. Be strong, I lost my father to kidney cancer so I know how you're feeling. As for Corbin, having a pitbull as well I understand that mischievous behavior. Luckily we train him well and as a 2 year old, Soldier is very sweet and nice. The only problem now is that he's a little overweight. My sister has cut some of his food too, and when I visit I play with him to keep him healthy. I'm sure Corbin will start behaving much better with your help.

    Lots of love from Adi and Soldier the pitbull.<3

  15. Ha! Seems we've all fallen off the bandwagon a bit, at least in the winter months (it doessss make it hard!) We're with you! We literally had this convo the other day- and I typed up a list of options for those 10 minute training sessions, for me or hubby to use to enforce the training! Lets get to it- team work from afar (very jealous of your 2 hour class!) Let us know how it goes!

  16. I just wrote a post for Dogster that's almost opposite of yours! If you go to, look up my author page (Meghan Lodge) and you'll find it. :)

    We have two dogs and two cats. We spend time with them daily, and use Kongs/Nylabones/etc to amuse them while we're gone.

    Best of luck with your dog! Remember, his perfect isn't the same as the next dog's. :)

  17. OoH momma Jenn,

    We is waitin' fur dat phone call cuz it has been too long since we has all gone fur walkies!

    Woofs and Licks,
    Maggie Mae and Max

    PS From mom... thank you Jenn for this post. So many of us and most definitely me have fallen off the wagon when it comes to consistency in training our fur babies. My down fall started after we adopted Max and now we have two wild and crazy boxers to deal with. Looking forward to meeting at The Crossings again for walks.

  18. We are all perfect Corbin no matter what the Peeps say. Sniffs, The HoundDogs

  19. Great post! One thing that I have to remind myself is that just because the pups passed their obedience classes doesn't meant they will remember the stuff if we don't practice. Believe me Boomer and Dottie have some things they need to work on.

  20. We all have our lapses. I, Noodles the PERFECT Pug Princess started not ONE but TWO arguments with other pugs at a party. It was embarrassing for my Mommy and Me! We are working on that now. And she has to admit the walkies have fallen to the side with us as well. Spring is here and it is time to pull out the walking shoes.
    Love Noodles

  21. Hey Corbin,
    Your momma wrote a great post and I loved your commentary. You know what? Even though momma says I am the best doggie ever, I feel at sizes and sevens when she is too tired to do fun mental stuff with me. Sometimes it can be hard to convince her that 10 minutes of training only takes, well 10 minutes and we both feel better afterwards. I hope the two of you have lots of funballs. Us dogs are very resilient and you'll be back in the groove in no time. Isn't it grand to have a momma who loves you so much?


  22. What an inspiring post your momma wrote, Corbin! She loves you, buddy, and that last photo is a winner!

    Love ya lots,
    Mitch and Molly

  23. Woof! Woof! PAWsome reminder and wonderful post. Golden Thanks for sharing. When we lived in HI there were many pittbulls and totally understands it. We say it is both ways (dog and owner). We know Corbin is in good hands. Golden Thanks again for this ... we plan to write/share a post someday on our experienced too. Lots of Golden Woofs, Sugar

  24. Thank you so much for this wonderful post! It really gives me the motivation to keep working with my pup, and your honesty makes me feel like I'm not alone. So sorry for the loss of your dad; losing a parent is so difficult and can make even the simplest things hard to do. You're very strong for continuing to work with Corbin.

    My Maggie passes along the message that Corbin is a handsome fellow ;)

  25. I make those excuses way too often. I need to work more with my pups

    Stop on by for a visit

  26. Good for you for recognizing the problem and making plans to change it! We use Kongs for everyone and since they all eat a measured amount of kibble, that's what their Kong gets stuffed with and a little premium canned food or vegetables layered in to keep it tight. (not tight for Breeze though, she won't eat it if it's stuffed too tight)

    With all our renovations going on, we've been cuddling and painting the railing spindles at the same time, doing sit/stays and sit/shake a paw and downs while painting. Now if only I could teach the sighted ones to hold a paintbrush.....

    Keep up the good work with and for Corbin!

  27. It's a never ending job, especially with high energy dogs. We could use some refresher training as well!

    Wyatt's mom

  28. I think we all fall off the bandwagon from time to time. Health issues, jobs, life gets in our way. I know I am far from the perfect dog owner at times. Training is life-long just as learning for me is life-long. You and Corbin will get back on track, no problems, just as me and my crew have time and again.

  29. Hi corbin's mama! I know when my pinched nerve is sore, a little walking really helps me. Just sayin. If it ever warms up where you live, I'm sure your mom will take you more!


  30. Corbin, you have a very handsome face my sweet pal. Don't work your Mom too hard over the next few weeks, give her lots of breaks and good luck.

    Loveys Sasha

  31. It happens to the best of us. Thank you so much for sharing this. I too, have had some struggles this past year that have made things like walks difficult. But we're starting to get in the swing of things again.

    Best of luck to both of you. We know you can do it!

  32. We should start a club! This is life though and the important part is that when we go off track, we get back to center. Sickness and the death of a parent... deep cleansing breaths. You are human. Hopefully spring will renew the walk schedule, fresh air does wonders for all! Hugs from Melvin and Googly eyes!

  33. Howdy Corbin's Mum, what a great post. I think we're all guilty sometimes of slacking off but with the last 12 months you have had, its totally understandable. Corbin is so lucky to have such a loving mum and dad. Enjoy your training again. Sounds like you have inspired many people (including me) to add that little extra each day to spend with our loved pets. Take care. No worries, and love, Carol (and Stella and Rory)

  34. Fabulous post. Thank you. A good reminder that ALL relationships need a bit of focused attention!

  35. I'm embarrassed to admit that my boys could certainly use more training! Shiver is super anxious around others. I got him as a puppy and tried to socialize him by taking him out whenever I had stuff to do. It didn't really seem to help and he HATES to go for walks, so I quit doing it regularly.

    Chico LOVES to walk. I would take him out on his own, but Shiver can't stand to be left alone, even for a moment. So Chico doesn't go out often either. When I do take them, Chico is very mouthy - barking at any passing animal. And then Shiver feels like he needs to join in too.

    They do at least have a backyard to run around and play in, which they love. Whenever Shiver starts to get too hyper, he gets thrown out into the backyard.

  36. Hi Corbin! I'm new here...Read about you on Puddles' blog today and wanted to come by and visit

  37. All sorts of slander here my pal. I haz da name of a good lawyer for you....i fink is mum who gonna ave to answer for her neglectins.....(*your mum is ace of course).