Update: Ryder, the Project Dog

RyderMy project boy, Ryder has stopped making improvements. The family is frustrated, and just wants him to be a good dog. For him to be a ‘good dog’ it will take time, patience, and LOTS AND LOTS of training. He has made many improvements, and his pushy-ness has really gone down… until recently.

This is Ryder, the very same Great Dane I have been working with for quite a while.  He was recently neutered, and I have seen him a few times since. It seems his behavior is worse after the procedure than before.

I have come to the realization that he desperately needs harsher corrections. Positive reinforcement isn’t working for him anymore, and he isn’t responding to verbal commands (yet). He respects me when I walk him, or give him a command, but he doesn’t have any impulse control. If he wants something, he will go for it.

He is also still reactive towards men. The last encounter was when I was training last week. We had a neighbor (man) come over and did a slow introduction. The neighbor actually doesn’t know how to behave around animals very well (seemed like he wanted to play rough with Ryder), and it was making Ryder uneasy. I was watching his behavior, and he did very well. We just really need to keep working on socialization.

We have recently introduced tethering inside the house, where he has to earn his freedom. When he is tethered, unless he is lying down calmly, he will be ignored. Slowly, I believe he will get there. We discussed consistency, and how important this is – more for Ryder than a ‘normal’ dog, as he is incredibly pushy and needs to learn some respect. I use this technique often with puppies and dogs who need to learn to respect boundaries.

He hasn’t been to the Saturday Socials lately because of the surgery (down time), and time constraints. We plan on taking him on Saturday, and I’m eager to see how he does. He does so much better once he has received some discipline while at social.

Apparently, he has also been barking when he is outside at passersby and being a nuisance. So, a new bark collar was introduced. I don’t have a ton of experience with bark collars (eCollar), so I am learning as I go on these. I don’t recommend them yet, because I want to learn how they work, and have a bit more experience. I don’t recommend anything that I haven’t used personally. So, I will be getting experience in these as well. With Napoleon, and you can find out why here.

Anyway, I am open to suggestions on anything else we can try, as my ‘mentor’ is out of town right now, so I can’t ask her. I will ask the trainers on Saturday what we can do about his pushy behavior – other than what we are already doing. Thanks all for reading! Feel free to comment any suggestions you might have!

Burned Out

Have you ever experienced a complete burn out? Where you can’t think anymore? Your brain feels like you can’t hold any more information? You have no motivation to continue on? Nothing is enjoyable anymore? Basically, you are done. Just can’t do anymore. Physically, mentally, spiritually…

I have. I am going through one…again.

This will be my second burn-out in 3 years. I am doing too much. No down time, just work. Different types of work though: Day job, home life, owning a business, and managing my own well being. I am so happy I don’t have kids, because they would starve right now. It feels like no matter how productive I am, I just can’t keep up. Just too much work. Stupid work, stupid money, stupid stress – all those things prevent us from doing what we want to do.

Blurry rocks

A picture of some rocks I found outside of my office

Sometimes, I just want a day where I can curl up in a corner and just not do a single thing. And when I do decide to come out of my cave, the world has kindly stopped for me, so I don’t have any catching up to do. Weekends are filled with paperwork and ‘catching up’ for things I didn’t have time for during the week. Like housework, bills, and paperwork for my business. Vacations aren’t vacations at all. They are just approved procrastination days. So that when I come back, I am bombarded with fires, and mountains of tasks that need to be done.

It’s overwhelming. Yes, I have PTO that I could use to give myself a much needed down-day. However, I am trying to save that time so I can spend two weeks taking a course to get my dog training certification. It’s an exhausting, dangerous game I am playing. I need a day for my mental health, but refuse to spend one.

On any average day, I usually work about 14 hours. On weekends, I work about 5 hours total. Last week, between my business and my day job, I pulled about a 150hr week. Over the weekend, I worked about 30 hours. Paperwork, finances, actual training, website stuff, updating statuses for my business on Facebook, purchasing new equipment, creating a new Google+ account, studying, organizing, printing, researching, shopping, etc… it doesn’t end. I have been doing this 14-16 hr daily schedule for the last 6 months. And I don’t see an end in sight yet…

I’m overwhelmed. Seems to be a new trend within my life recently… What do you do to relax when this happens?

Napoleon’s Temper Tantrum

sadness

I SERIOUSLY am at the end of my leash.

I am fighting back tears, or the will to scream… or both.

Napoleon has completely driven me crazy. I’m supposed to be a newbie dog trainer. I will make mistakes. But when I can’t even control my own dog… I am seriously a ‘frustrated owner’ right now. I feel like I’m in the position of someone who doesn’t know what else to do with their dog.

