Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Warmer Weather = Less Food, and More Bullying?

The weather here lately has been reliably great.  Our heat/AC has been off for several days, and there isn't a chance of precipitation in sight.  Unfortunately, this has been having some unusual side effects for Ferguson and Winry.

In the past when it's gotten warmer, Ferguson has become a picky morning breakfast eater.  He will either pick at his food, or go back and forth with it several times (which is a big pain in the neck when I'm in a hurry trying to get to work and have to police his bowl to make sure Winry doesn't help him finish it).  I normally wouldn't care as much, but since the weather is nicer, we've been able to walk a bit more and he is quite thin.  I did recently buy some wet food to make sure he at least gets at least one cup in the morning, but this is an expensive habit to maintain.  He is fortunately not like Winry in that his stomach gets upset if he goes without food to long (Winry will even vomit if it's been more than 12 hours), but in general it is still a pain.  I still soak both their food in a bit of water, as well as add glucosemine oil on top...this makes it very difficult to pack up and re-serve later.  It's a mystery to me why he does this every so often, usually once it gets warm.  *sighs* Silly dog.

Winry on the other hand (er, paw?), has been maintaining her own means of annoyance, but lately to other dogs on our dog park adventures.  In the past, she's always been an angel; very submissive, dog savy, gets along with everyone, etc. Since we've been able to visit more often, she's lately become more of a jerk in her behavior.  Her favorite thing to do the past few times we've visited is to single out one dog and mercilessly try to play with them, when it's obvious the other dog does NOT want to play with her.  She circles them, play bowing and dancing, and the other dog often tries to avoid her, hide behind their owners, and otherwise show disinterest (granted, they don't growl or snap at her).  She is so fast, it's been a HUGE pain to grab her and keep her away from the other dog (she just runs right back unless we leash her, and will do the same thing once she is unleashed even if we get far away).  Not to mention how embarrassing it is to have a dog act like a bully, and how her little brain tends to focus on ONE thing at a time.  It's also bizarre, because it is so unlike her, being a naturally submissive and sensitive dog.  The last time we visited, we were FINALLY able to get her away from the dog and get her to just let loose and run a big lap; after she did that, she was no longer a brat and didn't pester the other dog we were walking with/near.

What's also a bit unusual is that normally Ferguson is persistent with her, though not exactly rude. He will just chase her if she runs, and then trot along beside her until she starts running again, but he will wait and keep a 1 foot boundary between himself and her, while she sniffs and walks, or, lately, starts to pester other dogs.  In any case, there is her brother, right there beside her, waiting to play with her, but she insists on starting to hound these other poor dogs...*more sighs*

As far as fixing it/working with her, it is difficult. We don't have a private yard to play with her to practice, and when she does it is inconsistent. It's possible we can try to go to the park during slower hours when there are less people around, but the warmer it gets, the less likely that will be.  When she's not busy being a bully, she has a great time...I hate to deny her that.  I suppose she will just have to stay leashed if it's too busy and at least get a nice walk and some friendly sniffs in; or perhaps we can try to entice her with a squeaky toy or bring a racket and tennis ball to get that good strong run in to get a burst of energy out of her to get her back to acting like a normal, amiable dog.

While I don't have the money for it now, I kind of wonder if a vibration collar would work well for her in that type of situation; just something to correct her without any pain that would work well from a distance when she flies out of our reach across the park to bug someone. *Shrugs* who knows?  Until then, poor Win will have to visit on a leash until we can better control her manners.


Hazel said...

This is so funny, and you do such a good job of "sigh"ing, that I about roll on the floor! I think they are just keeping you on your toes!

Sue said...

I'd work on her recall at home. Find a treat that she can't resist. Eventually she should want to come to you whatever else is going on just to get that treat.

Kini_pella said...

@Hazel: Ha, I think so too! Like I said, they aren't ALWAYS this way. Hopefully it passes soon!

@Sue: Unfortunately, apartment living really doesn't lend us much relevant practice in say, a yard. At home with no distractions she has very reliable recall, but a 20+ acre park full of dogs and smells is a different story, and we don't have much in-between of practice. Hopefully this will change in the next year or two if we get to purchase a house with a yard!

houndstooth said...

I agree with working on recall at home. Even in an apartment, you can play hide and seek games where she has to find you. The key is to have something that is extremely high value for her so that the reward is worth coming to you for.

Is Ferguson becoming a senior dog? Our older dogs often became very fickle eaters when the weather got warmer and it drove me nuts. One hint I can give you is to try not feeding the glucosamine for a little while and see if that helps. Our dogs really didn't like eating the powder form and I've gathered that it has a rather bitter taste. We've switched to some from Nu Vet that comes in a chewable pill form and whatever it is, our dogs eat it like candy. I don't know if it will help the picky eating situation or not, but it might. I always rotated what I'd put in with their food to entice them to eat. Especially with Lilac, the same thing never worked two days in a row. So, one day I'd put a tiny bit of Parmesan cheese on top, or a little low sodium chicken broth, or some dog gravy over it. Picky eaters are definitely tough, especially in the morning, so I feel your pain!