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Do dogs really have self-esteem?
I might not have been able to answer this question a few years ago. Since I've had Pilot, though, I can confidently say YES. Dogs do have self-esteem.
Most of the dogs I have owned in my life have had no lack of self-esteem. They were confident in themselves and their abilities, and they were assured that their owner felt the same way. They were not afraid to try new things, and if they failed at something, they got right back up and tried it again and again until they succeeded.
Because of this, I never questioned whether dogs had self-esteem.
And then I met Pilot.
Pilot was easy to worry. He was clingy. He was hard to teach and train. If someone spoke one loud word he would drop to the ground like he was being punished. If he did something wrong and I said "no", he would do the same thing. Sometimes he would shut down completely and not do anything at all.
He wasn't as troubled as some dogs I've met. He was still a happy, playful pooch, ready to please me, but he just wasn't... well... I couldn't put my finger on it at the time, but he was missing something.
Then, the day came when he learned to "Roll Over" on command. The first time he did it, I threw a party and he acted surprised. The second time he did it, I threw another party and I saw a light come on in his head.
After that, Pilot became a whole new dog. He became more receptive and started learning more tricks. He would try new things, instead of shutting down. He started wandering short distances away from me on hikes, rather than sticking to me like glue. He grew more calm and confident in public. His self-esteem tripled just from learning that one trick, then it continued to grow with each new trick he learned, with every public place we visited, and with every new thing we tried.
Pilot showed me that dogs DO have self-esteem, and it can be weak or strong, just like ours.
How do you build a dog's self-esteem? Have patience, try new things with them, and set them up for success. Every time they succeed, they become a little more confident in their abilities. It can be a very long process, especially for those dogs who need their self-esteem built from the ground up. But it is very rewarding to see them gain that confidence bit by bit, and having a proud, confident dog is the goal of every dog owner, isn't it?
Here are 10 of the best ways to build up your dog's confidence:
The Pets & I Critter Hop Link Up
Just before Thanksgiving, my grandmother passed away due to cancer. We were able to get some of her things in order before she passed. This included taking care of her dogs and making sure they went to good homes. I was worried about them at the start, about how they would handle the loss, the changes, and the grief. Fortunately, they all went back to their previous owners, people they know and who know them, and they are doing quite well last I checked.
Do animals grieve? You bet your pretty floral bonnet they do.
Growing up on the farm, observing wildlife in their natural environment, and studying my own pets, I have seen plenty of animals grieve over the loss of a pack member or friend - animal or human.
Every animal has a different response to loss. Some show hardly any signs of grief. Others grieve worse than the rest. It is heartbreaking to see them cry and mope around, waiting for their friend to come home. They always recover and their grieving times are almost always shorter than that of humans, but how do you comfort a pet while they are grieving?
Here are seven easy tips that I have learned over the years with my own pets:
A friend shared a fun little video on Facebook of puppies howling. As I watched it, I noticed my mom's little dog looking at me and my laptop funny. So, I grabbed a video camera, set my laptop down, and played the video individually for several of our dogs. It was a really fun experiment!
My sister's Golden Retrievers were very interesting to observe. Her females paid no attention to the video, whereas her male, Merlin, showed a great deal of interest in it. This is curious because all 3 of the females are wonderful mothers and take excellent care of their puppies. We were sure they would have some reaction to the crying puppies. Why they did not react, but Merlin did, is a mystery to us.
Pistol, my mother's little dog, was apprehensive about the crying puppies, as you will see in the video. I don't know if their crying was what upset him the most, or if it was the fact that they were inside a "magic box" (the laptop).
Merlin was also pretty confused by the "magic box".
Pilot's reaction was, by far, the funniest I think. I have no idea what to make of his expressions, but it was hilarious!
Anyway, I'll let you watch the video now and see it all for yourself. Enjoy!
This animal lovers link up takes place every Monday and lasts until Friday (well, unless this hostess forgets to post it, which has happened). If you have a blog post that has anything to do with animals, please share it here! The rules (listed above in the picture) are really basic and easy to follow. So don't be shy! Link up some of your animal lover blog posts and keep an eye out for next week's Pets & I Critter Hop!
There are a lot of things going on at my house right now, so today's Pets & I Critter Hop is going to be short.