We were going on a walk, and practicing distractions as well as leash work. He was just doing fantastic. Just wonderful, and then I saw my neighbors, who wanted to chat. That’s fine, great opportunity for him to be ignored right now. Again, wonderful. So far so good…

So, because he was doing so well, he got to play with the neighbor’s boxer for a bit. They are friends, but we have to watch out for-yep, there it is… mounting. My dog always mounts this boxer for some reason. He’s 9 years old, and neutered. And completely … perfect. Then there’s my dog…mounting him. Great. I try to catch it, as I see the signs happening and ‘Ah-ah, NO!’. But he ignored me. I have no training tools with me, and he’s off leash. Great. So, I run over, and pull him off. Then, I have him do something else for a bit – “Puppy Pushups” I like to call them. Sit-Down-Sit-Down and so on and so forth. Eventually, he seems to have relaxed. Well that was embarrassing (“I’m sorry my dog just completely dominated your dog.”). Ok, they are playing now, good. Good play, everything is going well again…

Until a fucking idiot teenage kid on a skateboard was being pulled by a pit bull ran down the street. Napoleon FREAKED OUT! He started lunging, and snarling, and barking/whining. Behavior I have never seen before. Even in a fight, he’s not like that! Unfortunately, for me, he was off leash. I tried to get control by his collar, and then remove him from the situation. The little fucking asshat teenager decided it was fun seeing my dog all freaked out and then came back again! This time, as I was trying to get control of Napoleon, I was able to [somehow] slip the Halti back on, and secure it so I had more control.

Yeah, I decided that was enough of that, and that we needed to go. I wasn’t going to take him home yet, because he was too worked up. We walked around the block, and we went real slow until he calmed down.

When we got home, he was back to his out of control ‘I-want-dinner-now-mom’ attitude. I don’t respond to that at all, and he doesn’t get fed until he calms down. So, he was ignored. . . which resulted in ear-splitting howls and whines. This, again, doesn’t usually happen unless he’s in the kennel. So, the Pet Convincer was used on him. Then, another uncharacteristic thing- growling at me. This has never happened. So, I stood there, and waited for him to calm down. Then put him in the bedroom by himself to ‘cool off’.

My boy – having a temper tantrum is what it looked like. It was like my  high energy lab, just turned into a huge problem. Hmm… wow. Either I royally screwed up on something, or something is really wrong.

I feed the cats, and then eventually let Napoleon out again. He is jumping, knocking me over in the hallway, getting in the kitchen (he’s not allowed), and jumped COMPLETELY OVER a sofa and smashed into the window.

WHAT.THE.HELL.IS.GOING.ON??? No. No. NO. NO! I don’t even care right now. I am up to my eyeballs in these negative feelings.

I give up… feeling words:

-Disappointed
-Distraught
-Frustrated
-Ashamed
-Embarrassed
-Hopeless
-A failure
-Miserable
-Guilt
-KILL ME NOW

I want to ‘fix’ him. I want so badly to do this. I want to know how to solve ‘difficult’ problems like this one, and it feels like the whole damn world is against me. I ask for help from the organization I am a member of, and they tell me ‘It might be because he should be getting a 5 mile walk every day’, and ‘it’s something you might just have to deal with’.

Yeah. Well, if I have to ‘deal with this’ … seriously: Please kill me. Put me out of my misery and take me out back and just shoot me. I could run him 5 miles, and it wouldn’t make a difference. It really, REALLY doesn’t. It’s not an exercise problem. He’s OVER-ADRENALIZED. I was very unhappy with these responses, so now I’m even more frustrated.

FAILURE. I CAN’T DO THIS EVERY DAY FOR THE REST OF FOREVER WITH MY BOY. He is so good when he’s not over-stimulated. I just can’t do it all the time. I need a break every once in a while. Ignorance was bliss. Before I knew what ‘over-adrenalized’ meant and before I realized that he wasn’t just ‘a really happy dog’, we were all really happy. Now, it feels like I have one of the worst dogs in the world. My poor boy, getting all these emotions from me. If he can read my mind – I’m sure he feels awful. See, there I go -putting human emotions on a dog. FAIL.

But if he could talk, I think he would be saying, ‘But Mom! I’m really trying! I’m working so hard, see? See me work so hard? ‘. And now, GUILT.

I can’t even talk to my husband. It’ll start a fight. When I get like this, I have to attack something/someone. And I don’t want to start a fight. I think I’ll just sleep downstairs. By myself.