Monday, October 20, 2008
She was still livestock. She was livestock living in the house. She was crate trained, but didn't know the wood floor from teh grass outside. Our fence needed some repair so she was led outside on a leash. We tried to put Buster's harness on her to put her on a chain, but she wouldn't allow it.
I took her to the vet the day after she came. The boys came with, in case I needed help with her. There I was, taking this new dog into the vet, not knowing what she would do, how she would react, if I could catch her if she bolted, if she would bite, how she would react to to other dogs there. I was literally shaking as I filled out the forms. We got through the exam without incident, but had to get the full gamut of shots and heartworm pills. That trip cost a small fortune!
Cindy walked. Caesar says a dog needs exercise and lots of it. Walk that dog. Let him learn the scents of the neighborhood so he can find his way home if he gets away. Walk the energy out of the dog, its his job to walk. Cindy was walked by DH. She bonded with DH. She walked proud and happy with DH. She didn't with me. We would get 2 houses down away and she would stop to roll in the grass, stop and not budge, would go down on her front legs like she was challenging me to play. She knw I was scared to death she would get away, and she liked to mess with me.
The fence got fixed, the yard was her playground and she was happy. She was so very happy that she ran and jumped and bit. Not a mean bite, but she didn' know her own strength (and Bull Terriers have a very strong mouth), but she didn't know the rules and limitations about what we considered play. NO BITE MOMMY! She would mouth my arms, but that caused bruises, her jumping up scratched my legs, and she tore shirts. The boys were afraid of her. Excellent. I have this wild beast in my house and DH is at work 12 hours a day. I called our trainer for some immediate private lessons.
Behavior improved over time with consistent effort. Then there was Puppy Class, six pups and Cindy. She was the class clown, the one that didn't focus, the social butterfly. Our poor trainer, she tried so hard, used all the tricks in her book on Cindy. Cindy played the Bull card and resisted. We did the homework - and there was a lot of it! Do we really have to do all of it? I would be happy with a "sit, stay". We used the clicker training method, and the rewards were food. Not just any food, we had to use hot dogs, cheese and other high level treats, kibble just didn't cut it. Armed with the clicker and treat bag I had her full attention, and by golly, this dog wanted to earn those treats. We've cracked the code!
Now I'm not saying she was perfect after a few weeks of puppy school, not at all. But it did seem like every 2 months there was a change, a wave, an adjustment in her. She decided she would stay for a while because the food was good, and the belly rubs were nice. Then she decided she would trust us a little, then a little more. We could all relax a tiny bit.
Socially, she has a lot to learn. She was selective in who she liked, an dfor no obvious reason. She was afraid of my mom, who loves dogs, is small framed, and definitely not a threat to a dominant dog. My mom has cats. Cindy would smell her purse, her things, and back away from them fearfully. She avoided going near my mom, even to get food from her. Maybe she had never seen or smelled a cat before? That fear has since been resolved and Cindy and my mom are good pals now.