Lessons Learned With Dexter - Interruption

Lessons Learned With Dexter – Interruption

I thought I knew a lot about dogs until I adopted Dexter, a Husky/Shepherd mix last fall. Among the many lessons I’ve learned is that getting your dog to wear a seat belt in the car is a great idea! I didn’t even know dog seat belts existed until our dog trainer, Tyler, suggested buying one.

I thought I knew a lot about dogs until I adopted Dexter, a Husky/Shepherd mix last fall. Among the many lessons I’ve learned is that getting your dog to wear a seat belt in the car is a great idea! I didn’t even know dog seat belts existed until our dog trainer, Tyler, suggested buying one.

Before we got a seat belt for Dexter, he was so excited to go on a ride that he would jump back and forth between the front and back seat of my truck. Since we bought him a belt that clips to the seat buckle in the car, he has no choice but to stay in the back seat. The seat belt also prevents it from sliding into the dashboard if the car comes to a sudden stop.

The second lesson I learned from Dexter is that although his prey drive is very high, he has the ability to demonstrate impulse control when asked to do so. We have three indoor cats that my kids adore, and I never thought I could trust Dexter to get into the house.

Tyler suggested that I train him to stay in a certain “place” when he entered our house. So I bought a three-by-five rubber mat at the Mardins and taught Dexter how to lie down and stay “in place” whenever he gets home.

Author Lee-Rae Jordan-Oliver with her fickle dog companion Dexter on a hilltop on one of their many travels together. (Courtesy of Lee-Rae Jordan-OIiver)

Every time he comes through the door, he goes straight to his place and settles down. It’s not unusual for our three black cats to hang out within feet of a Dexter stretched out in his simplicity. Until now, he was a gentleman when he was invited inside and understood that cats are off limits. However, I do not leave him unattended for long periods of time while he is at home because I have witnessed the deadly consequences of a prey drive on our wilderness walks.

I’ve also learned that some dogs will chew and destroy anything and everything when they are stressed. When Dexter first brought us home, I tried hard to “dog proof” in our garage which was his giant dog’s home while the family was at school or work. Although he had a lot of dog toys, he would always find something to knock him down. He was even standing on his hind legs to reach for things on the shelves that were supposed to be off-limits.

This destructive behavior continued for three months. After settling into a daily routine, which includes plenty of exercise, socializing, and training, this destructive habit has completely disappeared. We now have a wooden rack lined with our shoes, sandals, and sneakers completely out in the open.

The most important lesson I learned about dogs is that the more you can include an intelligent, high-energy dog ​​in your daily routine, the better companion it will become. Last summer, Wyatt took us and Dexter on a two-night backpacking trip on the Appalachian Trail. The dog’s smile that he wore throughout the trip indicated that he was spending time eating, sleeping, and exploring new areas with his favorite people throughout the day.

Dexter’s training was really tested when we took him to Boston, Vermont and New Hampshire for a three day family trip. On his first night in Boston, we ate at an outdoor restaurant that allowed dogs. While we were having dinner, he lay down beside the table and watched his new surroundings with keen interest.

The next day, he and I walked seven and a half miles down the Charles River, walking and running. His senses were overburdened by the countless sights, sounds, and smells he encountered. There were hundreds of people commuting along the road on bicycles, scooters, roller blades, and skateboards.

Through all the turmoil, horns honking, and blaring engines, he kept his composure and walked with me confidently. The only time he got so excited was when he saw pigeons, little rabbits, geese, and other dogs. This kept me on my toes for sure, but his instinctive behavior was manageable. Overall, I was impressed with how well he managed to keep them together in the bustle of Boston.

The highlight of the trip was when my daughter and I climbed to the top of Mount Washington with Dexter. He’s a natural climber and rock-jumper with enviable ease on the Tuckerman Ravine Trail.

Along the way there were small waterfalls where he would stop to cool off and drink water whenever he needed to. My husband Matthew met us at the summit by ferry so we could continue our trip back to Maine. Exhausted from the day’s adventures, Dexter settled into the back seat and immediately went to sleep soundly for the duration of our journey home.

During the first two years of Dexter’s life, he developed his problem-solving skills in order to survive. When we first brought him home from the shelter, he exhibited some difficult behavior that forced me to tap deep into a well of patience I didn’t know existed.

Time, energy, and a lot of love have turned him into a loyal companion who will trust his new family and live his best life.

Lee Ray Jordan Oliver is a teacher and author who lives in Hodgdon with her husband Matt and children Wyatt and Anna Walker. This is the final column in her seven-part series on life with a spirited shelter dog.

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