April 9, 2012 § 23 Comments
A curious thing is happening to our Lil’ Miss Maple. The shy, timid, and inquisitive furball who used to make morning and evening walks an amusing delight has transformed into a rambunctious, stubborn, and… well, rude, canine citizen. Miss Maple’s personality began to gradually split into two opposing extremes shortly after her 1st birthday.
At home, Miss Maple is the most mild-mannered, docile, and easy-going pup a dog owner could ever wish for. The only time the little tyke will ever let out a sound is when her ears perk up upon hearing a stranger approaching or the doorbell ringing. On those occasions, her low-pitched growls and high-pitched barks are, for the most part, controllable depending on her assessment of the “threat”—the further the distance of the “threat”, the more subdued her warnings. When off-leash, say, at the dog park, Miss Maple would often scurry with her butt tucked in from the inquisitive noses of other canines. It takes a while for her to warm up, which she does eventually with certain dogs. Once the meet-and-greet is over, she will happily go about playing fetch on the same field as her fellow four-leggers.
Now, the other side of Miss Maple (the hostile side that has us very confused and perplexed) surfaces whenever she is walking on-leash. Once she catches sight of a dog that is about to cross our path, this seemingly sweet-faced Poodle puts on a demonstration of her Cujo-esque prowess. Don’t be fooled by her small package. Miss Maple has a “no-holds-barred” approach and will lunge and bark at most dogs, both big and small (even the most aloof and non-provoking types who are just minding their own business).
It took us a while to figure out what was happening. After following a trail of clues from various searches on the Internet, we came across the term that precisely describes Miss Maple’s on-leash outbursts: “leash reactivity”. [Note: Some informative articles on this topic can be found here and here and here.] *sigh* At least we now know what we’re dealing with.
First things first, we have to re-examine the way that we’re walking Maple—or, rather, the way that she’s walking us! Our munchkin takes control of the leash about 95% of the time. The other 5% is when we find ourselves temporarily in the lead while she lags behind sniffing something wonderful on the ground. Second, we’re going to apply Dr Patricia McConnell’s (author of Feisty Fido) techniques for helping dogs to overcome leash reactivity. Third, I’ve registered myself and the Lil’ Miss for an 8-week Good Canine Citizen Course facilitated by the Singapore Kennel Club. The first class starts this weekend. While I’m a little nervous about the program, I’m also really hoping for positive results.
If anyone has had a similar experience with a leash-reactive dog and managed to troubleshoot the challenges of this problem behaviour, please do share your success story. The more insights we gain, the better equipped we’ll be in our endeavour to help Miss Maple!
March 27, 2012 § 13 Comments
Today, Lil’ Miss Maple sniffed her way to a “pot of gold” in the most unlikely of places: a pile of leaves! The hidden treasure that Miss Maple discovered was a delectable (from a canine’s perspective) bone from a leftover piece of BBQ chicken wing. For Miss Maple, it was as if she had won the lottery. For me, it was my worst nightmare come true. The story goes like this…
The weather was so pleasant this afternoon that I decided to bring Miss Maple down to our neighbourhood lawn for a fun game of fetch. The landscape gardeners had gone off for lunch and left several piles of swept-up leaves at one corner. Initially, the furball showed very little interest in the leaves. After all, I was holding on to her itty bitty tennis ball for which Miss Maple has developed an intense obsession. We played a few rounds of fetch until I accidentally threw the ball into a pile of leaves. Well, the ball landed in the wrong pile! Miss Maple went head first and plunged her face in the leaves to retrieve her ball, or so I thought.
When it was taking longer than expected for the pipsqueak’s head to re-surface, I knew something was amiss. Sure enough, Miss Maple forgot all about her ball and sped off with her find—the chicken bone. “Maple, stay!” “Drop it!” “Leave it!” “Come here!” Nothing worked. I was chasing a mini lightening bolt on four extremely short but super fast legs. I heard some crunching noises and, within seconds, Miss Maple had gulped it all down. Panic-stricken, I thrusted my hand in Miss Maple’s mouth to see if I could remove any remnants of the bone. But, there was nothing left to be found.
Dismayed and upset by the whole ordeal, we returned home—Miss Maple was happily wagging her tail while I hung my head low with guilt. I immediately called MM at work and replayed for him what had happened. Concern and worry swept over me. Miss Maple, on the other hand, had the widest grin I had ever seen displayed on her face.
I’ll be watching our munchkin very carefully these next few days, and monitoring her ‘by-products’. So far, so good. No signs of lethargy, distress, or unusual poop. I’m hoping Miss Maple’s digestive system will work its magic so that the bone will pass right through. In the meantime, it looks like we need a refresher course on the “drop it” and “leave it” commands. With enough practice, I’m hoping we’ll have better success next time!
April 29, 2011 § 22 Comments
If the title of today’s post is giving you irreversible memories of the ’90s and that of American rapper Vanilla Ice, then let me quickly refocus your attention with a dose of cuteness—courtesy of Miss Maple 😉
Blogging has introduced us to people from all walks of life and whose personal experiences with their own furry friends have inspired us to try new things that we wouldn’t have otherwise thought of ourselves. Lately, I have become very impressed by pawrents who have banished commercially-produced dog food and are faithfully feeding their furkids a BARF diet with amazing results.
Although Maple gets to enjoy some of nature’s bounty in the form of fruits and vegetables, her main staple still consists of kibbles. I hope one day we can strike a balance and provide Maple with a more well-rounded diet that will ensure her a long and healthy life. Until then, we’ll be taking one small pawprint at a time. As a start, we recently purchased a package of raw beef marrow bones.
The idea of feeding Maple raw foods at home, however, has been a contentious issue for me. The thought of Salmonella and E. coli being spread by Maple’s little paws from floor to rug to furniture sends me into hypochondriac overdrive. Thanks to Anna from AKG Inspiration for this great suggestion: use a towel as a place-mat (it makes for an easy clean-up job). Why hadn’t we thought of that!
And now, here’s how we have begun introducing Maple to the idea of situating her tooshie on a towel when eating raw foods:
1.) Train with Ice-Cubes. They’re a good starter and if they accidentally fall off the towel, well then, no worries, it’s just water.
2.) Towie, Sit, Stay, OK. These are the four basic commands we use with Maple. Towie (short for towel) is a new word we’re teaching Maple. That way, she won’t confuse her Towie for her a Blankie, which is intended for play and snuggles.
3.) No! I almost forget the fifth and most essential command. In the event Maple decides to move the ice-cube to another location off the towel, we’ll say ‘No’ followed by ‘Towie’ and Maple will return to her spot on the towel (well, at least we hope she will for the most part).
4.) Sit Back and Relax. It’s a lot of fun just watching Maple having a blast with the ice-cube. Seeing Maple this way has certainly given us the confidence of feeding her raw foods in the comfort of our own home.
I can’t wait to share with you Maple’s very first experience with a raw bone treat. Come back on Monday to view the event unfold!