April Update and May Goals

I had three goals for April.

1) Work on Silas’s focus when we’re outside

2) Go to the park twice a week

and 3) Get back in the habit of daily training.

I’m going to grade us at a solid “Eh?”

Goal #2 completely fell apart on me when Silas started refusing to get in the car. And I mean, terrified crouching and huddling next to the door to the house, not just “I would prefer not to.”

Goal #2 basically took goal #1 down with it. I can’t work on focus when we’re outside if I can’t get, you know, outside.

Goal #3 was going extremely well until the last week or so, when I got slammed with both deadline knitting for a baby shower AND my husband’s major work event of the year. (Still ongoing; if I’m not around much this week, that’s why.)

Our training made some good progress this month. Silas has a pretty reliable foot-targeting behavior, with speed and accuracy. He’s making slow-but-steady progress on “Sit Pretty,” and he almost has bow on cue now that we’ve renamed it “stretch” to make the cue more distinct.

The surprise development of April is that Silas is now pretty reliably walking out of the garage, around the corner on the sidewalk, and then back in our front door. This sounds like a huge  deal, which it both is and isn’t. What Silas really wants is to walk on the sidewalks inside our townhouse complex. The self-appointed HOA police scolded me for letting him play on the grass out there, so I’m very sensitive about taking him out the front door. If we come in from the street, though, I can tell evil HOA lady that we’re just on our way back from a walk.

Too-smart-for-his-own-good Silas very quickly learned that if he really wants to go out front, we need to go through the garage and down the street. It’s major progress, to the extent that he’s willing to go out next to the street at all. Not only is he willing to go out, I can say, “Do you want to go for a walk?” and he is excited. That’s the kind of regular-dog stuff that just doesn’t happen around here.

On the other hand, we scurry around the sidewalk as quickly as possible, short of actual running, and turn right back in as soon as we get to the gate. Because Silas sees the sidewalk as a means to an end, I’m not sure that we’ll ever build it up to anything else. The exposure is still good for him, though, especially since he would be in the house 24/7 otherwise.

Another surprise development is this:

No gate!

That’s my upstairs bathroom with no baby gate. See that huge ragged place in my rug? Blame Silas, who subsequently couldn’t be trusted to leave the bathroom rugs alone. The door there doesn’t securely close, so for two years we’ve been stepping over a baby gate. (Before that, the gate was at the bottom of the stairs.)

Which leads us to: May Goals

1) Keep up with the daily training

2) See what I can do about getting Silas in the car. I haven’t been worrying too much about this, because my air conditioner is still broken. It’s too hot to put Silas in the car anyway. On Saturday he insisted that he ride with me on an errand (in my husband’s car with the AC), so maybe we’ll be okay.

3) Keep getting him out on the sidewalk. I would love to start having him turn the other direction sometimes, which gets him back inside equally fast, before he’s decided that he can only possibly turn left FOREVER. I’m not pushing it, though.

Do you have goals for May? How was your April?


8 thoughts on “April Update and May Goals

      1. Ya, she’s on fish oil AND coconut oil, special food, antibiotics and medicated baths. Not sure what else to do really. I think the baths are the only thing that really help her but they take hours! It ain’t easy being a German Shepherd:/


  1. Goodness, dog twin parallels galore. Ruby gnaws my bathroom rug, too. My solution is mainly to give her the beloved Benebone while I’m taking a bath. My car AC is also broken, which will be limiting our car trips as the temperatures climb.

    I was wondering about the “not allowed” townhome sidewalk walks. So – dogs are not allowed on the common properties? How are you supposed to walk them?

    The foster dog has definitely turned our routine upside down, so I don’t have any concrete plan for May beside “maintain peace and relative order in two-dog household” but I think the dog-dog social time is a fair trade-off for the reduced formal training. Lydia might be a better trainer than me at any rate, though she does not subscribe to positive reinforcement methods 🙂


    1. The areas between the little townhouse clusters are very heavily landscaped–flowers and shrubs and all that. I suspect that the signs asking us to not walk our dogs in the common areas mean “don’t let your dog walk in/pee on the landscaping.” They probably also don’t want us lingering, because in some places the walkways are narrow. But, I don’t know. My right hand neighbor sits outside with her dog all the time, and obviously people have to walk through the common areas to get out.

      It’s been a very gradual process with Silas and the rugs, from “Chew All the Rugs, including the carpet!” to “Chew only rugs that don’t have rubber backing.” Now I think we’re at “don’t chew rugs.”

      One of the last times I took Silas to the dog park, he was still fairly adolescent. He was having a lovely play with an older female BC mix. He started to get a little rowdy and I moved in to get him away from her. Right about then, she picked up her paw and whapped him on the nose. He was like “Oh, I see, let’s play a different game!” It did him a world of good. I wish I’d gotten that lady’s phone number to set up some playdates.


      1. Lydia does the paw-whap, too, particularly when Ruby has a toy in her mouth that Lydia wants. They play tug really nicely, and then when Lydia is done she will settle down to chew the toy and give a little growl if Ruby continues to pester her. Lydia has also jumped up on me and mouthed my arm really gently when she is playing – super bite-inhibition, which is comforting given her size advantage over Ruby.

        I’m already feeling very conflicted about fostering/adoption since they seem so compatible, but trying to be reasonable only one week in.


  2. Wait. Silas INSISTED on riding in the car?! That sounds like a major coup. Even if the other 99 times he gets too scared, you have one glorious time to hang onto! Those sound like great goals. I’m going to tackle daily training with Cooper throughout May, too, because we really need to work outside… before it gets too hot!


    1. The car thing is weird. He has a long history of perfectly contented rides in the car, and then several months ago he started getting skittish. I don’t know what is going on with that.

      I find that it’s CRUCIAL to be outside almost every day in May to really acclimate to the heat. So, of course, almost every May something crazy happens to prevent me. Last year I had some flu-like illness and was too sick to leave my chair for a week. This year Silas doesn’t want to get in the car.


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