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Everything posted by mbc1963

  1. This will be the third winter I've had my dog, and I swear I've never seen these before. He's got nice feathering on the rear part of his legs, but this year, there seem to be whiskers growing out of the front of Buddy's thighs! They look like the fuzzy hair that grows out of old men's ears. Has anyone else ever seen this? Is it just a peculiar pattern of his winter coat coming in? (I do think this is the first spot where he loses his coat, come spring.) Mary
  2. Yes! That's the same problem I have, especially in the local park we use every day, which Buddy seems to think is "his." Originally, I was doing the walk-curve-avoid thing to destress Buddy, and simply not having him meet dogs in stressful situations. Eventually, I taught him to step aside to a down-stay when we saw dogs who were scary - and he got very good at that, but seemed to think it meant he was 100% safe. So, if another dog approached him while he was in his down-stay, he was much more Cujo than he would have been if he weren't lying for me. Lately, to avoid this backhanded result of my own training, I've been trying to let Buddy meet dogs on leash, but telling the other owners to leave some air space between the dogs. This gives Buddy a chance to meet dogs safely while on leash, and the tiniest bit of space between him and the other dog seems to make him feel safe. I think this is a better training decision than my previous one - or maybe just the next step. I may have needed to go through the previous avoidance/curving path/safe distance steps to get him to where he can be near a strange dog and not freak out. And definitely my watchfulness with him on leash sends him signals. If I see him start to get too tense, I pull him back a bit, at which point he goes ahead with his snarling even if he might not have snarled without the leash pull. It's a tricky balance. Live and learn! Mary
  3. We'll, I'll tell you anything I can... I'm not expert at the general thing, but I'm an expert at the way my dog Buddy reacts to stuff. Early on, I read a book that showed stress threshholds, and my trainer talked about them, too. For example, meeting one large, dominant dog raises Buddy up close to his threshhold of stress. He can cope and meet the big dog OK - but then if another stressor (even a kindly child, or happy oblivious jogger) goes by, suddenly he's over his limit and reacts with a snarl or lunge at the other dog. This seems to be the easiest way for me to measure things - watch Buddy for stress, note the environment, and get him away from the stressors if they're about to push him over his limit. I sometimes get irritated when other people let their dogs just wander around, getting into anything, because I have to be so aware of my environment all the time! Good luck! My best books have been mentioned many times: "Cautious Canine", "Feisty Fido", "Other End of the Leash", and "Bones Would Rain From the Sky." They all have great advice. The info about threshholds is probably in one of them. Mary
  4. Barking is a tough one! When my dog came home, he was so reactive that he barked at EVERY noise, inside or outside my house. Oy! Weekdays during "Oprah" time (4 -6 p.m.) were the worst - I'm not sure why! I tried hard to follow a protocol I had read in a book - not sure if it was McConnell or Clothier or someone else. Basically, keep treats, and when it was a barky time, say, "ENOUGH," and then treat when the dog got quiet. I never pushed it till it works 100%, but it did teach Buddy what "enough" means, and he does understand what I want from him when I say it. (He still reacts - though much less - to some noise.) I think if I had been 100% on top of things, I could have made this work even better. As it stands, it's fine, but not perfect. This is a different kind of barking from yours, but it might be worth a try. Mary
  5. Oh... such a sad story! I think she'll be fine once she has time to readjust. She's so young that she's even more adaptable than an older dog would be, I'd think. My dog was really skittish, frightened, and traumatized by lots of things when I first got him at 18 months to 2 years. But now he's mostly OK, and he's definitely happy and joyful inside our home. Good luck! Mary
  6. Yup! It's really bad for dogs in Puerto Rico. My own Buddy was a rescue dog from there. He was cleaned up and shipped up to Sterling Animal Shelter in Massachusetts by the kind ladies who run this organization: http://saveasato.org/ There are all kinds of petitions floating around the 'net to improve the treatment of dogs in Puerto Rico. Unfortunately, I think the main concern of the government there is to save the tourist industry - so for them, killing hundreds of dogs is a lot easier way to clean up the beaches than educating people about not breeding, fixing their dogs, etc., etc.. Buddy was lucky and made it up here with just some fear, reactivity, worms, and malnutrition. Some of the others come up here with broken legs, burns, etc., etc.. ::Sigh:: Before: after a few months in Puerto Rico, getting cleaned up, treated, and brought from 28 lbs. to 36 lbs: After two years, at his normal weight of 43 lbs. and much happier! Mary
  7. My male's natural tendency is to stress out in any situation where he feels overwhelmed - and then to move to fear/aggression. I'm not sure how much I've helped him cope with stress vs. how much I've helped him trust me not to put him in those situations. He is more resilient than he used to be, but I do still need to watch him and make an exit when a situation overwhelms him. Good luck! Mary
