Catching up

Heather Hamilton and Hubby as Fix It Felix and Vaneloope Von SchweetsHalloween came and went, and as most of you know, I love Halloween.  My husband and I dressed up as Fix It Felix and Vanellope von Schweets from Wreck it Ralph. Our costumes were great, I was very happy with the turnout!  My hubs made a GREAT Fix-It Felix, too! Good day filled with chocolate, excess calories, unproductive behavior, and awesome costumes! We had a party at his office, and it was really fun. Haunted House, cotton candy machines, popcorn, candy, costumes, kids, etc. It was really fun.

Heather Hamilton Project K9 Blog Dog Training Pitbulls, JinxWe have had our newest addition for 3 weeks now, and I love her. She is PERFECT once she gets comfortable. She’s super playful, has that pittie spunk, and rocks the ‘place’ command, sit/stays, and we are working on down/stays along with eCollar work. She loves her eCollar and is just doing great. She understands the concepts, responds well when I tap her, and she is just fabulous at come when called. When she gets super excited, it only takes a gentle reminder to calm her down. There is a time and a place for high-energy play, and it is not when we are inside, nor when we are trying to train. We still have some work to, and her biggest issue (people shyness) is coming along nicely, as she meets about 10 new people a week. If I can have people pet her, that’s even better. She warmed up to my family, and they spent some quality time together and fed her peanut butter.  She is also transitioning to a raw diet and is eating a pound of meat some tripe, fish oil, and a raw eggs. She loves tripe! She is a whole different dog than when we brought her home.

Tiny little improvements are still improvements. She doesn’t like crowds, but does great in a pack of dogs. She is starting to approach the front gate when we have people come over, rather than running away down the stairs. No accidents, and she loves her kennel now. She is putting on weight, learning to be respectful, and not to jump on the furniture. She is just doing so well! Again, we still have a lot of work ahead of us, but I’m happy to say she is making improvements. It may be a few months before I am able to use her for work though.

I attended my Force-Free method workshop at K9 Lifeline and watched Marc Goldberg work some dogs using his method. It was great to see, but also refreshing to know I’m on the right track. I’m not perfect, and I’m still learning, but I’m doing it right. I have a ways to go before my body language is crystal clear like his, or before I start working dogs with aggressive tenancies. I’m in no hurry. In fact, after having a few reality checks, and seeing some recent injuries  to some highly qualified, talented trainers, I’m going to take them when I feel ready. I know what to do and how to work them, but I don’t quite have that balanced pack yet, nor the confidence to know how to handle any situation.Heather Hamilton Project K9 Blog Dog Training Pitbulls, Jinx

Napoleon is considered a ‘difficult dog’ because he makes not-so-great decisions when he gets excited. He is a confident, silly, poster-child of a lab: happy go lucky. He is a great demo dog for on and off leash walks, obedience, and using him as a ‘rude example’ because he is a rude dog. Jinx isn’t rude. She has a dominant personality (after she warms up) and will administer corrections if needed. I have seen her correct Napoleon, and a few of our board dogs when they get a little too crazy while playing. She’s the ‘fun police’, however she can have a good time too. She’s calm, but not great with people. Awesome with other dogs, though. I need one more to add to ‘balance’ my pack (though it may be a while) and I’ll know it when I see it. So, we are still looking, but not actively.  If I meet the right one, I’m bringing it home.

We are planning on going on vacation soon (obviously not posting dates on the internet), which is also exciting. We weren’t planning on having one this year, as we are preparing for a change (which I have yet to announce) and financially didn’t know if it was going to happen. I’ll post pictures and post the story after we get back.  It will be nice to leave for a bit and take some time off work.

Anyway, just wanted to give everyone an update of the last week or so’s adventures.

Welcome to the Family, Jinx!

Project K9 Heather Hamilton Jinx Dog Training

This is Jinx, our newest addition!

Well, we have expanded our family, and adopted a black pitbull named “Jinx”. We are so incredibly lucky and happy to have found her. Once she warms up, she is a complete cuddle bug. We have been looking for so long for a calm, dominant dog who needs little training so they can help me train. She is little insecure about new people, new dogs, new places, etc, but I have confidence that she will gain the confidence after the ‘shelter life’ wears off.  When I met her at the shelter, there was just something about her that I loved. I saw something in her, and I really heavily considered what it would mean to adopt a skinny, insecure pitbull. Worth it.

