Life is Messy

Life is messy. It’s always messy. But it’s still amazing. Over the past week or so we’ve done so much with our children, their love tanks are filling up, and everyone smiling more. But we have few pictures to show for it most days, and I’m tired. Happy, but tired.

I have 4 children that are teething right now, and a toddler that’s giving up naps, this means I’ve gotten an average of 4 hours of sleep a night. I’m tired.  Two days in a row my children managed to wear their good shoes into a creek. Today one of them may have tried using it to catch a fish. They caught fresh water shrimp (or is it prawn?) instead. At lunch we sat down as a family and talked about our interests. Turns out today we (I mean the children obviously) were interested in earthworm poop. We learned a lot about earthworm poop.

Later, my SIL ran out of safe (gluten and corn-free) food colouring, so I offered to make some for her. And said I could make the frosting for cupcakes for our niece’s party too. But I burnt my cabbage water. Do you know what burnt cabbage water smells like? Yeah, you don’t want to know. Also, if you boil cabbage juice down enough, it no longer has pH changing  properties, but it does puff up like a sponge when baking soda is added. #science

We have a sweet puppy named Chester, well, by ‘puppy’ I mean giant dog that some might consider extra large with a super sized bark. The only problem is up until a couple weeks ago he couldn’t walk on a leash to save his life, and worse yet, he’s leash reactive. So he’s okay, until he sees another dog, then watch out! Pretty much our entire neighbourhood is terrified of him. It’s great. (*sarcasm*) But we’ve hired several different trainers, and so far each one has made our situation worse. We went from a dog that pulled, to one that was reactive, to one that was aggressive. Yay. (*more sarcasm with an extra eye roll*)

But don’t worry. I decided that if gentle parenting is best for humans, than it must be for dogs too. So I changed things up a bit and decided I’d treat Chester like a toddler. I began rewarding him when he did what I wanted, and basically ignored all other behaviour. It only took a couple days and he began walking on his leash so much better than before. Yesterday we saw 6 other dogs on our walk, and he didn’t take off on me or drag me into the street!! Yay! Not getting run over is a good thing!

In 3 weeks the improvement has been huge! I actually like our dog again, which is a really good thing, because when he’s at home he’s the sweetest dog with the silliest sense of humour!

On the bright side, I’ve been up to my elbows in dirt for the past several days helping the girls plant their gardens. We only have a few more things to plant before we’re done. I’m hoping to get that finished tomorrow. Then we’ll post pictures. The girls are so proud of their hard work!

I have several posts I’d like to work on, I have so many things I want to write about, but my brain stopped working a couple days ago. Tonight I’m playing WOW and spending time with Ryan. And by spending time with Ryan, I mean we’re in the same room as each other and no children are screaming at us. We could talk if we wanted. But my brain forgot what I wanted to talk to him about hours ago. I may also be wishing Kombucha was wine.

4 Comments Add yours

  1. Bronwen Lee says:

    We have that big dog, that looks and sounds terrifying. I get it. FYI, ignore the bad and reward the good works for most all species regardless of age.

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    1. That’s what we thought to begin with, but everyone insisted that we didn’t know anything,a nd we should trust the experienced dog trainers when we got our dog. Every single problem our dog has is because we listened to dog trainers who told us we had to be alpha or otherwise physically control our dog.

      It wasn’t until we decided enough was enough and began treating our dog with respect that he began shining. I feel so badly for the way we treated him before. But at least he’s feeling loved now!

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  2. Oh my goodness you could be talking about one of my dogs! Any tips would be amazing (currently trying a head collar – he is a mastiff/lab/shep mix!) Also our ‘good’ shoes in the stream have been drying out for a week! All in the name of unschooling 🙂

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    1. If you google ‘leash reactive dog’ you’ll find tons of articles with good advice. What I began doing first was starting at home, I’d call him, have him sit, but instead of just giving him a treat, I’d hold the treat in my closed fist in front of him, until he looked me in the eyes. As soon as he looked at me, I’d open my fist and say ‘Watch Me’. We did this a few times at home. Then added it into our walks.

      When we see a dog on our walks (his trigger), I wait until he sees the trigger, reward him every time he looks at me, and before he gets to the reactive phase, I change directions away from the dog, calling him and rewarding him. I generally act big and goofy, “Come on Chester, come here!” and bounce and jump because he loves that and he’d rather play with me, than chase a dog.

      I want him focused on me at all times. I reward him for focusing on me.

      In order to keep him focused on me, I spend his walks ‘training’ as well. I ask him to sit, heel, change directions, change speeds. I take different routes than normal. The more he focuses on me, the less he reacts to other dogs.

      But as he focuses on me, I focus on him. I don’t want to let him get worked up and react. I want to always step in and tell him what to do (change directions) before he reacts to a trigger.

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