A little while back Jake and I decided to up our satellite package from the most basic one. With the upgraded package, we got the National Geographic channel and National Geographic Wild, which means we also get the Dog Whisperer.
I’ve seen the show before, and I’ve read one of his books, but I hadn’t paid really close attention to any of it. Some of the other dog training books I’ve read lean away from the must-be-the-dominant-one mentality, so I was confused about what was “right”. And honestly, I don’t feel like I’m a dominant person so I didn’t think I could do things Cesar’s way.
The more I watch and really pay attention and listen though, I think I can do what he’s saying. I don’t have to be a dominant person necessarily, just calm and assertive. (Which is harder than it sounds.)
So. I’ve been working on being consistent with them about very specific things-they must sit and wait before they can come in the house, they must wait before going out of the house. Leika can’t stick her nose on the kitchen counters or the dining room table, including sniffing around the chairs and Lucy’s high chair. Daisy is not terribly pleased about all of the sudden losing her can-do-what-she-wants status. She gets a consequence for barking too, which is exhausting since she barks rather often. Leika is doing really well with it, but none of this is new to her, other than my actually being consistent with it. We’ve been using the e-collar on Leika so she can be outside without a leash (our yard is fully fenced, but it is only 3 feet high), but she rarely ever gets buzzed. I will occasionally use the beep function to get her attention if she’s not listening. Mostly it just makes me more relaxed because I feel like if someone (or something) did go by I would be able to stop her from charging the fence if she wasn’t listening. One time some kids walked by and she didn’t even notice them, but we were on the other side of the house. Jake said he’s had her out and people have walked by and she didn’t respond then either.
Yesterday after Lucy went to bed I let Leika out of her “room” (which is one of those baby play yards) while Adeline was still awake; for my own sanity I usually wait until both kids are asleep before I let her out. We keep her in there to keep her away from Lucy (or to keep Lucy away from her) because Lucy is just relentless and I’d rather not even risk her irritating the dog and having the dog bite her. I don’t know how to have everyone mingle without making myself crazy trying to keep the kids from harassing the dogs to the point of retaliation. At one point Adeline got pretty worked up and was running around and squealing, and Leika did so well with her. She mostly just ignored her, but at one point Adeline sat down right next to Leika, and Leika laid down and rolled on her back. It still makes me nervous because Adeline is really grabby so I stay right within arm’s reach, but it really gave me hope that someday we can all coexist in a more functional manner.
Later last night I walked her on the leash around our yard (it is a big yard, my GPS wouldn’t connect on my phone, I tried to see if I could measure the distance around) and she did really well. Someone walked by on the sidewalk above our house and she struggled with focusing on me and not him. This morning I took her out down the street and it was an utter disaster. There are dogs at nearly every house, and since all of the yards are fully fenced, they are RIGHT THERE. I was walking on the side of the street with no houses but it isn’t a very wide street. She wouldn’t heel in the first place which was making me super irritated and then with the getting crazy about the dogs, I just got fed up and we came home. I need to do some more research about how to do this right, because she NEEDS to be walked but there’s no way we’re going to be successful at this at that rate. I was not calm and assertive. We will try again tomorrow before I have any coffee and we’re going to go up the steps to a non-residential street where I can maybe focus her on the no pulling issues first, then we can tackle distractions. I was really disappointed about the walk because things had been going so well in the house and yard over the past few weeks.
I have this vision of having an actual Family Dog. We can actually travel now since Jake has a job with vacation time, and she’s going to have to come. We’ve got to get through her issues so we can all actually enjoy ourselves. We took her with us at the beginning of this month on a trip and it didn’t go so well, but I know now what mistakes that I made, but we still have a long way to go before I’m going to be able to just relax and enjoy having her around and not wish I could just kennel her.
I’m just going to keep trying, keep reading and keep hoping. I’m guessing there’s not much of a chance that Mr. Millan himself will be showing up at my door any time soon or send an invite to his pack (but oh my gosh that would be so awesome), so I’ve got to figure this out on my own.