In training
by Karla ° Thursday, November 2, 2006
Samson is back in school.

I happen to think he is the most debonair brown nosing pooch prodigy on the planet, but I’ll admit that I might have a slight bias here because he is my dog and it would be hard to not think that of someone regal enough to produce enough butt slop to warrant twice weekly poop patrol rounds by someone other than the one making the messes. I think I am largely alone with my convictions on that one though, partially because people seem to be afraid of his goliath size and detour around us by method of crossing the street when passing by us and partially because of the prominent hesitation both Mark and my parents had when we asked if they would each spend a night at our house to take care of Samson when we have the baby.

He’s not a bad dog, but I must admit, he does have his shortcomings. Mostly, he’s very excitable.

And when he is excited, he mutates into a lanky legged track and field style high jumper that uses humans as hurdles.

He knows not to jump on Mark or me. It’s everyone else that is the problem.

Also, seeing that baby will be arriving soon, we thought it might be a good idea to see if we could get some tips to reign in his puppy energy.

So far we are learning to heel with right and left turns and obey commands with distractions. He is doing quite stellar at everything, except when the whole distractions thing is thrown into the mix.

He will heel just fine until we walk by another dog or human, and then all bets are off and his inner lunatic takes over forcing him into a leash lunging, human limb dislocating horror of a puppy.

He will stay perfectly still and for very long lengths of time with squeaky toys flying by his face or cookies being tossed in every which direction, but if we break out the big guns and bounce a tennis ball by his nose, all bets are off once again.

Apparently, tennis balls are the equivalent of puppy crack and chasing neon felt that smells like rubber and human finger epitheliums is his ultimate weakness. I sort of feel bad that he we’re forcing him to contain his enthusiasm on this one. Fetch is his most favorite game in the whole wide world, and he’s gotten so good at it that the yard can be littered with tennis balls and the only one he will retrieve is the one that you throw for him.

The most fascinating thing I have learned about my dog through all of this is how utterly frightening the female washroom system is to him. I’m not exactly sure if he was allowed in with me or not, but it was just the two of us at dog school, and the baby was gyrating in spirals along my bladder and I didn’t know what else to do besides shove his big lug of a puppy body into a tiny gray stall barely capable of housing me and the protruding appendage that is my baby belly. Adding a dog ¾ my size meant the only spot for him was scrunched up behind the toilet where he sat on top of piece of toilet paper and cowered in fear and horror while observing the complexities of female bathroom rituals.

Other things we are working on include:

Figuring out what to do about his frenzied excitement when the door bell rings. His bark is deep and menacing, which is great if burglars are robbing your house, but it was heartbreaking to watch a 3 foot tall pirate run away, sans treat, on Halloween night crying for his mommy.

We also need to figure out what is up with his infatuation at grabbing the fabric of long sleeved shirts between his teeth.

And finally, one friend asked if we could please train our dog to stop sticking his nose between his ass cheeks.


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I can just picture the two of you jammed into that little bathroom stall.

I think Samson has more education than your next door neighbour by the sounds of things.
Posted by Blogger Melanie :  November 02, 2006

Samson is soooo lovely. Being a dog owner and lover I can so appreciate the puppy exuberance. It can be trying at times. Dog classes are the best. I love going to them myself. For the doorbell thing.. you will need to continue your practice of sit, down, and stay. Maybe have a friend come over to ring the bell for practice sessions. Have you ever considered agility classes. They are great for bonding and obedience. And remember.. a tired dog.. is a good dog. :-)
Posted by Anonymous Coll :  November 02, 2006

I'll continue to enjoy hearing the way you tell of him.

I agree, your Samson stories are hilarious!

Maybe if you stop feeding him cookies he won't be so hyper....actually maybe they really aren't cookie cookies, but if they are maybe he can't handle sugar?

My aunt treats her 6 dogs with baby carrots! Maybe this will calm him down??
Labs tend tobe very hyper dogs. Good Luck
Posted by Anonymous Donna :  November 02, 2006

Dogs always love to smell in the most interesting places, right?

He looks like a cutie!
Posted by Blogger Kate :  November 02, 2006

I have a 5 month old female black lab and can defintely relate. She just finished Puppy 101 and starts adolescent training next week. I actually started putting her in "doggie daycare" once a week and it definitely helps with her high energy level. Keeping bitter apple spray nearby at all times helped with her fondness for long sleeves and pants legs...
Posted by Anonymous Kimberly :  November 02, 2006

Donna, Samson's cookies are actually just milkbones. Oh my goodness, I can't even imagine how far he would bounce up the walls if we actually fed him real human cookies!
Posted by Blogger Karla :  November 02, 2006

Sammy used to bark everytime the doorbell rang and wouldn't stop. We put a few coins in a tin and everytime he barks, we shake it, just once. Apparently the sound is like fingernails on a blackboard to humans. We only had to do it a couple of times. Now, we just have to show him the tin and he stops.
Posted by Blogger Linda :  November 02, 2006

Maddie almost ran away from a house with a big dog too, but then I think the thought of losing out on candy overtook her and she gritted her teeth and walked past him.
Posted by Blogger Heather :  November 02, 2006

hahahaha I almost wet my pants when I read this post haha u and samson in the bathroom haha
Posted by Blogger rachael :  November 02, 2006

LOL. The tennis ball fetching could come in handy. He could be a ball boy and earn his keep..

You must (must, must, must) read Marley and Me

I'm in Ajax, too. If I was a praying person, I'd be sending notes to God for you and your baby; in lieu, I send you good vibes each time I visit.

Posted by Anonymous Carly :  November 02, 2006

The can with the coins is a wonderful solution, also try this: put him on a leash at the front door and have someone come to your house and ring the bell. Samson should ONLY get attention when he DOESN’T jump up. Even scolding or yelling at him will enforce the bad behavior, because he still gets attention that way.
Give one short tug on the leash and a command word (down, sit, stay) and have your “guest” ignore him until he settles then lavish affection when he’s quiet. This will eventually reach him that he’ll get more attention when he’s doing the good behavior. It takes time, but I think he’ll catch on quick.
Posted by Blogger methatiam :  November 03, 2006

Oh Lord Karla this entry made me laugh out loud several times. The image of you and Samson in the bathroom stall must have been an interesting one.

I hope the little pirate ended up with a snickers bar though...if only he knew Samson really was just a gentle giant LOL
Posted by Blogger Patyrish :  November 03, 2006

Karla, I just got back from a family get together, my aunt who has 6 dogs, 2 of which are hyper maniacs like your Samson. She is reading the book Cesar's Way. He is the dog whisperer dude. She said his book is awesome and she is implementing his ways with her dogs and they are working really well. I guess you can see some of his video clips on Amazon. Just thought I'd mention it since you are looking for ways to help your beast!
Posted by Anonymous Donna :  November 04, 2006

We used to give our dog baby carrots, too, and he loved them. Well, our lab did, the boxer, not so much, but...

Hmmm, the butt cheek thing...definitely worth paying to fix!
Posted by Blogger Christi :  November 05, 2006

Donna, I remember seeimg that guy on Oprah!
Posted by Blogger Karla :  November 06, 2006


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