Shih Tzu Day 63: Just Another Shih Tzu Day

Early A.M. with the Shih Tzus

We have no control over our furry, shih tzu alarm clocks. Flower came up at 4, accompanied by Dottie. Sure would love to ask Flower a lot of questions, including why she thinks we would want to get up that early in the morning. Waking us up early had the opposite effect of what she wanted, though. I slept intermittently between her barking spells, and didn’t get up until after 6:30.

Although I mention food a lot, I always forget to mention “how” these dogs eat. At mealtime, Flower gobbles her food down as quickly as possible, jumping back at any noise, no matter how slight. When she is almost done, she rushes over to Candy’s dog bowl.

I have started trimming off a little each quarter cup of kibble, and holding it back in reserve. When Flower makes a move for Candy’s bowl, I call her name and lure her to me by hand feeding her pieces of the dry dog food, one at a time, to let Candy finish her meal without interruption. Dottie is nearly as slow as Candy, because she is missing some of her front teeth. When she eats, a lot of the pieces fall out, and she has to search for it on the porch. Once Dottie and Candy do finish eating, I feed them the kibble bits I have left over, so they don’t feel left out.

Candy and the Grooming Table

Shih tzu being groomedAfter the girls ate, I went upstairs for something and found dog poop and a urine spot on our bedroom carpet. I had heard Candy jumping around up there earlier, and should have known she was doing her “after pooping” dance she does after eating. They were outside for at least twenty minutes after they ate, so I don’t know why she did that. I cleaned it up and announced to John that she was the shih tzu going on the grooming table today.

Shih tzu face.Although she was trying to nip at the dog clippers at first, she relaxed enough for John to clip quite a bit of her body and to even clip a little of her head. Since our goal is to just get her used to the grooming table, we stopped when we thought we were ahead. I tried to give her a Vienna sausage as a reward while she was on the table, like I had learned in dog grooming school, but she wouldn’t take it. She also wouldn’t take it from John when we sat her down on the floor, but she came back and took it from me.

Candy stayed in the living room for longer than I thought she would, after facing the grooming table, but she did run upstairs to regroup. She had to sit in the hall, though, because after she used our bedroom as a potty box, I closed both doors.

More Housebreaking Contraptions

While we’re on the subject of dogs who aren’t house broken, my latest training contraction hasn’t worked out either. This one was a simple tray that you put a training pad on. Then, you snap a “frame” over it that is intended to hold the training pad in place. No one used the training pad while it was on the tray. However, one of the shih tzus was interested. I caught my plastic lover, Flower, trying to gnaw on the edge.

I still have a few options. I can try a dog training spray that is supposed to tempt them to do their business where you spray it, or the spray that is supposed to prevent them from doing their business where you don’t want them to. I also need to investigate dog litter, which I saw at PetSmart. (If anyone has any suggestions, I’d love to hear them!)

Afternoon with the Shih Tzus

When I came back from grocery shopping, one of the shih tzus had pooped on the training pad. That almost makes me feel that we are getting somewhere in the battle to housebreak our doggies!

The girls didn’t come alive this afternoon, like they sometimes do. Candy stayed upstairs for awhile. Dottie sat beside me, but Flower spent most of the afternoon in the Safe Zone. It’s possible it’s because the hardwood floor keeps the dogs cool.

So Happy to See You!

Shih tzu jumping for treatWhen John came home, Candy didn’t just wag her tail; she nearly wiggled her butt off. Flower barked like he was an intruder. Candy let him hold her after treat time. I am happy about that. I keep reminding them that they should be nice, since he supplies a good deal of their dog food and treats. Flower continued to stay distant, going back to her corner immediately after getting her night-time treat.

I stopped by to visit the girls on the way upstairs. They were all so adorable, lying in their dog beds, I had to scrunch their faces between my hands and sing a chorus of the Stevie Wonder song, “Isn’t she lovely, isn’t she wonderful,” to each little darling dog.

