Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Pooches: On Growing Older and Pushing Limits

It's hard for me to remember back to "Vintage Miss M" and how realize how far we've come.
She arrived as a stubborn, excited pup who needed to be entertained every minute.
She always wanted to take the leash from me and walk herself.
She knew what she wanted. And she wanted it now.
Which maybe isn't so far off from today?
One thing I did do well was set parameters and routines and create structure. I knew once I decided on something, there was no going back. (We wrote about her original "debutante training"here.)
Suddenly the pup I swore was raised by wolves was able to keep keep focus on our walks, do sit-stays with a single finger command, and lay nicely beside a coffee table holding my dinner as I left the room...without even attempting to sniff it.
And for the most part, this has worked well for the past 8 years we've been together.
While I've always known dogs are constantly a work-in-progress, and it's important to continue working on training, I have become a bit more lenient within our home.
Part of it is thinking that they are older now (10 and 11 years old!!) and we just want them to be happy and comfortable.
So maybe our sit-wait routine before they eat has become a sit and wait until Mr. B just digs in on his own.
And Miss M has been giving some not-so-polite greetings when guests come over.
And just generally pushing the limits with Miss M pushing her smooshed-up mug very, very close to our guests' food.
She plays it off as part of her charm.
Now I'm wondering...to what degree does training subside as dogs age?
Is it best to just let these small things slide knowing they are Elderbulls, they earned it, and let them be happy?
Or by being inconsistent am I just encouraging them to really push the limits and become more ill-behaved? 

This command changed Miss M's life.
Most people find this one and this one most impressive.
Check our Facebook page for more photos, comments, and story lines beyond the blog.


Betsy said...

Miss. M might be an elderbull but she's still a smarty... Slowly training her humans... she thinks you'll get it someday ;)

Two French Bulldogs said...

You redefine the stereotype of pitbulls.
I'm a senior now too. It's hard to believe
Lily (& Edward)

OG said...

Petey often refuses to drink out of the traveling water dish/holder. He has to drink out of the bottle.
He no longer throws PB tantrums (mostly) but he doesn't behave as well with my mom

Ashley June said...

I've definitely gotten more lax, but I'm perfectly fine with it because a lot of things I originally trained on aren't as important anymore. My lab wasn't allowed on the couches when she was younger, but at about 5 years old, she would curl up on them when we were gone. I finally decided that I really didn't care because I was the one leaving her all day so she might as well be comfortable. Now she has a fitted sheet over the couch that keeps the hair off and I can sometimes convince her to cuddle with me. Totally worth it for those times.

Corbin said...

This post sums up everything that has gone through my mind in the past couple of months. Our pups aren't "old" but we know our time with each of them is limited. Amelia's heart gives her only a year or two to experience 10 years of life. And, Corbin... well, we don't know what is held in Corbin's stars. So, I'm always torn between spending time training Amelia to be a properly behaved dog, or spending that time smushing as much love, snuggles and fun as we can into the short time she has with us... And with Corbin's medical issues, we've let his training slip little by little as well. A huge part of me wants them to just be dogs, crazy, happy, excited dogs who are well behaved 75% of the time... the other part really wants to have well trained, well behaved dogs 100% of the time. My head says training while my heart says happy.
-Corbin's momma, Jenn

Anonymous said...

I just adopted an elderbull. She has some things to work on, but she's basically just incredibly sweet and mellow. She's almost TOO good. I'm noticing that when we're not in classes, I'm not super motivated to work on training when we can just play and cuddle. That's partly because she's not doing anything obnoxious, and partly because she's creaky enough that I don't want to force her to do a lot of sits and downs, and she thinks "touch" is a stupid game. No real answers here, except that since I'm hoping she can eventually be a therapy dog, I'll need to get serious again soon.

Laura said...

How loving you have been to Miss M and Mr. B from the time they became your pups and each day after! Seems fine to lighten up a bit as they are older, since what is most important is that you are together as a family, and that the pooches are comfortable and content. They have been trained so well and are such sweethearts because you have been so amazing with them! We are more relaxed with our almost 15 year old lab mutt as her comfort is our main concern now.

Maggie said...

My big dog lived until 15. I kept all the training that was fun and that would keep her alert/stimulated. (I really think it was the early/everyday training paying off.)

Do you have the Nina Ottosen toys? Those are really fun. My dog got a lot of praise (and confidence) from those even weeks before she passed.

I did continue eye contact in the home (I think my pooch derived a lot of comfort from knowing that I was there for her), but I was not persistent. It was more a game. There were lots of behaviors that were "good enough."

Re. walks, I still had my pup check in, but not as much. It took a lot more "pup-pup-pup" coaxing, but my dog really liked the attention. I could see the glint in her eye.

My advice to others with aging pups is ease up, but never forget that your dog probably still loves attention, praise, and all the games that go along with training.

IMHO, the mental stim is AS critical as the walking (yes, always keep walking).

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