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Everything posted by mbc1963

  1. I go to a local park, and there's a black lab there who had her femur head removed. She runs and romps and plays with the other dogs every day - hard to tell there's anything off about her. Good luck! Mary
  2. What a jerk! That's one of my main irritations: people choose stupid or illegal behavior, then when they get caught, they blame whoever caught them or turned them in. I see a lot of it in my adolescent students, but there are a lot of adults caught in that cycle, too! Mary
  3. One more argument in favor of adoption: I got Buddy when he was about 18 - 24 months old. He came home on a Saturday. I went to work on Monday. Told my students that I had a new dog who was in my house, uncrated. They FREAKED! Told me the house would be destroyed when I got home! Well... not a single incident. Buddy has never chewed anything but his own toys, never made a mess in the house, and never opened up a single package of food left on the counter. Seriously! The worst thing he ever did when I was away was to bring my old smelly socks into his bed, so he could smell my scent. Never chewed or tore them - just wanted to sleep with them. Mind you, he did have a lot of fear and reactivity issues that we had to work through - and I wouldn't have chosen him if I had kids - but from a "low or high maintenance" standpoint, getting a full adult was wonderful! I feel almost like I cheated, when I hear stories of my friends' dogs who ate their wallpaper, chewed the couch, destroyed a rug, etc.. Mary
  4. On the other hand... If you get an older, adopted dog, you can get a pretty good idea of how the dog is with children right away. Not all dogs have the high drive of the typical BC - mine is quite content to sleep most of the day after 2 good walks. And not all of them want to herd kids all the time. You may find a rescue who is very good with kids but had to be rehomed for one reason or another. GOod luck! Mary
  5. Time: Friday, September 21, 2007 7:00 PM Title of Event: Patricia McConnell Join acclaimed animal behaviorist and author Patricia McConnell as she reads from and discusses her newest book For the Love of a Dog! Anyone in the Newburyport, Massachusetts area - this will be at Jabberwocky Books in the Tannery in Newburyport. Woo hoo! This woman was my salvation in the early days with my crazy, reactive dog. I wish I could bring Buddy to meet her! http://jabberwocky.booksense.com/NASApp/st...;eventId=351814 Mary
  6. I personally prefer the term "guardian," just for the simple fact that I think living beings are distinctly different from stereos, say, or iPods. I own my TV set and my car. But my dog is another live thing that I keep in my care. I'm not sure I technically have the right to own any other living thing. Since I've had Buddy, I've gotten really philosophical. I kind of lean toward thinking that we created dogs when we domesticated them, without any particularly strong "right" to do so. It's our job to caretake the things we've created so they do the best they can in the world. But it's a different responsibility from ownership. That's not a legal viewpoint, obviously, and I wouldn't want anyone else having the right to come take Buddy away from me. But it's a philosophy that I suspect informs GHF's choice of the word "guardian." Mary
  7. In defense of those among us with the "snarky" dogs... I don't take my guy to any official "dog park," because that would give him a meltdown. Meetings are tense for him sometimes - I don't know what rule he has in his head about who he likes, who he tolerates, and who he hates, but there's obviously some mathematic formula Buddy follows: 10% love, 10% hate, 80% apathy. I do, though, walk my dog in some local parks where there are paths and people walk their dogs. He goes off leash when we're alone or with a group of dogs he's friends with. He's 100% reliable to NOT approach strange dogs - the problem is them approaching US - and I always leash him before we meet another dog. I tell people, "He's not always friendly when meeting." Most times we have great experiences and the other owners keep their distance, or leash their dogs and let us do a careful meeting. But every once in a while, there's the random person who is 100 yards behind her dog, and the dog comes bounding up to us, and I have to manage a leashed, snarling Buddy along with an out-of-control, jumpy, "friendly" dog. I'm sure, to those owners, I'm known as the one with the "mean" dog, and I'm sure they say, "I don't know why she brings that dog here when she knows he doesn't get along with other dogs!" It's not easy being the owner of the grouch! Mary
  8. Wow! Tough problem! I think the doggie day care is a good solution, especially if you'd only need it 4 hours a day. The dogs around here who go to play group LOVE it, and they come home tired and happy. I wish my dog were social enough to go play for four hours and come home tired. Mary
