Last updated: August 25. 2013 12:52AM - 246 Views

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Dorothy MinerNot too long ago I adopted a wonderful dog from Allen Correctional Institution’s PETS Program. During Kiri’s first month with me she was on her best behavior. Almost every dog goes through a honeymoon period after going to a new home. Formerly homeless dogs like Kiri know they have a good thing going and they aren’t about to mess it up. Eventually the honeymoon ends and the dog will start to behave in its more typical fashion. I was sure when I adopted Kiri that there wouldn’t be any insurmountable problems, and that’s still true. Most of her habits are cute quirks, but some are a pain in the sit-down. One odd behavior is that she won’t drink out of any of the water bowls in my house. She much prefers puddles to nice, clean water bowls. I wonder if puddles were her only access to water in her previous life. The problem with puddles here is that they can contain runoff from my livestock pasture or chicken yard and from my neighbors’ herd of cattle — not exactly great for the digestive tract! I finally solved that problem by leaving a large pan of water outdoors, with a few leaves floating in it. I hope when summer finally arrives and the puddles dry up Kiri will drink from the bowls in the house like the rest of my canine crew.Housetraining became a problem, which was a surprise to me until I gave it some thought. In prison, her schedule was regimented and her inmate handler’s job was to instruct her in the fine art of being a housepet. She had regularly scheduled potty times during her stay there. The cell she shared with her handler and his cellmate was very small, and it was easy for them to keep an eye on her. She was crated when they were not with her. My house has plenty of places to sneak a quick “drop” out of my sight when the weather is bad. This was proving pretty frustrating until I decided to listen to the advice I give my training clients: Restrict freedom when I can’t watch her, take her out frequently and praise her for performing, and use a cleaner formulated remove pet stains and odors in the house. Staying with her until I actually saw her do her business was important. Kiri is a very busy dog and it only took a minute for her to forget the main reason I put her outside. She has to do the bug inventory, chase the Shih Tzus, and rearrange her collection of sticks. By the time she’s finished with these chores, she’s completely forgotten about her potty duties. I sure hope she gets past this stage quickly because I feel like an idiot standing out in the yard swatting mosquitoes and repeating “go potty-potty” over and over again until she finally does. She’s also a bit of a loudmouth, is too interested in my chickens, occasionally goes deaf when I call her, and is a bit of a termite. I guess since I named her after an operatic soprano I should expect that she’d want to live up to the name! She’s learning not to sing when I leave the house now. Before we reach the last leg of our run around my field I clip her leash back on her collar — long before she remembers my chickens and heads off into a stone-deaf run to check them out. And we’re doing lots of Coming When Called practice. As for being a termite — she originally contented herself with chewing the corners of magazines or stealing stuff from my bucket of recyclables until she discovered the joy of unraveling a rug. Once again I’m taking the advice I give others: Keep an eye on her and confine her out of the way of temptation when I can’t watch her. Use one of the bitter sprays formulated to discourage chewing by making objects on which they are applied taste horrible. Provide her with a variety of inviting doggie chew toys.Kiri is an adolescent and is still testing her limits. When she matures she will be the perfect dog. Up until then, she’ll still be perfect as long as I keep a close eye on her, know what to expect, and keep up on the training. And I’m developing a lot more sympathy for some of my students in the process.Dorothy Miner is a long-time dog trainer, obedience and tracking instructor and judge of canine events. Dorothy currently teaches at the Hollowell Academy of Dog Training and, along with Diane Laratta, teaches weekly classes for the Allen Correctional Institution’s PETS Program.

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