A Puppy Learns to Share. Sort of.

Resource guarding, whether in respect to food, toys, space or anything else, can be a scary habit and a tough one to break. By default, most puppies tend to be resource guarders/hoarders. For example, Penny always dashes to the water and drinks in deep gulps. She’s just starting to catch on that there is no shortage of water and no need to rush for it.

As Penny continues to grow, I’m mindful to help her not be possessive and to be comfortable sharing.  Rhodesian Ridgeback, puppy, dogs, marking our territory, blog

“Sharing? Never heard of it.”

With Dutch (my brother’s dog) around, it’s provided the perfect learning experience for Penny. Dutch is an unfamiliar pup in her home and he’s messing with her stuff!
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“Hey Will, who authorized this guy getting a square on the couch?”

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“Hey buddy, get your own lion”

Since she’s still so young, Penny has adapted quite nicely. While she was a bit miffed at first, Penny now happily shares her toys and plays tug of war.

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Dutch also taught his young pupil one of the oldest tricks in the book. He stayed still and let Penny do all the pulling…

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And left her with the small end of the wishbone

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But Dutch also kindly shared his bone with Penny and all was well

Eko used to be a bit of a space-guarder and would grumble if anyone bugged him while he was snoozing. Penny has certainly cleared him of any remaining vestiges of that issue.

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Dutch gave me the “Is she seriously trying to sit here” look, while I just laughed knowingly

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“Hey bro, is it cool if I sit here?”

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“No? Okay how about here?”

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“No? Okay, well yeah, I’m just gonna stay here anyway”

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“Perfect!”

Ok, so Penny is an expert at teaching other dogs to share. But we still have a ways to go before she is as benevolent as Eko and Dutch!

The Dog Fountain of Youth

At a whopping four-months-old, Penny has no shortage of youthful exuberance. When we visit the beach her joy for life  is always on full display. (As are her ears.)30.1

“I’m never going home!”

But not everyone can be a puppy. Did you know there are some people out there who are over thirty years old!? One of those geezers happens to be my brother James. And as fate would have it he just moved to Chicago with his dog Dutch!

Like James, Dutch is a senior citizen. I remember Dutch’s heyday as a lunatic pup but at ten years old he’s past his prime. Or so I thought. As we do with all new city-pups, my gang introduced Dutch to Montrose Dog Beach. Dutch, in a way I can’t recall seeing in years, went romping mad!
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Pure puppy-faced joy from the old man

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Dutch bounded through the water with reckless abandon

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Even Eko and Penny stopped to admire the display

Montrose dog beach, chicago, dog-friendly, marking our territory, chicagoAnd then joined the romp themselves, of course!
Montrose dog beach, chicago, dog-friendly, marking our territory, chicagoThe crew tore up and down the beach. Dutch soon learned the lesson all dogs do…

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“This puppy is crazy!”

Montrose dog beach, chicago, dog-friendly, marking our territory, chicagoChicago’s happiest new citizen

It was incredible to watch Dutch shed the years as he reveled in the sand and surf. I think this old dog found his fountain of youth!

How to play Puppy Freeze Tag

Eko and (especially) Penny are animated, lively dogs. The sounds of them playing, eating or chomping on a toy are the background music of my day. But at least once a day my rambunctious pups turn to stone. In what I have dubbed “Puppy Freeze Tag,” I will get up to check on the dogs if I think they’re being too rambunctious or might be causing mischief.

No matter how loud they were the moment before, the pups have the exact same reaction when I enter the room.
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Stand perfectly still and look away

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Whether looking up, down or to the side, the key is to remain statue still and look away

I’m not sure if the pups think this tactic turns them invisible, but regardless they both believe if they remain perfectly still they cannot get in trouble. No matter how absurd staying still may look.

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Penny teetered over the edge, torn between her knowledge she shouldn’t be up there and her commitment to staying perfectly still

More often than not, Eko and Penny work in silent, stoic tandem to profess their innocence.

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“Look, he’s still and quiet. I’m still and quiet. Not sure what you think you heard going on in here, Will.”

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I know they were causing mayhem just the second before I snapped this shot, but neither would snitch on the other

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Thick as thieves, these two

Like Wile E. Coyote, I think my efforts to catch these two road runners in the act is doomed. They’re just too quick!