  8. Congratulations! It's great when you revisit a formerly bad situation and suddenly it's OK! Mary
  9. Don't be so sure. I work 8-9 hours and my singleton dog somehow manages to suck up pretty much all the additional free time in my day. Mary
  10. Yup. When I bought my house I was 40 (about 7 in dog years). The first summer, I was painting and patching like mad- and ached ALL OVER. Then I got my dog and started hiking miles a day, wrestling, tossng stick, etc.. This past summer, I painted and patched like mad, and I didn't ache at all. And technically, I'm 4 years older than I was last time. I'd say it's an out of shape thing. Mary
  11. Here's a little victory I had the other day - it certainly made me a proud mother. My dog was very reactive at first, and it has whittled down some minor, workable residual reactivity. One of the things I worked with him on was walking a curve away from "scary" dogs, and also doing a down-stay at a safe distance if Buddy's dog friends wanted to run over and greet the scary ones. (His tendency is to want to run in and break up the fun - if he doesn't like the dog, NO ONE should play with him!) At some point on one of our walks, we were approached by two large boxers, and Buddy took himself off the path and did a down-stay on his own. Such a happy day! But here's the best thing, from Monday: I was walking Buddy off leash in a small park. Total darkness, so he had his little glowing collar light on. I saw his light run away from me, fast, which he only does when the cheese-giving lady, Maria, shows up. So, I didn't worry, figuring it was just Maria. But then I saw Buddy run back in the opposite direction and pause for a moment. Then finally, he headed back toward his goal. And it did end up being Maria, the cheese-giver. But when she met up with me, she said that Buddy had headed towards her, and the noticed that she was with the owner of a husky he doesn't like. When Buddy saw the husky, he backed away a good distance, and LAY DOWN until the husky's owner had moved on. Then he went back to Maria to get his cheese. Woo hoo! Mary
  12. I'm not sure how old you are... and this is kind of a repeat of stuff I've said before... but here goes. Until you've graduated from your schooling and settled into a relatively "normal" life, I wouldn't advise another dog. I see lots of dogs adopted by college age people, and when they move on to their "real" lives, they give the dog away or bring it to the shelter. There are just a LOT of really gigantic changes that happen in the HS/college years. Boyfriends, living arrangements, work hours, apartments... they all shift and change continually, and all that change just isn't good for a dog. Unless you're living with your parents, and they want a dog to be their dog, really - then I could see it working. That's my two cents. I wasn't settled enough to get a dog until WELL into my working years - I moved too much, had tiny apartments, etc., etc., etc.! Mary
  13. Dew claws are strange things! My old dog had dew claws that hardly were connected to her body at all - there was a very thin flap of skin, and then the round claw part would literally flop around, hanging by that thread of a skin. However, she lived 14 years and never got them caught in anything or injured. No advice about the chewing, obviously. Mary
  14. That's it. Sometimes when I'm walking him or giving him his cuddle, I just well up inside with mushy furry love for him. ::Sigh:: Just wanted to get that off my chest. Mary
  15. Interesting! I don't know if this is the secret to your dog, but my mother's old dog used to be terrified of the sound of the smoke detectors. They usually went off during a frying incident of some sort. Eventually, the dog would run and hide if my mother so much as removed the frying pan from its hook. Maybe your dog lived somewhere that frying bacon always = smoke detectors? (My mother's old dog used to also go hide when my mother inhaled as if to sneeze - the sneeze itself was the scary thing, so the dog used to try to get away before it came out. Also, she'd run if my mother took down a jar of spaghetti sauce - my mom used to whack the lid on the counter to loosen it, which also scared the dog. Poor little neurotic old girl she was! ) Mary
  16. Oooh... I just looked up skijoring. It looks like so much fun! Of course, I suppose there's a limit to how much... er... weight... a poor 43-lb dog can reasonably be expected to help slide along a slope. Last time I went XC skiing, after a 24-inch blizzard, I fell down in the middle of the woods. My behind went down in the snow, 24 inches down, while my skiis stayed up on the surface. If someone had been there with a video camera showing me trying to haul my butt up from that angle... well, I could have won $10,000 on Funniest Videos. Mary
