The Buddy report: Crate training an older dog

We have had our new farm dog Buddy for a few days now and he is fantastic!  While he still shows far too much interest in the barn cats, he is responding to commands (that his previous family claimed that he didn’t know that sneaky little devil), understanding his limits and just generally being a joyous dog.  Until bedtime.  Then the fun really begins.

At this stage in our farm evolution, we have all of the outside service animals (aka dogs and cats) sleeping together in a heated outbuilding that we refer to as the garage (not that we get to park anything in it..sigh.)  In this building, everyone has a safe, soft and warm bed while being protected from the elements.  For this situation to work, we crate the dogs just to ensure that no mayhem ensues at night.  It has worked like a charm for Kya the farm puppy, but Buddy…well.  He ain’t havin it.

Now, I’ve never crated a dog before Kya.  Frankly, I always thought it was a little cruel.  Snickerdoodle, my much beloved Aussie/Catahoula mix used to sleep under the covers of my bed next to my leg.  That was kind of a turn off for some guys during my single days, but I always had my priorities right: 1) dog 2) guys.  Thank goodness Sheldon understood the pecking order!  Anyway, my previous dogs came and go where and when they pleased in my house.  By “came and go”, I unfortunately really mean poop and tear stuff up.  It was a chore that I was constantly managing.  So, when the opportunity came up with Kya, we decided without hesitation that these dogs (and all dogs moving forward) would be crated at night at least in the beginning.

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Apparently Buddy’s old family never explored crate training-at least that is what his behavior is showing us.  They were very candid in telling us that they had not worked with him like they should, and frankly it shows.  So much of we are working on is amending Buddy to our training for his safety and the safety of our other animals.  To help introduce him to the crate, we’re trying to make it a positive experience.  He has his bed in there from his old family.  It’s sized right for him so he can stand up and turn around.  We’re putting in Kya right next to him in her crate with lots of very vocal praise so he can see that it’s ok.  When we are putting him in, we’re using praise and treats to make it desirable.  And while he is very much enjoying the treats, he is still hesitant to sleep in there.  I know that it’s just going to take some time.  When I woke up the other morning around 5, I could hear him barking incessantly.  I’m sure all of the other animals are ready to vote him off the island.  But this morning…it’s 6:15 and all I hear is silence.  Either the cats have tied Buddy up and duct taped his mouth…or we have had some improvement.  When the weather gets a bit warmer, the dogs will move to their permanent home in the new barn without the crates, but for now-we’re going to keep at it-we’re in this with him for the long haul!

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Blueberry farming, Kitty eating and family fun in between

We had a great weekend this weekend!  On Saturday, we got another farm dog this weekend to keep Kya company.  They are already getting along famously and Buddy is helping to teach Kya that he is boss.  Kya has a bit of a nipping problem and I’ve noticed that when she got me a few times, he came over and corrected her before I even had a chance.  Hallelujah!  He came from a very nice family that simply did not have enough room for him in their backyard.  He is smart and kind and we have high hopes for him, although he (insert huge sigh here) seems to have the cat affliction that so many others do despite being raised with a cat….“I just need one taste mom!”

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Despite his kitty addiction, the family that gave him up had a very nice young girl who was very sad to see him go and we promised that we would love him, so we shall.  We’re hoping to take both dogs to the obedience classes that start in a few weeks but we’ll have to see how that works out with Sheldon’s crazy work schedule.  Anyone else out there have successful techniques for teaching outside dogs “no kitties” when it comes to barn cats?

We had a great family day on Sunday starting off our adventures at Promised Land Zoo  and ending it at Tractor Supply.  We’re kind of suckers for finding these “drive through zoos” wherever we live and we are very fortunate that Promised Land seems to do an excellent of caring for both the animals and of the souls of those who come to visit.  Plus, we have been there so many times since moving here that they offered us a break on an annual membership.  Love it!  They have one location in the middle of nowhere (Eagle Rock-shout out!) and a new location in Branson.  If you are planning a family visit to Silver Dollar City or the like this summer, I highly recommend checking them out!

At Tractor Supply, The Blueberry was excited to find so many garden implements her size.  We’re actually planning on her having her very own garden this year.  She’s going to be responsible for tilling, planting, watering, etc.  If I’m behing honest, I have to say that I expect it to look like a hot mess by the end of the summer, but I think involving our kids in growing their own food is a really important part of this journey to get back to nature.  She spent the entire ride to PL Zoo telling us what seeds she needs us to order:

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Plus, in the event that a carrot or strawberry actually makes it through her more than likely haphazard care, I can imagine that she will beam with pride!  She’s already been helping add more hay to the dogs’ training yard and the chicken coop:

yes, that really is a kid sized radio flyer wheelbarrow.  Thanks Tractor Supply!

yes, that really is a kid sized radio flyer wheelbarrow. Thanks Tractor Supply!

