Dog in Training (part 1)

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??
henry as a puppy

13 comments:

  1. That is such a great idea. I had no idea this was offered. I did it for my pup!! I will google it. I am in Chicago so maybe there is one close to me too!

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  2. We did this for our dog and it worked wonders! ( and he was 5 when we started) In the end, they made us buy him a shock collar for the car, because the barking at bikes would not stop, but the walking, barking, sleeping with us..it's all fixed! :)

    GOOD LUCK HENRY!!

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  3. What a great company! It seems like they offer everything that you and Henry need. I hope it goes well, and I can't wait to hear about Henry's improved behavior.

    Btw, Henry was adorable as a puppy!

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  4. Henry is adorable... I am really looking forward to hearing how this all panned out!

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  5. Yikes! Mia sleeps in our bed, sits on the couches, leads through doors...we are not the leaders if the pack! We probably need to fix this habit. Where do they suggest the dog should sleep? In the crate? She fall asleep on her "bed" on the floor but crawls into bed in the middle of the night when we are deep into sleep.

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  6. I get so worried about how our cockapoo Murray will react to our "someday" baby. He is not agressive at all, but I definitely need to treat him less like a human! He thinks he owns me :( I'll be looking forward to reading about your training sessions!

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  7. Good Luck Henry...I know you will be a super student with an A+ grade when you are finished!

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  8. Awww, best wishes to Henry! You guys are so smart for doing this!

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  9. I hope the training goes well! Our pup, Sadie is a wuss too. Before we adopted her she was bitten by another dog (well, attacked really) so naturally when we got her, she was deathly afraid of other dogs. We threw her into the fire (doggie day care) and she's doing much better. Still a shy one around other dogs but she'll actually play now when we go to the dog park.

    Out of curiosity, where are you keeping Henry while you're at work now and he doesn't have free reign of the house? That's something we're struggling with when we don't take her to day care. I mean, we're not made out of money...that place is expensive!

    Good luck Henry!

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  10. Aw, how cool! Let me know how it goes.

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  11. Good luck!! I can't imagine my dog no longer sleeping in the bed, on the couch, etc., so good for ya'll for being strong and taking charge!!

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