Confessions of a Bad Owner:

I don’t work enough on Obedience Training.

Dog Training

Maggie exhibiting “Watch Me”.

There.  I said it.  You have no idea how guilty I’ve been feeling about this!  Don’t get me wrong, all three of my dogs are pretty good with the basics, and we do practice when we go on walks and what-not, but I know that I should be working with them multiple times a day.  I’m not going to sit here and give you all the reasons why I didn’t work with them more consistently, but I moving forward I am not going to let any excuses get in the way of our practice time.

Dog Training

Tag practicing “Stay”.

None of my dogs are food aggressive (phew!) but they lose their minds when treats are added to any scenario.  Really, they go b-a-n-a-n-a-s!  While this is great because they are all super food motivated, and therefore easier to train, it also means that I have to work with them individually so that I can keep their focus entirely on me.  Otherwise, they are far more concerned with who-got-how-many-treats and end up paying more attention to the other dogs than me.  Eventually I want to get them to the point where I can work with them as a group, but in the mean time, I need to strengthen their individual skillz.

Stay Position

Maggie showing off her best “stay”.

Each morning I have been taking the pups out, one at a time, and reviewing the basics in our front yard.  There are other dogs near us so this provides us with just enough distractions to keep things interesting, but not exciting enough to make it impossible to focus.  Thankfully we live at the back of a quiet little cup-de-sac so it is safe and easy for me to practice “stay” with them and get a good distance away without having to worry about a car coming.

Stay Command

Tag waiting oh-so patiently for me to release her.

It’s funny to see the differences in their personality from strictly an obedience standpoint.  Tag is my super rock star.  I can put her in “stay” and walk, with my back turned, to the end of the street and just stare at her for minutes on end before giving her the “come” command.  She never breaks “stay” even though I can literally see her twitching to run over.  Then there is Buddy.  This is the one aspect where he is middle of the road.  He’ll go  into “stay” but I can’t get more than a couple of yards away before he breaks it.  Usually he is just more interested in investigating his surroundings than anything else.  Then there is Maggie.  I actually think she is the smartest of the three (yay pitties!) but I can literally see her wheels spinning when I give her a command.  “Do I listen?”  “Is she serious?”  “Maybe I’ll just test her out a little.”  I can usually only get a yard or so away from her before I am in danger of her breaking “stay” before I give the command.

Tag

I can’t really say what prompted this need to confess my sins or the desire to mold my dogs into the obedient little devils angels I know they are capable of being, but take this as my solemn vow to start working more with them.  Please, help hold me accountable!

How often do you work with your dog on their obedience training?  Do you have a long repertoire of mad skillz or are you happy with just the basics like “sit” and “stay”?  Do you practice solo or around other dogs?  I’m dying to know!

p.s. If you didn’t see the link I posted on Facebook earlier, I highly recommend you check out Kiko Pup on YouTube!  She is so great at simply and efficiently breaking down the best ways to train your dog force-free (which is the only acceptable way to train them!)

(almost) Wordless Wednesday

If you follow Temporary Home, Permanent Love on Facebook then you probably have an idea what today’s post will look like:

Tug of War

Flirt Pole

Flirt Pole

Obedience Training

Looks like someone decided maybe the flirt pole is fun after all!  Oh, and check this out:

German Shepard

Yup!  That’s the neighbor’s dog that I have been so concerned about!  One last shameless Facebook plug: if you followed THPL you would already know that he got to come hang out in my house, in the AC with a big bowl of fresh water, for a few hours.  Seriously, follow me, there’s lots of good stuff other than just blog posts!  Okay, I’m done begging now.  But really, pretty cool that I managed to talk the neighbor into letting me help out, right?  It doesn’t solve the problem, but it at least gives the dog a little reprieve from the heat.  Alright, Happy Humpday Everyone!

You Dirty Booper!

