July 21, 2014 by lesleybowen
Thanks to the polar vortex, Lexington, Ky., enjoyed near-record low temperatures in the mid-50s (Fahrenheit) and lower humidity this past week of July. I took advantage and walked Zip and Trevor in my neighborhood after work most evenings. One evening Zip and I shared dinner outside.
Sometimes Zip has difficulty grasping the food from the bowl as he’s missing some front teeth, so I will spoon feed him a portion of his meal as I do in the following video clip. How much of this reluctance to eat alone is because Zip enjoys the attention from me is up for discussion, but I truly believe that mealtimes are an excellent opportunity to bond with your senior dog just as it can be quality family time for humans.
Also I have noticed that older dogs seem to prefer a change in menu selection. Since my last post, Zip has rotated from grain-free kibble to dehydrated raw to a limited-ingredient kibble that he likes either dry or with a slurry of canned meat and water.
Meanwhile Trevor eats his higher protein grain-free kibble in a slow feeder and derives some mental exercise from doing that. Best of all, I am able to feed everybody else while he continues to eat.
Still a perpetually curious terrier, Trevor continues to enjoy playing with toys. His favorites are those he can squeak…right about the time I am listening to a training webinar. I laugh to myself as this is a lot of my life with a wire fox terrier. In the clip below, you’ll see what I mean, while the other dogs (one is a house guest) behave appropriately.
Apparently, I am rewarding Trevor’s inappropriate behavior by acknowledging what he is doing! ACK! And I didn’t realize what I had done that until I reviewed this video! How many times have you caught yourself doing something similar? How many of you record a scene like this which isn’t intended to be training but winds up being a training session anyway, because it teaches you what you did or did not reinforce with your dog?
In this final clip, I’m out in the back yard in the winter playing with my old dogs. What I love about this clip is that here are three dogs, all aged 10 or older, seeming to enjoy themselves and interacting with the person filming.
You’ll recognize Zip and Trevor from the above video clips. The barking Jack Russell is the late Minnie Winnie, who inspired me that it didn’t matter what age you or your dog are, you can still have fun with your dog!
The unseasonably cool weather gave rise to title of this month’s post, but what other application can I make from this idiomatic phrase that can benefit my dog training audience?
“It’ll be a cold day in July” means that some event is unlikely to occur. Training your dog is ongoing. Whether we train independently or take a single manners class, our dog never stops learning just as we as trainers hopefully are able to follow up with continuing education that enables us to become more precise and efficient when training our dogs through improved timing of reinforcement, more fluid body mechanics, and better criteria of a desired end behavior.
Every interaction with our dog is an opportunity to train even into old age. These times are precious. Enjoy them!