The funny thing is, from that angle, Selena can’t even see what’s got Rocky so worked up. She’s just taking her cues from him.
Welcome to my world
(Rocky is not allowed on top of the chair like that, by the way. It’s a never-ending power play between Rocky and Mommy. And yes, that high-pitched yip you hear in the background is Selena, from her favorite guarding bench in another room)
This is Mommy’s day. All day. Every day. How have they not lost their voices by now?
But there’s hope. Trainer stopped by for another lesson today.
Hope #1: Both dogs quickly settled in their sofas after Trainer arrived. It only took two tries for him to be able to enter the house without being bombarded with dogs.
Hope #2: Rocky did not try to bite Trainer at all. Not once!
Hope #3: Today’s lesson included a refresher for Mommy on “When dogs attack!”. Some of the warning signs are obvious, but others Mommy did not know about.
Hope #4: We will be starting reactivity training at next week’s lesson. Hopefully Miss D’s old pal, Nettie the Scottie, will be our willing “calm dog approaching” so Trainer can teach Mommy what she needs to do. Then later we’ll start attending regular group lessons with other dogs, many of whom Trainer tells us are much worse than these two. I believe it. After all, we have first-hand experience with “much worse” thanks to Miss D.
Hope #5: Trainer and Mommy practiced a few rounds of “Who’s at the door?” That’s where Trainer exits the house, pretends to leave, then comes up and knocks or rings the doorbell, Mommy greets and lets him in. Both dogs did as they were told, just as we’ve been training them to do. There was some initial excitement from Selena (actually, Selena maintained a moderate level of excitement throughout the visit) but they calmed quickly to the point where Trainer could enter and even pet them.
Training is going well, all things considered. Rocky & Selena both are smart schnauzers and eager to please, if somewhat anxious/reactive to strangers (dogs and humans alike). We’ll get there!
Oh and one interesting development. Selena was so anxious/excited when Trainer first arrived that she pooped in her chair. When Mommy sent her back to her chair, Selena ate the poop before settling in. Never seen that happen before. Is that normal?
What a rotten weekend we had! Well, Rocky & Selena might not think so, but Mommy was very stressed. See, it all started when Rocky bit the neighbor.
Yep, BIT the Neighbor! Who was doing nothing but minding his own business in his own yard, when Rocky went nuts. So to calm him down, the neighbor held his hand up to the fence for Rocky to sniff. Unfortunately, Rocky decided to taste instead. Luckily, the neighbor has dogs of his own and understood the context of the situation and said it was okay. Of course, Mommy thinks it is not okay and has already talked to Trainer about stepping up the lessons to take care of this bad behavior now. After all, what if we’re out walking and a child decides she wants to “pet the doggie”? We could land in serious trouble.
Mommy was out walking with Selena, training to “heel” and enjoying a pleasant Sunday afternoon when we encountered a laid-back golden retriever and his owners. Mommy could see this encounter was stressful to Selena, so we tried to move off the sidewalk, create some distance between us and them, until the danger passed. But Selena, thinking this was not enough and the dog must be warned off her sidewalk, decided to slip out of her collar and give chase!
Poor retriever had no idea what was going on! Why is this tiny animal attacking me? It was like a fly or a bee was buzzing around him. It might have been amusing, if not for the sheer terror of possibilities, like Selena running into the street or actually catching the bigger dog. Who knows what she might have done? She certainly had murder in her eyes.
Anyway… the humans were finally able to catch Selena. Mommy promptly tightened her collar and practically dragged her home. This encounter has also been mentioned to Trainer as another example of why learning to “heel” and “come” and “stay” are all well and good, but perhaps we can learn to “not bite” and “not give chase” and “play nice” at the same time. Please.
Needless to say, both Rocky and Selena are grounded. No more walks. We’re continuing our lessons on “heel” indoors. Outside time is limited to going in the backyard, on leash. They don’t even get freedom there to run the fence and bark at the neighbor dogs. Nope. Mommy’s right there with them, holding those leashes, forcing them to stay within a certain radius of her; which radius does not include the mud pit nor the fence.
On the bright side, neither dog reacted when the doorbell rang unexpectedly (twice!) this evening. Mommy has been working on desensitizing them to
- the door opening,
- the screen door opening,
- the doorbell ringing, and
At least this aspect of their training is going well! The next step in this desensitization is Mommy exiting through the door and standing right outside, talking to the visitor. AND the biggest step of all, allowing a visitor to enter through the door without attacking. Right now, the dogs take Mommy exiting as their cue to panic and arooo! and run to the door and bark their little heads off. Oh, and Rocky attacks the pants and ankles of any visitor within his reach. Obviously unacceptable.
Still… I think back to Miss D’s first year. Mommy’s long list of “encounters” where Miss D would initially go into bat-$h!t crazy attack mode but she eventually learned how to cope with most of them. Rocky & Selena are further along in their lessons than Miss D was when she first came home. … Or Ever.
I hope that one day I’ll feel confident enough to send these two to doggie day camp. Checkers used to love doggie day camp and would go every week. Miss D never had the opportunity. Mommy simply could not figure out if Miss D even wanted the company of other dogs. Based on the other dogs’ behavior around Miss D, Mommy figured they certainly didn’t want to be in the company of Miss D. It was a lonely existence and one Mommy will always regret.
So I’m drawing up another list of “encounters” for Rocky & Selena.
- dogs on leashes
- humans encroaching on their personal space
- dogs encroaching on their personal space
- humans approaching the house
- humans entering the house
- dogs in play
We’ll see where the year takes us!