Friday, April 8, 2011

Small dogs

My guests, Izzy and Charlie
So which are easier to pet sit, big or small dogs? I’ve had potential clients ask me if I charge less for small dogs. HAH! Sometimes I think they are twice as much work!

Small dogs are notoriously harder to housetrain. Small dogs seem less likely to eat their food at one sitting, and less likely to comply with my request to PLEASE go-outside-and-go-potty-so-we-can-go-to-bed… It’s the little ones that get into the wastebaskets and dig up the houseplants. I think people are less comfortable boarding a toy dog at a kennel. Big dogs that are destructive…well, the owners know better than to leave those guys home alone.

I have a sweet little Yorkie, Charlie, staying with me right now. He plays an interesting game. He wants to get up in my lap, and won’t jump up, which his owner told me. I have to pick him up and lift him into my lap. Fine. Except he bounces all around asking me to pick him up, and then when I lean down to get him, he moves away, just out of reach.

I wonder if Charlie is used to being picked up and taken somewhere he doesn’t want to go, like outside or in his crate. He certainly doesn’t think getting picked up is a good thing. So we play the game until I corner him. I could just forget it and leave him on the floor, but he keeps asking to get in the chair with me. A friend once described a condition that is diagnosed in kids: “oppositional defiance disorder” (something all teenagers probably have). Well that sounds like Charlie. If I want him in, he stays out. If I want him out, he stays in.

A diligent retraining effort could fix his recall. I should call him to me, offer lots of positive reinforcement and treats, then let him go away with out doing anything to him. Eventually I could touch him and let him go, then hold him for a second and let him go, and ultimately, pick him and let him go, all reinforced with treats and other positive things. He’s not too motivated by food so the treats need to be something fabulous, like cheese bits or peanut butter. 

It’s hard to do when you are the temporary caregiver, but even one week of work would get him off to a good start. Chances are his owners face the same issues with Charlie.

Next time, Charlie. I’m on to ya.
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© 2010 Terry Albert. All Rights Reserved.
Izzy, Charlie, Desi, Blaze and Pepper


Linda Ward said...

I find little dogs MUCH easier to manage, but I own two, so have lots of practise! I've not come across the problems you describe, and at least the don't get in the way of the telly!

Charges are the same for little dogs as I have to bend down further. ;)

Terry Albert said...

I know several pet sitters who prefer only small dogs. There's room for all of us- which is a good thing!

Sandi Curtis said...

Welcome to Yorkie World ! You are right about the stubborness, but having raised a bushel of these little monsters, I find that they do best if you don't cater to them. I'd put a step stool down they can get up on their own if they want--that's what I always did when my bitches were to pregnant to jump up.

Terry Albert said...

Hi Sandi! I have stair steps so they can get on the couch, so I moved them over in front of my recliner so Charlie could jump up. That worked! I agree you shouldn't cater to little dogs too much. They need to be treated like dogs.

Pet Sitting said...

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