Saturday, February 23, 2008

Katie and Travis are........

Several people have asked how the other dogs are doing and the simple answer is that they are fine. They are used to having an occasional guest. They are probably thinking she will be leaving soon. Overall, they are a nicely balanced group and we expect them to be accepting of any changes. Katie has been asked about the most since she is the alpha female when you are only counting dogs (cause I'm the one really in charge). Katie is a beautiful example of alpha. She is benevolent, calm, confident, and thoughtful. Alphas shouldn't be bullies or aggressive. They aren't threatened by new comers and they aren't constantly asserting themselves. In fact, they might be somewhat aloof. Katie doesn't posture around other dogs, she simply ignores them. Some dogs demonstrate dominance, but aren't exactly the best dog for the job....... this is when you have problems with stress, excitement, and/or aggression. All in all, dogs aren't equipped to run a household, therefore, a person still must be in charge regardless.

Katie exhibits most of her dominance outside. She flags her tail high, she sasses the neighborhood, she starts play sessions, she ends play sessions, and she repremends those who get out of control with an earful and a paw (or 2 on the back). In the end though, Katie takes directions very well and is an excellent follower. Since the spinal stroke, I pretty much supervise all outdoor activities now. Travis plays rough and I don't want to see Katie lose. I think he could overwhelm her fairly easily now that she has some weakenss and coordination problems. I pretty much control the play sessions now and don't allow much roughhousing. I would also say that in the last year, Katie has lost some of her fearlessness. She seems to have some noise sensitivity. There is a slight bit of caution that was never there before. It sucks getting old.

The only other issue is that Reagan is working on very basic training, so she gets clicks and treats for hardly nothing. Travis and Katie would love to participate, but the have long since moved out of the beginner stage. It does not make sense to clicker train them in the house anymore. So while I do want to be fair, it is not a concept you can explain to a dog. If I tried to be fair, I would reinforce being under foot, following me around, and begging for treats.......... all behaviors I do not want. So I do what I have always done, I reward good behaviors. Dogs who are out of sight and minding their own business while I train Reagan are sought out and given a treat. Those hanging heads over the baby gates do not. Katie gets it about 90% of the time. Travis is about 50/50.