Monday, October 15, 2012

Don't Give Up

The dog training continues.  For a week, we have walked the pack.  We were commenting yesterday about how it had been a  week since our last altercation with Redford and Henry.  Of course, that jinxed us, and there was a disturbance that night, and another minor encounter today.

Somewhat disheartened, I took Redford to John's (Standing Obeytion) socialization class tonight.  I was not willing to take Abby too.  I thought the car ride alone would be too much and I was probably right about that.  Redford was crazy in the car and we kept Henry in the front floor area.  When we got there, Leann and Henry got out and I attempted to put the muzzle on Redford.  I'd been working all week with that using treats and it had gone very well.  But tonight, in the car, a very excited Redford proved to be difficult to get the muzzle on, but I did.

John was busy with some other dog, so I took Redford, scratching to try to get the muzzle off, over into a side area and waited.  I was surprised when John came that he seemed genuinely glad to see Redford.  He said the muzzle was a good fit and that only one "fight" in a week was good, and soon it would be one in two weeks.  He took Redford and went off into the area with the other dogs.

I was totally amazed.  The dog that I have taken on walks all week, that barked crazily and ferosiously at especially dogs on a leash was nervous but extremely well behaved.  He had managed to get the muzzle off, but John didn't seemed fazed in the least. John turned Redford over to me and we walked with only one barking incident for the entire time.  We did switch to try a Gentle Leader to stop some of his pulling (and our constant correcting).

Bottom line, we have improved.  We still have a ways to go.  We need to commit to consistently walking the dogs every day, correcting them at home.  I think we'll try all three dogs in class next week.  Oh boy.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

I love my dogs, even when they frustrate me

Sometimes life takes a turn, and even though you think you are prepared and trained for something, you realize you need help.  That's where I was with my dog, Redford.

I have always considered my dogs fairly well trained.  Abby went to puppy school.  Redford had one lesson on not pulling on a leash which didn't really pan out.  They all come when called from the backyard.  They sit, shake, and lie down for cookies.  Abby learned 'drop it' and 'leave it'. both very usefull things.  They have learned to go into a bedroom when someone comes to the door, which seemed easier than making them stay back.  The only problem has been that Redford goes nuts over other dogs and cars.  He was always sort of embarrassing to take to the vet, and I couldn't take him for walks because he would go ballistic at other dogs barking.  When my one daughter lived with us for a while, Redford and Stuart, her Jack Russell, got into a fight.  We contributed that to the fact that they were too similar. Both males, both terriers, both used to being the "alpha" dog of the family.

Time goes on and all is okay until last month when Leann moved back home.  While it's a temporary arrangement, it will last for a few months.  We didn't anticipate any problems as her dog, Henry, is a pug and is stupid and docile.  Well, it didn't take long before we had an incident with Henry and Redford.  After breaking up a couple of fights and playing "musical dogs" my frustration level was too high.  We were not making any headway.  So I felt I had to get help.

Enter John Lopez.  John has his own dog training business called Standing OBEYtion.  He's really nice and seems to really understand dogs.  He came out here to help with our entire "pack".  That includes at the moment, 3 dogs, 5 cats, 2 toddlers and 3 adults.  He understood that our problem was not going to be solved by dealing with only Redford.  Everyone had to be part of the solution.  I was amazed at how he dealt with each dog differently based on that particular dog's personality and needs.  He made us realize that Henry has a fear of unknown people. I was also amazed at how he was able to get Redford to cooperate.  He left us with techniques and the assignment to walk them every day.

He was here on Thursday.  It's Sunday morning and I'm feeling a mixture of frustration and resolve.  The walks have gone better, but still have a ways to go.  We have still had a few altercations and have learned that we are unprepared to deal with them unless Leann and I are both at home to each grab and correct a dog, thus we still play musical dogs at times.  I have only called John twice, but we talked about calling him a couple other times.  I wanted instant gratification because that seems to be the American Dream, but, realistically, I know this is going to take some time.  I will be so glad when we have made more progress.  We are planning on taking Henry and Abby to John's socialization class on Monday.  I think Redford needs another week of walking before we try that with him. We called John to solve the one problem of fighting, but he has show us the light of what it can be like taking nice walks and having calm dogs in the house.  Now, I want all of that.

I love my dogs and it reminds me of how we feel about our kids.  We want so badly for them to be good and for others to see them at their best.  That's not life.  Kids and dogs need rules and discipline as well as love.  We do what we think is right, with the best of intentions, but sometimes it's hard to distinguish when we are lacking the correct balance of rules and love.