This weekend we celebrated Loki’s third anniversary with us and his 4th birthday. I’m one of those lame people that combines celebrations. Hey, when everyday is a celebration, who needs to add more, right?
Two years ago this weekend, Mr. Wild Dingo and I drove up to the city to adopt Loki. I still remember the mixed feelings I had when I met him. He was much bigger than I had anticipated and he wasn’t even full grown. But his silly personality and his sad beginnings are what sold Mr. Wild Dingo and I on him.
It’s been a wild and crazy two years with Loki. While many of our readers think Loki is a well-adjusted, well-behaved, easy-to-train dog, I can honestly admit that it’s been a roller coaster ride and I’m still not certain we’re dialed in tightly as a team yet. With all the training and work we’ve done together in the last two years, he’s still challenging me and calling me on my inconsistencies as his handler. And “handled” he must be.
Loki is a wonderfully smart, driven and silly dog. He’s also easily frustrated which can be good and bad for learning new things. Frustration builds drive and drive builds learning. So while it’s pretty easy to teach him new things, on the flip side, his frustration can lead to undesired behaviors. Loki’s also anxious and unconfident. He’s a not a dog that would fit in with just any family. Continue reading “Happy Loki-versary”
It was Loki’s 1 year anniversary of coming to live with us yesterday. May 31, last year, we picked him up in San Francisco and drove him home. How time flies. So much has changed from being a demon dog who wouldn’t allow me to put on a collar or leash to upgrading his label as an “alligator on a leash” to now “decently obedient with a hint nutty flavor.” Loki has taught me so much in the world of patience and teaching him how to be a confident, well-behaved dog. People who meet him today would never guess he was ever a naughty dog. His hint of nutty-naughty flavor is fine by me. I like ‘em naughty.
And yes, I am ONE of “those” people who dote on their dogs and have mini-celebrations for their achievements. But seriously, I think the achievement is all mine. And I’m not ashamed to claim it. There should be an award given to people who make it to one year with anxious alligators like Loki. In fact, I made sure I had my fair share of tri-tip and at least five or six of those mini celebration cup cakes to serve as my under acknowledged award.
In August of last year, I thought it would be a great idea to adopt Juno so she could help relieve some of his pent up energy. I’m embarrassed to admit, I was just like one of those ridiculous people on TV who have difficulty with one dog and think getting a second will solve the problem.
What Loki really needed was stability and a consistent environment. He needed me to learn how to be fair and consistent in how I responded to his naughty behavior. Looking back at the year, I made so many mistakes, but I made a ton of progress. I tried all sorts of training techniques (remember the hamster ball?) and finally settled on training with a combination marker/positive reward training for completely new behaviors he needs to learn and compulsion for aggressive behaviors or blatant disobedience, such as stuff he knows 100% how to do but refuses to do. This has proven to be the best method for him as it’s the most fair. For the most part, Loki needs very little compulsion as he’s able to carry out his commands just as I ask them. But it wasn’t like that in the beginning. He needed compulsion to stop the aggressive behaviors and I needed to learn how much compulsion. It was all trial and error, along with the help of professional trainers (online, published and in-person), but I found out he needs very little compulsion to do his job (low level to remind him to pay attention while working) and he has not warranted any large corrections for aggression since last year. But this is also because I am able to read his body and redirect his anxiety before it ever escalates.
Some say wool or copper is the traditional gift for a 7th year wedding anniversary. Mr. Wild Dingo prefers to make his own tradition and gave me air for our 7 years of marriage. The Ryobi Cordless Leaf Blower, makes my life a “breeze.” And sadly, I’m bit addicted to my new toy.