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Feel like I owe a dog update

We still have the dog.  As much as I kinda wanted to give her back to the shelter that her annoying bitey face came from, the idea made me feel super guilty.  Also, Josie loves the dog, and who's to say that if we get another dog it won't have a whole new set of issues?  People told me two things about puppies: they're a lot of work, and they're trainable.  I feel like that's a positive, workable context there.

We're still calling her Judy.  I tried to rename her... Loony, a hybrid of Judy and Luna, was a popular suggestion we tried to work in for a while.  But it was just too hard to change it in our minds.  And she really did seem to answer to Judy better than anything else.  So she's Judy forever.

Anyway Judy has the following strengths:
1) Has not eaten a guinea pig.  Yup, we've still got all four, and they're still in the open pen.  Sometimes she sniffs them, and they go over and sniff her, and then everyone just goes their separate ways.
2) Stays with us.  Once we accidentally left the gate open and she got out, and we arrived home to find her just sitting in the middle of the driveway.
3) Relatively few housebreaking accidents, especially since Marc has toned down his scolding levels.

Judy has the following opportunities:
1) Needs to bite less.
2) Needs to not take out her frustrations on Josie's toys.
3) Needs to indicate in some way that she's capable of listening to us.

So our seven week training class started.  Our teacher has four dogs and fosters extras, and claims to have encountered every weird puppy trait you can possibly run across.  She gave us some good tips the first night.  The first night was just lecture without the dogs, and the rest of the nights will have other dogs & families, but there are only five families total so I think we'll get a good amount of attention.

I was telling Marc, a lot of the things our trainer said were things I've read online, since I've been combing dog training websites and ASPCA and all that.  But online you get conflicting information.  The nice thing about a trainer is that we can go with one philosophy (hers) and we won't get mixed up on different tracks.  When is "ignoring" a better punishment than "reprimanding"?  How do you make it clear when you're playing and when you're not?  How does a dog understand what specific behavior you're discouraging?  There are just way too many schools of thought along these lines to keep them straight in my head.

Also we had an area improve.  When we first got Judy she would not go ANYWHERE on a leash.  She'd drive her feet into the ground as soon as we got to the gate.  But now with some tips and help from our neighbor, she walks with us.  There's some pulling and an obvious fear of all cars to deal with, but she's walking, and that's encouraging.  Kinda gives me hope, here.



( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
Oct. 25th, 2011 01:30 am (UTC)
Glad there's been at least a bit of progress! It's funny, with both our dogs (we raised them from 8 week old puppies), we'd work with them on something for WEEKS and it would seem like they didn't get it, then suddenly something just clicks and they pick up on it. I hope Judy finds her place in your family without too much more headache on your part! :)
Oct. 25th, 2011 05:13 am (UTC)
I am glad you're keeping Judy. Just know you've given Josie something very valuable. Her first non parental friend. It's a good thing because this first friend will love her unconditionally and will always be there for her. I know you have guinea pigs too but it's not the same.
Oct. 25th, 2011 10:21 am (UTC)
One of the reasons I wanted a dog (besides the fact that I've always wanted a dog!) was hearing Patricia McConnell on the diane rehm show talk about the benefits to kids. Like, even brain chemical benefits... dogs trigger good things in us. And she said it's important to have an "impartial, non-judgmental" member of the family, it's such a nice idea :)

The guinea pigs do love you, as long as you're holding food.
Oct. 26th, 2011 01:32 am (UTC)
A dog trainer once gave me really good gem, which was: Dog training classes are really about training the owners, not the dog.

It's 90% truth and 10% stretch, but I think the bottom line is that dogs are not born good, they need to be trained; but that training has to come from someone who can lead them to the right behavior.

Good luck!
Oct. 29th, 2011 03:28 pm (UTC)
You did a SWOT analysis on the dog. I'm in awe! :)
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )

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