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Shih Tzu Day 62: Candy Wags Her Tail for Daddy

tail-wagging Candy

Shih tzu on carpet.I think we had a major victory last night. When John got home from work, Flower forgot that she had spent the whole week with him and barked ferociously, as if he was an intruder. Dottie just hung back, but Candy greeted him with a wagging tail. That’s pretty good, since Candy’s tail rarely wags. Flower didn’t bark for very long, however, especially after John passed out the Milo’s chicken jerky.

Dottie’s turn on the table

Dottie was patient on the grooming table, but wouldn't walk on the leash.We are going to try to either put one sister on the leash or do some type of grooming every day. This morning, we put Dottie on the table. We trimmed around her paws and a little on the bottom of her feet, gave her her treat and put her back down. Flower is always too nervous to eat a treat on the table, put Dottie did.

panic mode

Shortly after John left, I was messing around with my blog site, trying to figure out why I couldn’t set up email subscriptions correctly. Right after that, it showed an error. I panicked, since I hadn’t backed it up for a while. It turned out that Fatcow was having a problem. Thank goodness. I did back up the site as soon as it came back up.

Candy’s turn with the harness

Candy took a few steps in the harness, following a Vienna sausage.The girls all seemed so bored today, languishing on the carpet, floor or in the doggie beds. I decided they should get a little fresh air, and while they were at it, Dottie could have another leash and harness lesson. Dottie was stubborn, and didn’t want to budge, though, so I targeted Candy.

I tried to do what Cesar recommended, introducing the harness to her, and giving her a bite of the chosen treat, Vienna sausage again. She took the bite and didn’t seem too disturbed by the walk-in harness, so I put it on her. I didFlower was relieved to avoid the grooming table and leash. have to carry her out to the middle of the grass. She didn’t walk as much as Flower did the other day, but she did take a few tentative steps. She’d stop, I’d offer a small bite of the sausage, and she would take a few more steps. I didn’t want to push her too far, so I made it a short session. I split the last sausage between the three of them.

Candy went upstairs for a short time after we came in, but then she came down and spent most of the afternoon with us. I think that’s another good sign.

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Shih Tzu Day 61: A Manless House

4:15 is too early!

Last night I told myself, and John, that I would get up at 6 and come downstairs with the girls, since I am behind on my work. If I haven’t explained, John’s job doesn’t dictate that he is up at the crack of dawn, so we tend to want to stay up late and sleep in beyond that time. It didn’t quite work out. Two of my furry alarm clocks came up at 4:15, with Dottie scratching on the bed and Flower barking. We said “ssssh” and “quiet” many times until Flower finally gave up and left the room. I don’t know, but Dottie probably stayed there on the floor.

They came back a half-hour later, and we still didn’t stir. At 6, since they had interrupted my sleep, I couldn’t convince myself to get up. John decided he would try to get them to go outside to do their morning business, since they have been going outside with him for treats. He succeeded. I got up shortly after that, and they had come inside. They gave me a little dance and then I started getting their dishes together.

back to the grooming table

I hope Flower overcomes her grooming fear soon.When the shih tzus came in, I cleared off the temporary grooming table and went and put the leash on Flower’s collar. When I think back about our earliest days with the girls, I realize that in itself is an achievement, considering how hard she struggled when I first tried. If she could, she would run, and if not, she would flatten herself against the wall and snap her teeth together, trying to nip at me.

I sat her up on the table and let her smell a Vienna sausage. She wouldn’t bite at it. John turned on the clipper to do her paws. She sat still for the first paw, but got restless on the second one. I know I am not supposed to let her touch me while she is getting groomed, since, as Lia says, that is a reward and she hasn’t earned it, but since we still don’t have a grooming arm, that’s the only way I can keep her on the table right now.

We finished the second paw, and then realized she had pooped on the table. Poor thing. She didn’t seem frightened, but that’s always a big sign that she is. We decided she had been good enough and had enough for the day. We praised her and John rubbed her face, scrunching it up, like Lia does to dogs, telling her how good she had been.