  9. Hmmm... Do you have friends the dog is familiar with, who could keep her at their house for the day? Crate training her just for this seems a lot of work, especially if you're not going to use the crate in the future. Although, part of me wishes my dog was crate-trained just FOR occasions like this. I'm having my bathroom redone, so there have been men tracking through the house for 2.5 weeks. Rather than subject Buddy to the constant stress, or shutting him in the bedroom, I've just been taking him to my parents' house during the day. Calmer for him AND the workmen, who would otherwise be subjected to endless barking at every noise! Good luck! Mary
  10. I think the commandment is "Thou Shalt Not Enter Thy God in a Contest." Sorry. Couldn't resist. Mary
  11. I'm surprised at vets not wanting muzzles. Since Buddy was reactive when I got him, the vet suggested muzzling him for his early exams. Since then, I've requested a muzzle for the shots and rectal probing - though I suspect Buddy would just cringe in fear. As soon as I mention muzzling, the vets are all happy to do it. The last time I went in, the vet told me that it was for their insurance rates - apparently, every time a vet or vet tech gets bitten, there's some requirement that they do a report to the local animal control or something, which the insurance companies do NOT like to see. So they'd rather muzzle for the 15-minute exam than risk getting their rates raised. Makes good sense to me. Plus, they use soft, velcro-attached muzzles, which don't seem to bother my dog much more than the gentle leader used to. Mary
  12. Thanks, y'all... I will definitely keep my dog away from this WOMAN in the future. And no, Smileyzookie, I'm not offended. This was one of those situations where things go from bland to stupid so fast that I didn't realize until too late what I was setting Buddy up for. Alas, I'm not good at thinking of good verbal arguments on my feet - but I'm loaded for bear next time. And special thanks to Woobiesmom, who quoted Cesar Millan's mantra. I found a great Yahoo Pets page where Cesar teaches how to meet a dog for the first time, and it's all about "no touch, no talk, no eye contact," which this woman violated 1-2-3! I've printed out a copy and I'm going to try to remember to tuck it in my pocket just in case I meet her again. http://pets.yahoo.com/blog/cesarmillan/543...cjsUW9TeqyHy4MB Now that I think of it, I wonder if maybe the woman has Asperger's syndrome... the way she's interacted with both humans and dogs is so odd and inappropriate - maybe she can't read social cues from either species. ::Sigh:: Mary
  13. Brief history of my dog, Buddy: highly reactive to both people and dogs when rescued 2 years ago. Hard, intense rewards-based training for a couple months, exposing him to new situations and reducing his fear and reactivity. Two years later, he can now walk city streets and deal pretty well in most situations. Still reactive sometimes if I allow a situation to escalate until he crosses his threshold. Mischief managed, mostly. Last week, I was walking Buddy in the wooded park. He is generally fine there, though I monitor his meetings because he can be reactive when approached by other large dogs. Two big dogs (yellow lab, golden) approached him, and he got a bit tense, so I said, "Leave it," (his no-growl command) in a stern voice, and explained to the two owners, "He gets scared when more than one dog comes at him sometimes. He thinks he's being attacked." One of the women said, "I should try 'leave it.' Sometimes I feel like growling when I meet more than one American at a time." (I don't know where this woman is from - maybe Germany? - but we are in America.) I chuckled and walked on. So, tonight, I came upon her again at the swimming hole. The two big dogs ran at us, and I held Buddy back a bit so my sister's dog could do the meet-and-greet first. Buddy is less reactive the smaller the crowd. The golden retriever came toward me, and I called him over so my dog could greet the other dog one-on-one. The woman called, "Be careful with him. He has a fight scheduled later tonight." I thought I had misunderstood her, but she said it again. Then, seeing my confusion, she said, "Oh, I'm just joking... because of the football player fighting dogs... Americans are all so scared of pit bulls..." I said, "I'm not scared of your dog, but my dog isn't always friendly." After hearing this, the woman came right at us, and leaned down over Buddy, staring and saying, "Come here sweetie," etc.. I said, "He might bark at you." She brushed this aside and stuck her hands at Buddy's face, leaning over further, staring him right in the eye. This was a one-way approach: she approached him quickly, and Buddy obviously was NOT returning the approach. Buddy got very tense and did, indeed, let out a warning bark. This woman was apparently still interested in interacting, and tried to get close again, so I pulled out the old, "Would you give