We see moments of her personality where her spunky, happy attitude shines through. Then, she’s back to being insecure again. We have only had her a few days, so I’m not too worried, and we are taking it slow. I haven’t even introduced the cats to her yet. That will come in time. Again, we want to go slow with this. But her boot camp has started, and we have started basic obedience, leash work, teaching impulse control and manners already. She is excelling at everything. She learns quickly, and is pretty good at waiting already. She waits for the leash, to be let outside, to come down the stairs, for permission to do anything, etc. Tomorrow, we do more Halti work, and I will be introducing the eCollar at the park. I think she will do great on it and give her the confidence she needs. I have a few collars in my inventory to choose from, and I have tested the stim on myself first to make sure it will be light enough. She is very sensitive to correction, so I want to make sure the collar isn’t too hot.

Project K9 Heather Hamilton Jinx Dog TrainingShe has already learned not to go in the kitchen, to sit before she gets let outside, or before we put the leash on to go out for a walk, and to wait for permission before she comes back inside. She has learned the ‘Kennel’ command, as well as ‘Come On’, ‘Sit’ and ‘Here’, and she is learning her name. She plays nicely and appropriately every time with Napoleon (she hasn’t played with any of the boarding dogs yet), and all interactions have been completely appropriate with all the dogs. She has corrected Napoleon a few times for being rude (Awesome! You go girl!) as well. We started Halti work today, and went on a meditative pack walk as a family. She is naturally a calm dog (so it seems so far, but I can’t be sure until the ‘shelter mode’ wears off).

She is getting PLENTY of resting time as well as structured feedings and structured activities throughout the day. It will take time, but she shows much promise. The biggest thing about insecurity or anxious dogs is to remember not to baby them or to inadvertently reward that behavior. For example, if a dog seems scared and hides, the instinct is to go to them and comfort them. This is WRONG because you teaching them they get attention for being insecure. Set the example of how you want them to act. If you want calm and confident, you need to be calm and confident. Ignore those behaviors. So, she hasn’t received much actual praise or attention since she isn’t really in the right state of mind yet. When I see that nice, calm, relaxed state of mind, she gets nice deep massages and slow, calm praise. So far, we have seen a very small amount of progress. Which is something, and I’m not getting discouraged. She has been in the shelter for 4 months, so it will take some time.

Project K9 Heather Hamilton Jinx Dog Training

Learning to stay out of the kitchen.

She is underweight, so I was concerned about her eating habits at the shelter. The shelter staff said she would go a week without eating. Well, I didn’t have any kibble in the house and I knew she was used to low-quality kibble. Went to the store, bought some kibble. Switching to raw right off the bat may be a disaster, so I have decided to start with a high quality kibble and feed an egg, cottage cheese, and fish oil with her meal every day. I mixed up her food, and she ate all of it with no problem. Food aggression test with other dogs: PASS, no signs of aggression. She was a little rude with Napoleon’s food and kept wanting to steal it. Obviously, I didn’t let her, as that is inappropriate behavior. Napoleon can be rude as well, so some management was necessary. I always feed my pups together, or when we have another trainer’s dogs, we’ll feed them together as well. The board dogs are fed in the kennels, because they aren’t here for training.

Her health isn’t great for a 2 year old. She’s skinny and has mad dandruff. Her coat isn’t as shiny as it could be. She also has horrible teeth. With better nutrition and proper care, she will look better, her oral hygiene will get better, and her overall demeanor will improve as well. Her ears looked great, however.

Project K9 Heather Hamilton Jinx Dog Training

Learning to wait at the backdoor for permission to go outside.

Anyway, we took her to social on Saturday. She was a bit overwhelmed, as this was a huge class. There were over 80 dogs in this class, plus all their humans. She was flooded to the point of shutting down and tried to jump a 7 foot fence. Not good. So, she will start on leash next time. I had a feeling we should start her on leash, but I didn’t have any reason to feel that way. It was just a feeling. I should have listened to my feeling and kept her on leash. Lesson learned. Listen to my gut. Got it.

Another concern I had was that she has killed another dog. I don’t know much about the details, but she was at a dog park and a little dog came into the big dog part of the park and was yipping and yapping and being a target. I think the little dog got up in her face and she killed it. From everything I have witnessed so far, all interactions have been appropriate and her corrections have been the right about of bite (only seen on Napoleon, as well). What I think must have happened was the little dog was attacking her, and she defended herself, killing it in the process. I’m really not sure. I’m not saying it wasn’t her fault, I really don’t know what happened. But from her behavior and what I can see and read of her, she doesn’t have any signs of dog aggression, even when she was flooded by 80+ dogs in the social yard on Saturday.

Well, that’s my assessment so far. I don’t know much about her yet, but what I do know… I really love. She is just going to need to take some time to warm up and gain that confidence. We’ve only had her a couple days, so getting her exposed to all kinds of things is crucial to her success. She’s not ready to come with me to clients’ houses, (far from it) but give her a few months and we’ll see where she is. All I can say… is that we are in love with this pup!

Project K9 Heather Hamilton Jinx Dog Training