A lot of people who come onto our farm are amazed to find that we have Peacocks.
I love our peacocks, and all their qualities and quirks. But some people find those same qualities and quirks annoying.
Peafowl are nosy, wanting to get in on everything that happens around the farm. They're good watch dogs, letting us know when something is amiss with the animals. In the Springtime, they get really loud and holler about every little thing. That makes me feel like I am living in a rich palace, surrounded by exotic birds, but for other people, it's a conversation stopper. The rest of the year, though, the peafowl are nice and quiet, which is what they are in this video.
I hope you enjoy watching them interact with each other.
Oh, by the way, a group of peafowl is called a muster. Just a bit of trivia for you today.
Have you ever witnessed a dog get hit by a vehicle? Or trampled by a horse? Have you ever been in a situation where you found yourself thinking "If my dog just understood what I was saying, I could save him."?
I know I have been in all three situations, plus some. None of them ended well. That is why I have made a big deal about drilling my dog, Pilot, on three simple commands: Come, Whoa (stop), & Down.
Suppose Pilot is hiking with me off leash (as he often does) and he unknowingly strays toward the den of a wild animal. I can say "COME" and he will obey me right away, leaving the territorial wild animal with big teeth and innumerable horrific deceases alone. This works the same way if he is out of the yard and the UPS truck pulls into our drive unexpectedly.
The "Whoa" command works in a similar way.
There have been times when we are walking down an old dirt road and Pilot and I are on opposite sides. If a vehicle comes down the road toward us, I can tell Pilot "Whoa" and he'll stop, sit down and not move until I give him the okay to do so. This allows the vehicle to pass us both safely.
Down is another important one, where I live. Sometimes, the places we hike have horses or cattle. Most cattle, especially those with babies, do not like dogs. If the cows grow concerned with Pilot's presence, I can simply tell him "Down". As soon as his head disappears beneath the grasses, the cows settle down and eventually move away to greener pastures. This works for horses and stray dogs as well, and keeps fights at bay.
One other command I am trying to teach Pilot is "RUN AWAY". Sometimes, that's about all one can do when faced with an angry cow, horse, or certain kinds of wildlife. The thing is, though, I want him to run AWAY FROM ME. He tends to run to me and hide between my legs when things get heated. That causes.... *cough*.... problems. Especially when we are both running for our lives.
How do you teach these commands?
There are tons - TONS - of videos on YouTube on how to teach your dog the "down" and "come" commands. So I won't even try to explain those to you.
Whoa, or stop, is a little more complicated.
The first time I needed such a command was when I'd just brought Pilot home. He was playing in the farm yard one day, saw me, and started running toward me like a crazy happy dog. Sitting right between him and I was an angry hen with a bunch of tiny baby chicks. In an effort to stop a catastrophe from happening, I ran forward, put my hand out like Iron Man, and screamed "WHOA DOG!"
He stopped instantly and looked at me like "Oh no! What did I do?", and the flustered hen was able to shuffle her chicks to a safer part of the farm yard.
From then on, I started actively teaching the "Whoa" command to Pilot. I started out by calling him toward me. When he was just a few feet away, I jumped toward him with my hand out and said a loud, firm "Whoa!". When he stopped, I'd wait a second before calling him to me. Then I would throw a super big party for him with lots of treats and praise until he came to realize that "whoa" was not a harsh, mean word. As he got better, I started stopping him further and further away from me, and making him wait longer and longer for the release. Now, he's pretty much a pro.
Now, I will say that I haven't tried to actively teach this to any other dogs yet. I guess this technique would work with just about any dog, though, since it is a natural reaction to freeze if someone jumps and yells at you.
If the dog was a small or very gentle mannered dog, though, I'd take a softer approach to teaching the "whoa" command. Otherwise, it might scare them away, not make them freeze.
Watch Pilot Demonstrate
Here is a very short YouTube video of Pilot demonstrating his "Life Saving" commands. Enjoy!
The Pets & I Critter Hop!
The Pets & I Critter Hop (PICH) is open until Friday at 11 PM central time.
