Pets

Lessons Learned from One Year with Paisley

This July marked one full year since we brought Paisley (our adopted greyhound) into our lives and home. I talked about how we landed on the decision of adopting a greyhound in an earlier post. After one year with Paisley in our family, we’ve learned SO much and I simply can’t imagine our family without her! Here are some things we learned as new dog owners:

Doggy Daycare might be your dog’s best friend

We first tried out doggy daycare this spring after our obedience class teachers recommended it. Paisley loves being around other dogs, but because of COVID-19, we’re infrequently around our other dog owner friends. She did express some over excitement in the past about other dogs (jumping, leash pulling) and we wanted to curb that. By having her spend a full day at doggy daycare once a week, she is so normalized to being around other dogs and no longer expresses that over excitement on walks. It’s amazing for us, too, as she is far more active all day at doggy daycare than she otherwise is at home. She comes home absolutely exhausted from all the fun and usually doesn’t want to walk that night! We send Paisley to a local doggy daycare provider in Green Bay and they offer some amazing amenities. They feature theme weeks (baseball, beach, fair, etc.), post pictures daily to a Facebook group, and even offer pickup and drop off at your home.

Training Only Works if You’re Consistent with it

Whether we’re talking commands or household rules, training doesn’t work if you don’t apply it day in and day out. My husband and I have both taken Paisley through a six week obedience class that reviewed basic commands (sit, stay, come, down). The biggest takeaway from the class was that the commands and positive reinforcement need to be reviewed daily. This is honestly where we failed. It’s easy to commit to an hour of training in a classroom environment. It’s not so easy to take a longer walk than normal when you’re in a hurry so you can bring treats and reinforce good behaviors on your walk. I think we’re going to have Paisley attend the six week class once more and really commit to training at home in weeks leading up to and following the class. It was news to me that you don’t just train and stop – it’s a journey of lifelong learning for you and your pup.

Stay Calm when the Unexpected Happens

I remember within the first three weeks of bringing Paisley home, she got into a piece of chocolate cake from my nephew. We called the vet panicking knowing that chocolate was dangerous for dogs. The vet reassured us that for a 60lb dog, a small amount of cake would not make her sick. She’s eaten PLENTY of other things she isn’t supposed to: a small piece of a plastic spoon, raw steak off of kebabs, Halloween candy (INSIDE a Ziploc bag and through the wrapper). I’m not saying you shouldn’t react, but all you can do is stay calm, contact the vet and react accordingly. Also – learn to store your food more wisely, as we have since!

There is no point in getting angry with your dog after the fact (they won’t connect your anger to the incident and it will confuse them), and depending on what was consumed and your dog’s weight, it may or may not be a big issue. Let your vet make the call on the proper actions once you realize your dog got into something. The only time we’ve had to initiate making her vomit was when she ate a rawhide shoelace. We’re EXTRA cautious not to leave rawhide shoelaces in her reach now.

Try New Things and Measure Your Dog’s Reaction

A lot of being a supportive pet parent is learning their likes, dislikes, fears, etc. and reacting accordingly. We discovered early after our adoption that fireworks terrify Paisley and she doesn’t do well with loud thunderstorms, either. We planned around major fireworks holidays and got a prescription from our vet for trazodone. She was able to sleep soundly and remain calm and we were at ease knowing she wasn’t afraid. We also tried experiences that were new to her, such as swimming. We were surprised to discover that she LOVES swimming – so much so that we bought her a life jacket. It backfired on us a bit when we took her canoeing and she wanted to be in the water rather than in the boat with us!

Embrace Your Dog’s Quirks – they are what make them so special!

A short list of stuff I had no idea my dog would do:

  • That I’d have to buy a special supplement to get my dog to stop eating her own poop, I would be disgusted. But here we are, and per our vet, it’s nothing to worry about – it’s just a gross dog thing.
  • That her favorite treat on the planet would be hamburger buns.
  • That she loves carrying all of our shoes left out around the house to her bed to hoard and lie on top of.
  • That she enjoys licking the top of cans that are open around her (she prefers craft beer).
  • That she is fine when on walks, but if a squirrel comes near the window by her bed – she goes NUTS.
  • That she loves stuffed toys – especially crinkling ones – but her favorite activity is simply carrying them from one room to another (we call it her logistics operations).
  • That she loves the snow, especially making face-first snow angels.

Your dog has a personality. Lean into it and love them for the traits that make them so special.

I’m thankful every day that we adopted Paisley. What’s next for us? We just applied to be a part of the Greyhound Pets of American Wisconsin Chapter Foster family program and we were approved!! If a foster family is needed in our area, we’ll be part of the adoption procedure for families bringing greyhounds into their homes, and their pup will spend two weeks living with us before going home to their new families.

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