Say what?  The phrase “You dirty booper!” or some variation, “Ohh yous a dirty booper.  Boop boop!  Come here my little booper!” can be frequently heard around our house.  It’s our favorite thing to jokingly say to Maggie.  Imagine a cross between that hilarious meme with the husky (see below) and that scene from Superbad (see further below.)

Boop

Borrowed from the google machine. Rights are not mine.

Superbad

Also borrowed, also not mine. Please don’t sue, all my money goes to feeding my monsters.

And there you have it; we coined the term “booper”.  Obviously we have excellent senses of humor–but the catalyst behind this funny phrase sadly isn’t that funny.

photo-2

I am happy to report that our God awful couches were replaced the very day this picture was taken. Finally!

It took probably a good 6 months before Maggie really began to relax in our home and her true colors started to show.  I can’t honestly remember the first time that it happened, but one day Maggie and the other two were running from one room to another, riled up about something outside, and Maggie did this weird snarl/snap at them and kept running.  It was hilarious!  She didn’t make contact with either of them, she just made a funny sound with a little snap of her mouth, and they all kept going.  Hello boop, nice to meet you.

photo-3

We were so sad when we arrived at the beach and they informed us that they strictly enforce leash laws. We made do the best we could.

The “boop” continued to make appearances, few and far between, and I basically did nothing but laugh at them because they were always seemingly random, quick, and without consequence.  It wasn’t until after this horrible event that I began to grown concerned about the booping situation.  Don’t get me wrong, I could see from the get go that the boop was some sort of redirected aggression/frustration (due to whatever it was that was outside that they wanted to get to) but I assumed that my two good-natured, steady-as-a-rock dogs would always just ignore little Maggie.  No harm, no foul kind of thing.  Well after the fight (which I still firmly but sadly believe was Tag’s fault, and completely unrelated to “booping”) I began to consider the potential consequences to Maggie’s actions.

photo-5

Nothing happened between the time of the fight and our move into the new house with a nice yard, but the boop continued to make little random appearances and I did my best to  discourage them.  Now that we have this big back yard for them to run around in, the boop is continuing to make appearances, but this time at top Maggie speed–which is fast and generally results in her barreling into someone at the end.  I can see that the other two are getting annoyed with it.  And after a boop I can sometimes see that she has a stressed, wide eyed, trembly face too, and I’ll grab her and calm her down.  This is rare but afterwards she always goes up to the dogs and does her best “I’m-super-submissive-and-so-sorry” face-kissing, flopping-on-her-back act.  And the incident is over.

photo-6

So concerned about the squealing children.

I know that the dogs all love each other, enjoy each others company, and are probably the happiest they have ever been (thank you big back yard!) but I feel like it’s time to put an end to this booping before, God forbid, something bad does happen.  So, fellow dog owners/lovers have any of you experienced this with one of your dogs?  Do I seek professional help?  I am a firm believer in positive reinforcement, so I always praise them when they are all playing nicely and Maggie runs around boop-free, but it’s not stopping the behavior.  Any ideas or recommendations would be so super appreciated!  Oh, and Happy Hump Day!

Marvelous Maggie

I mentioned yesterday that today I was going to brag all about Maggie and here it comes!  I was a bad blogger and didn’t talk much about when Maggie graduated from her first Obedience course.  I can’t honestly remember what all was going on but I know I was busy and I just kind of forgot about it.  Bad Morgan!

Morgan

Graduation day from Basic Obedience!

Tuesday was Maggie’s graduation night from Intermediate Obedience and I couldn’t have been more proud.  She has come so incredibly far since I got her and it is amazing to me that she is even the same dog.  Without a doubt, I owe a HUGE portion of this progress to Michelle at Doggie Dayz (where Maggie’s classes are).  Michelle was right there to call me out when I did something stupid (like repeat a command rather than making Maggie follow through) or to tell me to relax when I got anxious.  I think I actually probably got more out of the classes than Maggie did.

