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So you think you want a smart dog?

It’s all fun and games until the dog outsmarts you! Just last week I was crowing about how smart Maggie is. And she’s definitely smart. I’m not sure how she learns the things she does. Last week at class we were talking about the automatic sit during heel. This week while we’re out for a walk she’s doing it. Before that it was the down command. I had shown her a couple times, but I had really been focusing on sit. And suddenly I said down and she just… laid down. I thought it was a fluke, but she’s repeated it ever since. Stay? No problem. Don’t pee on the carpet? Okay, I won’t.

Then it happens. They outsmart you. The crate is like a Rubik’s cube. Spin this, twist that, she figured out the secret in 5 minutes. She figured out how to open the door to the screen porch. Just jump up and push the handle. Easy peasy. Except she’s in there because I’m mowing the grass. Dogs aren’t allowed in the yard with the mower. She knows when I put on work clothes and then she doesn’t want to come inside.

Monday was the piece de resistance. Let me preface this by saying that some people give me a hard time about the camera I have set up to watch Maggie when I’m gone. They think I’m over the top, and that the dog doesn’t need to be watched. And I agree, to a point. I have a love hate relationship with the camera. I like to know what she’s doing, but there’s only so much I can do about it when I’m not there. So it brings me comfort and it brings me stress.

Sunday night my dad came over and we put a window air conditioning unit in the window in the garage. Maggie’s condo, as I refer to it. I was a little worried because the window unit isn’t as wide as the window, and it has the little plastic accordion things on the side to seal off the rest of the window. But the window is 31” and the actual AC unit is 20.5” That’s only a 10.5” gap. And the unit is centered, so we’re talking about 5.5 inches on either side. It isn’t as secure as I wish it was. But it’s 5.5 inches! She’s a 50 pound dog. And we secured the window unit to the window, so she couldn’t push the actual air conditioner out.

I went to work, and as usual I’m keeping an eye on Maggie. I saw her get up on the table by the AC a couple times, and then she got down. The last time I saw her she was chilling in her recliner. And then it happened. I looked at the camera and Maggie was gone. Air conditioner was there. Doors were shut. But the dog wasn’t there anymore.

I’m not sure how to express the thoughts that went through my head at that moment. I’ve spent so much time and energy trying to keep the dogs safe and to be a responsible dog owner. And to date I’ve never lost a dog. I don’t count the rescue that I chased screaming for three blocks - I could see him the whole time. And then the thought of, if she’s gone I don’t even know where I would begin to look.

At my job you don’t just go home in the middle of the day unless someone is actually dying. Parents don’t go home when their own kids are sick. We just don’t have the staffing for that. But I begged family emergency, (dog emergency? It’s the same thing!) and I left work and came home and Maggie was just hanging in the back yard. She had jumped through this tiny hole, knocked over a propane heater, opened the door to the screen porch and let herself out back. I think she thought it was a pretty fun adventure. I did not think it was a fun adventure. Needless to say, the window is now closed.

I was off work Tuesday and Wednesday, and I thought about it, but didn’t come up with a great solution to the hot garage problem. So when I had to work today I just took a deep breath and left the dog loose in the house. I made sure she pottied before I left and I said a little prayer. It’s been a long time since she had an accident inside. I finally got the carpet smelling better. But it’s carpet. It’s not the end of the world. And to my delight, I came home to a clean house!

Maggie was so proud of herself. Dare I say that she’s potty trained? She’s well on her way. I thought it was hopeless. It wasn’t hopeless, it just took time. Three months tomorrow. Just like everyone said. Maggie challenges me. She keeps me on my toes. She makes me a more creative thinker and a better dog mom.

What a week!

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Well, I just love this story. Smart dogs are definitely challenging; they make us be smarter, too, lol. 
I hope today is just the first day of the rest of Maggie's life as a potty-trained, trustworthy-in-the-house-alone kind of girl! 

It is a good story. Better because I didn't come home that day to a dog who had jumped out the window and broken her leg. I'm afraid that she's going to make me glad that I have insurance for her! I still can't figure out how she got out of that hole. I forgot my visual aid last night. I took a picture when I got home before I took the window unit out. She's a big dog. Does she have incredible shrinking powers when I'm not looking? But things are really great. I just have to keep working to stay one step ahead of her. She might raise my IQ before we're done!

Maggie is hilarious!

Luna is smart but not THAT smart (nor that sneaky).  

Here's to hoping Maggie can just stay in the house while you're away :)

I would have her do it again just so I could see her do it. I would be too curious.

I think I'm going to take a pass on attempting to replicate this experience! I didn't even mention how she thought she would jump out a front window this week when I was home. She destroyed the screen on my bedroom window while I was in the living room. She was going to go say hi to the people walking down the street. I turned on the air after that and closed all the windows. I really don't think she wants to run away from home, but she's not very good at respecting boundaries. I can just see myself putting bars on the windows to keep the dog inside! Did I mention that she's keeping me on my toes?!?

Yeah, probably not a behavior you want to encourage. Leaping out of windows is kinda scary. I love to listen to rain and storms at night. I will open the windows as long as the wind isn't blowing rain inside. My bedroom is on the 2nd story, so it was a concern that Annabelle might try jump out, when the rain stopped. She just laid there on the bed looking out, but showed no interest in going outside. I only open the windows a little bit, but after seeing what Maggie jumped through, she could probably get out if she had Maggie's talent. 

My Fudge is our smart dog and has kept me on my toes her entire life! Half the time I think she is looking at me and thinking, "what a dumbass!" LOL Maggie is going to give you lots of stories to tell in the future :)

I like having stories, but good grief! I love watching border collies work. They're amazing! But I've always thought there is no way I could keep them mentally stimulated enough to keep them out of trouble. And now here I am with a dog who is smarter than I am! But I've finally found a training facility that does more than just house manners. I'm really excited to see what we can learn together. 

I had all these great ideas when she first came about her being a therapy dog and an agility dog and a tracking dog. And then she got here and she seemed so unhappy. But now everything has turned around. We're going do amazing things. 

I love this story...thanks so much for sharing!

Thank you so much for all of your support and suggestions! I think there were a lot of things that went into making this a difficult transition. Not the least of which is that I was just so broken. I kept thinking that I would never love her like Ava. And it took me a while to see that I will never love her like Ava. I love her like Maggie. And it's not less, it's just our own relationship. We see each other now. And I won't lie, having her potty trained will be about the best thing ever!

This reminds me of a story that some of my friends already know, but I think it fits Maggie perfectly.  We had two daughters who we loved like crazy (still do) and then when our oldest was going off to college we decided to have another baby.  We had a son named Tim and he was pretty darn perfect....but he had Down Syndrome.  It was a surprise...we didn't find out while I was pregnant.  Our whole family was in shock and I wasn't sure how to even feel. 

I heard someone speak who shared this story.....Imagine that your whole life you wanted to visit Paris, so you saved for years and planned every bit of your trip.  The day you got on the plane headed for Paris was the most exciting day of your life.  When you landed the pilot said..."we're happy to announce that we will not be able to fly into Paris but we are here in Amsterdam instead.  Please enjoy your stay."  There was a choice at this point...do I get totally upset and disappointed about not being in Paris, or do I see what might be here in Amsterdam.  So I decided to keep my mind open and I found that Amsterdam was totally magical...not Paris....different...but truly magical.

This story helped me see that life is full of surprises....and to understand that to a large degree we control whether they're good or bad.  I SO LOVE that you said "you will never love her like Ava...you'll love her like Maggie".  She and the universe will reward you immeasurably for that...I truly believe that.

Oh Maggie girl, you just keep getting better. Great story.

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