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Hello!

I’m Tammy Strobel. Thanks for visiting my digital home!

I write about creativity, living simply, everyday adventures, digital minimalism, and more. Hope you have a nice stay!

Henry: A Wookiee in Disguise

Henry: A Wookiee in Disguise

If you’ve been following my exploits on Instagram or Facebook, you’ve probably seen photos of Henry (my mom’s crazy dog). Henry is an Australian Shepard, with piercing blue eyes, and he has an incredible amount of energy. For years I was terrified Henry and he sensed my fear. I believe my fear is why he tried to herd me, nip at my heals, and why he barked at me when I visited my parents house.

In 2009, my relationship with Henry took a bad turn. I was at my parent’s place for the weekend and I left the living room to get ready for bed. Earlier in the day, Henry and I went for a long walk and I felt confident that we were pals. I didn’t think he would try to nip or bark at me again. I was wrong.

As I began walking down the hallway, toward the kitchen, Henry started barking and growling at me. I tried to ignore the behavior, but my heart started racing. When I walked into the kitchen, he tried to bite my leg. My lizard brain went into overdrive and I jumped onto the island in the kitchen. Henry proceeded to run around the island, while barking and growling at me. I yelled at my mom for help, but Henry wouldn’t listen to her. He kept circling the island like a madman, barking and growling. Meanwhile, I was crouched on the counter freaking out! Finally, my mom got Henry to back-off.

After that incident, I wouldn’t stay at my parents house if Henry was there. So my mom sent Henry away; either to a friends house or he went to my step-sister’s place when I visited. Then in 2012, my step-dad had a massive stroke and I had to confront my fear of Henry. I couldn’t ask my mom to send him away when I visited because she had more important things to worry about.

I’ve always been a cat person and didn’t have experience training dogs. So, I looked for helpful information. I read dog training books and talked to friends with dogs. In addition, I chatted with a local pet-sitter about dog behavior. Based on her advice, I ordered Henry a special collar and leash so that I could manage him on walks. In addition, I began rewarding him for good behavior. And when he behaved badly, I put him in “doggy time-out” for five minutes. My mom has a small laundry room — that can be closed off — and it’s the perfect space for time-outs. Spending more time with Henry helped. And slowly but surely we became friends.

Also, while my dad was ill there were nurses, care-givers, and family members that were constantly in the house. All the activity was good for Henry and he started to mellow out with more people around. However, he still has bad habits to break.

Curbing Bad Doggy Behavior

Since Logan and I moved to Red Bluff, we’ve been working with Henry to curb his bad behavior. Here's a recent list of offenses:

  • Peeing on Logan’s leg during our morning walk. {And no, this wasn’t an accident.}
  • Taking a large plastic bottle containing hundreds of zip ties, biting it open, and spreading the zip-ties around the yard.
  • Stealing a taco off my mom’s plate and eating it.
  • Excessive barking.
  • Counter surfing for food.
  • Taking shoes, gardening gloves, plants and then eating them.
  • Lunging at cars and people while on long walks.

Now that Logan and I are walking him regularly, we’ve set a few ground rules. While walking we encourage him to sit when cars go by, walk beside us (instead of pulling on the leash) and he isn’t allowed to bark at people or lunge at other dogs. If Henry doesn’t get a daily walk, he turns into a maniac and his bad doggy behavior goes up exponentially.

Why I Love Henry

I don’t want you to think Henry is all bad. I love Henry because he is always happy, enjoys every moment of the day, and he loves us. Plus, he makes cute Chewbacca noises when he sees me in the morning. For instance, when I was helping take care of my dad last year, I would send Logan short voice memos in the morning. One of my favorite messages is of me and Henry saying good morning to Logan. If you want to listen to a small clip of Henry’s Chewbacca impression, click here. I believe Henry is a Wookiee in disguise!

Currently, I’m reading Train Your Dog Positively by Victoria Stilwell. Her tips are fantastic and I’m incorporating her suggestions into my everyday interactions with Henry, like:

  • Walking Henry everyday.
  • Playing fetch, chase, and other fun games.
  • Starting to teach him cues, like coming to his name.
  • Rewarding him with treats when he’s good and going into doggy time-out when he is bad.
  • Also, we try and redirect his energy to another activity if he is being a bad dog.

Henry is a highly intelligent dog and hopefully with long walks and a fun training schedule we can curb some of his bad doggy behavior and become even better friends. I feel like we’ve made some progress! On our walks, he isn’t pulling on the leash or lunging at cars as much. I’m looking forward to finishing Victoria Stilwell’s book and using her dog training tips to help Henry, and us.

How do you manage difficult dogs? Share your tips in the comments section.

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