Thursday, February 9, 2012

Practicing what I Preach

Ok, so the blog went dark for a bit. I am back. I know I have said that before, but we have made some changes around her. Namely, I am taking a foster dog break. We had...I don't know...a lot of foster dogs last year.  Somewhere close to 25.  Me, the kids, and the dogs are totally burnt out.

It was the last foster dog, who will remain nameless, who pushed us all over the brink.  The dog who I shall call "Ben" was barrier aggressive,  and every time Beck looked at him while he was crated -  he attacked the crate. Sometimes Beck and even Finney yelled back, and other times they ignored him.  After a few weeks  "Ben" started to guard half my house from  my dogs.   At around the same time, I was having issues with Beck fence running.  My house is on a cul de sac and we have dogs on 5 sides. It turned into a nightmare back there in a flash. Also at the same time, Beck got ubber aroused at agility class and flew off the Aframe one day and straight for the incoming class who were behind a chain link fence.
That take off in agility was my last straw, and I got "Ben" out of house and put Beck and I on a new training program.  It is just not fair for any of use to live with that level of stress. I think when Beck zoomed off the A frame, he was a little rubber band doggie who just snapped.

After  1 month with no fosters, I am hear to tell you, it is true what I say. If you want to change your dog's behavior, you have to change your own.

I made a lot of new rules for me and Beck and have pretty much have stuck to them.

No more letting my dog out the back door to my fenced  yard alone. At times when my neighbors are likely  to be letting their dogs out, I leash walk.
Lots  of training and exercise and  Beck is on a modified Work to Earn Program.  It is not enough that he does a behavior, he has to do it in a chillaxing kind of a way. None of that quivering OMG!!! she is gonna open a door crap.  Long downs and out of site stays at home. Lots of recall training.  Beck and I enrolled in a  Rally O class (thanks Jill!!) .  He went from a lunging barking FOOL, on the first night of class to a  nice star student.  He may always take a lot of management , but it has been great for us to be in a chill place with nice dogs around.  He has also learned a few new tricks and (brag) holy smokes is my dog easy to teach behaviors to.  Beck is one of the smartest dogs (in some ways, not so much in others)I have ever worked with, but in some ways, mucho stuoopido.  I am working hard on helping him grow a brain and we are training towards, Rally, Freestyle and Agility.

 While I do have mild guilt for not helping homeless dogs, I LOVE having my house back.  In the last few weeks of our foster dog break, we have had a few visitor dogs, but well adjusted, trained , known dogs who do not carry the same level of stress  (and BS) as fosters.  I have contacted the rescue and told them I will still help with various things I helped with before. Beck may or may not be in a place in his wee brain to allow  fostering ever again.    Time will tell.

For now I can tell you that after 1 month of boot camp, I finally didn't think he was going to take off and chase a dog at agility class this week.  It had crossed my mind to pull him from agility until his training was back on track, but instead we went with making it unpleasant for him to chase other dogs. With the help of the other trainers in the room (Liz,  Cindy and Delaney-bless you!) it seems to be working.

Of course I am not kidding myself, Beck's prey and chase behaviors run pretty deep. I do expect a back slide, but for right now, I am happy to be moving forward!

About the photo. Beck and Finney at Dundee Park. They are running the place.


KathyF said...

Great post! Glad you're back; your insight is invaluable to those of us with similar dogs.

Question: How did you make it unpleasant for Beck to chase dogs at agility?

gooddogz said...

The three trainers positioned themselves to basically not allow him access to the fence. They "may" have yelled and done things with their arms. It went against my ideas of how to train a dog, but the agility trainers logic is to teach him that everything good happens with me and the other dogs are not worth his time. Can't say it was totally positive, but we didn't hurt him in any way, just didn't allow it. There is a
HELLZ of a lot of look at that going in during class. The time when the next class comes in is a tough time for both of us, but we are motoring through.

KathyF said...

Thanks for the explanation. That sounds logical. Make it better for him to be with you. Hubs and I have often wished a giant bear would jump out of the trees and teach Sparky that he shouldn't run off to where he can't see us while we're walking. I guess that is the equivalent of the giant bear!

gooddogz said...

Beck is not getting any time to practice running/chasing.

Erin T said...

Glad you're back! I understand about the foster break, I haven't had a Puppy in Training in...three months? Longest time I've gone to date! Its starting to get old :)