It can be ruff: Challenges of being a dog parent
As BOWMOOD always says "Dogs are our best friends", and usually they the best at keeping us company, giving us a reason to smile, and making our lives better. However, from time to time, they really can be challenging and enjoy creating chaos.
My dog Phillip is generally a sweetheart, but he definitely has a personality and certain characteristics that he likes to showcase. Training him from a young age (read our blog post on some easy tricks to learn!) made him quite smart, and he enjoys using his wit for his little shenanigans. Today, I want to share some of the biggest struggles I have with my dog, most of which I’m sure will be relatable for fellow dog parents all around the world.
Sneaky food habits
Phillip is OBSESSED with food. When I say obsessed, please do not think I’m overreacting. He will take any and every opportunity to eat anything he can find and enjoys making mealtimes quite challenging for the rest of us.
While he has a fixed eating schedule (he knows its food time and can wake me up at 08:00 AM sharp every morning in case I oversleep), he also is never satisfied with his own accurately measured portion of food. Anyone who goes to the kitchen is immediately followed, anyone who eats is stared at intently. I have luckily taught him to not bark or plead for food when I’m eating, but the same cannot be said for my kind-hearted mother, who cannot refuse him once he makes his puppy eyes. So, all her mealtimes include a small patter of treats or healthy snacks (like carrots or cucumbers) for Phillip to be given once in a while to keep him calm and happy. He knows very well how to pull on her heartstrings and does not hesitate to use his charm.
However, this isn’t the only difficulty we face. Given his unending appetite, he also has a tendency to steal anything that is around once no one’s looking, or even when we are (caught in the act: Phillip trying to eat some flowers from our garden, pictured above). Thus, I’ve become an expert at doggy-proofing the house, making sure nothing edible is available at his height, and keeping an eye on him when he’s in the kitchen area, as he tends to find new ways to make food fall to the floor (pushing on things to make them fall over, using parkour-like-techniques to climb heights, etc.). You can say this all stems from bad parenting on my end, and you may be right, but I also tried everything to make him less food oriented, to no avail.
Is your dog also a food fanatic? Share your stories with me below or join me in our Buddy System
Sometimes I feel like Phillip enjoys the attention he gets when he’s being difficult. While he has different water stations across the house so he has fresh water to drink at all times, he can still avoid this and go for the one water source that was not intended for him: the pool.
Something about the taste of water with chemicals in it seem appealing to Phillip, and he enjoys finding a moment when I’m looking away to begin sipping. I don’t necessarily understand this preference, but I believe it has something to do with the fact that it's easily reachable from different angles and this makes it more fun for him. However, as you can notice, I specifically didn’t only mention chlorine, but referred to it as water with chemicals in it, because apart from pool water, Phillip also likes to find any buckets of water with cleaning detergent and try to drink it. Emphasis on try, because after the first time I caught him attempting as a one year old, I made sure to remove all cleaning detergents from areas he can reach and made sure everyone was aware of his tendencies. I have caught him trying to have a sip here and there, but he has never been successful.
I don’t understand why he prefers these water sources to his cool, freshwater stations, but if you have an explanation, please do let me know! Also, check out our blog post on Tips to Get Your Dog to Drink More Water!
For someone who loves to eat food and doesn’t really mind what he’s eating as long as its edible, Phillip sure knows how to avoid medicine. As all dogs, he has certain pills he needs to take (heartworm medicine, flea medicine, etc.) on a monthly or bi-monthly basis, but as the title of this post suggests, he makes it a challenge.
No matter how the pill has been coated to smell like meat instead of medicine, or how well it’s been concealed in his food, Phillip has an incredible talent of finding the pill and separating it from the rest of his meal. You’d think after three years giving him medicine would be a piece of cake…and unfortunately, you’d be wrong.
However, I have come up with tried and tested ways of getting my Phillip and other dogs I know to eat their medicine. Check out our blog post on the subject for some ideas!
Visits to the Vet & the Groomers
Two of Phillip’s least favorite places have to be the Vet and the Groomer’s. As a dog that generally prefers humans over other dogs, he doesn’t enjoy being surrounded by them. Furthermore, he has a deadly fear of his vet, and no number of treats, calming music, or other methods have made visits any more pleasant for him.
As a Maltese, he also needs to get a haircut every 6 weeks or so, and I take him to the ‘boujiest’ salon in town, where he is taken care of with attention and love, but he still leaves the place without looking back after every visit. However, his groomer is also his nanny when we leave town, and since staying at her place a few times and creating a bond, he has grown more accustomed and comfortable with the visits. Yay!
I am also pleased to announce, that during our last visit to the vet this past May for our yearly vaccines, Phillip was very warm and friendly with his vet, and while he definitely was scared, he created less of a ‘drama’. So, patience definitely is key!
Phillip dislikes water. Extremely. He hates the sensation of being in water or even having water sprayed on him. I adopted him when he was 2 and a half months old, and we tried our best to make him enjoy bath times, but it didn’t work. This may be related to any previous trauma he had, surely, but unfortunately, I cannot confirm this.
Bath times are a struggle in every sense of the word. He avoids getting in the water at all costs, tries his best to “escape”, and is simply chaotic. I have tried having showers, I have tried leaving the water on at low, I have tried bath times with no running water, anything you can think of, but it doesn’t work.
So, our bath time now consist of the following steps:
1. Sneak towels and all other items to the bathroom without getting notices.
2. Fill in the bathtub and throw in some waterproof toys.
3. Prepare a healthy treat platter & play calming dog music in the bathroom.
4. Take Phillip to the bathtub in my arms and get in with him in a swimsuit.
5. Get him a bit wet (enough for the shampoo to bubble up) and sit him on my lap, where his contact with water is minimal.
6. Shampoo, rinse, and repeat steps for conditioner (and masks sometimes).
7. Take a break in between and give him some treats, play with toys (he will be too nervous to care though).
8. Dry and leave in his room to run around and release energy from the anxiety gathered during bath time.
You may think this is over the top, and it is, but it’s the only way to get him to have a bath without pure panic and stress. I’d appreciate any tips you’d like to share though!
I’m sure you all have your own stories or challenges to share, so leave a comment below and make sure to share any tips you may have with our fellow readers!
These things are enjoyable to poke fun at, but I would never change any moment I’ve had with my Phillip for the world. He’s perfect regardless of the ups and downs, and I feel like he has plenty to complain about when it comes to me too!
Thanks for reading!
Have a paw-some day!