Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Pooches: Debutante

Many people have commented how nice and charming Miss M is, but what you are actually seeing is the 'after effect'. When I first adopted Miss M I could have sworn she had been 'raised by wolves'. She didn't understand how to sit still; she would bound around my tiny apartment and during every walk she would jump up and try to yank the leash out of my hand--and sometimes she even succeeded.I wish I had started this blog back then so everyone could really see how far she's come, to even be able to do all this and even become CGC certified.
Along the way, I learned some tricks to deal with an over-excited dog and teach her manners and charm.
1) We have a go-to calming position
Miss M just loves life and part of her problem was she would just get over-excited by everything causing her to jump around and play with the leash. We learned a couple of positions to help her calm down and refocus. One class taught us to hold her from the chest and let her legs dangle in the air until she's calm:
This was much easier when I first got her, but now that she's pushing 80 lbs this is a bit harder. We also use a calm laying position.
Now that I've taught her the command 'dead dog' she can do this on cue. She will lay like this and get positive reinforcement until she is calm and ready to refocus.
2)We treated all of our walks like training exercises
I would bring treats and she would need to listen as I randomly asked her to sit and lay. This taught her to listen and wait for commands. It also showed her that walks are for training, and not a time to leap around and meet other dogs and people.
3) We tried new things
Since Miss M isn't fearful, I was always taking her out to different places around Chicago to try new things and be among different types of people. This helped keep her world big as she learned to adapt to all kinds of situations. I did make sure to tire her out before going to the festivals, or being among big crowds, but eventually she learned how civilized dogs act and was successfully integrated into society. How has everyone else dealt with difficult situations integrating your dogs?

25 comments:

Mango said...

Oh dear, I doubt momma could do that calming pose with my large and front loaded self. But the PeeWee could use some calm attention exercises for sure. Thanks for the demo.

Slobbers,
Mango

Two Crazy Coaches said...

I am impressed at how Miss M has changed! Have you found that once you got Mr. B, he is less trained? Flash took 2 obedience classes and has a few tricks up her sleeve, but can still be the wild child. Ollie on the other hand, took one class, can sit better than most dogs, but can't do any other tricks. But, he's my calm one out in public. Funny dogs!

Erika said...

Koda has always been pretty calm (must be his breed) until someone offers to pet him then he is rather wild with excitment. You would think nobody ever pets him. Sophie plays little miss shy girl in public. So she don't have to worry about her. To calm Koda down I try to get him away from people and paying attention to me again by talking to him calmly until he is willing to sit and lay down. He knows that more people will pet him once he is calm its just the initial excitment.

Corbin said...

Hm... calm? We're still working on that one... HAHA! Mom makes me sit and stay until I've calmed. Most of the time it works, but sometimes, if I'm too excited, I just don't listen to her. We're still working on it, she says... I'm a work in progress!
-Corbin

houndstooth said...

I'm laughing at the thought of picking Morgan up like you did there at the beginning! Our main problem is that she gets overexcited about people being outside our house. If she can't come and sit and stay focused, then she gets a little time in the crate with something like a Kong until she can calm down and rejoin us. Out in public, she does pretty well. She takes her cues from the Greyhounds and they're very mellow most of the time.

Kari in WeHo said...

As I mentioned in my most recent post, we are great with Baily and Mesa. Big Carl is now presenting us with a big challenge.

Kari
http://dogisgodinreverse.com/

The Heartbeats said...

I used that "legs off the ground" thing on Calhoun when he was a puppy (that made me cry often b/c he was so ill behaved). I remember sitting on one of the roads in our neighborhood and crying while a 6 month old Calhoun did the alligator death roll with his leash over and over again. I think I was hoping someone would run over me! None of the neighbors ever said anything about that but I am sure they wonder!!

A Couple of Misfits said...

Haha I often wonder if Skye was raised by wolves. She took 2 weeks to learn 'sit' when I began fostering her, because she refused to pay attention. If the treats came out, she would run and hide. Once she discovered that learning is fun and worth her time, things moved a little faster. The lifesaver for me is 'here' - aka come over and make eye contact. Even at the dog park, she will leave a play session that is getting too wild to have a staring contest with me until things have calmed down. But that was 6 months in the making, and like Calhoun's owner, it wasn't without bouts of frustrated tears on my end of the leash.

http://friendsagaink9.blogspot.com/

Kristine said...

Miss M seems to have such wonderful manners and I always figured it was because you had worked so hard with her. It's frustrating and time-consuming and exhausting but so worth it when you see the end result. I wish I had started writing my blog back when we first adopted Shiva as well. I would have learned I wasn't alone with my struggles in training at a time I really needed to hear that.

I loved the little video. She is so precious.

mayziegal said...

MayzieMom here. Loved this post. Ranger's pretty much an angel in almost every public situation (unless there are rowdy dogs closeby. He hates rowdy dogs.)

