Earlier this month (about 2 weeks ago) Izzy turned 1 year old. I know what you are wondering, are we the type of people to throw her a doggy birthday party. Well, the answer is no. I think the idea is cute but it’s not us. I don’t even like having birthday parties for myself and the thought of more than 2 or 3 dogs running through our house gives me the hives. Plus, I was in Zambia when she hit her milestone. Instead of a party, I think this weekend, weather permitting, we’re going to go to her favorite dog park with the off-leash walking trail, let her lay in our bed Sunday morning (after which we will be washing all the sheets) and maybe treat her to some specially baked dog goods. Amy over at the Nifty Foodie just posted a recipe for Peanut Butter and Pumpkin dog treats I’m dying to try.
Now that we got all the birthday business out of the way, we need to ask for you help. Izzy been exhibiting some behavior over the last 2-3 weeks that is new and not liked by us.
1. She barks. She barks at us particularly when we’re cooking or eating. She barks at people walking by. She barks at nothing. The barking isn’t consistent. She doesn’t bark every time we eat or every time someone walks by the house. Last night we were getting ready for bed and she jumped up on the bed and just started barking at me. I tried to get her off but she just ran around the bed barking. The funny thing is she doesn’t really bark at dogs when she sees them unless they are playing together.
2. She won’t walk. Every morning before work I set aside 35-40 minutes to take her on a walk before I crate her. At first she was happy to go on the walk but now all she wants to do is walk around the block, relieve herself and head back to the house. I thought it was because she doesn’t like the rain but she’ll do it on sunny warm days too. I do notice she acts this way only on days I go into work. On the days where I telecommute or on a weekend morning, she’s happy to walk the 1.5 miles. I hate to put her in the crate without the exercise but I’m not sure what to do. I thought about playing with her in the morning but she’s super sleepy.
3. Speaking of super sleepy – she is. It used to be that she’d get up with Micah at 5:45am, go potty, have some breakfast and nap until I got up 45 minutes later. Now she won’t get up with Micah. You can’t even entice her out of bed with a treat. I’m fine with her sleeping in if it doesn’t hurt her.
4. Counter Surfing. I don’t know where she learned this (Dadtractor) but she tries to counter surf. We were told after 5 or 6 failed attempts, she’d give up doing it. She tries everyday and is never successful but hasn’t stopped and it’s been 3 weeks. How do we stop this? Someone told us to lightly hit her nose when she does that but I’m not sure that’s the best idea. We give her positive verbal reinforcement when she does get off the counter.
5. The car. She used to be OK in the car and now she’s not. She wants to be in the front seat sitting on your lap all the time. If she’s the only passenger in the car, she’ll paw at the driver for attention. She NEVER used to do this before. We’ve tried kongs and toys in the car and it’s doesn’t really work. She plays for a while and then remembers no one is paying attention to her.
These are the biggies I can think of right now. Last night, we were trying to think of what has changed in the last 3 weeks that might have brought on these behaviors. Here’s what we came up with.
1. I went out of town for 10 days or so. I know she missed the attention and Micah tried keep up with her normal schedule. He even let her spend one weekend at Dadtractor’s house while I was away because she loves it there.
2. A different peanut butter. I don’t know if it makes a difference. It’s got no sugar or salt in it now.
3. Graduation. For the first 2 months we had Izzy, she was enrolled in obedience classes. Every Wednesday we’d head to class for an hour and we’d spend 2-3 hours a week learning and practicing tricks. We still practice the tricks she does know but we haven’t taught her any new ones.
4. Workers During the Day. There have been guys working on the decks and the outside stairs during the day for the last 5 weeks. They used to come in the house (while she was in her crate) but they don’t anymore. Sometimes they have to come into the garage though. She knows them by sight and doesn’t bark at them but maybe she so busy listening for them that she doesn’t sleep during the day?
5. Change of location. We moved Izzy’s crate from our bedroom to the craft room where she likes to sleep when we’re working in the office, cooking or eating dinner. We put her dog bed in the place where her crate used to be, so she still sleeps in our room.
6. The cousin. My sister and brother-in-law are back from Italy and have brought their little Italian Fox dog Giacoma home with them. Giacoma has hung out with Izzy 2 or 3 times in the last 10 days. Izzy really wants to be friends and Giacoma isn’t entirely convinced. They play but Giacoma is also very jealous and protective of her owners. Giacoma doesn’t have any of the bad habits Izzy has been exhibiting, so I doubt Izzy learned them from her. Giacoma is about 6 months older than Izzy and about 8-10 lbs lighter. Here they are being “dominated” by my brother-in-law.
Here they are after playing all afternoon
So dear friends, any advice for us? Books or articles we should read that addresses these behaviors? Techniques you’ve found useful? Help!