Does your pet have a go to maneuver to profess innocence/avoid your ire?

How Do Dogs Make Friends?

As my siblings unfortunately learned when I was born, you can’t choose your family. The same is true for Eko and Penny – they’re stuck together.Rhodesian Ridgeback, puppy, dog beach, chicago, adventure, marking our territory

“You hear that, Eko? You’re stuck with me!”

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“Oh yeah, well you’re stuck with ME!”

Thankfully, Eko and Penny continue to bond very well as siblings. With her family life set, Penny now focuses her attention on making new friends. As a puppy, she is fairly indiscriminate about the particulars of dog friendship.

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She’ll chat it up at the watercooler

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And bravely approach lost polar bear cubs

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At the beach, Penny plays with whatever dog happens to be closest at the moment

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And she always plays at full speed

Eko on the other hand is more selective when it comes to playmates. Somehow – and I have no idea how – he seems to know immediately whether he wants to romp with another dog or not. The same goes for most of the other adult dogs we meet at the park. It seems like some kind of speed-friend-dating thing that all dogs do.

Whatever the language, code or shorthand adult dogs know for selecting friends, it still eludes puppy Penny.

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Ears back, tail tucked – this dog sent a strong message to Penny she did not want to play. Clearly Penny did not receive the transmission, so I moved her to a different part of the park to play

Like any pup, Penny has a lot to learn about the different signals other dogs send. I know it will come with time, but I’m still not sure what “it” is. Even when not making any overt signals, it seems adult dogs can still expertly read each other.

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Friendship is a give and take. Penny’s nailed the “take” part but she still has some work to do in the “give” department

My plan is to keep a closer eye on Eko to see if there are any discernable patterns in who he likes to play with. I’ll also see if any pattern develops with Penny, but I doubt that will happen anytime soon.

What about your pup? Do they have a friend profile or certain types of dog (size, coat length, etc) who they prefer to play with? If you have any theories about how our pups choose theirs friends I would love to hear them!

[VIDEO] How big are my dogs? It depends.

Everyone gets the standard question about their pups, including questions about how big the are. For me at least, it’s not such a simple answer.

Me and these two varying-size couch potatoes will catch you next week!

Puppy Class Graduation

Do you know what they call the person who graduates last from medical school? Doctor! In a similar vein we can now enthusiastically call my little class clown a puppy school graduate.

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“Will, let me see that thing. You sure it’s not a forgery?”

As I failed to do during elementary school spelling bees, Penny got up in front of the class and nailed all the commands. Penny’s classmates all passed with flying colors and each of the pups got to pick out their own graduation present from a pile. Penny’s choice was quite fitting.

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A little devil for my little devil!

And no graduation party would be complete without cake:

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Penny performed her disappearing treat magic trick

These past six weeks have only confirmed my belief that puppy classes are an invaluable tool in raising a well behaved and well socialized dog. The material isn’t groundbreaking, but for your puppy the experience certainly is. Practicing teamwork/commands and socialization in structured environment has helped set Penny and I up for future success.

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There’s plenty more to learn, but thanks to Joanna and the team at Anything is Pawzible we have a great foundation to build on

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I will certainly miss how well behaved Penny always was after class

I’m looking into additional classes, but for now the plan is to keep practicing and putting in the work to help Penny be the best pup she can be. Our next challenge? Perfect loose leash walking. (*Deep breath*) Here goes nothing!

I Love Bad Photos

I love the feeling I get when I capture that elusive “perfect” photo of my dogs. A photo when they’re both in full romp, both of their faces are towards the camera and both perfectly in focus. Alas, due to my middling skills as a photographer and the frenetic tendencies of my pups, those perfect photos are few and far between.

