The baby isn't even born yet and I'm already neglecting my first born on this blog. Poor Henry! Well, he has some news for you guys. Big news.
Henry is officially in training. And no, not marathon training with his dad. We hired an in-home dog trainer to come to our house and turn Henry into the perfect big brother.
But wait, isn't Henry perfect already? I'm sure it seems that way from my blog since all I do is post disgustingly cute pictures of our little man and gush over him but no, he is not perfect. Far from it, actually.
You see, ever since birth Henry has been a bit of a fraidy cat. If a stranger comes up to him on a walk and says, 'OMG he is the cutest dog ever, can I pet him?' while walking towards Hank he never fails: he'll slowly back away, crouch down, and give the stranger a look like she's trying to strangle timid little Henry. Same thing for when an unknown friend of Mommy or Daddy's comes by the house...deathly afraid, cowering in the corner, for at least an hour or two until he SLOWLY warms up to them (after much internal debate with himself, I'm sure).
But his shyness was something we could always deal with, chalking it up to the fact that dogs have individual personalities just like people and apparently Henry's personality is being a giant wuss. Unless of course he knows and likes you---then watch out for the countless face licks, butt shakes, and snuggle sessions. This lover boy part of him always outweighed the wussy one.
However, there was a new problem we encountered somewhere in between our move up to Milwaukee and our move to this duplex. Perhaps the shock of leaving his comfort zone in St. Louis, the only home he'd ever known in his whole little life, was too much. Maybe it was the time right before the move when a dog nearly attacked my baby. Or maybe living above my in-laws dog Sammy makes Henry yearn to be the alpha dog. But whatever the cause, Henry is now a barker.
He barks from the back of the couch whenever a dog walks by, a family pushes a stroller on a walk, a leaf blows past the window....you get the idea. And when we venture out for walks Henry turns into Mr. Macho Man and decides to growl and bark at strange dogs who just want to play. It's awful and annoying and SO not going to fly when we have a sleeping newborn in the next room.
He used to love other dogs (always hating their owners, but at least loving the canines) and now he doesn't. It all came to a head last week when Nate had both Henry and Sammy out on their leashes and the dreaded neighbor dog named Steve walked by. Both Henry and Sammy went absolutely ballistic and Nate could not control them. It sounded and looked like our dogs were going to attack poor Steve even though the little crapheads are puny white fluffy dogs while Steve is a giant black lab. Nate came inside FUMING at Henry saying he'd had enough: it was embarrassing, unnecessary, and loud. So loud.
So immediately I got on the ever faithful Google and typed in 'Milwaukee Dog Trainers.' Lo and behold I found a company called Bark Busters and was completely intrigued. I mean besides the adorable logo...
It sounded like a perfect plan for our little problem dog:
So our initial session was on Tuesday, when both Nate and I were home to fully absorb our training---because let's get real, the training program really trains the owners, not the dog. We have to become strong pack leaders so that Henry doesn't think HE is the leader or even our equal. He has to respect us and listen to us and above all, he has to stop barking at other dogs.
This means no more sleeping in bed with us (sob! inner sob goes here!). No more lounging on the couches with us (hey, maybe we can save our dog'd up couches after all). No more having free reign over the entire house while we are away because all it does is cause him anxiety over having the 'protector' role over our home, thus the barking at dogs who pass by. No more sprinting past us through doorways.
Yep, his whole world is going to change....or it already has, even after one session.
This post is already way too long, but I'll let you know how the actual appointment went and how our 'homework' is progressing, in another part of this series. But send Henry positive 'good dog' thoughts! He's been working so hard and has definitely gotten a few more belly rubs and verbal praise along the way. It's not easy.....but worth it, we hope.
And I'll leave you with a picture of Henry as a puppy. How can we say no to this face??