Wally gets to go to daycare! My sweet little furry love has been pining for this day for quite some time. When he first came to us as a sweet little puppy he used to get to come out and play with Boo and my one daycare kiddo at the time. He used to go outside with us. We didn't have a fence, but he was small enough that I could catch him easily. Well, time went on and Wally got bigger and faster and catching him was soon no small feat. Around the same time my daycare went from one kiddo to four kiddos in a matter of two weeks. Needless to say Wally got booted from daycare.
It's been a long road since then. I've been a slow learner as a dog owner. I did not grow up with dogs and it's been an ongoing struggle knowing how to deal with behaviors that are, well, for lack of a better word, very doglike. How do I get this furry cutie patootie to stop getting into toys, knocking people over with his bubbly energy, and just driving me nutso in general? Well, there's no easy answer to that. I've tried a number of approaches. I know there's mixed thoughts on The Dog Whisperer, but I learned so much from reading his books. I learned about being the kind of leader that my dog needs. Also, advice from friends has been very helpful as I've grown into being a dog owner.
Anyways, back to Wally's history with us. Things improved a bit for Wally when we moved. We now have a yard. I remember thinking "This is it!" I thought that having a yard to run around in would magically turn him into this mellow dog that just lies around inside the house. No such luck. Wally continued to grab toys constantly, chew things up, and drive me nutty.
So what has changed? I think I have continued with the Dog Whisperer's idea of being an assertive leader to my dog. I have also really tried much harder to work with him outside of daycare hours. And somehow magically in the past few months or so Wally turned a corner. All of a sudden my dog listens when I say "NO!" from across the room. I have only to look at him with a certain look and he drops whatever toy he's decided to try out. Needless to say, he doesn't even grab for them nearly as much. It used to be that I felt every last toy had to be picked up before Wally could be out in the house. Now he just lives around the toys as they're being thrown around and he's done a wonderful job of learning that toys are off limits. This was HUGE and essential for him to be able to join daycare. He still goes for a toy now and then, but it's not the constant behavior that it was. I mean, come on, he is a dog after all - can you blame him for trying to sneak one every now and then?
Much more recently,he's also had opportunity to be outside with myself and the kiddos during outdoor play. This was a great place to start as there's more room for him to run. He's now so great with his play skills with the kiddos that he actually slows down and ducks his head as he runs past kiddos. He knows he'll get a strong "NO!" if he jumps up on someone. Some people don't mind their dogs jumping on people. I'm not one of them. I mind because the people that surround me day in and out are very little and despite Wally's small Corgi stature he's actually quite strong when he pounces up on somebody to say hello. So Wally has had to learn to become very good at this before I would even consider indoor play during daycare an option for him.
Fortunately I've never had to deal with aggression towards others. This would make daycare an automatic no for him. Wally is very sweet and loves playing with the kiddos. I can tell he's happier now. And he gets good and worn out! After a week of being out much of the day with the kiddos, I can tell he's getting used to it. He plays with the kiddos for a bit and then he settles down somewhere to gnaw on his rawhide chip or he follows me around waiting for his next petting!
I'm so very excited about this transition. Hurray for Wally!