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Prepping the Dog for RV Life

June 8, 2011

Our Miniature Schnauzer, Hemingway (we call him “Hemi”), will need to make some adjustments to RV living, just as we will.

We acquired Hemi when he was about 1 1/2 years old, as a rescue dog that had been found roaming the streets.  We know nothing of his early life, but he was definitely healthy, house trained, and was used to being petted.  I was a bit concerned about trying to get him acclimated to a crate, because he’s never been crated since we acquired him.

Since the intent is for him to be crated when the motorhome is in motion, the trainer at PetSmart said a hardshell rather than softside crate would be safer for him.  When we brought it home, he stuck his nose inside, sniffed, then walked away.  I put one of his toys inside.  He crept in with one foot, snagged the toy, and backed out quickly.  I finally figured out that the pad that came with it would slide when he would step on it.  I covered the pad with an old towel that he was familiar with, and within an hour, he went inside and laid down.  Since then, over the last couple of days, he has gone in on his own, and appears to like having his own little den out of the traffic.

Hemingway really has only one major fault.  He has a bark that is extremely high-pitched, and when he gets really excited, it sounds like he’s being beaten severely.  One of the times he does this is when another dog walks past on the street in front of our house.  Many dogs bark when someone passes by their house.  Hemi screeches.  I’m convinced a couple of neighborhood dog walkers have started going around the block to avoid hearing that sound.  The other time he does it is when he sees another dog… as much as a block away.  I believe he just wants to socialize.  When we do approach another dog, there’s just the usual sniffing and wanting to play.  When the other dog leaves, Hemi sets up that screeching bark.  It’s hard to tell if he’s saying “So there!” or “Wait!  Come back!”

He does well with other dogs in a home, ours or theirs.  He just has this very annoying – and somewhat scary – bark.  And that won’t do in an RV park.  So… the trainer recommended water guns.

We had mentioned a no-bark collar, expecting to be talked out of it.  She was good.  She showed us where the collars were, but very skillfully, using her own experience as a dog owner and trainer, convinced us to go to the Dollar Store and buy a half-dozen cheap water guns.  We ended up bringing home several of these little gems.  They do leak, so I can’t really put it in a pocket, but they do have kind of a cool, retro Flash Gordon look, don’t they?

I’ve carried one with me every time I’ve walked Hemi, and only had to use it once.  Where I would normally change directions to avoid an oncoming dog, I kept walking Hemi right past one last night.  Hemi got all excited and started barking, and I opened up with the water gun and a stern command of “No bark!”  It did work… sort of.  He did stop barking quicker… but he arrived back home with a really wet head.

We’d like to avoid a shock collar if we can.  One of the things that changed our mind was the price.  The cheapest was nearly a hundred dollars.

Tonight, we go to our first training session.  I don’t really have grand visions of teaching this 5 year old dog to do tricks or catch frisbees in midair.  I’d just like to have him walk calmly beside me, and learn to stop, sit, stay and come when I tell him to.  He’s a roamer.  An adventurer.  He’ll never be allowed outside without a leash.  If we had had him from puppyhood, maybe so, but this little guy has tasted freedom, and he loves attention.  He knows there’s a big world out there, full of adventure.

So even though we love him to death, and he’s a wonderful companion, he needs to learn a little bit more about who’s boss.   And how to be a good neighbor.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Carol Z permalink
    June 9, 2011 4:30 am

    Waterguns! Who knew that would work for dogs? I bet you won’t have to do it very often and he’ll stop the barking all together. That whole Pavlov thing… good luck with the training classes!

  2. August 11, 2011 6:48 pm

    I have used water-guns with my dogs as well. (I currently have no dogs, but did years ago).

    I used to run a rescue for feral cats and so people would always be asking me: “How do I get my cat in a crate so I can take him to the vet?” My answer was, to just take the door off the crate, put his blanket and toys inside, and leave the crate in a spot where he likes to sleep, in a few days he’ll realize that the crate is a nice cozy cave to sleep in. A cat (or dog) that is used to sleeping in a crate every night, is not going to be scared when comes the day you put the door back on and take him to the vet in that same crate. It has always worked for me.

    Today, I now have 12 cats and am getting them ready to move into our new (used) motorhome (we are about to become fulltimers) and I don’t think we will have too much problems, as they are already used to getting in their crates.

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