It’s official, our happy-go-lucky Moxie, the lovable pit bull foster dog from HugABull Advocacy & Rescue is ready for adoption! It’s been a crazy fast ride, the time has flown by and it feels a little surreal.
I’ve loved working with Moxie the past five+ weeks and will miss her terribly when she goes; it’s the bittersweet reality of fostering. At the same time, I’m really excited that she will quickly and happily wriggle her way into the hearts of a new, loving family just like she did ours.
Moxie has been a delight, making me laugh out loud on a regular basis and impressing me with joyful exuberance and ability to learn quickly. Here are a few things we’ve been up to…
Will do Anything For Food
Moxie is a quick study and enjoys working for her food, which makes her a joy to train. It’s actually a really good idea to have her work for meals as it gives her active mind something to do and keeps her happy. Boredom turns dogs like Moxie into troublemakers, not because they’re bad, but because they need more mental stimulation than they’re getting.
One of the most helpful cues I taught Moxie early on was Go to Your Mat. Moxie likes to come into the kitchen where the action is and was always underfoot. To solve the problem I started with a thin blue line (painters’ tape) across the kitchen entryway. Sadly, it was more effective in letting Foster Dad know where the dog was allowed than it was in keeping Moxie out of the kitchen.
Take two was getting a small mat and teaching Moxie that she got yummy things when she sits on it. Initially she didn’t seem to get it, comparative to how quickly she has picked up other cues and I almost despaired. But, with consistency, practice and some very special treats she now has it nailed. The key was only rewarding her with food when she was fully sitting on her mat and realizing that if I waited long enough, she’d get there eventually without additional prompting. Kibble, bits of crunchy raw veg, and the occasional five star reward like salmon skin–what a treat!–have sealed the deal.
Moxie still likes to test the rules, of course. It never ceases to make me laugh when she inches into the kitchen with her nose in the air, scenting something particular tantalizing and looking at me out of the corner of her eye to see if I’m going to say anything about it. “Moxie, Mat” works, but so does looking her straight in the eye, then staring at the mat and waiting. Without fail she waits for a few seconds, sniffing loudly, then backs herself onto the mat and drops her butt to the ground.
Food Games & Puzzles
Moxie has a busy mind and is up for any activity. She also loves food, which all together is the perfect combination for food puzzles. Moxie LOVES her food puzzles and games. I’ve put kibble, treats and/or vegetables in plastic vitamin bottles, plastic wide mouth juice bottles and plastic clamshell containers, as well as in boxes and proper puzzle games to keep her challenged. Using these various tools she is fed her normal amount of food but is earning it and burning off excess energy.
Moxie has a good set of jaws and I’ve seen her shred a few toys. I wanted her not to destroy the food puzzle games and used a clicker to teach her not to chew what has become her favourite puzzle toy, a Busy Buddy Twist & Treat. She has also done very well with her Mongoose Chomper and West Paw ZogoFlex Tux, both stuff toys that I insert with soaked kibble, freeze and give as part of her mealtime challenges.
One of the other ways we’ve kept Moxie busy is with Find It. Either inside or out, tossing a treat (or more typically kibble) and asking her to find it is never ending joy for her, which I can say based on the tail wagging and energetic pursuit of the food. In the grass she has to use her nose to find the treat, which adds to the challenge and therefore the energy drain. In the house, we have a dark-ish hallway off the family room and tossing kibble down there or in a direction she isn’t looking ups the difficulty rating as well. She can hear generally where it landed in on the hardwood, but has to use her nose to locate it. She never gets tired of that game.
I Don’t Wanna Nap!
Moxie is a bit of a busy body, very curious about everything that’s going on. So much so she sometimes has trouble settling down once she’s amped up. You know, kind of like any 2 year old! To help her learn to calm herself we’ve been practicing Settle. I know that when Moxie is really antsy lying on her bed is the last thing she thinks she wants to do, but once she’s down it’s usually only a couple of minutes until she relaxes and is soon asleep.
The other day she was pacing and pestering while I was playing with an art project so I moved her bed next to the table where I was working, snapped on her leash, and asked for a Down. After two or three reminders, she heaved a huge sigh and promptly fell into a very deep, snoring sleep. She was simply overtired and a bit cranky; once she settled she was out for hours. It does remind of a two year old, doesn’t it?
There have been many more ongoing activities and training and as with every dog I’ve met, I’ve probably learned as much from Moxie has she has from me. Her happy-to-lucky attitude, especially in the morning, never fails to put a smile on my face. I’ll really miss those whole-body-wag greetings and the bouncing around the yard in sheer exuberance that another day has begun.
Note to Moxie’s New Family:
Please also give Moxie the consistency she needs to play by human rules, even when they make life more boring than it truly should be.
If you give her the chance to use her mind and body, you will be rewarded with a loving, affectionate and truly delightful friendship.