He Can Bark!

Today at 3:30 PM Mr. Stitch has been a resident for 14 days.  The excitement of the “new” has been replaced by the real joy of getting to know each other and watching his personality expand. 

Remember that compressed foam mattress I bought?  Yes, its like that.  How did something so big fit in a package that small?

There are changes everyday. 

A few days ago I discovered that he can actually bark! 

I feared he had been born sans vocal cords.  I now have evidence to the contrary. 


I had been warned he was shy with strangers.  He has met three of my friends and adored them all with no hesitation.  It was a new thing when he met the visitor at the big house, barked at him and refused to enter the room. 

Remember my rattlesnake adventure last summer and the over-caffeinated loon who didn’t have the sense to remain calm?  Stitch wanted nothing to do with him. 

Good boy.  😉

Our mutual trust is growing and I have been daring (already) to let him off leash for part of our long walk for 3 days running.  It is easier for someone with my medical issues and the amount of exercise he gets has increased four fold.  It is a beautiful sight to see a graceful young animal run flat out. 

I give myself a B or B-  for my control.  I need to work a bit harder at it.  Recall is not always instant and is about 98% effective at this time.  Not bad really…  He is a delicate child and I have learned to keep my tone pleasant and not betray any frustration.  I ONLY CALL ONCE.

Twice now he has oddly acted like he doesn’t know me and I have “spooked” him.  Once when I used a harsh tone and again yesterday when I picked up a stick to throw and watched him go into a major terror.  (Note to self:  Cross “stick fetch” off the to do list).

Afternoons, in spite of the incredible cold snap we go back out for hours and try to play hide and seek.  He is hard to hide from…  😉

We still are walking the land boundary to teach the invisible line.  He is delightfully responsive. 

He has started using a pad by my bed more, as opposed to being in his crate all the time.  This morning I woke to find him there waiting for me to wake.  He also carried his stuffed monkey toy around the room once.  He seems to like having toys though their use still eludes him. 

Ever know someone who thought money was love?  It isn’t you know.   

Food isn’t love either.  Ask your dog. 😉

Last night he came and put his upper body in my lap for a love session.  I pulled his legs up and he lay in my lap while I praised and pet him.  He licked my hand for a while and he likes pressing his back against my chest.  He fell asleep.  We stayed like that for a good 30 minutes until the bloody phone rang. 

I think for two weeks we are doing quite well.  We certainly are having fun.


A friend asked tonight WHY I consider a non compliant dog a human problem.  Here is the reply I sent.:

Dogs are who they are.  They are critters and we are lucky, they have many thousands of years of adaptation and evolution that gives them the need to please humans.  They are no longer wolves. 

A dog who does not follow instruction has an owner who doesn’t understand what makes their dog tick.  An owner who doesn’t understand that compliance is willingly given and needs to be appropriately motivated and rewarded.  It has to be earned.  Your dog needs to WANT to please you and find JOY in doing so.  A dog needs to know being apart from your side isn’t as much fun… 

People either don’t understand this or get lazy and find it too much work.  I need to be Stitches pack leader and help him understand that his welfare comes from me. I am the hot dog man.  They are like 2-3 year old human children.  Keep it simple. 

I need my instruction to ALWAYS be in a happy tone of voice and when he flips me off I need to resist the temptation to ask twice…  Reward INSTANTLY when they comply, and make a big happy fuss over them.  When they blow you off ignore them.  No punishment EVER.  They don’t understand and it violates their trust.

I made mistakes with Little Bear.  I tried but he was my first dog.  He was wonderful anyway.  

Stitch is a blank slate.  He will become the dog I teach him to be in regards to “minding”.  He is so smart he could ride horse back and jump through flaming hula hoops if I wanted to put in the training time….  It will be a joy watching his natural personality blossom.

Eventually you do intermittent tiny food reward.  The association (compliance/reward) is permanent.  We are still bonding.  Yes, any bad behavior he exhibits will be my fault.  It is a big job, BUT I HAVE THE TIME.  🙂


What I can do differently is be more consistent.  Make sure all my requests are crystal clear and not mixed signals.  I need to remind him everyday all the things he knows so he doesn’t forget.  Dogs comply with CLEAR requests because they want to.  My job is to make him want to.  My job is to show him the joy involved in pleasing me. 

You and I know with his compliance comes more freedom for him.  He is a dog child and that is too complex for him to reason. 

Long answer but I had fun writing it. 

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11 Responses to He Can Bark!

  1. Cary says:

    All the issues you describe are certainly “cattle dog” for sure! Charlotte was quiet for 6 weeks………then found her vice to let us know…..”YUP, I AM HERE!!!” And they DO love to run and doesn’t he look like a jet torpedo when he goes “flat out”? So beautiful!!! And so are YOU for taking a chance on him, so soon after bear……….you are both such loves. Take care.

  2. scarlybobs says:

    Stitch is so beautiful, it’s so nice to be able to read about him 🙂

    We have a sensitive dog too, Kasper; we can’t say “ah ah” or speak loudly around him as he becomes afraid. That’s why I love positive reinforcement so much, as it means he has no need to fear us at all 🙂

    • osolynden says:

      Thanks for the read and comment. I’ll get over to your blog today and check in on how Kasper did with your visitor. 😉 I am a rank amateur at dog training but trying to learn. Positive reinforcement worked pretty well with my last dog.

  3. I’m so glad you two are bonding so well. I just knew you would.

    I’m not a dog trainer by any means, but I am a pack Alpha female. Every dog I’ve had has been different as far as what works in training them to behave in the pack. Sometimes positive reinforcement was the only thing necessary. Sometimes it had to come to a battle of will, wits, and strength to maintain my position as Alpha. My dogs are not trained to behave in civilized society (we are a pack after all), but they do sit, they don’t bite, they come when I call or clap, they wait their turn, they don’t mess in the house on purpose, and they grudgingly walk on a leash. In return they are respected, loved, and totally spoiled.

    There’s just nothing better.

    • osolynden says:

      You are right again! He lay in my lap for over an hour tonight utterly content. I confess I used a “slap” once on Little Bear when he refused to stop chasing the horses with the other dogs… His feelings were wounded but he never did it again. I was frustrated and it was a question of his safety.

      Come to think of it you have been right about durn near everything SPK, except the location of that wagon load of whiskey…

      • Don’t feel bad. I’ve been around or raised a couple dogs from birth on and I’ve watched how their momma dogs have handled the discipline. A pup never wants to seriously piss off their momma. I’ve watched even the sweetest dogs evil bark, swat, nip, and toss their pups when they’ve misbehaved. Some lessons just have to be hard learned by some dogs and I’ve had to bite a few dogs in my day.

        As to the whiskey, you’ve got a lot of room to talk. Did you ever “find” the latest , up-to-date, albeit totally authentic, map to the Dutchman Dream that you were supposed to be able to get? That last one was totally useless. I’m still a little miffed about shelling out all that money for that schnazzy pirate outfit.

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