Archive for the ‘leash-aggression’ Tag

There’s hope!   5 comments

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?

Sigh   4 comments

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

  1. the door opening,
  2. the screen door opening,
  3. the doorbell ringing, and
  4. knocking.

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.

  1. dogs on leashes
  2. humans encroaching on their personal space
  3. dogs encroaching on their personal space
  4. humans approaching the house
  5. humans entering the house
  6. dogs in play

We’ll see where the year takes us!

El Loco   5 comments

Miss D and Mommy passed a young family while on our nightly neighborhood patrol. The toddler pointed at Miss D, going bonkers and straining at the leash as usual, and said,”El perro loco!”

Yes, yes she is.

Then she turned and started her bat-$h!t crazy act at the fire hydrant. WTF.

sigh Such is life.

Posted July 31, 2014 by iloveschnauzers in WTF

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Poster Child   5 comments

Mommy here… we had a follow-up visit with Vet today, after 4 weeks on antibiotics. Miss D got to get cuddles from her favorite vet tech, Angela.

Angela swears that Miss D loves to be carried like a baby with her paws in the air and her pot-belly pointing toward the sky. Seeing Angela carrying Miss D, I would have to agree that Miss D was enjoying herself. Miss D’s favorite sleeping position is on her back with her paws in the air, so Mommy postulates these positions may be easier on her spine. However, we have been unable to replicate the “carried like a baby” phenomenon away from Vet. Perhaps it is an “Auntie Angela” thing with Miss D.

Soooo comfy. Efurryone should sleep this way!

Soooo comfy. Efurryone should sleep this way!

Vet is pleased with Miss D’s progress. Miss D is looking more alert and active and is tolerating the new low-fat diet well. Vet even says Miss D’s spleen feels smaller, so perhaps it was more a reaction to the UTI than to Cushing’s. Even so, we decided to continue the antibiotics for another 14 days and follow-up again in 3 weeks to be sure we killed all the buggers.

Meanwhile… we have decided to delay treatment for the Cushing’s until at least after the Easter holiday. Mommy is worried that the stress of the upcoming holiday would obscure Miss D’s baseline reactions to the treatment. The baseline is important as we need to monitor Miss D’s eating and drinking and energy for adverse reactions to the medication. Plus we still haven’t fully transitioned to the new low-fat food. Another week ought to do the trick. So… we’ll wait another 10 days before starting Miss D on Vetoryl capsules.

And life goes on… we haven’t had a training update in awhile. Mostly because training has continued on the plateau. We’ve had a small setback in recent weeks, due to Miss D’s back pain and subsequent irritability. I’d be irritable too if my back hurt! Now that Spring has sprung and the days are grower longer, our nightly patrol has become more of a pre-dusk patrol. We’re encountering more joggers and more dog walkers now which provides more opportunity for training.

Miss D will never be the poster child for rescued animals and she’ll never win Family Dog of the Year. But she’s learned a few calming techniques that have made our patrols more pleasant for everyone. Unless the passing dog is that rowdy Newfoundland puppy (puppy! it’s almost as tall as Mommy!). Or our friends, the Scottie trio. Or Gus, the Westie. Or the standard schnauzer down the street… Well, I did say training has plateaued. What did you expect? 🙂

Baby Steps   4 comments

Miss D has made some great strides in the past few weeks. We no longer cross the street when other dogs cross our path. Mostly. We still cross when the man with his four pit bulls comes, but that’s mostly because Mommy is terrified of them.

For those who have been with us since the beginning, you know what a struggle we’ve had with our leash training. Staying on the same side of the street is a milestone I never thought we’d see. Maybe Miss D has finally started to mellow at the ripe ol’ age of 11.

She’s still crazy. If you crossed our path in the hopes of starting up a conversation with Mommy or striking an instant friendship with D, you’d be sorely disappointed. But she’s not wild-ass crazy and if both parties continue on our different ways, Miss D quickly calms down and finds something else about which to obsess.

So we’re not there yet. But we’re getting there. Baby steps.

Full of Wonder   Leave a comment

Today’s WTF moment…

Miss D proves to be a wonder to me. We did not meet up with any dogs this evening, thank Dawg! However, on our nightly patrol we were passed by several cyclists, both in the proper bike lane and on our sidewalk. No problem. A little excited panting, but no “Alert!” or “Suspicious!” stance. (Yes! Treat.) We were also passed by walkers and this is where it gets interesting.

A single person passing, either from behind or coming toward us, was watched with suspicion, but from a seated position, well out of their path. (Yes! Treat.)  Couples walking together silently were also watched with suspicion, a little more intently and with a definite unfriendly stance. Still, no “Alert!” or threatening behavior, so I’d say it was a soft B-/C+. But couples walking and talking, or groups of three or more, were found to be very threatening. We had to cross the street before they got too close.

Large groups of strangers coming toward us, OK. I kind of understand why she would feel threatened. But why the couple talking? Is it simply the noise of talking that made them different than the silent couple? It’s not as if they were arguing or talking excitedly. It was simple chit-chat. Two gals catching up on the week’s events. What is so threatening about that? WTF?

Gratuitous display of cuteness

Gratuitous display of cuteness

Fighting for control   1 comment

Today’s WTF moment provided by… Well a picture’s worth a thousand words.


Fine, Miss D, we’ll watch “Bad Dogs”. But I get to pick the next show!

Had to share this one. Too cute. Hand to Dog, I found her sleeping like this, remote control and all. My little couch potato.

It’s been a week full of ups and downs.

The Ups: Tonight’s neighborhood patrol went very well. A nice, lovely, calm walk, sitting down to greet walkers and cyclists passing by, crossing the street and sitting down to watch the other dogs passing by (barking, but not going super crazy). Well done. Mom is pleased!