If you have a blog post about a pet, wildlife, farm animals, pet item review, or even a review of a book about animals, please link it up to "The PICH" below! If you know a blogger who has a few blog posts about animals, tell them to link up a post or two. If you know a blogger who knows a blogger who makes animal related blog posts... well, yeah, you get the point.
Some links in this post are affiliate links meaning that if you click a link and purchase a product through it, I receive a small commission which helps me provide free junk for you to read and buy treats for my doggie. If you require more information about this, please read my Disclosure Statement.
DoggyLoot has been one of my FAVORITE websites for a few years now. Some of my most used and loved dog products have come from them, and at a fraction of the price. If you want to keep an eye out for good deals on toys, chews, bowls, leashes, collars, mats, and unique items that you can rarely find anywhere else, then DoggyLoot is the place to go. They rotate their deals every week/month, so if they don't have anything that interests you this week, then they might next! I love that.
Value Pet Supplies is another one of those places where you are bound to find a good deal. At first, they are overwhelming, because they have a TON of stuff. But, if you are looking for something specific, then VPS is bound to have it. Did I mention that they have a whole section dedicated just for stuff that is made in the USA? Also, they have a dog section, cat section, bird, small pet, fish, and reptile section. So they are definitely all around pet friendly.
Etsy has also become one of my new favorite places to shop for pets. You can find pretty much anything on Etsy if you look hard enough. Etsy makes it easy for me to find small dog businesses here in the USA.
If you like your dogs to wear pretty and unique collars, Etsy could become a serious addiction for you that may require medical attention. You don't have to search far to find a dog collar to fit every mood, every season, and every fandom that you have ever loved. You can also find bandannas, bow ties, flowers, and special dog tags to match each collar that you get! It's madness!
And that's not all that Etsy has to offer: beds, crates, houses, custom bowls, clothes, jackets, costumes and just about anything else you can imagine for every kind of pet there is! I've even found stuff just for pet pigs (which, to a farm girl, that's kinda weird).
If you want, you can follow me on Etsy and watch my "Pet Items" favorites (which I linked at the top). I favorite a lot of cool pet items and stick in that list, so if you watch it, I may find something that you like!
Capturing Couture is another place that I have recently come to be acquainted with and like. They mostly sell really pretty and well made items for photographers. Items such as bags (I want one!), straps, lens savers, and the like. But they also have a pet section where they offer cute reversible dog vests, dog beds, cutsie collars and leashes. If you like chic stuff then they would probably tickle you and your dog's fancy!
Instagram has come up several times in my past blog posts. If you take a lot of pictures of your pets, make friends with other pet enthusiasts like you, or you just like to look at pictures of other people's furkids, then Instagram is the place to hang out at. The only problem I have with it is that it is an app. I can't use it on my computer. This causes troubles for me, sometimes, because of where I live. A lot of times, my data and cell service are non-existent.
If you are on Instagram, look me and Pilot up! We love to show off our pictures.
MyPaws is for those who are either really crazy or really desperate to socialize with other pet people like them. In my case, I'm both crazy and desperate, thus why I joined it. It's basically like Facebook for pets. The "hoomans" post "status updates" for their pets, and the only "human interaction" that takes place is in the forums, which are full of helpful and kind people. MyPaws is not an app and does not have an app yet (so guess which age groups use it most?). It is predominately used by dog owners, but there are a few cats and other critters on there as well. It is a great way to find other pet owners in your same area/state, and connect with others from out of state, or even out of country. Unfortunately, for me, there are only two dogs from Oklahoma who are semi-active on it; Pilot and one other doggie. Go figure.
If you are crazy/desperate enough to join MyPaws, be sure to send Pilot a friend request!
If you ever go to Oklahoma City and want to bring your pooch along, then I suggest looking at this website: The Dog Dish Magazine. The section "Dog Friendly OKC" is especially helpful. I live in Oklahoma and make a trip to the city at least once a year, and I didn't even know about all the pet friendly places in OKC! Pet parks, I knew existed, but wineries? Restaurants? Seriously? Wow. That's awesome.
They also have health, wellness, and training articles, dog related news, wag-n-brag section, and lists of upcoming dog related events.
If you live in the OKC area, you can get the magazine! Like, the real paper version. You can read all about it on their website.
Do you and your pet have a favorite website or app that you visit all the time? If you do, share it with us in the comments!
