Four Paws Forward

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Remember how my dogs are crazy?


Sure, they look cute and sweet.  But they morph into crazy beasts when we leave them alone, unsupervised.  Once, James ate the Husband’s green card.  Another time, Maggie famously shat in his shoe (yes… she actually managed to direct her poop into his shoe).  As a result, for the last five years, we’ve gone through this big song and dance of crating them in the bathroom whenever we leave the house.  Both for their protection and the sake of our property.


But lately, we’ve been leaving them alone in the living room when we leave – and so far, they haven’t destroyed a single thing!  I don’t know if they’re more mature or adjusted or what.  However, I know they continue to bark their faces off, something we’d love to stop.  So we have an expert trainer coming to the house later this week and take a ‘look’ at the situation and see what he can do.  I warned him that the dogs are very difficult but he seems confident.  We’ve tried everything – training, bark collars, devices – but given their recent improvements, I’m hopeful!


Soooo… imagine my surprise when I came come to a clean, un-peed-on house after 5 hours at the clinic!  It was nice.




Inspiration soup from my favorite hippie general store.  Yum, yum.  It was a cashew-based cream soup packed with veggies like artichokes, potatoes, mushrooms, peas, and carrots.


With many, many Mary’s Crackers Sticks and Twigs (which basically tasted like regular Mary’s Crackers but it pretzel rod form):


Baked apples are in the oven! 


Any other formerly crazy dog success stories out there?  I feel so bad for M & J because they were both rescue pups who were abused (James even has a horrible ingrown collar scar on his neck!) but I fear I haven’t done a good job of balancing love with creating dependency – hence the barkbarkbark!



  • Gina @ Running to the Kitchen November 2, 2011, 3:06 pm

    Good luck with the pups! Our dog is very well trained (no accidents, no destroying things when we leave, etc.) Her only issue is the barking. FedEx, mailmen, UPS, anyone she doesn’t recognize who comes to the door or in the house drives her mad. I think it needs to stop, my husband however, thinks it’s a great “guard dog” characteristic so we’ve done nothing about it for now and it’s driving me insane b/c I’m the one who works from home and has to deal with it all day!

    • Jenn November 2, 2011, 8:47 pm

      I agree with your husband on this one! My dog’s barking prevented a burglar from getting all the way in awhile ago (they had already cut the screen and opened the window but didn’t come through!) I say just turn on some music during the day 😉

      • Caitlin November 3, 2011, 11:09 am

        I am tempted to agree with Jenn 🙂 Mostly because that means I don’t have to do any training.

        • Pam C November 8, 2011, 8:53 pm

          I agree that it’s partly a dog’s natural tendency to protect the home but neighbors don’t always see it that way 🙁 We’ve been working on our three little minpins but they usually bark when we leave. How do you work on training them for a time when you’re not there… frustrating.

  • Sarah November 2, 2011, 3:09 pm

    Our female Jack Russel is pretty well behaved except for the mail man and UPS man (who are obviously going to invade and murder us all if she doesn’t bark and scare them away).

    The other problem that’s just developed is that she gets into the bathroom garbage when we are gone and eats… things. I’m sure you can imagine. We’ve got a tall can with a lid but she keeps outsmarting us. I think I’ll have to look into “baby proofing” next.

    • Anne @strawberryjampackedlife November 2, 2011, 3:26 pm

      One morning April start hacking something up. Yup, it was a tampon from the garbage. YUCK! Amazing how whatever they eat, when they puke it’s still that yellowy color.

      • Caitlin November 3, 2011, 11:10 am

        Omg, guess. My family dog chewed on a (used) condom back in the day.

    • Stephanie C November 2, 2011, 4:55 pm

      How did you get a well behaved Jack Russell? 😉
      My dog has the same barking problem, although we’ve curbed most of it. We’ll allow her to bark once, and then after that she can do little mumbling growls or whines. But her big problem is other dogs being near her ‘territory’ which includes me and my husband. We think this stems from the fact that we had to leave her with my husband’s grandma for around 6 months when she was.. 2 or 3.