  17. Hi, Kelly, No judgments here. I definitely understand frustration - like when my dog had a decaying rat's body in his mouth, rat tail swinging loose from his jaws, and kept running away, laughing at the "fun" game of keepaway. BOY was I mad! If he had let me near him, I might have whapped him! Grrr! But... In practical terms, losing your cool and showing what HrrGrr sees as "aggression" probably does set him back a ways. When I first got my dog, I read some of those "dominance" books, and tried the leash jerks and such when Buddy was aggressive. All he got was angry and more aggressive! When I switched to the Patricia McConnell school of thought, he made great strides, and the key was trust in me. He was slowly able to transfer that to trust in other humans, though it doesn't expand very widely out to the world in general, still. So, I'm no Mother Teresa, but as far as effectiveness goes, the gentle way probably will work best. I try to base my behavior on that knowledge, though I'm not successful 100% of the time. Unfortunately, you were so early in your work with HrrGrr that he probably went much further backwards than my dog would go at this point, after two years. (One step forward two back has become two forward, one back... at least I hope!) Good luck... and keep us posted. I love reading about what's going on, and really want to keep up on his progress. Mary
  18. Yeah - I don't think Buddy particularly cares for the light. But it definitely helps cars see him (and therefore me), and helps me find him on our a.m. walks. I was buying those little flashers for his collar last year, but they were cheaply made and designed to last only a couple weeks, it seemed - plus the batteries weren't in the local stores. I bought that Puplight hoping that a single expenditure will get me through the entire winter. We'll see! MB
  19. My 5 a.m. dog-walking friends and I bought what would make a nice doggie gift: the PupLight. http://www.puplight.com/site/592684/page/235286 I've had mine a few weeks, and people stop me to say, "Wow, I could see you half a mile down the road." They also help you find the poop, and let you see what your dog is sniffing, eating, etc.. I know LL Bean also had a similar light for people - hikers, night walkers, etc.. I think it went on a headband. They really are bright! Mary
  20. Wow... VERY tough decisions! I hesitate to even offer advice on this, because everyone's feelings and situations are individual. My last two dogs both were diagnosed with cancer, during surgery to find out what was wrong with them. In both situations, the vet offered to put the dog down while under the anesthetic, because it looked like the cancer was terminal. In both cases, we opted to bring the dog home and let her live out her natural life. One lived another few months, and the other lived about six weeks. In both cases, though, the last few weeks were very painful and full of suffering. The last dog woke up one morning screaming in pain, convulsing, because the cancer had apparently ruined something in her brain. My elderly father had to haul her into the vet through the screams and convulsions. I don't think he's gotten over it yet. So, for me, these experiences have made me a "shorter life but less suffering" kind of person - both for people and animals. I think I would opt for making the last bit of life calm and as happy as can be. ::Sigh:: Good luck with your choice. Mary
  21. I used to have a shepherd/husky mix who started out with a mostly black face and ended up with mostly tan face - we used to be surprised to see her early pictures, years later, and see how much she'd lightened. So... I guess the trend is for a bit of black to lighten as age comes on? Mary
  22. Could be that the first fight got your dog all tensed up to expect that. My dog is not an angel, and has lots of issues with meeting dogs. (If their body language is the least bit worrisome, Buddy wants to "get them before they get me.") But this past summer, he had a several-day spurt of regression to his early, completely aggressive behavior with other dogs. He had one bad experience, and that seemed to set him into "defensive" mode again. A few days of careful watching and controlling his meetings seemed to work. Buddy is definitely more tense around unneutered males - less with fixed males, and even less with females. I always recommend "The Other End of the Leash" by Patricia McConnell - it's made me much better at identifying body language in both my dog and other dogs that might indicate the early signs of tension. Then I just skeedaddle before anything can happen. Good luck! Mary
  23. My dog isn't jumpy, but I watched my trainer work with lots of dogs who were. His method seemed to work with all the dogs within minutes - the only trick was getting the owner to repeat what he did. Basically, he did what a few others have mentioned - he removed what the dog wanted (attention) any time the dog jumped up. So, he'd walk toward a dog who really wanted to greet him. As soon as the dog stopped sitting, he'd turn his back and walk away. Repeat, repeat, repeat, until the dog understood that the sitting was what was getting the man to approach and the jumping up was what was getting the man to walk away. I tried it with the little dog down the street, and within two days she would sit as soon as she saw me approaching. Good luck with your work! I hope can lots of others work on the exercise too. Mary
  24. Hi, There are loads of threads in the past about dog aggressive dogs - I put a lot of my own experiences into them. If you do a search for "dog aggression" or something like that, you'll turn up those old threads, which have the collected wisdom of lots of us. Also - your friend should read "The Other End of the Leash," "Feisty Fido," and "Cautious Canine" by Patricia McConnell - they helped me most with my dog- and human-aggressive dog. Mary
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