In the meantime, if you are a blogger, and you have a blog post about your pet, wildlife, farm animals, pet item review, or even a review of a book about animals, please link it up to The Pets & I Critter Hop below! If you know a blogger who has a few blog posts about animals, tell them to link up a post or two down below. If you know a blogger who knows a blogger who makes animal related blog posts......... yeah, you get the point.
As most of you know, Pilot has his own Instagram account where I post pictures of him and interact with other pet owners and lovers. Some time back, I found an Instagram user, Bears Boutique, who was making and selling handmade, paracord dog collars. I asked her if she could make a no-pull, reflective dog harness, and she reassured me that she could.
After I gave her the wrong size for Pilot 3 or 4 times (you'd think I've never used a measuring tape), she made me a wonderful harness! I've been wanting a no-pull dog harness for Pilot for some time, and this one is just perfect! It is well made, colorful, reflective (safety first!), and it is a perfect fit!
I will let you watch my YouTube video review for yourself and watch Pilot model the harness while you listen to my further comments.
If you would like to consider purchasing something from the lovely person who made Pilot's harness, you can contact her on her Etsy Shop or follow her on Instagram.
“Why does my dog need to learn obedience? He’s just fine.”
“Manners? Dogs don’t have them and don't need them.”
I’ve heard it over and over again. Several dog owners I’ve met in the past have put down the idea of teaching their dog basic obedience and manners, claiming that their dog “doesn’t need it” or that they would “never use it”. However, they fail to see that they are always yelling at their dog for bad behavior, apologizing for their dog when visitors are present, are constantly chasing the dog that bolted out the gate, and can’t take their dog in public for one problem or several.
Most of the time, teaching their dog basic manners would solve most of their problems.
As in most “ill-behaved” dog cases, the problem is the owner, not the dog.
What’s so hard about teaching manners?
Most of the time, I find that pet owners have one of three reasons for scoffing at teaching their dogs obedience and manners:
Dogs conform to what their owners do, want, and expect. Owners who cannot or will not set boundaries and rules for themselves won’t do it for their dog either. Thus they get an unruly dog who barks tirelessly, guards furniture, pees on everything, and bolts out the door or gate the first opportunity they get.
Owners who set rules, but do not consistently reinforce them, will have a dog who does not take them seriously. The dog will be stubborn and will constantly push the envelope, trying to get their own way, because they know that their owner is a push over and will give up.
Why do dogs need manners?
As if it were not already obvious, the primary reason for teaching dogs manners is for the continued good health of owner and dog. For example, anytime a door opens, the dog (or dogs) run lickety-split toward it and zip right past me and out the open portal of freedom. Caution and deception must be used if I want to get out the gate without having to kick my dog back and fight him to get out the gate first.
I’ve even seen dog owners who get seriously hurt because their dog knocks them down or pops their knees in the attempt to be first out the door or gate. This is not good for you, and this is certainly not good for your dog.
If you get angry at your dog for hurting you, your first instinct is to hurt it back. Don’t deny it. We all feel that way at times. Also, there is always that concern of the dog bolting out of the yard, running away, and getting lost or hit by a car.
So, to fix the problem, you teach your dog to wait patiently for you to open the door or gate AND wait until you give them the “OK” to come out.
It’s not impossible. Even the most unruly dogs can be taught. The key is for YOU to set the rules, keep the rules, and reinforce the rules. Dogs don’t break rules. Humans do. Show your dog what the rules are by example, and he will follow them to the letter.
“Well, my dog is kinda a rebel. He breaks rules all the time.”
No. No dog is a rebel. Humans are. Your dog is a living mirror of how you act. If you can’t keep to the rules, the dog won’t either.
What are "dog manners"?
Sit, stay, come, look, and especially NO are the very basic manners that all dogs should and can learn.
"Sit" is really self explanatory, and when combined with "stay", it becomes a very powerful tool for keeping your furbaby under control. It can be used at mealtime, before going out the gate, when strangers come to the door, and many other things.
"Come" is also pretty self explanatory, I'd think, and can be used in the house, yard, or park.
"Look" is very good to teach your dog to pay attention to you.