    • Nadine November 3, 2011, 8:37 am

      Or just close the bathroom door? 🙂

  • Anne @strawberryjampackedlife November 2, 2011, 3:25 pm

    Our April used to bark a lot when we first got her and left her alone. She also ate our DVD player remote. Now we do a brief sweep before we leave or go to bed. She’s better for the most part. Although, just when we think she’s great, she’ll find a random thing to chew. This morning she ate a pen. Saturday she ate my Burt’s Bees. And by ate I mean, neither thing are useable anymore. Oh well. She’s pretty good most of the time.

  • Cheryl November 2, 2011, 3:26 pm

    When you said ‘expert trainer’ I thought you were going to say it was someone from and animal planet show. My dog tore through my brand new carpet… he NEVER had done anything like that prior so it was a total surprise when I saw that!

    • Caitlin November 3, 2011, 11:12 am

      I wish the dog whisper would come!

  • Krystina (Organically Me) November 2, 2011, 3:28 pm

    That soup sounds CRAZY good!

  • AmandaonMaui November 2, 2011, 3:34 pm

    I love those Sticks and Twigs. Have you tried the spicy ones yet? I think they’re chipotle. It’s hard to stop eating them. Devin and I have to force ourselves to stop because they’re so addictive.

    Perhaps you don’t want to try them, you might get hooked too!

    • Caitlin November 3, 2011, 11:13 am

      Hahah they sound dangerous!

  • Katie @ Peace Love and Oats November 2, 2011, 3:34 pm

    my brother has a golden retriever puppy and she’s actually really good! They are currently potty training her and having to crate her to do so… that’s her weak point. Otherwise, she never barks and has learned to not jump up on people!

  • kathleen @ the daily crumb November 2, 2011, 3:36 pm

    our younger pup was found in a box in an alley in st. louis with the rest of her litter. the shelter assumed she was left there when the puppy mill in the area was disbanded. poor girl is a total whack job. every time we get home, she comes out of her crate carrying her bed (we line her crate with a comfy bed) and WON’T let it out of her mouth. it’s like she’s afraid of being back in the box!

    • Reenie November 2, 2011, 5:42 pm


    • Caitlin November 3, 2011, 11:13 am

      That is soooo sad.

  • erica November 2, 2011, 3:36 pm

    my friend’s dogs are craaaazy. she actually had to send them to doggy boot camp…i’m not sure how much it helped though…

    our dog was fine until about 2 months ago, now he gets up 1-2 times a night to bark at what i’m thinking is our building security gaurd making his rounds, and the early morning paper delivery guy…which is weird because he wouldn’t bark at them before. maybe they’re new?

    i’m eager to see what the trainer has to say.

  • Jo November 2, 2011, 3:37 pm

    Good for them! My dog back home “lives” in the yard and is very attached to me. Which is not that great, considering I left the country for University. Anywho, he cries/howls when he’s lonely – and when he’s lonely and mad at people leaving, he pees on the bottom step. Yeah. He’s my baby, but he’ll never change.

  • Cindy @ The Flipping Couple November 2, 2011, 3:38 pm

    We also have two dogs that we adopted as adults and they both came with their own set of baggage! One of them spent her first 1.5 years of life in a breeder’s kennel and was TERRIFIED of anyone that came into our house. She’s gotten much much better and will actually let people interact with her now without cowering in a corner. Good luck!!

  • Sophia November 2, 2011, 3:46 pm

    I bought a bag of those sticks and twigs before and I ate the entire bag in one sitting. Their good, but not as good as regular pretzels.

    • Caitlin November 3, 2011, 11:13 am

      Agreed 🙂

  • Julie November 2, 2011, 3:50 pm

    We have two dogs at home: Coaly (a lab/boxer/terrier mix) and Hailey (a Britney), both three. Coaly was rescued from a puppy mill at 4 weeks and Hailey was bred to be a show dog but she didn’t grow to be tall enough to compete. Hailey is an anxious dog, especially when you leave her for long periods of time, and she tends to have accidents in the kitchen. We bought her a Thundershirt ( which she wears when we leave her alone for 3+ hours. So far, she has worn it six times, each time being by herself for 12+ hours when I was traveling for work. And it has worked every single time – she hasn’t had a single accident while wearing the Thundershirt! It’s amazing and I totally recommend it – best $40 you’ll spend 🙂

    • Angie @ Musings of a Violet Monkey November 2, 2011, 9:17 pm

      I’ve been thinking about purchasing a Thundershirt for my Lilly (mainly for car rides – she HATES them; and for when guests come over – she is super-sweet and VERY EXCITABLE). Glad to hear a personal recommendation of it!