5

“We’ll just keep letting her think she is training me.”

      Maggie quickly became good at “heel” and has always been a pro at “sit”.  Within a couple of classes she knew that if I stopped walking, she had to sit, without me evening needing to give her the command.  “Down” was a tough one for Maggie though.  Michelle explained that it is a very submissive and vulnerable position which can be tough for an already nervous dog.  With practice, time, and a marked increase in Maggie’s confidence, she got better and better.  Now when Maggie doesn’t want to go “down” it’s because she is being hard-headed and I have to have more will power than her.  Have you ever tried to out will power a pit bull?  It’s no easy feat.  I suppose that’s part of why I love the breed though.

3

It amazes me how equally hard headed and patient one creature can be.

Fast forward to our last class on Tuesday and Maggie is walking around, surrounded by other dogs, and only focusing on me.  For the majority of class, she didn’t even have her leash on!  There was a particularly handsome black lab that Maggie couldn’t resist giving kisses to (they were playing together before class and she developed a serious crush) and she did wander over to him a couple of times for a quick smooch, but I was able to quickly get her focused back on me.  There was also an incident with a very vocal Schnauzer where Maggie felt the need to rush over and insert herself in the situation but after putting the leash back on for a few minutes and gathering ourselves, we were ready to go leashless again.

4

Look at that focus! Maggie has excellent eye contact.

    Maggie learned all sorts of other things in class but what I am so proud of, and frankly amazed by, was our ability to maintain focus on each other with only my words, eye contact, and some delicious treats.  The first time Michelle instructed us to drop our leashes I literally refused.  I was certain Maggie would bolt off and possibly get herself in trouble.  Michelle had to come over and physically take the leash out of my hand.  I love her for doing it though because she had the faith in Maggie that I should have had.  At that moment I relaxed and stopped imagining worst case scenarios and instead allowed myself to see Maggie the way Michelle did.  As soon as I started having faith in Maggie, she not only lived up to, but exceeded my expectations.

6

What do you mean “this isn’t a real trick”?!

Honestly, we were probably the least advanced in the class but I will take the blame for that.  Maggie and I do not practice nearly enough.  We should be practicing multiple times a day but in reality days often go by where we don’t even practice at all.  I know, I know, bad dog mom!  And Michelle, if you are reading this, don’t be too harsh–it’s usually because I am busy driving all over this part of the state trying to save other dogs.  Despite the fact that we were shown up by the rest of the class, I am still extremely proud of Maggie’s progress.

1

In addition to Maggie’s amazing progress with obedience training, I need to spend some time bragging about how excellent she is with Bea.  She loves that little puppy.  I’ve mentioned it before, but Maggie plays rough.  I was concerned she wouldn’t understand that Bea is just a baby and would end up hurting her accidentally.  Not the case at all.  Truly, it is amazing to watch them play together.  Maggie let’s Bea roll her around, pounce at her with ferocious puppy snarls, and gnaw on her face.  She is endlessly patient with her.  Even though Maggie will shoot me an exasperated glance every now and then, I know she actually loves having a playmate.  When Bea is busy snuggling, Maggie will gaze lovingly at her, waiting for her to be ready to play again.  Buddy and Tag are very “eh” about having a puppy in the house.  They tolerate her but aren’t too interested in actually playing with her.  Im reality, Maggie and Bea are actually much closer in age than Maggie and my dogs are, which might be part of why they make such a great duo.  I can’t stop saying it, I am just so proud and amazed and even more in love with Maggie because of Bea.

2

Maggie’s exasperated (but secretly loving it) face.

I know that was long and mushy but I am just so proud of Maggie.  She has come so far in the time that I’ve had her.  I am truly amazed that she has not been adopted by someone yet.  She’s basically the perfect package!  My Marvelous Maggie Moo.  Have you had a dog (foster or permanent) that you are particularly proud of?  I’d love to hear about him or her!