My constant companion, Dottie.When we put Flower down, she started to run away without claiming her treat, but I called her back, and she came and took a bite. I took the rest of the Vienna sausage into the living room and gave Dottie a bite and handed the rest over to Flower to finish it off, for being good on the table.

When Lia is grooming, and the dog is good, she says, “Nicely Done!” I want to find my own saying for when they are good. I have one for when they are hyper, which is, “Chill, Winston,” from “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels.” I also have some Ludacris lyrics for when I am trying to get the dogs to follow me on the leash. They are,  “When I move, you move, just like that.”

three companions

I’m not sure why, but all three of the dogs have been in the living room since I got home from running some errands a few hours ago. I don’t think I saw Candy run upstairs all day. If I was her, I would be up there. It has to be cooler in her swamp cooled room than it is in the living room. I am trying to keep the treats to a minimum, but I gave them small pieces of Milo’s Kitchen chicken jerky. They hadn’t had it for awhile.

Candy stayed with us all day, instead of hibernating in her upstairs room.Having three shih tzus lying around makes me want to do something to keep them from being bored. I got up from the computer and led them outside, knowing they would think they were getting yet another treat. Instead, I walked out onto the grass and started walking around the yard. Flower and Dottie followed me, while Candy found a comfortable place to sit. I ran a while, with Flower and Dottie running behind me. Then, I went and picked Candy up and had her run with me. When I put her down, she ran a little bit before sitting down again. I know it’s not much exercise, but they do get a lot running up and down the stairs in the morning and running around the yard at the break of dawn. It will have to do until we can teach them to walk on a leash.

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Shih Tzu Day 60: The Treat Man

John, the Treat Man, Not the Scary Man

It appears that John might be going from being a Scary Man to being the Treat Man.He has been following Lia’s advice, throwing down hot dog pieces when they don’t expect it, so that they will look forward to having him at home. When we got home from church and running errands, Flower started to approach him, without barking, but she stopped herself.  All three came up to him eagerly when he passed out the sweet potatoe and chicken treats. Afterwards, Candy started digging her back paws into the dirt, kicking it up around her. It was a cute sight.

No to the Potty Patch

I had high hopes that the Potty Patch would be our answer to carpets that don’t smell like Parfum de Urine, and that, if necessary, the girls would like to do number two on it as well, although that isn’t as big a problem as the other. Once again, my girls thought it was more fun to scatter the pieces on the carpet, then to actually sit on it and do their business. Maybe I should have sprinkled some dirt on it, to make it look more like real grass, or, in our case, maybe I should have bought one that resembled dying grass.

Candy Joins the Family

Candy had second thoughts about trying to escape.Sunday evening was very peaceful. Dottie took her place beside me on the couch. Candy chose to join us, instead of hibernating upstairs. She spent a lot of time crossing in front of us, going from one end of the living room to the other and back. For some reason, Flower abandoned her usual spot on the hardwood floor for the comfort of the blue dog bed.

Later, she jumped up on the couch, landing half on Dottie. They stayed there quite a while, while John and I watched a few episodes of The Dog Whisperer. The more I listen to Cesar, the more I realize that I tend to reward the girls for bad behavior. He also says it’s important to  begin with structure and then move on to awards/treats.

In one episode, he explained how to put a harness on a fearful dog. According to Cesar, you must first show the dog the harness. Then, take a treat and make the dog come to you and take the treat from your hand, through the harness. Eventually, you should be able to slowly put the food in the dog’s mouth and, while she is submissive, put the harness over her head. I’ll try that next time.

For some reason, one episode caught their attention again. They ran out of the Safe Zone as if someone had flipped a switch. Candy got excited and wagged her tail — a rare occasion — turning her head excitedly. I think they miss other dogs. I hope we can leash train them soon, so we can take them out into the world and see how they react to other dogs.