      • Caitlin November 3, 2011, 11:53 am

        I tried to order Thundershirt a few weeks back and my credit card wouldnt go through. I need to reorder.

  • Donna @ Life of a Happy Blonde November 2, 2011, 3:57 pm

    I know when my doodle was younger i was to spray water in her face when she barked or make a really loud noise (i used a bike horn) and she would stop (and look at me like i was crazy of course!) she is super good about barking now and only does it if something is wrong/stranger at the door etc…
    I crated her till she was 6 months and i think thats why she has never discovered her ability to destroy things 🙂

  • Mary @ Bites and Bliss November 2, 2011, 4:02 pm

    We did the same thing with my dog for the longest time. He would terrorize EVERYTHING so we had to block him out of the library, upstairs, and other separate rooms. He’s recently calmed down, though. I guess they just get over it eventually!

  • Nicole N. November 2, 2011, 4:05 pm

    I don’t have a dog but I am a nanny and have worked in lots of homes with dogs. One family had a “expert” trainer for their dog and apparently he was there for 3 hours or so and spent 20 minutes with the dog and the rest with the family. Their dog was the best behaved dog I have ever met! She (the dog) would wipe her feet on the doormat on command among several other very useful skills. She never chewed things, had accidents etc. She was still crate trained when ever we left for more then an hour or so but the crate was in the kitchen and she liked to hang out there anyway so it worked nicely for everyone. I hope all goes well for you! I have already informed my husband that we need to budget for a trainer before we get a dog– after that experience it is totally worth it!

    • Caitlin November 3, 2011, 11:54 am

      whaaaaaaaaat. i wish my dogs would wipe their own paws – how cute.

  • abbi November 2, 2011, 4:11 pm

    Couldn’t even begin to tell you the horror stories we have. With our first dog, things seemed to get manageable in about a year. So, we got a second. It took over 3 years to break her of all problems, housetraining being the biggest problem. We have removed all carpet in the house and now have a dog door, problem finally resolved. So…we decided to get a third, so far, so good (or as good as expected) with her!

  • Julia H. @ The Petite Spiel November 2, 2011, 4:14 pm

    When we first got my dog, we sometimes kept him in our sun-room if we went out…and he ended up destroying all the cushions on the chairs & chewing the furniture itself! EEK.

  • Ari @ Ari's Menu November 2, 2011, 4:15 pm

    My dogs both have a barking problem. I am anxious to see what the trainer does for your pups and if it works. I always feel like Winston and Clementine are going to end up hurting their throats with all that barking!

  • Clare @ Fitting It All In November 2, 2011, 4:25 pm

    my dog used to be AWFUL! tearing through chairs, knocking over plants, the whole house would be a mess. But with training and age she was just fine – we left her alone no problem good luck!

  • heather November 2, 2011, 4:27 pm

    Good luck! My two toy poodles bark all. The. Time. One gets the other going and I don’t think they end up remembering why they were even barking to begin with!

  • Debbie November 2, 2011, 4:29 pm

    I have 2 wire haired dachshunds…bark, bark, bark!

    • Caitlin November 3, 2011, 11:55 am

      I think its a breed thing.

  • Ashley @ Good Taste Healthy Me November 2, 2011, 4:35 pm

    aw poor babies. Expert trainer hmmm? All I can think of is the Dog Whisperer haha!

  • Lisa (bakebikeblog) November 2, 2011, 4:36 pm

    I dont have a dog – but my two cats can be little terrors!!!

  • Sarena (The Non Dairy Queen) November 2, 2011, 4:40 pm

    I had a dog that pooped in my shoe too! UGH, it was my favorite too and I just could not bring myself to wearing the thing again. Can’t wait to hear what the trainer says about the barking!

  • Kathy November 2, 2011, 4:40 pm

    My puppy used to bark constantly in her kennel when I first got her. She’s gotten so much now, but will still bark when I leave and she isn’t in her kennel (say when i’m running to my car to pick up more stuff, she starts the minute i’m down the stairs). She also freaks out and barks out of control if she’s in a new place and i’ve left her in a kennel. I’ve been debating on getting a trainer, so hopefully yours works out for you!

