Doggie Sitting Checkers

Well, I said this blog was coming, and I meant it.  The story of the Pointer I was watching for a few days.

My friend adopted a German Short-Haired Pointer a few weeks ago from a very high kill shelter. They had him for 3 days before they asked me to babysit. They wanted me to doggie-sit (while I had the cute little border collie puppy as well) from Sunday to Wednesday night. I thought this was a great opportunity to get experience with another breed, and work with a shelter dog. I knew this was going to be a pretty significant challenge, especially because this boy was in the shelter for whopping 2 weeks!!

If you work with rescue or shelter dogs, you know how much work they can be, even after being in the shelter for a few days! I was completely unprepared! This boy was a full time job!

Checkers1First thing I noticed: very high energy. This makes it very difficult because I have a high energy dog as well, so managing 2 high strung dogs was the most exhausting thing I have done so far! Boy, what did I get myself into? Well, to make matters even more challenging, he had some aggression towards Napoleon. Nothing I couldn’t handle, it wasn’t severe, and it wasn’t like ‘I’m going to kill you’ aggression. It was because he is un-socialized, and I don’t think he had been around many other dogs before.

Now, I can pick out rude behaviors now [some of them, I’m learning], and immediately saw that Checkers was challenging Napoleon for rank, challenging him to a fight. Napoleon, just ignored him, being the submissive dog he was. Well, Checkers didn’t back down, making Napoleon’s hackles rise up. I also noticed his ears went back, head up, and the lip raising started. That’s when I separated them.

Checkers, again, not being socialized, didn’t care that we were done with the introduction. He was jumping like a maniac, and started snarling at Napoleon. So, I fitted him with a basket muzzle I had on hand. I’m glad I had one! I don’t handle aggression in my training, and this dog has absolutely nothing to do with my business or my training. He was a friend’s dog, and I was asked to watch him for a few days. Just want that to be clearly written here.

Anyway, now that the boys had a chance to be nice, and failed, we left Napoleon outside, and I decided it was time for Checkers to come inside. Just from the first few minutes of being inside, I realized again – un-socialized and has never been inside a house. Out of control jumping on furniture, bolting around the house, and jumping all over the walls. So, on a tether the entire time he was with us.

PetConvincer

My fault. This is what happens when I left something in reach of him getting to it. He completely tore it apart. I’m glad he didn’t get the CO2 container!

Even on the tether, we had to watch him 24/7. He dug at the carpets, chewed on the drywall, baseboards, couches, wired crate, and dug inside the plastic crate while chewing through the holes on the sides. I couldn’t go upstairs for 5 minutes without him. Also, not potty trained. So, again- reason to tether and keep him watched all the time.

Oh, crate training. Yeah – NOT crate trained, and suffers from severe separation anxiety to the point of self-mutilation. He chewed his feet, and chewed the bars until his teeth hurt. So, I switched him to a heavy duty plastic crate instead of a wired crate. This curbed the high pitched whining and constant barking. We had use soft music, a blanket over the crate (which he destroyed), and essential oils just to get him to calm down. We fed meals in the crate, and eventually, I would close the door to my office, and let him roam. He would go in the kennel willingly to rest. Total time of active training to get this achievement: 30 hours. The family says he is accepting the crate very well now, which is awesome. I’m glad I was able to work on this with him.

Is he neutered, you ask? Of course not-the shelter doesn’t do that before they adopt them out. Well, high kill shelters, at least! We also believe he was around 2 years old, meaning he was in his ‘prime’ and was mounting everything. Couches, beds, Napoleon, me, the wall, the air, etc.

Corrections: He did not respond well to any corrections using the Halti. Absolutely no regard for personal space, and would knock you over to get where he wanted to go. He would jump over Napoleon or a couch to get to where he wanted to go. Also, another reason to keep him on a lead. He didn’t ever slow down. Took 4 full days of training, but I curbed the jumping on furniture as well as jumping on people. I used the Pet Convincer, as well as verbal corrections, and he caught on fairly quickly. The Pet Convincer was incredibly effective for correcting him, and eventually I didn’t need to use it anymore, and just used verbal corrections. I think the total amount of active training hours spent was around 8.

Checkers2He was incredibly noise sensitive, and would hide underneath our end table. Not extra loud noises even, like a motorcycle, but things like the TV, washing machine, dish washer, doorbell, garage door, toilet flushing, etc. He got plenty of exposure to this, as I had to stay home with him for a few days because he was so self-destructive while I was gone.

How did he do with my cats? No go. Nada. Neit. Not even close to being ok. Incredibly high prey drive. With his energy level, and the level of aggression he had towards a dog twice his size, I just didn’t even bother with doing introductions for my cats. I was also worried because he chased a bird in the back yard and scaled my fence! Yes, he scaled my 7 foot fence, and went into my neighbor’s yard where he scared and scared the shit out of my neighbor’s small little dogs. Ok, so now he has to be tethered when he is outside in the backyard. Can’t let him off the leash ever. What a handful!

So, of the 4 days we had him, I think it was frustrating but successful. I didn’t plan on doing any training, but it turns out I had to, since he was just completely out of control in my house.

My personal accomplishments with this boy:

-Learned that sometimes, all it takes is switching something in the environment (wire crate to plastic crate)
-Reinforced the age-old comment of ‘Not all dogs are the same’
-Learned more about shelter dogs and un-socialized behavior
-Gained practice in really paying attention to canine behavior while in the presence of another dog
-Learned what ‘Board and Train’ means when I finally decide to do that (years away right now)
-Curbed jumping on furniture and people within 4 days.
-Started crate training
-By the time he left my house, I believe he was fully potty trained. Only one accident, and then he went to the door on his own afterwards…if I gave him the chance. Normally he was tethered.
-Started working on chewing on inappropriate objects with some success
-Successfully introduced Napoleon and Checkers after quite a lot of patience and small introductions. Video below is them playing in an acceptable manner.
-Met a dog who doesn’t respond to the Halti. A prong collar might have been better for this boy. But, I didn’t have one, so I couldn’t try.

Due to my level of experience, and how much time I have available currently to work with a dog like this, I have recommend another trainer take this case. I already have my hands full with another boy, who is making tremendous progress after 6 months of training. Updates on my boy, soon to come!

Here is a video of them finally achieving calm[er] play.

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.