Monday, April 18, 2011

Back to Work Finally

I mean this is where I can finally say "where do I start" and actually mean it. I mean really, where do I begin? I really do not know what to say so I will start out where I ended which was around when we came home from the crazy trip at grandmas.

Those two weeks after getting home were crazy. Jasper was literally anxious in the car again, as well as when I had to leave home without him. It almost seemed like we were starting all over with puppy hood again. When we went to the dog park, he was so anxious and whimpered forever. Eventually it improved and his anxiety of me leaving the house left once again. A note to myself later on * Socialize the hell out of my next puppy. Take him or her anywhere and everywhere I can, even if it is to stay over at a friends house once in a while with the puppy and let him know everything is ok and it isn't a big deal. * I socialized Jasper somewhat, but not as much as I could of. We met a lady with two new aussie pups who I have been coaching to actually socialize big time as it pays of. I mean no kidding and I know this works out too. We also met a lady from Georgia who has an aussie as well who is always out and about with her husband to other states. Sometimes the aussie gets to go with them and stay with them at hotels, many many hotels, and sometimes she has to stay at a friends house until mom and dad return from their trip. She has absolutely no problem with switching from one place to another. Why? Because she has always been conditioned to this. (We will talk more about this aussie later)

After two weeks or so he seemed to settle down and well when was that... I guess around Christmas. Christmas was fine, so we will fast forward to January, where I enrolled Jasper in his first beginners obedience class. Boy, was I excited, in fact I could not wait! Unfortunately that went down the drain as the teach who was going to train us allowed choke chains, and dare I say ~ shock collars ~ and I did not want my dog seeing these well frustrated people choking and zapping their fellow furry friends. Call me crazy but I did not want Jasper watching other people act in a negative way towards dogs. There is a big difference in attitudes when using a tool like that and I did not want my dog hearing and seeing dogs in pain, or seeing humans throw their upset feelings into the dog. Seriously, that stuff almost makes me want to cry. 

So we found a place who used all positive methods. I was happy! Dog City in Addison was fantastic. I enrolled Jasper in a ring obedience class and it went great. I did learn something though and this is another word of advice for future me * When you have a dog working great, and then distracted with something else, just end the training session on a good note and not over work the dog * Slowly but surely I figured out that training Jasper in smaller sessions like 2-5 minutes impacted on him tremendously. I mean think about a dog in adolescence, a dog who at this age is starting to explore and sort of grow up. Mom meant a lot to him and still does, but like we all do, we grow up and start enjoying other things rather than just mom. We may invest in a hobby, we may enjoy hanging out more with our friends, we may rebel a little, and yet, most of the time, we return back to our moms sooner or later saying you were right, and grow more of a relationship from there.  I am sort of there in adolescence with my own mom and used to be way worse. I thought mom was boring, she didn't know anything and man, I just loved getting out of the house and doing my own thing. And this is what I mean. All dogs tend to go through some kind of adolescence and this is where we all get frustrated. This is where we just give up on training and say, " he is stupid, he knows better, and he will never learn. This is heard time and time again and it is such a shame, but we all have to go through it.

We all want quick fixes. We all want the cheapest, faster fix in our lives. When it comes to dog training, many people get pulled into the world of compulsion, because after all, it usually fixes the problem fast, or... perhaps makes it worse. Sure it may make the dog listen.. but is the dog only listening because he knows if he doesn't he gets some kind of punishment? This dog is only listening for fear that he may be punished. People don't think of that though. They think "hmm wow this really works, I like this", and end up making worse of it. You have a fearful dog that is possibly weary of every situation. You have a dog who possibly gets very anxious around people, or other dogs. Worst part is, you have a dog, who listens to you, because he has to, not because he truly loves working and listening for you.

I will tell you what I have learned. I have learned it takes time, but when you see results, they are very self rewarding. They make your whole day perfect, and best off, they make your bond with your dog stronger. I will let you in on a secret of mine. In the beginning, I was purely positive with my dog, until I met a couple of people who told me to make sure and dominate this dog. They led me to believe that this puppy of 12 weeks was stubborn and would not listen to me and that I better correct it before it gets worse. They told me, if the dog wouldn't come when called, you march yourself over there, grab the dog by the collar and bring him to you at that instant and you tell that dog to SIT. You know what? I listened. Why? Because she knew best because her dog seemed almost perfect! The dog would sit, heel, stay, leave it, everything. I wanted a dog like that so I practiced these behaviors. When Jasper bit me, I did the lip curl ( Taking their upper lip and pressing it firmly on his canine tooth until he yelped.) When Jasper didn't listen, I rolled him over and showed my dominance. And when jasper pulled on the leash, I yanked him back. And when we played tug, I would always win because the leaders always win. He listened to me and I was pack leader... oh my gosh and what the hell was I talking or thinking about. Pack leader?  I think there were moments where I cried. I cried because I thought why am I doing this to the dog I love? Why do I feel like I have to do this? And then I found Kikopup on Youtube. She changed me from that day. I found out about how the word dominance is overly used and is just the wrong word to use when training a dog.

From there things got better. Things felt better too. But there were still times where I just got really angry. I made myself believe that this dog knows better and that he was doing it in spite. And while he did know better, he was definitely not doing anything to frustrate me. He just simply did not want to do it at that time, and it was probably because I was asking too much of him.

When I was really really into training, it was all about what I could teach him and how fast I could train him and yet again I fell into the quick fix of it all. When he didn't learn something or understand something, I would literally blow it. I would tell him NO and get so angry that I would just leave and slam the door shut. What did this teach Jasper? It taught him wow, mom is not fun to work with at all, and I may get verbally punished and I don't like that! He also feared me a little bit with the lip licking, yawning and other calming signals ( click for more about calming signals) he gave me. And to this day, I believe our relationship is still being re built over it. And I totally understand and appreciate that he is even giving me a second chance, like all dogs seem to do with their owners. It has probably been a couple months since I have been doing purely positive happy training with my dog. I mean do not get me wrong, 98% of his life was all positive but I have slipped here and there for sure. But it is put in the past and we are working in the present.

So here we are today.

Thank you to Kerri (more about her later) for suggesting I post once again on the blog. After thinking about it, I feel I would only benefit from it for my next puppy. So anything in bold from now on will usually be tips for me in the future.  I have a ton more to talk about but thought I would end this post.

1 comment:

  1. Yay Ashley!!! I am so happy you've decided to start posting here! I love hearing about what you do with Jasper. You can't be perfect all the time. You've done a great job! Go easy on yourself!