  • Yolie @ Practising Wellness November 2, 2011, 4:51 pm

    Good luck with the puppies, Caitlin! I think you are a wonderful, loving dog-mummy! <3
    I hope the trainer manages to work out the barking problem – but so good that there have been big improvements in their behaviour recently 🙂
    I love your puppy posts…I'm trying to find James and Maggie's gurst post but I can't find it! 🙁 I want to show my boyfriend, cause it totally cracked me up, lol! 😛 xyx

  • Amber from Girl with the Red Hair November 2, 2011, 5:13 pm

    Good luck with the trainer! Our boxer puppy is 5 months old (we’ve had her for 3 months) and we are working hard on her obedience skills early! She’s really good at sit and stay but not so good at lay down, come or down (aka don’t jump all over everyone!) We are working on it though. Currently we’re crate training her because she’s not fully house trained yet but I hope to one day let her roam around during the day!

  • Laurie November 2, 2011, 5:34 pm

    Caitlin, I think you and the husband are doing a great job with the dogs! You rescued them from horrible owners! But it may be an insecure thing also because the way they were treated. I also think it is a dachshund thing, because my dogs do the same thing, barking at everything! I always look forward when you have posts about Maggie and James! Good luck with the trainer!

    • Caitlin November 3, 2011, 11:56 am

      Maggie = insecure. Perfect way to describe her.

  • Moni'sMeals November 2, 2011, 5:38 pm

    You are doing great with the dogs, dogs are always going to be some what of a challenge, ya know.I just spent a small fortune last week on my lil bulldog, Emma but as long as she is better, is all that I care about and she is…but good luck with it all.

    I am so with you on this push up challenge! muhaha. Love me some push ups. 😉

  • Angela @ MyPinkyToes November 2, 2011, 5:51 pm

    My little doggie would always bark (when we were home) or whine at us if she wanted something. Then my husband threatened to get a shock collar if I didn’t train her in two weeks! I bought a squirt bottle and sprayed her with water (she hates baths!) when she would bark, and that did the trick for us!

    • Caitlin November 3, 2011, 11:57 am

      I have never tried the squirt bottle trick! Maybe it would work. My dogs hate water.

  • Amanda @ AmandaRunsNY November 2, 2011, 6:03 pm

    My male coworker and his girlfriend adopted a dog this summer, and at first the dog would freak out around males and would never go to my coworker. Anytime my coworker was at his girlfriend’s apartment the dog would shake uncontrollably and hide. Overtime though, the dog has learned to trust my coworker and doesn’t get scared as much anymore. He didn’t do anything special except that he didn’t force his attention on the dog. The dog is still very shy around other males, but seems to warming up slowly. I think just like humans take a long time to recover from traumatic experiences, dogs do too! They need their own form of doggie therapy (generally lots of walks and belly scratching).

    • Sara @ OurDogBuffy November 2, 2011, 8:45 pm

      Our male dog that we adopted was the same way around males at first! Same result–eventually he overcame his fear mostly.

  • TG November 2, 2011, 6:25 pm

    I adopted a puppy and my best guyfriend ended up adopting her from me. Sweetest dog you’ll meet! Something must have happened to her before she was adopted by me because she used to tremble whenever someone would put their hand up to pet her. After a few months, and lots of love from her new parents, she is now one of the happiest dogs I know. AND she is incredibly smart and we didn’t have to housetrain her at all even though she was adopted at 3months!

    • Caitlin November 3, 2011, 12:00 pm

      Oh my god, when dogs tremble – it kills me. Kills me.

  • TG November 2, 2011, 6:26 pm

    And by we, I mean my friend and his gf. I’m just the doting godmother

  • Sara November 2, 2011, 8:16 pm

    The fact that you are trying is great! You’re being a great dog-mom and dad by constantly working with your pups 🙂 it’s much more than I can say for my neighbors whose dog barks so incessantly I’m not sure how she breathes! working from home makes this quite annoying but I don’t think they even care. So kudos for at least trying!

  • Laura November 2, 2011, 8:22 pm

    Hey Caitlin!
    As a long time “lurker” , I was so psyched to learn you were coming to my alma mater next week! Lucky for me I live pretty close ( New Haven ) so I’ll be able to see you speak ! Can’t wait 🙂

    • Caitlin November 3, 2011, 12:00 pm

      Hi Laura!!! Thanks for lurking 🙂 I am very excited to meet you next week!