“I’m a Good Guy, Promise”

John wanted to take the dogs outside without giving them a treat, so they won’t expect it every time. Flower and Dottie wanted to come back in instantly, but Candy came up to him and they had a petting session for a few minutes. When they came in, Candy lay down at his feet. It reminded me of something Cesar said earlier to a dog: “I now you don’t know me, but I’m a good guy, promise.” They have to be realizing that John is a good guy.

I think that Candy touched John’s heart so much that he decided to take them out again later, and this time, really give them a treat. I was working, so I sat that one out too. This time, John was sharing Vienna sausages with the girls. He ate one first, watching as three little noses sniffed the air. Candy came up to him first, winning half a sausage. Dottie quickly grabbed hers and gobbled it down. Flower kept her distance, until John called her name. When she came up, she took a bite, but Candy rushed up and stole the rest of hers. John pulled another one out, since Candy had stolen the rest of hers. He also decided to give the rest to Candy, since she is the smallest. And probably, since she’s warming up to him the most.

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Shih Tzu Day 60: Back on The Leash Again

5:45 Wake Up Call

My furry alarm clocks aren’t going off at the same time these days. This morning, my wake up call came at 5:45. I stayed in bed too long, because one of my ladies left a puddle on the bedroom carpet.

My experiment this morning was feeding them and then rushing back to bed before I became too wide awake. My fantasy was to maybe get at least another hour of sleep before we had to get up and get ready for church.Sunday morning leash lesson 2

The girls weren’t having it though. They followed me back upstairs. Dottie kept scratching at the side of the bed and whining. Flower kept barking. I tried to tell them calmly to let me sleep, but my voice got louder when they wouldn’t stop. I guess we’ve created little monsters. I should make them sleep in Sunday morning leash lesson 3kennels and just let them out when I come down. I hate to think of my life being ruled by these cute, little furry creatures.

Finally, at about 6:30, John said he’d get up and go downstairs. There was a good chance that his appearance would scare them and they would let me sleep. However, I was wide awake by then and Sunday morning leash lesson 4thought turnabout was fair play. I came downstairs, calmly put a leash on Flower and carried her into the kitchen. I must have looked serious. It took only that much for her to poop on the floor, missing my clothes and feet, thankfully.

I carried her out, sat her on the grass, and gently tugged on the leash. No go.  One of the people at PetSmart had told me that Sunday morning leash lesson 5sometimes people put puppies in harnesses, pick them up, lean over and walk them “above” the ground, so they get the idea and then start touching their feet to the ground until they walk. I tried it a few times, but it didn’t work.

I finally just told myself not to look, and took some firm steps away from her, knowing she had to follow me or fight the lease. She fought the leash until John told me to let him try again. This time, I brought out one of the black harnesses, hoping we had tightened it enough that she couldn’t get out of it. As expected, she fought him for a few minutes and then did get out of her harness.

I decided the leash would have to do. I came up to her, now in her inside Safe Zone, and she sat there as I put the leash back on her. This time, I grabbed a hot dog on the way out. I coaxed her with it until she finally took a couple of steps towards me. Candy and Dottie were both outside and came running, either to see what was happening with her sister, or because they smelled the hot dog.

I don’t know if this is the right way to train, but I decided that every time Flower  took some steps, they would all get a piece of hot dog. We walked back and forth across the yard several times. I hope that all the dogs’ brains register that they will get a treat when one of them is on a leash.

My method seemed to work well. When I was done, I just let go of the leash, so Flower would drag it around a while. She came right up to the porch and sat by me. She didn’t even seem afraid of John, who was sitting next to me.

Sometimes it seems overwhelming when I think of all that we need to accomplish. We need to teach them to walk on a leash, to ride in a car, to not be afraid of being groomed, to not be afraid of people, to not poop and pee on our hardwood floors and carpet. Life with three former puppy mill dogs is definitely not boring.

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