Saturday, March 31, 2012

Training Truman

For the past 3 weeks, I've been dog sitting for a 2-year old pit bull named Truman.  Truman's mommy travels a few weeks each month, so Truman and I will be getting to know each other very well.  Knowing this, I am trying to build a relationship with him that we both enjoy.  In other words, I don't want this dog to own me or run my life, something he's apt to do.  Despite being a Nervous Nelly, afraid of his own shadow, Truman seems to think he's leadership material.  Sorry dog, I am alpha.

Pills, Ointments, and Wipes
Truman has severe allergies.  He takes 3-5 pills a day, needs his ears and feet wiped down, and needs ointment put in his ears.  His mom left me a muzzle and said "you'll need this.  He bites when you try to do anything to him".  I truly believe that he has tried to bite her because he knows he can.  However, Mr. Truman knows better than to bite me.  I shove his pills down his throat and stick my fingers and his ointment in his ears twice a day.  He's not thrilled, but who would be with a crazy lady shoving 3 pills down your throat.  I pat myself on the back for this one.

There is nothing enjoyable about walking with Truman.  First you put on the prong collar.  Next you hook up the leash.  Next you stuff your pockets with treats.  Next you get dragged down the block.  I DO NOT get dragged by dogs.  So, I dig in my heels and get him back into position.  "Truman, heel, yes" treat.  Take a step.  "No, Truman, heel, yes" treat.  Perhaps he stays in position long enough that I manage to take 5 steps.  Then I've lost him.  Or, much worse, he's turned into a psycho dog and decided to latch onto his nylon leash, locking his jaw, and sometimes taking a nibble out of your arm.  Now you've got a crazed, super strong animal dangling from a leash.  Excuse my language, but "shit!".  Now what?  I dove deep down into my affective domain (training term for gut) and let him have my biggest "NO! drop it!" along with a hard knee to the stomach.  This managed to get us home, where I promptly emailed his mother, fingers shaking on the keys, and said "you didn't tell me about his nylon leash obsession!".  Oops.  Ok, a challenge.  Truman wore his nylon leash for a full week.  In the house, in the yard, etc.  Sometimes I was on the other end (which caused him to become super attached to me).  Other times it was dragging behind him.  Either way, I figured, let's flood him with this damn leash.  Shove it down his throat along with all his pills.  We tried a walk again.  This time I was smart.  2 leashes: one nylon, one chain.  He tries to latch on to the nylon and I just drop it and pick up the chain leash.  At least I won't lose the dog!  Walk in circles in the driveway.  "Truman, heel".  He grabs the nylon leash, I drop it.  He doesn't think this is fun and loses interest immediately.  Treat.  We have been doing this for 3 days.  He's still trying to latch onto the nylon, but if I drop it right away he thinks I don't know how to "play" and loses interest.  Score.   All the while attempting to teach "heel" and "watch me" and "leave it". 

Growling in bed
This one is simple to describe and damn near impossible to fix (for me).  I get into bed.  Truman has 2 toys in bed.  He plays alone for 30-45 minutes.  I drift off to sleep.  30 seconds later, Truman is standing over my head growling at me.  Repeat.
Things I've tried: removing the toys, ignoring the growling, petting him, letting him out, growling back, biting him, correcting him, kicking him off the bed, locking him out of the room.
Suggestions wanted.  I'm tired. 

Ok, folks, I know this was a long post, but I figured all my fellow dog-folks would enjoy taking on some of these challenges.  I'm willing to try any suggestions you want to throw out there.  Note, Truman is not food driven.  Not even a little.  The dog turns down bacon!  His pain tolerance, like most pits, is astronomical.  A correction that would send a golden/lab flying doesn't even make him blink.  In fact, I'm pretty sure he feeds off it.  All this being said, he's truly a sweetheart and a very handsome boy and I am quite fond of him.  I would just like to be able to live with him!

Ready, set, brainstorm!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Green Chimneys Video

This is a great video describing one of the sites that I work at (see Danes and Donkeys), Green Chimneys, where I help to teach service dog training.  It's an absolutely amazing school and this video is worth watching.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

ECAD 2012 Graduation Video

It is with great pride (and exhaustion) that I present this lovely video about the clients and dogs that I've worked with for the past 15 days.  I wish them every success in their futures together.  Adam made this video which was shown at the graduation ceremony last night.