Of course, a good dose of vitamin "NO" is good for everyone. I have taught Pilot that when I say "no", I mean that I want him to stop what he's doing immediately and come directly to me.
These "manners" are easy to teach to any dog as long as you have patience and consistency. If you need help, there are a vast number of videos on YouTube that go into teaching dogs these basic commands using positive reinforcement. Here are some to get you started:
Bonus: HOW TO SETTLE AN EXCITED DOG
The Pets & I Critter Hop Link Up
There are Affiliate links in this post. If you purchase anything through them, I receive a small commission which helps me provide free content for you to read PLUS buy treats for my dog.
Please read my full Disclosure Policy.
Some people who know me also know that I am hard of hearing. After an accident in the Spring of 2010, I began to lose my hearing, and by December of the same year I'd lost 80% of it.
Most people have NO CLUE. I have coped very well with the loss, my sister and mom work with me to help keep my speech normal, and I do a great job at pretending to be normal when I am in public. Yes, I should quit pretending, but people get weird when they realize I have a "disability". Some people like to use it to their advantage, or challenge it, or make fun of it.... and that is how individuals get hurt when around me.
I have been considering the possibility of training Pilot to be my hearing ear dog. Two years before Pilot and I found each other, I had a German Shepherd that I intended to train to be my hearing dog. After a most unfortunate set of circumstances, that fell through, and since then I have not had the confidence or the desire to try again. Recently, however, I've been working up the nerve to try again. As a result, my mom bought me a book from Amazon titled "My Ears Have A Wet Nose" by Anne Wicklund.
I sat down and was able to read it in an hour and walk away with some new things to think about. It was not at all boring, like I thought it would be, and it did a fine job of answering some of my questions, bringing forward ideas and issues I'd not thought of before, and it was full of outside resources and "help lines".
It covered topics such as:
What tasks does a hearing ear dog preform?
Choosing a dog - agencies, shelters, breeders
Training your own
And so much more...
You may find as you lose more of your hearing that when the dog is with you, it gives you confidence to be outside of your home. You will not feel so tentative because you cannot hear the sounds that normal people hear.... this is true whether you are taking a walk or going to the grocery store. This was an unexpected twist for my husband. The more hearing he lost, he found that if we were in a store together and I turned down an aisle out of his sight, he would start to panic. Until you have a dog that works for you, you will probably not even be aware of this added bonus. Up until now, you thought the dog would just let you know about the telephone and doorbell - but there is so much more.
I was actually in a state of shock after reading this part. My first thought was tearfully thinking "Somebody understands how I feel..." (Which is stupid. I mean, DUH, of course someone understands!), and my second thought was that, after spending so much of my own time researching and learning about hearing ear dogs and how to train them, the thought had honestly never occurred to me that having a trained dog with me, in public and at home, would make me feel safer and more confident. Because, that panic the author mentioned above is real and it is something that I do face every day, not just when I'm out in public. The thought that I could live without having to face that feeling daily, simply by having a dog who plays the roll of my ears, makes me eager. I wasn't eager to work towards getting a hearing dog before, but now I am.
On the training, the author goes into the importance of a strong bond between the dog and human, and the stable temperament that the dog must have. It had several good tips for training your own service dog and traveling with it, really simplifying everything and giving you extra resources to study in the case you'd like more information. There are also featured testimonials from other people with different dogs and in a variety of situations, one of which Pilot and I could greatly relate to and which gave me hope for his training (it is currently slow, because he does not generally react to sound).
My mom purchased the spiral bound edition of the book, but you can also purchase it in Kindle. I was impressed by how well made the spiral bound is, and I think it will last me a long time (which is good, because I will likely use it a lot).
Overall, I would highly recommend this book to anyone who was looking at the possibility of needing or training a hearing ear service dog. It is not overwhelming for the newbie to read and it gives them a great start along with excellent advice. At the same time, it also offers something for those people who are well acquainted with the hearing dog world.
The Pets & I Critter Hop
Author of the fantasy series, Tales of the Wovlen, Kathryn spends a great deal of time in the world of her imagination, having tea with fire breathing dragons, writing books on flying space ships, and practicing her mad scientist laugh with gusto. However, on occasion,she returns to this world just to play with her dog and blog about her fun.
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