Bath Time “Training”

Otis needed a bath, and Otis needed to do some confidence exercises. Naturally the practical solution was to combine the two into one bathing-training session! I actually shouldn’t give myself that much credit because I wasn’t planning on using bath time as a learning experience – but when we got into the bathroom I realized it was as good a chance as ever to fit in some “new experiences can be fun” training.

In fact, Otis prompted it when he didn’t resist getting into the bath right away (I guess I just have a bad track record when it comes to fosters that don’t appreciate water).  I jumped at the chance to ask him into the tub with lots of encouragement and praise. To my surprise, he hopped right in! So then I asked him to come out. He hopped right out! In, out, in, out. He was ready to do it all day.

He was much more comfortable before the water started though. Once I got the shower snake running, he turned into a little bit more of a scaredy pup, but he was still a trooper. “Mom, I really want to get out. Can I please? Pretty please? Ugh. Fine. I’ll stay. But I won’t like it.” After surviving a round of soaping, rinsing, and conditioning, it was on to his next favorite part: drying off! The shower snake was gone, and it was nothing but exciting attention from fostermama.

And of course it wouldn’t be a good spa day without relaxing in a robe after your bath. . .

The result was a fresh smelling, sparkly clean and happy pup! Which was good, because he had a very special visit to prepare for the next day.

Agility on the Playground

The best part about building a dog’s confidence is that it’s usually fun for the dog AND owner! Most recently, Otis and I ventured back to our neighborhood playground for some work on the idea that “new things are fun!” Similar to agility, getting Otis to go up and down and up and down the playground steps helps to teach him that he can in fact try new things and nothing bad comes from it.

Here are some videos of Otis totally rocking the jungle gym! Not only did he quickly get over worrying about the steps, he even warmed up to the slide! This first video is of him making it over the whole thing in one try.

Then, just for kicks, I asked him to go back UP the slide – and he did it! I was surprised about that because it wasn’t something I’d helped him practice before, and it certainly wasn’t easy to do. But he just barreled right up it.

He LOVED playing on the playground! I really think he would rock agility if given the chance – something to put on my to-do list. I guess in the mean time we’ll just go around conquering all the playgrounds in the area. No complaints here!

For more information on adopting Honey Bunches of Otis, go to his Adopt Me page to learn more about him and how to get in touch.

Surprise, He’s the Life of the Party

How many times before have I mentioned that Otis’ behavior in a certain situation surprises me (in a good way)? In my head I continually label Otis as an introvert, and then in reality he continually shows me that yes, he is shy – but he is much more willing to open up than I give him credit for.

It’s no secret that Otis is timid when you first meet him. Unless I am right by his side and encouraging him to interact, he’s usually not interested in strangers. It’s been making adoption visits very tricky, especially since Otis really doesn’t like to be the center of attention (unless it’s my attention). He’d much prefer to warm up to you on his own terms.

I hosted the 4th of July party for my friends at my house. I knew it might be a lot for Otis, but I was ready to tuck him into his crate or keep him in the house while we grilled in the backyard if I needed to. Honestly, I wasn’t really sure what his reaction would be to all the new people. I knew he certainly wouldn’t be interested in making friends right away, so I instructed my guests to simply ignore him when they arrived.

I was right – he was very weary of everyone. I kept him leashed to my waist (so I could do important things like eat my burger and drink my beer freely) which gave him comfort with all these new people around. I was ready to put him inside if he seemed to overwhelmed, but he actually appeared pretty okay with it all. I was a little surprised by this, but mostly just really happy that he could hang out with us.

About a half hour after my friends arrived, Otis seemed comfortable enough with everyone that I took him off leash and let him go where ever he wanted. I told my friends to still ignore him unless he came up to you. Soon he was curiously sniffing the hands of everyone standing around – sometimes ducking away when they went to pet him, or sometimes tolerating the attention for a little until moving on to the next new person for sniffs. After that it really took no time at all for him to settle in. I was thrilled! He was like an average family pet entertaining the guests. Some bribing with Doritos from my friends quickened the warming up process, and soon he really became their BFF.

That afternoon was monumental for Otis. Before this, I might have mentioned to adopters that if they had a party they might want to keep him away from everything. Now I’ll just explain to them that he needs a slow introduction, but then as long as you keep an eye on him and watch his stress level he’ll probably be fine! Obviously I wouldn’t subject him to something where people wouldn’t respect his space, had loud music, had a lot of small children, etc. – but for the right environment, Otis can be quite the party dog!

I was so proud of my little pup. After all the disclaimers I gave my friends about Otis being antisocial, they were pleasantly surprised with his performance as well. Like always, all Otie needed was a little patience, understanding, and structure so he could really shine. I can’t wait for him to find a family that will appreciate that!

For more information on adopting Honey Bunches of Otis, go to his Adopt Me page to learn more about him and how to get in touch.

Pittie Trails: Otis & Other Dogs

We had a Pittie Trails walk on Saturday, and it was a great turn out. We had six dogs come, most of whom were working on something or another. While we did run into a few horses along the trail, the hike was very nice and rather uneventful.

I was curious to see how Otis would do around other dogs because he has been in so many different situations in his life, all resulting in different reactions.

It’s hard to describe the way Otis feels about other dogs. To put it simply: he does not do well with other dogs. The more correct answer? He is fine with them in most situations, but cannot actually live with another dog. But it’s probably not what you think from either of these explanations.

There are all sorts of implications with both of those short answers – either of which I am forced to use in the short period of time I have to introduce him to potential adopters through writing or conversation. The first statement always immediately raises red flags – whether intentional or not – sparking “HE MUST BE DOG REACTIVE. DOG AGGRESSIVE. CAN NEVER BRING HIM AROUND OTHER DOGS” thoughts. Extreme, I know – but I think most of us are quick to judge what “does not do well with other dogs” means.  But Honey Bunches could not be farther from these assumptions.

On the street, at the shelter, in the park, on hiking trips; basically anything outside of the house – Otis is great with other dogs. He even often solicits play. Other times he is shy and doesn’t feel like saying hi, but he really isn’t life-alteringly timid around other canines.

Inside the house, though, is somewhat of a different story. Inside his home, Otis is so meek with other dogs – no matter their demeanor – that he immediately begins showing submissive behavior. No aggression or reactivity – just sulking, whining, and peeing. Yes, peeing. Otis suffers from submissive urination, which explains why his last home thought he wasn’t housebroken. Unfortunately this behavior was only reinforced when his doggy sister was particularly nasty towards him all the time (for the record – he is 100% housebroken in my house).

It’s a bummer that he’s regressed to this behavior, because over the summer he lived in the same house as my cranky old Wheaten for two weeks, and would put up with everything Barley did (which included snapping in his face and being a total you-know-what). I’m hoping there is something we can do to help Otie feel a little more secure around other dogs, so I’m going to do my research (I’m looking at you, Aleks…) and see what projects I can come up with.

While it means he needs to be in a specific home (one without dogs) – this reaction to other dogs reveals something more about Otis’ personality; something more positive. Dogs do this type of behavior – along with cowering, raising front paws (Otie’s signature move), lip licking, yawning etc. – to show that they are not a threat. Otis is so easy going, and he won’t try to bully anyone for anything. He isn’t pushy, he looks to you for how to act, and I don’t think he could hurt a fly if he tried. These traits combined with how well he does with dogs on the street make him ideal for someone looking for an only pet that they still want to be sociable outside the home.

So, that’s how Otis felt about our first adventure to the Potomac this weekend. Told you it was complicated!

For more information on adopting Honey Bunches of Otis, check out his adoption page or email