We had a lovely and relaxed Easter weekend with my family, who came to stay with us. The dogs were really well-behaved, likely because Eden got tons of exercise (and because Pyrrha is almost always easygoing at home).
My dad, as I’ve mentioned before, is who I got my great love of dogs from, and he loved being with the girls.
Dad played several daily games of Frisbee with Edie, and I daresay her skills are improving demonstrably. Dad trained Dublin, their neighbor’s lab, to be a consummate disc dog. And as I’ve mentioned before, Dad just seems to be able to “speak dog,” despite the fact that he’s never done any kind of formal training with a dog. They just always seem to understand each other perfectly.
Watching Eden has also made me realize that she’s the most herding-dog-like of any German shepherd I’ve met or watched. The intensity, the focus, the stalking postures, the quick circles, even the barkiness all strike me as hallmarks of dogs who are actually supposed to be herding sheep. Even my Dad said, after playing with her for a while, “I wonder if she has some Australian shepherd in her…” — referencing our childhood Aussie, who had a lot of herding drive.
Unsurprisingly, Eden bonded VERY strongly with Dad over the weekend. As soon as he stood up to do anything, she was at his side, giving him this intense stare, waiting for him to make a move to the back door. When he and my mom left, she started to whine when he got in the car to drive away.
Pyrrha, my little self-contained lady, prefers to be a spectator of the sport.
Or, she is just the grubby fan in the stands (who, in this case, found a bowl with tiny bits of biscuit dough left unattended):
What a weirdo.
Regardless, it was a great weekend. It’s fun to see Eden’s blossoming disc dog prospects, even if it’s only for a fun way to wear her out at home!
Have you ever had a dog who worshiped the Frisbee? What were some things you learned to develop disc dog skills?
We’ve been having fun with our pups, even when they drive us crazy. I’ve so appreciated hearing from so many of you with your tips and tricks on puppy raising, daily walks, and allergies. Collectively, you have a wealth of knowledge, and I’m always so thankful to receive your comments.
Here’s what’s been happening lately in our new multi-dog household:
Pyrrha the disciplinarian
I’ve known this about Pyrrha, particularly with our younger fosters, but she likes to play the role of school marm/elder sibling disciplinarian with puppies. It speaks to her inner dog, which is really just a curmudgeonly old lady. If I chastise Eden, Pyrrha likes to follow up on my admonishment by chasing her down and growling/grumbling in her face. Sometimes she grabs Eden’s scruff too, by way of a larger warning.
Essentially, I’m not sure if I should intervene when Pyrrha displays this behavior. Pyrrha lays off after a few seconds, and Edie is always unharmed (and then will usually just go back to whatever unwanted behavior she was carrying out). My best guess is that this is a behavior that older dogs exhibit toward puppies, and I imagine it will fade as Eden matures, but I don’t want to unwittingly let them fall into a bad habit if I can stop it now.
What do you think? Is this problematic? Do your dogs ever “discipline” each other?
Eden the disc dog
We have discovered that Eden loves playing Frisbee! She has a high retrieving drive, so my husband made a good guess that she’d enjoy chasing a disc. She’s addicted! Eden is still learning how to jump and catch it, but she’s learning the game very quickly. No shepherd can really compete with a border collie or aussie in this realm, but I think it’s going to be a game that she can enjoy for a long time. Guion was so inspired from teaching her that he went and immediately bought her $40 worth of the high-end dog discs (Jawz, by Hyperflite). Ha! #spoiledpup
I don’t have any good photos or videos of this yet, so for now, here she is with her other favorite toy: an old gourd, left over from Halloween.
Fence as a frustrating barrier
Our new yard is bordered by unfenced yards. In particular, our various neighbors on the left have several small dogs (an ancient maltese, some tiny poodle mix, and a Jack Russell terrier, from what I can tell) who they let roam (without leashes) through various yards and straight to our fence. This drives Pyrrha CRAZY. Her behavior is a mix of reactivity (frustration mixed with fear) and some desire to play. Eden is just excited to have visitors! We’re trying to figure out when these dogs are released, so that we can time our potty breaks differently, to avoid outbursts. Meanwhile, it’s kind of frustrating.
We’ve been working on daily walks, something that I confess we didn’t do with Pyrrha. Yesterday, we walked for an hour on the trails near the river, which is always heavily populated with dogs and children (Pyrrha’s top reactivity triggers). Overall, I’d say it was a successful visit. As usual, Guion walked Edie, and I walked Pyrrha and looked like a total lunatic, armed with my treat bag and clicker and my constant scanning of the horizon for kids or dogs.