him a treat?" This usually helps with scary people who want to interact - most people seem to really want to give treats, and I can usually buy Buddy a little distance so he calms down and warms up to the person. Plus, it helps him learn that from tense beginnings can come pleasant endings. The woman said, "Oh, no... you can't bribe dogs. You shouldn't bribe dogs." She refused the treat and stuck her hand back in Buddy's face. I said, "It's not bribing him. It's teaching him that meeting humans means good things," which she poo-pooed again as she put her hand in Buddy's face and moved her own body still closer to my NOW-GROWLING dog. I said, "OK, We're going to keep walking now," and led Buddy away. As I walked away, she yelled after me, "You should watch 'The Dog Whisperer!' " AIIEEEE!!!!! Of course, I spent the rest of my walk composing the response I SHOULD have given this woman - the one that quotes from Patricia McConnell and Turid Rugaas and Ian Dunbar, the one that quotes from "The Dog Whisperer" himself. The one the describes warning signs and canine body language and the dozens of dozens of books I've read about working with fearful and reactive dogs. The one that tells how my dog meets new people EVERY DAY who can pet him and love on him, because they read body language well enough to approach slowly and gently. Most importantly, the one that says that any semi-intelligent SIX-YEAR-OLD knows how STUPID it is to get in the face of a dog who's growling at you!!!!! GRRRRR!!! ::Rant Off:: Feel free to toss me understanding, sympathetic eye rolls and tales of similarly ridiculous people you've met. Mary
  14. Hmmm... Interesting! My dog is also mad, at about 5 seemingly random percent of the dogs we meet. BUT... with lots of observation, I've learned to pick up on signals that seem to set him off. And my dog also has problems with specific breeds, especially including boxers and other strong-fronted dogs. Check to see if those dogs Cody is going after are giving him a dead-on stare. That's a strong signal in dog body language. I've learned to watch other dogs carefully and if they start staring, move my own dog away. He will respond to the dead-on stare with growling - it's definitely a "get him before he gets me" thing. Other owners always think their dogs are innocent, but they're not watching their dogs' body language. There are other body language signals that send a "tense" message to dogs like yours and mine. I watch Buddy's posture when he greets other new dogs: he definitely pulls his neck back, puffs out his chest, and sends his tail arching over his back. When he meets other dogs who stand the same way, it's much more tense. I suspect the generic boxer posture sets Buddy off, because it's such a puffed-out chest kind of look. There are other dogs who approach with a much more relaxed, friendly posture, and Buddy does better with them. Buddy is ALWAYS worse on the leash - probably because I'm monitoring his greetings so carefully! - but he will, occasionally, get aggressive with a really tough dog off leash. Another thing I notice very strongly is that Buddy will often give signs he does NOT want to meet another dog. He'll walk away, and act very interested in sniffing the bushes. I know enough now to tell other owners, "He doesnt' want to say hi." If I give him that buffer zone, he's absolutely non-aggressive. He will not aggress against another dog who gives him a circle of personal space. It's not always possible to provide this, but it's very reliable, and lets me only take the dog into situations where I know he'll be successful. So... all in all, I'd say keep a VERY close eye on all dog situations and try to see subtle actions that are leading to the reactivity. You might never be able to "cure" the dog, but you will probably be able to get the situation under control. I recommend "The Other End of the Leash" as a guide to body language, and "Calming Signals" by Turid Rugaas to help understand signals your dog might be giving to calm himself or others down. Good luck! Mary
  15. I can with my dog, English-Bark, but only with "yes or no" questions. When Buddy wants something, I say, "Is it Lily?" (the neighbor's dog) or "Is it Paul?" (the treat-giving neighbor) or "Is it a kitty?" Buddy will give a single, loud, enthusiastic ARF! only when I've asked him about whatever it is that's exciting him. He won't say "yes" for Lily" if he's trying to get a ktity. And his "no" is an obvious disregard for my words. LOL Mary
