Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Life After the Training Disaster

"You got a dog to test how much I love you, didn't you?"

That was Steve's question to me last night as we were getting ready for bed.

I didn't have to think.  The answer was a simple, "No. But it sure is proving how much you love me."

When you look at him in his calm state, it's incredibly difficult to believe he can be such a terror.

The day after we fired TLC Dog Training was more of the same. Frankly, I've never been more battered and bruised in my life.  I'd be doing the circuit at Planet Fitness, always starting off with my sweatshirt on, then taking off the sweatshirt as the workout progressed (with my workout tank underneath).  I'd look at the bruises on my arms and begin to imagine the thoughts going through people's heads.  I even practiced a come-back if anyone asked me about the bruises.  I'd tell them it was the result of training.  Teehee, haha, but that's not something I joke about.

I immediately hit the net for information with the most immediate need being a way to stop Buddy from biting us.  There were a lot of ideas, and we've tried most of them.

We discovered two things early on.  The first was that Buddy was terrified of the umbrella.  The second was that he abhorred one of my cake pans.

I don't recall how we discovered the fear of the umbrella, but I can tell you that I've never seen a dog cower so much and so quickly.  He would see the umbrella and dash for the nearest piece of furniture he could hide under.  No, we haven't been using the umbrella on Buddy because we don't want him terrified.  We want him trained.

The cake pan was amusing.  And we think it has something to do with the silver, mirror-like bottom, but when held out in front of you like a shield, Buddy goes a bit berserk, barking and lurching at it but constantly staying far enough away from it to maintain a "safe" distance.  Because the cake pan seems to insight additional rambunctious behavior, it is also not a tool of choice.

It's not easy finding information on the internet about stopping your adult dog from biting you.  As a matter of fact, it's virtually impossible.  I realized quickly that I need to approach this problem from a different perspective, while remaining aware of the unique situation we were in. I had to remember that everything we learned about Buddy indicated he had never been trained or worked with prior to our adopting him.  We were dealing with a puppy mentality in an adult dog body.  60 pounds of puppy jaws biting on us daily.  A wayward teenager who never received any loving or firm guidance.  We had a chore in front of us.

We tried yelling near his head. We tried a spray bottle of water. We added lemon juice to the water bottle. We tried a can with dried beans in it.  We tried ignoring him.  We tried walking away.

We have finally found two things that are currently successful in our endeavor to end our lives as chew toys.  A towel rolled in a rat tail and a muzzle.  Sometimes the towel doesn't even have to be rolled up.  Sometimes it's necessary to take it the step further and put the muzzle on him.  Neither options are used unnecessarily.  And even the muzzle is a short lived event.  Typically, he has to wear it for about five minutes.  It tends to be long enough to calm him.  When he's calm, he's not biting.  It's been a couple of weeks and it's still a work in progress, but the bruises are fewer and the use of the towel and muzzle have decreased exponentially.  To visit the house on a regular day, you may wonder.  Tonight he wore the muzzle three times.  Trust me, it's much less than in the beginning!

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