But Mayzie...I'm torn. She used to be SO afraid of new situations and we've worked a ton with her on making new places fun and not scary. Well, just recently, she's come to think of certain places (like PetSmart) as Disney World and she gets REALLY excited about going in them and acts a bit like a bull in a China shop. So I'm struggling with whether to continue to just let this be a fun, exciting experience for a little while and then start working with her on manners. Or if I should be working on manners right now. That girl. She always keeps me on my toes.

Benny and Lily said...

Oh Ms M you sure are one smart cookie. Both of you are so fortunate to have the best caring pawrents ever.
Benny & Lily

Two Pitbulls said...

I've never heard of the lifting the legs off the ground position. We will definitely try this with Ender!

brooke said...

Im with Mango, there's no way I could lift Darwin like that now!
I love the synchronized "dead dog"! They are too cute!
How did you teach them that command?

I've learned the hard way, that we definitely need to tire Dar out before going to anywhere too social (Oktoberfest, a friend's house, etc) as she gets a bit crazy. A tired dog is definitely a better behaved dog.

Kate@TwentySixToLife said...

I've never heard of the leg thing either, that's interesting. It's amazing how far dogs can come over time. Melanie was crazy too when we first rescued her, but now she's calmed down a ton since then (although she's still nutty in a lot of ways).

bitt said...

Very inspiring. I could use some tips for our latest dog adoption.

HoundDogMom said...

Oh, we could use some tips as well. I have to that are velcro dogs on a walk and Winston is hyper hyper. I am trying to but it is tough when walking 3 at a time. Any tips for me?

AC said...

Nice work with Ms M! Isn't it nice to see all your work pay off? I think if more humans could just stick with it, like you did, more dogs could enjoy a bigger world.

Miss Kona needs some calming work around other dogs. She gets too excited, which can cause trouble. I'm still figuring out how to approach this one!

jen said...

It is great to see how devoted you are to making sure they are so well mannered. People need to know that a lot of training and hard work goes into making a pet this way, it just does not happen overnight. Thanks for sharing your tips.

Two Pitties in the City said...

Darwin--I forget how exactly I taught Miss M 'dead dog'--I think when she was laying like that I would keep saying "yes dead dog" and treat her. And since she's so food motivated she just caught on and started doing it herself. I added the gun part by saying 'bang bang', then giving her down signal and rolling her to the side and saying 'yes dead dog' and treating her.
HounddogMom--We're lucky that Mr. B is really calm and not excitable, because I'm not sure how I would handle both excitable dogs at once. Right now it's mainly preventative and I get up earlier to walk them to avoid all the dog craziness on our block, and I try to move out of the way. I also put them both in sit, down, or dead positions once they act up; and when Miss M was really bad I would also have to lay on her. Anyone else have any good tips for multi-dogs?

Lola said...

I was never a problem, but then I was a mature lady when I joined my family. They're going to have to work on Franklin, though. He gets very excited, too. He's starting classes after the holidays and we'll see how it goes from there. I hope they can do half as well with him as you've done with Miss M. Even a third as well...

lotsa licks, Lola

Ettel, Charlie Poodle, and Emma Pitty said...

I use "play dead" with Charlie when he gets overexcited - it was most useful in an agility context. He's also reactive to other reactive dogs on the street, which is lots of fun. My guys are so food motivated though that if I have treats with me nothing else in the universe exists.

A trick for walking multiple dogs - use at least one leash "hands free" and wrap it around your waist (preferably with the easiest, calmest dog) so that you have more hands for the rowdier crowd. Depending on HOW rowdy your other dogs are, you might need to break up walks!

Levi Mac said...

We have lots of trouble with Levi walks and parks. He is generally good but pulls his mom and it's very difficult when he sees another dog or person because he wants to go to them. His 60lbs can pull pretty hard. We are trying. Maybe I can try calming things like this. How did you teach the "dead dog"?
Thanks for such great posts :)
Always a great read!

loveandaleash said...

oh, how i love miss m. lollie really could learn a thing or two from her. i am tempted to sign her up for an obedience class but because she could be whisked away by an adopter at any moment, it seems a shame to sign up, shell out a bunch of cash, and then have to forfeit the rest.
i will try the hanging dog thing to deal with squirrels, which are lollie's #1 vice. she is terrible when she sees them! she jumps so uncontrollably, that sometimes she knocks herself off her feet!

thanks for the great post,
aleksandra
follow our foster: loveandaleash.wordpress.com

Lindsay said...

Lots and lots of exercise! Of course, if my dog misses his walk for a day or two, I don't think that's an excuse for him to act like a maniac. However, those poor dogs that never get any exercise should not be expected to act "civilized." Most dog owners don't seem to understand how much exercise dogs really need. Obviously your dogs get lots of walks and they are so happy because of it!

Mary said...

It's funny that you talk about how wild and energetic she can be since she is always so well-behaved in all your photos.

I have the opposite problem with Levi-Levi, do you have a pulse? Are you alive? I was so proud of him with the movers the other day because he just laid on the couch and slept. I kept saying, "he's stressed, he's nervous," and my mom was like, "Mary, he's snoring." He didn't bark at them and that's what I was most nervous about.

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