Edie walks in front of us, so she gets to encounter people, kids, and dogs without watching any fearful reactions from Pyrrha. This strategy has worked well for us so far. Eden got to meet a laid-back, friendly hound, and the introduction went very well. The hound was on a retractable leash, however, so I kept Pyrrha very far away from him. There were lots of dogs out, but we were able to avoid any reactive outbursts, which is a victory in my book for Pyrrha. Edie continues to be bothered by nothing, which is an encouragement and in keeping with how we have perceived her personality over the past few weeks.
I really love walking our girls, even if Pyrrha’s fears occasionally mean that we have to cut our walks short, take weird routes, or appear rude to children or dog-walking neighbors. I’m thankful that we have a reactivity protocol in place to help her, and I’m always thankful for days in which she has no outbursts. And, of course, we’re also thankful for our new, confident little baby, who balances the scales.
Playing with Fiona + shifts in Pyrrha’s play style
In our new house, we live even closer to Fiona, so it’s been fun to have play-dates with her. So far, Fiona is the only play-date guest we’ve had in the new house; we need to get out more invitations!
Something I’ve noticed with Pyrrha’s behavior with Fiona: Since bringing Eden into the family, Pyrrha has markedly changed her play style with Fiona. She is frankly kind of a bully to little Fi. Fiona is extremely submissive, and she spends the first 10 minutes of every play-date on her back, belly-up, lying very still and letting our bossy girls sniff her to death.
Once she starts to run, however, Pyrrha chases her and rough-houses in a way that she doesn’t with other dogs; she even humps Fiona, which is a behavior Pyr rarely exhibits. I’m not sure why this is, but it’s a definite change. Eden and Fiona, meanwhile, play beautifully together, as they have similar (high!) energy levels. Eventually, Pyrrha just lets them chase each other in circles and then just goes and does her own thing.
Have you ever seen your dog change his or her play style? What do you think caused the shift?
We’re thankful for our girls, issues and all!
Big challenge coming up: We’re hosting a housewarming party with 50+ guests in two weekends. Socialization gauntlet! I think Eden can handle it; Pyrrha could if there are no children and no one wants to mess with her; but we’re going to have the crates and a quiet room ready just the same. Whew!
Dog-related links from around the Web this past week:
Life with Two Shibas. What’s it like having two shibas in the house? A realistic and detailed portrayal of how to welcome that second dog into your home and how to create balance and stability thereafter. (Shio the Shiba)
Frisbee Discs for Dogs: What’s the Best Disc on the Market? While I have very far-fetched dreams about Pyrrha taking interest in a Frisbee, I still love watching dogs play with flying discs. Does your dog love to chase a Frisbee? Here’s an article with some reviews on the best discs for your dog. (Whole Dog Journal)
Heart Spaghetti. A discussion of the importance of heartworm preventatives, particularly during this time of year. (Couches for Breakfast)
Post-4th Puppy Extravaganza. Seriously, what could be better than the chaos of 15 German shepherd puppies tearing through one’s home?? (Blackthorn Kennels)
When Time Isn’t Enough. This is a very honest post from Vanessa about how Rufus still hasn’t warmed up to his human dad, even after two years. It made me wonder if Pyrrha will ever love Guion, but it was simultaneously encouraging to know I’m not the only one in this boat. All I can say is, Vanessa and I–and Rufus and Pyrrha!–are lucky to be tied to such patient, persistent men. (The Rufus Way)
Pawsitively Amazing: Smiley. An apt name for this golden retriever, who was born without eyes into a puppy mill environment. But he just radiates joy! The description of his relationship with his owner is supremely touching. (Daily Dog Tag)
Let’s Be Gentle, Not Judgmental. A very humble and encouraging post by one of the most popular foster mamas out there, about the myths she once believed about her dog and others’. Such a great exhortation for us to be more patient and gentle with those who may still have some things to learn about their canine companions. Because, really, who of us has all the answers? (Love and a Six-Foot Leash)
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We’re out of town for another long weekend (another wedding and another road trip). This time, Pyrrha will be hanging behind with her angelic former foster and her pack. It’s the best form of doggy daycare for her and she always comes back to us very tired and happy. Hope you all have pleasant weekends!