  • Sara @ OurDogBuffy November 2, 2011, 8:43 pm

    Our dogs bark when we first get home (to the door) and sometimes when we first leave, but otherwise they are quiet. We have to crate ours too–they get into trouble and other things they shouldn’t get into. I’m hopefully after a couple of years, maybe we can leave them out. I know a lot people don’t agree with crating, but they like their crates. It’s like a little bed/home 🙂 I feel better knowing they are safe.

  • Emily November 2, 2011, 9:00 pm

    Don’t feel alone, Caitlin! We have 2 dogs: a West Highland White Terrier – Bruce – and a black Chiwawa (don’t laugh our grandmother in a nursing home chose the breed lol) Tippy. Tippy croons when she’s home alone and Bruce joins in and they also bark at whoever walks past.

    Animal psychologists are too pricey unfortunately – but I know we’ll sort it out somehow, I’m just glad we aren’t alone. And I’m sure you’re doing an amazing job of parenting James and Maggie:)

  • BroccoliHut November 2, 2011, 9:01 pm

    I have a pretty good dog story.
    I used to (PAST tense) leave Margot in the bathroom while I was at class and work during the day. Then one day I came home and found a burst pipe and an inch of water all over the floor–she had actually chewed a hole through the toilet pipe! That was fun to explain to the landlord.

    • Caitlin November 3, 2011, 12:02 pm

      ohmigod. that is ridiculous! sounds like somethign james would do.

  • Michele November 2, 2011, 9:07 pm

    I have a question that I really hope you can solve for me. I started running in May of this year and had a great time all summer. Now the weather has turned chilly/cold and I am having major issues and consequently have stopped running. Problem is that my ears and my lower jaw hurt like crazy after I’m out running for about 10 min. I’m in pretty good shape so I know its not bad teeth or my heart. Please tell me what to do to so I can run outside again. Thanks!

    • Caitlin November 3, 2011, 12:04 pm

      Hmmm. Are you clenching your jaw? I would definitely invest in ear muffs and try running with those (be careful about traffic). In really cold weather, I wrap a sweat-wicking scarf around my lower face, which seems to help.

  • Jennifer November 2, 2011, 10:46 pm

    Oh my gosh! We have a weenie that barks his head off! Drives me crazy! Please post what your dog trainer finds…because I’d love to nip the little habit in the butt!

  • jassy @ Healthy Egg November 3, 2011, 10:05 am

    is your expert trainer the dog whisperer guy? 🙂 the dogs which love our house are well-behaved when they’re inside our gate but bark at us when they are outside our gate…they’re so weird 🙂

  • Kris November 3, 2011, 3:38 pm

    Just catching up on posts while we were away. We’ve had our new pup (8 mo. male Italian Greyhound)for about six weeks. We are his fourth home. Needless to say, he has natural puppy issues plus severe abandonment issues. I’ve just about gone nuts because he’s very active and would not tolerate the crate without major barking, whining and scratching. The first trainer didn’t really have any advice. The second trainer said when he starts making noise, say “quiet” and smack the side of his crate with a magazine (so he doesn’t think you’re hitting him). You hate to do it, but I only had to do it once on two different days. Now he lets us sleep until 6:30 or 7:00, and tolerates time in the crate during the day if I need to vacuum or something. He was getting us up at 5:00 a.m. and I couldn’t crate him him at all during the day. I wonder if you could smack a magazine on some hard surface, just to get their attention after you’ve told them quiet? Might be worth a try? I’ve had two abused/neglected rescues now, and I know it’s so tough, but so rewarding too.

  • Laura November 3, 2011, 3:45 pm

    We just got a rescued plott hound. So far she hasn’t gotten into garbage or anything (we keep her confined to the living room/dining room/kitchen while we are away and put away the garbage and food on counters so you could say WE are the ones trained) but she does bark. What I’ve been trying to do when I WFH is to clap my hands and get her attention when she starts then command her to come and stay making sure she’s making eye contact. After that I give her a treat. Mostly it works. I don’t mind a little barking, but the incessant barking drives me nuts. I think she’s mostly just afraid, so I’m hoping once she is more confident/comfortable in our home it will lessen.

  • Jolene ( November 3, 2011, 6:54 pm

    I feel like I know your dogs after years of blog reading – they are so adorable 🙂

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