Wednesday, November 01, 2006

As we move into November, both Savvy and I are feeling the chill of winter. And neither of us are liking it. Our last trip up to the lake was windy and cold, and my puppy refused to stay under the sleeping bag we brought him. The red hoodie I bought is cute and helps warm him a little, but is going to be absolutely useless this winter. My cousin made her doberman a coat out of her old down parka and she says it works wonderfully, so I'm going to be combing the thrift stores for a down jacket. His thin, cropped ears have been completely bare and unprotected in the cold weather and that issue needs to be resolved. Last winter he was small enough to wrap in my jacket, and this year it's a different story altogether. In any case, soon you may be seeing pictures of him all dressed up. For danes in warm climates, I know this sounds silly, but frostbite and hypothermia are a real concern here, and I can't possibly lock my dog inside all winter.
As it gets cooler, I try to take advantage of our time outdoors, by letting Savage run free on our walks and hikes and bike rides. Therefore, he's not getting any on-leash training. Which means as soon as he gets on a leash, he pulls and pulls and completely forgets what "heel" meant. Needless to say, this makes walks less fun for both of us, with him wildly lunging ahead and me stumbling after him on the other end of the leash. So I finally caved and got a prong collar.
Today was our first experience with the "instrument of torture". And it worked. The pull of the collar when he lunged ahead was just enough to calm him down so he would walk a short ways ahead of me at MY pace. And he didn't seem to resent the prong collar as much as I anticipated. It didn't actually hurt him, but acted as a "reminder" that he needed to stay close to me without dragging me all over the trail. When we got back to the house we had a great game of fetch to let him know that it's not all discipline, that his mama wants to have fun with him, too.
We'll begin training with the prong collar, keeping his comfort in mind, but also my sanity. And in looking for a way to maximize our exercise program this winter, I came across some articles about treadmill training for dogs. As I understand, this exercise option is generally used for canine athletes, but I think it could be a great way to keep him in shape on the -20F days I know are approaching. That is, if he'll even get near the thing. In any case, this evening I will be going to pick up our new electric treadmill. At 55" of walking surface, I hope it will accomodate the stride of a growing great dane. And I hope he will slowly learn to walk on it confidently. (My Savage can be a bit stubborn.) If not, I guess I'll have to actually get on it myself, so as not to make it a total waste of money. This should be interesting, so stay tuned!


  1. Laura Marxen said...
    First of all, I know that you want to keep Sav's comfort in mind, as well as your sanity, but this treadmill adventure might quickly remind you that there is no such thing as sanity with a Dane and his training! Not that I would know, since China Dog is always well-behaved and responsive to any and all forms of training. Best of luck and if you should need any pointers, contact China , not me, since I'll be too busy laughing my ass off at Baby Dog on the treadmill! Sooty
    Paula said...
    Yes, but can China say "Mama" on command?? And let's put him on the treadmill and see how he does...
    Anonymous said...

    Enroll in a dog training class instead of using a pronged collar. It really is an instrument of torture, which can be deadly, especially in the bitter cold.

    Keep you dog inside. Dogs are pack animals and want to be with their human companions.
    Paula said...
    Regular readers of this blog know that I live 100+ miles from any dog-training or obedience class, so participating in one would be extremely difficult. Though I am no expert, I work with my puppy daily on training that will make our lives together easier and happier. He still has to learn some more manners, but he is generally better behaved than most 1 year old dogs I've met.
    Regular visitors to this site also know that my dog lives, eats, sleeps, and spends the majority of his time indoors with me and my boyfriend. I believe his twice-daily walks are essential to his well-being, physically and psychologically, and will continue to take him outdoors in the wintertime, as long as he has some protection from the weather.
    As far as the prong collar goes, believe me, if I thought for a second that Savage was in actual pain, I would be the first to trash it. I had reservations about using one, also, but I think it can be a good training tool if used correctly and gently.
    "Anonymous", thanks for your suggestions. I sincerely respect your opinions. I also believe I know what's best for this puppy I spend every single day loving, training, and caring for.

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