Friday, March 09, 2012

Puppy Dog Manners and Matters

Traveling with my doggy has its moments. While many folks travel with pets in their RV's, not all are friendly.  I can't quite figure out why people would travel in  campers fulltime, stay in busy campgrounds then not be cordial towards others. Even worse is when they unwittingly teach their pets to be unsocial. 

Harley used to be an enthusiastic pup who tried his best to make friends with every canine and human he encountered. Now he is more selective. The sometimes cruel world has taught him that not all dogs and people are friendly or receptive to an euphoric meet-and-greet puppy dog. 

As a pet parent, I have to remind myself that there are humans who don't think my puppy dog is cute at all.  Can you believe it?  They want nothing to do with my dog or me or both.   

When I am out walking, I've learned the signals to leash in Harley close to my heal, so he doesn't bother someone that clearly wants to avoid him or me or both of us.  Harley has pretty much figured out which other pets are friendly and which aren't. We are both confused when the canines are friendly but their pet parent doesn't want their dog to be sociable.  It happens.  It's sad. 

I've tried my best to teach this hard-headed goofy mutt of mine, the rules of social conduct in campgrounds. It must be a little bewildering for him, that his home and neighbors keep changing. He is supposed to protect and guard, but not loudly or incessantly when there is no real threat. We're working hard on the barking routine. He is actually really good about being quiet but sometimes he gets riled up, doing what I call "his chihuahua thing" of rapid barking like an alarm signal gone crazy.  I have to remind him that if I gently tell him "it's OK" he better shut up pronto. Ha!  Easier said than done!

He is having trouble with this sometimes, so I remind him again with a squirt from a distinct water bottle.  The water pistols all broke, so now I use a spray water bottle, just in case he didn't hear me say "It's OK", a verbal signal for him to pipe down immediately. Utilizing this reminder of a water squirt,  has made him learn to be quieter much faster. Thank goodness. 

When a neighbor mentions after several days  "Oh, I didn't realize you had a dog!" I am pleased that my bundle of trouble is finally learning that a quiet puppy dog makes for contented neighbors. 

I have an assortment of strings, ropes, leashes, carabiners, and even a special bungee cord, so that I can set up a tethered play area for Harley on our camping lot. Since the size of the lot varies widely from place to place, I have to come up with different scenarios to allow puppy some supervised outdoor play.  I try to make sure he can not reach the unmarked boundary lines between our camp site and the neighbors. 

Yesterday, I had set up Harley on a long tether so we could play ball. He has just recently learned the importance of returning the tennis ball to the pitcher, so the game can continue. What a concept!  Now Harley absolutely loves to play ball, though he still has a habit of also chewing the ball to shreds eventually. I hope this destruction phase passes at some point. But it's exciting to see his puppy delight in returning the tennis ball to the pitcher for continued playtime. 

Behind my current RV lot is a grassy utility right-a-way. We were out back playing ball. I had temporarily put Harley on a super long tether, so he could run his little legs off chasing the ball for exercise. When we were finished, it was my intention to change his tether arrangement back to the more compact roaming area he had been on earlier.  I was hoping to attempt to do  some housekeeping inside, with the front door wide open, so I could monitor puppy's moves. Well, that was the plan but...

Instead, the Skype computer phone started ringing on my laptop,  inside the camper. I stepped inside to answer the phone and talk. Two minutes later, while conversing on the phone, I noticed out the window, that Harley had managed to wander over on his temporary long tether, to reach the very edge of the patio mat at the neighbor's travel trailer where they were sitting outdoors. I told my caller to hold on please, as I bolted outside to retrieve my errant puppy who by now had given the neighbors, a few  enthusiastic "Let's play!" barks. 

I've learned Harley's different types of  barks and what they mean but I certainly don't expect others to grasp this. However, he is very expressive with his types of barks. Such as:

Bark, Bark, Bark +10-20-30 more Barks!  Means DANGER and I am setting off the chihuahua security alarm until you notice!

A gentle Woof, Woof!  Hey you!  Let's play!  (He also tends to lean down on his front paws, while leaving his rear end high in the air to show off his tail wagging from side to side rapidly in a playful manner.)

Just one sharp YELP!  I'm stuck!  Come untangle the tether from the one of assorted items he's managed to snag with  such  as the electric cord, the water hose, sewer hose, tree, rock, bush, chair, picnic table, card table, RV tire etc.  He has learned to just let out the lone YELP then sit and wait for me to come to his rescue. 

I put my call on hold, then ran for the puppy, scooped him up and apologized to the neighbors for Harley's intrusion, promising to go fix his tether and keep him quiet. Instead they turned about to be amused and friendly.  Harley had only let out his friendly WOOF WOOF, trying to engage them in ball play while I was on the phone. We chatted for awhile, taking turns tossing the tennis ball for Harley to pursue and return. Then they invited me inside to see their cat tricks. 

Yes, they had a cat that can go up on his hind legs, then pray with his fore paws, while moving them up and down, tightly clasped together, as if he is beseeching the heavens to rain down tuna. It is hilarious!

They rewarded the cat trick with treats. 

Where's a camera or video when you need one...  Harley has been upstaged!

I left him outside while I visited their cat inside. He let out his "You forgot me bark!"  but I shushed him up with the STAY command. He immediately sat down, remaining outside on his tether, quietly, while I flirted with the kitty cat inside the neighbor's travel trailer without him. Good doggy!  We love a nice quiet well behaved puppy!  

Hey, there might be something actually at work in that tiny little  puppy brain, after all.

Harley's trademark look of one ear up, one ear down and his curvy wild tail. 


  1. That was so cute!! I think most dog owners can relate to your blog. I'll have to remember the chihuahua bark.

  2. HAHaaaaa... what a lovely read... good morning!

    Haaaa... I surely would like to meet Harley... Haaaaa

    and a cat what does a trick?! whoa!

  3. Harley is a cute little puppy, and also very intelligent. From the standpoint of another dog owner, I have a 10 yr old 80# shepherd mix. She is totally laid back and usually doesn't pay attention to anyone or anything. When small dogs go by they must feel like they have to show their aggression, no doubt a self-preservation reaction, so I tend to steer clear of other dogs when we're out walking. Also, other large female dogs are sometimes dominant and aggressive, so unless I know we're coming up to a large friendly male, I keep my dog close and away from trouble. I hope no one misunderstands.

  4. I've noticed that. Not all birds understand that our cats just want to play and get acquainted with their innards. The mice don't get it, either. Well, they do "get it," in the end.

    The Good Luck Duck

  5. I think Harley is a little doll!

  6. I'm dying for a dog but have to wait until I have an RV. I'm glad to see you have a little dog that you are training to be calm and obedient.

    I like medium to large dogs and am having to convince myself that a small dog will be fine if I give it boundaries and have the same expectations as I've had for my collies and standard poodles.

  7. We have a small dog and she's 14 years old. My husband says that's like 90 yrs in human? I don't know, she's normally very sweet, but then out of nowhere she can get agressive. We respect her because she's the oldest one in our home, but also have to be very careful because we don't want her to get into fights with other dogs. We like to keep our distance. But not because we are not friendly, just because we are actually protecting other people's dogs.


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