The photos I post on the blog range from “ok” to “great” on my own scale, with most being “good.” However, there is a special place in my heart for certain “bad” photos I take that generally never see the light of day. For me, bad photos sometimes tell a better story than those perfect shots. Here are a few of my recent bad-favorites.   Rhodesian RIdgeback, puppy, adventure, chicago, marking our territory

The goal was a cute family photo. The result was a blurry mess, but I just love Penny bugging Eko and Eko whining to Emily about it

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I had another portrait-style photo in mind here, but Eko showed he still knows how to start trouble by pushing Penny and setting off a game of tag

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This photo is just absurd. Penny tried to jump on Eko, but he ignored her while grooming himself. Penny remained stuck on his head for a good ten seconds

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Getting everyone to look at the camera at the same time isn’t easy. Penny did her job here…

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But when Eko turned around she decided to just quit and walk away

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And sometimes no one looks, but you catch your pup looking like she’s talking out of the side of her mouth like and old-time mobster plotting a heist

Life is messy, unpredictable and weird so I appreciate holding on to some of my perfectly bad photos which reflect exactly that. Whenever you take a really good, really bad photo I highly advise you hold on to it!

Does anyone else have a favorite bad photo in their collection?

Penny’s First Swim Lesson at the Dog-Friendly Beach

Nearly every description of Rhodesian Ridgebacks, no matter where you read it, mentions the breed is not fond of water – be it in a bathtub or an ocean. Overall, I have to say I agree with the standard because I know multiple Ridgebacks who refuse to put their paws on the grass when there’s a morning dew.

Knowing this, I gave Eko lots of positive experiences at dog beaches when he was a pup and now he loves to plunge into the water. He’ll usually only swim if I do, but I feel good knowing he can handle himself. I want to make sure Penny feels equally comfortable in the water so we headed to the beach specifically to practice her doggy paddle.
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Eko helpfully goaded Penny on the shoreline and then dashed out towards me in the water

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I was happy to see Penny confidently follow suit

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She splashed up to her chest but suddenly stopped when Eko turned around

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“Oh, the little pup is afraid!” I cooed. I should have known better. She was just waiting for Eko to look the other way…

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The little huntress took a stalking bounce

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And then exploded out of the water!

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By the time Eko saw her coming, it was too late. The hover-dog was out for play-revenge

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The titans splashed in the shallows. It wasn’t swimming, but it was…something

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I broke up the ruckus and for a moment we got back to our lesson. Penny took her first few puppy paddles…

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But only so she could get back to rumbling with her big brother

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Eko was ready this time and caught Penny mid-air. Like all big brothers do, he promptly proceeded to dunk her

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Undeterred, Penny sprang to the surface and gave chase

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“Guys, the swim lesson? Guys???” 

Well, the good news is Penny seems to have ZERO trepidation about water. The bad news is that the swim lesson was a bit of a bust. But it was certainly fun to watch. Sometimes things work best when you don’t get caught up in a lesson plan. Or at least that’s what I tell myself!

There’s still time left before the lake gets too cold, so hopefully I will report back soon with Penny’s first real swim.

“This pup is crazy!”

One of the things I love about Penny, and all young pups, is their relentless, unfiltered exuberance. That exuberance requires no cause or justification, it just simply is. However, it can also be exasperating for me to keep up. I’m not the only one though – I have captured plenty of four-legged friends who all share a look which says the same thing – “This pup is crazy!”

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There of course a plethora of photos with Eko in varying states of exasperation, but this is one of my favorites. “Will, she has a soccer ball stuck to her head and is jumping on my head. And you’re just going to laugh?” Answer: yes.

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My brother’s dog, Dutch, tried the old “If I don’t look at her in the eyes, maybe this crazy pup will leave me alone.” Answer: nope!

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Even Auggie, a puppy himself, was happily exasperated. “This pup is crazy, Will. I like her, but she’s crazy!”

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At the dog park this pup kept picking up different tennis balls and running away. He didn’t understand Penny didn’t want a tennis ball, she just wanted to romp

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The eyes say it all here! 

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Accidentally, this guy slammed into Penny at the beach and sent her rolling. He was worried about Penny at first, but when she popped up and came storming his way I think he was more worried about himself!

Is Penny a bit crazy? I think humans and dogs would agree, but that’s what makes her such a perfect fit for me!

[VIDEO] Puppy Class Clown

It may be summer, but while kids around the world slacked off Penny and I (kind of) diligently studied for puppy class. However, next week is our graduation test, so for the past couple days I’ve resorted to an old stand-by to prepare: cramming.

Thankfully I have my sensei to help my little punk student. We’ll practice some more this weekend and hopefully graduate to the big leagues Monday night.