Well, it looks like another storm is moving in.  Fluffy Newspaper, our “head” barn cat is running back and forth in front of the kitchen window in between the garage and the barn like he’s on a mission.  I think this unsettled weather has the animals unsettled, so we better get to it.  Hope everyone has a great day.  Happy farming!

Check out some great new posts every Monday at the Homestead Barn Hop!  http://newlifeonahomestead.com

Check out some great new posts every Monday at the Homestead Barn Hop!
http://newlifeonahomestead.com

Picking a farm dog

Ever since The Blueberry was a wee Blueberry, we have been promising her a dog. Once we moved to Blueberry Acres, that dream became a reality and we rescued our puppy, Kya. Kya was originally thought to be an Australian Shepherd mix by the shelter that we adopted her from, but come to find out, all of us (vet included) think she is some kind of Rottweiler mix. All the same, she is still working hard to be a good dog although we have since discovered that Rottie pups are apparently more bitey than the average dog. And considering that a full grown, full bred Rottweiler has a bite force of over 300 pounds, you gotta shut that down quick.

I'm cute, but bitey

I’m cute, but bitey

Because Kya is going to be a hybrid working/family dog, she spends all of her time outside of our home. Now, before you animal lovers tell me how cruel that is, let me remind you that Sheldon is a “cat lady supreme” which means that all of our barn cats (and farm dogs) have luxurious sleeping accomodations that include heat, air and complete protection from the elements. However, unlike the cats who have each other, Kya is alone outside when we are not with her…and for pack animals, that is simply not a good plan. Enter dog #2.

Both Sheldon and I are experienced dog “havers”…I hate to say owners because let’s face it-these little boogers own us, not the other way around. We’ve both rescued all of our animals except for the ones who have rescued us. And getting another farm dog to complete our pair should be as simple as going into a shelter, picking a dog and bringing it home, right? Nope.

Well, to start with, we have pretty specific requirements. We need a male dog (better fit for Kya) who is older than Kya, who will not eat cats, can at least be trained not to chase livestock and won’t try to bite our child’s face off.  Sheldon has very specific breed requirements.  Not that we want or need a full-bred dog, but rather that he wants to avoid those breeds that he believes will be more likely to chase cats.  Oh, and the dog needs to be large enough so that it can’t be carried off by the bald eagles that fly over the farm and Heaven forbid, can hold it’s own until we can get there if a random bobcat and/or coyote decides to pick a fight. And then if that’s not enough restrictions, telling some people that this will be an outside dog makes them absolutely seeth with indignation for the dog. I recognize that for so many of these organizations, they are trying to do right by their dogs and for them that means absolutely no outside dog adoptions. But to take such a blanket approach, it’s unfair to us and the dogs who need loving, responsible homes. Outside does not always equal unloved.

So, what’s a farm family to do? Lie about keeping the dogs outside? I’m not going to do that. Although it has meant that some people won’t return my calls or emails, others instead won’t allow me to come visit the dogs and others still have lied to me about a dog’s status until they can find someone they like better.  However, it’s also led us to some bad fit dogs. Like the place that told us how sweet a dog was just to have him bite our 4 year old in the face without any provocation. We’re still convinced that he was a good dog, but a bad dog for us.  This is where I want those long-term shelters (who obviously know the dogs well after they have spent a year there) to be responsible in saying “he isn’t going to want to share you with your kid.”  Or the other sweet dog who was wonderful with our child, wonderful with Kya, interested but cautious with the chickens…but also seemed to have a sweet tooth when it came to our cats. It’s not easy to pull a 70 pound dog away from a cat when they are hell-bent on ingesting it, but thankfully, we did.  I would have kept him in a second, but the fit has to be right:

Sweetest Dog Ever, if you don't have cats!  If you are local, please consider visiting him at the Rogers, Ar Humane Society!

Sweetest Dog Ever, if you don’t have cats! If you are local, please consider visiting him at the Rogers, Ar Humane Society!

So, the journey continues.  We are supposed to go see an Australian Shepherd mix on Saturday morning.  We have had a very candid conversation with the person fostering him and she believes he would be a good fit for us.  He sounds like a great dog, but I cannot tell a lie.  My little heart can’t take much more.  I’m a dog lady all the way.  I love and enjoy our many cats, but I’m just simply a dog person.  My dog Kya needs a brother and I am very much hoping that this one will be the one.   But, if not, I have at least learned a few things along the way:

1) be totally transparent when communicating your needs

2) go to multiple shelters if you need to

3) get on sites like Petfinder, Craigslist..do Bing/Google searches looking for local rescue groups.

Bottom line is don’t adopt a dog who won’t be the right fit for you because you won’t be the right fit for him/her either!  Good luck and happy farming!