I finally managed to get the pictures taken of the new painted rug I made for the kitchen. While I love the rug I learned a few things about painting a rug on foam mats and the trouble with an 85 pound lab.
Lucy is a bit of a handful. To save our sanity we spent a summer forcing her to be stationed in the kitchen. This meant that she was unable to terrorize the other dogs, eat the cat food, eat the towels, eat the socks, eat the….well you get the picture. The upper floor of the house is open from one end to the other so while she is in the kitchen she can see into the living room where we are most of the time and cannot cause problems.
(Pretty girl isn’t she)
However her claws are hell on this mat. She has already scratched up the surface fairly significantly so I am going to have to touch it up. I realized that I have enough space left in the kitchen that I am going to take the remaining 2 floor mats and paint them so that she is damaging a portion of matt that is much easier to fix.
However on the plus side she is much more comfortable laying on the floor. I could not have a dog bed for her because she ate the last 2 I had bought for her ( I said she was a handful) so she has been forced to lay on the bare floor for a while. Now she lays on the mat with her full body and her head lays on the bare floor. And she has not even tried to eat the mat!!! Unless you have a dog that has been a terror for several years you have no idea.
She has been difficult from day 1. She wouldn’t let you flip her over on her back at 6 weeks old and tried to bite the vet when he tried to cuddle her as a puppy. To top it all off she has a food allergy that we did not know about that made her unable to stop moving. She was constantly into everything always and aggressive like heck. The only reason that we realized it was a food allergy affecting her behaviour (and not just bad behaviour) was when we had been reading about the things they put into dog food (side note “animal digest” is poo, yes, poo) and freaked out and decided to make homemade dog food. Within one week she was walking into the house and laying down. I know that sounds simple but she had NEVER done that before…NEVER,EVER!!
So then we started experimenting with her foods. We switched to a higher quality food. She started chewing her feet (grain allergy). Started her on an even more expensive food ($75 every 2 weeks) couldn’t afford it. Finally found a reasonable priced food that can be feed to all three dogs and only have to buy one bag a month and there are NO allergy issues.
However now she is eating vegetarian food. Here’s the thing. She is less aggressive and crazy. She is (to my embarrassment) THAT dog on the street. The one that barks like crazy and you think that if she ever got loose she would attack you. But since putting her on a veggie diet she is becoming less…forceful…in her opinions. She still barks but it is with less craziness and she will actually stop now when we go out to get her.
I still have issues with walking her and I think I am going to enlist some professional help with that but all in all we have slowly managed to bring her under control.
More recent Update
So I bit the bullet and found a trainer (who was awesome) and we met one Saturday morning. Lucy was her usual crazy self but Kim (trainer) took the leash and Lucy was an angel. I KNEW it was me helping create the behaviour. When she asked me “did you expect her to behave to quickly?” I responded “Yes I had high expectations!”
So the diagnosis was A) too much energy, B) Not enough leadership = Crazy Dog and the deal with the trainer is she would help us if we promised to walk her 2 hours a day. That first weekend just about killed me. I hurt my knee by not easing into the exercise but that got better.
So we started walking her 5 days a week for 5+ kilometres. I couldn’t do 2 hours of walking everyday without serious damage to my knees so we did about an hour and a half. We don’t take two days off in a row and try to space them out throughout the week so that she is getting plenty of exercise.
She is so much better. We realized that some of the issues were stemming from her reacting to one of our other dogs. So know when a dog is coming towards us we separate and I walk about 10 feet ahead of our other dogs with Lucy. 85% of the time I can get her by the other dogs with minimum fuss. She still reacts but it is managable. The other 15% of the time something else is going on with the other dog or the other owner and my job is to make her do what I want. Even with the little hissy fits within seconds she is back to walking with a loose chain and right beside me. Yes there is still work to do but it is SO much better!
Walking 25 km a week has changed her completely!
I have had some people wondering what kind of food we give Lucy. We feed her Dick Van Patton’s Natural Balance Dog food. If you go here you can look up and see who sells it close to you. It is available in both the US and Canada and it really did make a huge difference with Lucy.
But I cannot stress how much exercise is important to help her deal with her excess energy (minimum of a half hour on the treadmill every day and walks outside when the weather will cooperate). The food helped with her ability to ….well…slow down. Like I said she never sat still and was into everything. It also took a lot of work and patience and love. The food is not a miracle but if your dog has a food allergy good quality food could help. She is four now and I finally see the light at the end of the tunnel and a good dog is sitting in the light, wagging her tail and shoving her head between my knees to get an ear rub!
If you have questions ask. I’m not an expert but I’ve tried lots of things.