Monday, September 10, 2012

Buster

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We have this little dog named Buster. He's what we call a Dog's Home dog. Which is to say we adopted him from our local dog's home a few years ago. He came with 3 bad habits:

1. The uncontainable urge to chase ducks.  I'm not talking the urge to chase them, no sir! I'm talking the uncontainable urge. Water is not a hinderance if he's chasing a duck. Buster can swim, & swim he will if it stands between him and a quacker.

2. The horrific desire to torment all cats everywhere. He doesn't just give the four legged felines a chase, that'd be too easy. Nope. This dog takes chase, barks, growls, & carries on to the point of excess. The first time a cat witnessed this, it just happened to be the cat next door. It thought it was pretty clever to sit on our fence & dangle it's cute fuzzy little tail at our dog, but the minute Buster spotted that fuzzy little tail he jumped on the fence, while barking like mad, so fast & hard that cat took a nose dive off. It's never gotten better...

3. The desire to yank so fiercely on his lead he can knock a pro footballer off his feet. Everyone looks at our innocent little dog & says, "Oh he's so sweet." That's because they've never ever walked him on a lead before. Ever. No, seriously. Ever.

That picture of my hand is what it looks like after a 20 minute walk when a child, who shall remain nameless looses the head collar harness. All though, the verdict is still out on the possibility that the dog buried it. Over the past 5 years I've been determined to break his foul little habits, all though between you & me I don't so much mind the cat chasing issue. It's not that I don't like cats, it's that I'm terribly allergic to them & I don't want to risk them pestering my guinea pigs. That, and the last neighbors cat, all be it cute & adorable, would sit in my bedroom {yes from the outside} at 4 am & yowl & howl at us until I couldn't take it anymore & I'd let lose with a bucket of water on him.

The duck chasing issue is insane, no doubt, but it's not a huge issue except when we go on various bush walks. Which means, the habit I've most been trying to break is the lead pulling issue. We started with a regular harness which was truthfully only grand for lifting him off all fours when he'd be extra naughty & only want to play with other dogs instead of continuing on with his walk. It was also really helpful for buckling him into a chair in the car so he wouldn't break into the bacon.

Next, we moved to a chest pinching harness. The idea being that when the dog pulled it was suppose to squeeze his front shoulders together & that would cause excess pressure making him uncomfortable. Here's the deal, that lead worked about once. Yep, a grand once, but in all fairness my dog only stopped pulling long enough to sniff a nasty little Chihuahua who decided to try and attack us. You know the dog I'm talking about right? The one who runs around the doggie areas loose until it's owner comes up screaming it's name all embaressed, but doesn't actually snap it on a lead.

The only way that funky little harness actually worked was if & when I had to pull the dog on the walk. That's an absolute rarity except for when we run into New Ben & Old Ben. They were a funny pair of dogs. Old Ben was small & not into playing very much. New Ben was deaf & loved to play. Their owner adopted them many years apart from the Dog's Home & both came with the names of Ben so the owner never bothered to change the names. Buster loved to play with Young Bob & another dog named Lucy who was equally mischievous & her owner often ran up & down the beach behind her screaming, "LUCY!"

Living in a neighborhood where dog's can't just roam the beach for their walks it was getting pretty rough to walk our dog without coming back looking like that photo above. Or with my shoulder wrenched out of place, or.. or.. or.. So one day a few months ago I was in the local pet store picking up guinea pig hay.

Yeah, I know pet shops aren't all that cool, but forget that for a moment. I decided to grab a new leash while I was there, we go through them pretty quickly because the salt water & sand can do them in pretty badly. I generally buy mine at a local cheap shop because, well they are way cheaper. While looking at leads & wondering what they were made out of considering their prices I spotted a head collar harness guaranteed to stop your dog from pulling.

After reading the info on it a bit I decided I'd give it a try & if it couldn't live up to it's expectations I'd bring it back. Only, it so lives up to it's guarantee that my dog now has mixed feelings about his walks. He loves going on them, but he despises the fact he's not allowed out the door without the creepy harness on. It causes him angst, but the desire to go for a walk always wins out.

When our nifty harness came up missing a couple of weeks ago I was subjected to walk him with his old harness which doesn't do half as good a job. Needless to say, after tearing the house, the car, the yard, & the shed apart we went out & bought a new one. Which was a bit of a chore, because the place we bought it at was no longer carrying them, such a disservice because man those things are amazing! The local Animal Tuckerbox still carries them though, & the guys at the counter had no idea why we were so excited. I think we scared them.

The only downside to these nifty little harnesses is people think our dog is aggressive.. you know, cause his head collar harness looks like he's wearing a muzzle. Ha! Incase you're wondering, we use the Halti Head Collar harness, which is often known as a muzzle harness. Fear not though, our dog can still pant, chew, breathe, & play with his on. It doesn't stop him from doing anything he'd normally do, except pulling.

We did try it on our dog & had him wear it for about 10 minutes one day, then the next day we took him out on a walk. He got the point very quickly that he had to walk in stride with me, however, this harness is so effective that even the kids can walk him now without issue. He has tried, several times, to use his paws to pull it off his face, we simply make him sit check that it's still on correctly & not too tight & then resume our walk. Generally he'll only try it once on a walk because he despises having to be still instead of walking. All though he will try to rub his nose on your leg or rub it on things now & again if he thinks you're not paying attention.


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