Yesterday, we ran into our neighbor, Heather, with all three scotties in tow. There was some mutual posturing on both sides, but she calmed down quickly and on several occasions, did actually sit down to calm herself… or maybe just to catch her breath before lunging forward again. Still, the humans mark this meeting as a success. After all, all four dogs were meeting and they all were face to face on the sidewalk, not across the street or behind fences.

The Downs: Miss D nearly bit the ankle of one jogger who caught us off-guard. Luckily I was able to get a tighter grip on her leash and hold her back. I apologized, saying “We’re in training.”

He laughed it off, saying he has two yorkies at home then wished me luck. Took awhile to calm her down from that one. She also scared at least two toddlers this week.

It’s unfortunate. Parents like to point things out on their walks, “Look, there’s a birdie. And a squirrel. And a doggie. Do you see the doggie?”

Then the kid perks up, “Doggie??”

Then Miss D puts on her ugliest “Be Afraid!” face. Then the kid starts to cry and the parent gives me the stank eye. Hey, I’m not the one pointing out the “doggie”. I’m just trying to calmly let you pass unnoticed (wishful thinking). I’d say it’s the strollers that freak out Miss D, but she does this with older children too. That’s why we’re training, right?

Exhausted Part 2   1 comment

Sometimes I forget whether these night patrols are meant to exercise Miss D or me. It’s exhausting! We only walk a mile, but it’s filled with obstacles: the bicyclist zipping past, the neighbor passing by who “snuck up” on us while we were distracted by the Westie across the street. Miss D has begun to take her training to heart. She gets excited, starts breathing heavy and leaning forward in excitement, then stops, sits down, and waits for her cookie. That’s good, right?

Except it’s difficult to get moving again. If Miss D thinks she wasn’t rewarded enough, or is still excited, she’ll just keep sitting there, turning to watch the dog or bike or whatever disappear in the distance. While what I really want to do is pull her up and move already, there’s a little voice telling me to be patient, don’t send her mixed signals, and wait for her to focus on me again, then give her the release signal and be on our way.

As you can imagine, this makes our walks infinitely longer, frustrating, and well, exhausting for me. Add in my rather debilitating seasonal allergies and the rampant, out of control pollen count this spring, my patience wears thin. Fifteen minutes into our walk we’ve barely gone a block, my eyes are itchy, my nose is running, and I just want to turn around and lock myself in the house with the air conditioning on full blast. But I can’t, because Miss D is just sitting there! MOVE you miserable mutt sweet little dog!

Are we home yet?   4 comments

You know, seeing Miss D go a little off her rocker when we pass another dog on our walks is scary. Seeing a German shepherd with the same reaction to Miss D? TERRIFYING!!!

Thank goodness for alert owners. We both saw each other and instinct told me to cross the street and put some distance between us. They’re clearly training just as we are. Usually, I would call this a teachable moment. I stood in front of Miss D, taking a “don’t even think about messing with me” stance and puffing out my chest to display confidence.

Then the dog lunged toward us, his leash cracking like a whip, and all I could think was, “How far is it to the emergency vet from here?”

Thankfully, the shepherd’s owner had a strong hold on the dog’s thick, leather leash. Just the one lunge and the owner reacted, forcing his dog into a sitting and then a prone position before finally letting him up and continuing on his way. Miss D and I decided to walk in the opposite direction for a little while longer. 🙂

When we finally did turn around and head home, my heart was still pounding and my hands were shaking. I kept thinking what might have been and being grateful for thick-soled mud boots and thick woolen coats. It took everything I had to feign confidence and walk rather than run home!

Lovely   2 comments

What a lovely day for a walk. We had a lovely walk today. Yesterday’s walk was lovely too. Not because it was a warm, sunny day, because it wasn’t. It was cloudy and cloud and rainy and miserable. Which meant we had the whole sidewalk to ourselves.

We walked further than we ever have before. Nearly 1.25 miles! We even got to walk a little way along the bike trail that runs near our house. We never get to do that because it’s always so busy, full of walkers and joggers and cyclists. And dogs. But not yesterday. We didn’t encounter a single living thing. It was beautiful.

As always, walking with Miss D is a constant battle. I am always reminding her that I’m the boss. Me. The Human. I’m alpha. I decide when and where we go. She tends to disagree, which is probably at the root of our leash-aggression problem. She thinks she’s in control, the protector, and she takes her job seriously.

But when we’re alone, I have more opportunities to remind Miss D that I’m the protector, not her. I’ll decide what’s a danger, not her. And yesterday was the culmination of several such walks. It was awesome.

Today was lovely too. A warm, sunny, cloudless day. Obviously, that meant we were not alone. But Miss D, with yesterday’s reminders fresh in her mind, followed me. She ignored one walker, a pair of joggers, a pair of walkers, a jogger, another jogger, and a walker with dog. OK, she didn’t quite ignore the walker with dog, but she did sit quietly. She was on alert the whole time, but she listened to me and got her rewards. By then, we were nearly out of treats, and I could she Miss D was pretty tuckered, so we turned around and headed home. That’s when she went nuts upon seeing the Boxer. But I was able to ask the owners to stay still while I took Miss D in the other direction to get some distance and some semblance of control.

Our final encounter was a lovely, older couple. Miss D went on full alert, but they were understanding, saying they’ve seen us walking before and know we’re still a work in progress. In Miss D’s defense, the man was egging her on. Leaning forward, staring, and barking right back. I know the tendency is to poke fun at the little dog who thinks she’s so scary, but I really wish he had ignored her like his wife. It’s eaier to regain her attention when she doesn’t get any reaction.

Oh, well. It was still a lovely walk.

Tuckered Out

Tuckered Out

Posted February 24, 2013 by iloveschnauzers in A day in the life, Schnauzers

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