  16. Yikes! Another middle-aged lady here, being a busybody. There's a great quote from Maya Angelou: "When someone shows you who he is, believe him the first time." I think most of us who are a bit older wish we had learned this lesson very solidly and very early. If someone lies to you once, he's showing you that he's a liar. If he cheats on you once, he's showing you that he's a cheater. And, unfortunately, if someone is so - I dunno, macho? - as to be unkind to helpless animals... well, he's showing you something very specific about his character. Good people sometimes make bad decisions, and bad people sometimes make good ones. But I honestly don't think the essential character of a person changes much with age. I have great students whom I respect even though they're 13, and I have others who are already manipulative, weasling cheats. I suspect the great kids will be great adults, and I doubt that the weasling cheats will be much different when they're 45. (I work alongside the adult versions of these idiots.) ::Sigh:: I obviously don't know this guy, and you do, and he could be a great guy making a silly decision about the dog. Just be sure to take the evidence he's presenting SERIOUSLY. Mary
  17. I had a similar type of dog. When I first got him, he growled and barked at everything. EVERYTHING. Leaves blowing by, people taking a walk, other dogs, the wind... yeesh! He would spook very quickly, and then try to hide, tail between his legs, when we took a walk. I think it was maybe four weeks before I realized that, when taking him for a walk, he had looked back at me and done that kind of relaxed "smile" face they do when they look at their owners when walking. That was the first time I'd seen him relax, and it was a wonderful moment. But they were few and far between for a long time. I agree that tiny baby steps are best. Go very slowly, and introduce everything in a "safe" way until the dog feels comfortable. I used to take my dog for short (10-minute) loops of the downtown area near here. He had to stop and "hide" in doorways any time a human was passing us on the sidewalk. I literally had to scout out the scene around every corner, to make sure that there weren't going to be any unexpected people popping up! Then, one year after I got the dog, I suddenly realized that I could walk him through city crowds and he didnt' flinch or get scared at all. It came slowly, and I didn't really know it was happening until I saw his giant leaps. Still, he's never going to be happy-go-lucky. He'll still duck if a stranger moves too fast to pet him. I explain that he used to be a basket case, and they always ask, "How long have you had him." When I say, "Two years," I always feel like I have to explain how much progress he has made - they only see the startled dog, while I see the gigantic steps he's taken from where he was. I have to admit that I think a person who deliberately scares a timid creature wouldn't be worth my time... but you must love something about the guy. Try to bring him on board with you; he can grow as a person as he works with the dog! Mary
  18. I think a lot of people rename dogs without meaning to! My dog, officially named "Buddy", is usually "Mister Buddy," but quite often he's just "Mister," and sometimes he's "Mr. B," and sometimes "B" and sometimes "BB." He seems to understand that these are all his names. I read somewhere once that you name a dog when you get him, and then you find out what his REAL name is later on, when you start calling him by it. Mary
  19. Very interesting! I've never had a dog who did this before, but I guess it's not uncommon after all. Here's a video of a golden pup doing the thing I described, in case you want to see it. (There are other videos of dogs whose teeth actually chatter like a jackhammer!) Mary
  20. I've never seen another dog do this, but I've seen it now 4 or 5 times with Buddy. The first two times it happened was within months of my getting him, and the last two times have been in the last couple days. When Buddy is particularly interested in something - a dog he loves or a very enticing smell, I guess - he "chatters" his lower jaw up and down fairly quickly. It looks like he's having a seizure, but he's not... it stops when he moves away from the exciting object. It's almost like his teeth are chattering, bit it's more slow, maybe a couple of up/down movements a second. This past week, I've noticed him doing it while very interested in some sort of smell in the brush. I'm not sure if he's picking up body scent or urine scent from another animal. It seems to go along with his attentive sniffing, and looks as if he's "tasting" the air in tiny short bursts with his mouth. Weird! He hasn't done it in two years, and then twice this week. I wonder if there are coyotes or something else exciting visiting our area? Has anyone else ever seen this sort of thing, and does anyone have an explanation? Thanks! Mary
  21. Yes! My dog is like that, too. He'll go off in the other room and I hear him scampering around, jumping and lunging... all because he's got to GET that fly. One day I left for work with a fly in the house. When I came home, I said, "Where's the fly!?" Buddy proudly led me into the kitchen and sat by the fly, dead on the floor where he had killed it. Cracked me up that he not only knew what I was asking him, but also knew exactly where he had left the disgusting little thing. Mary
  22. There's this new woman who walks her dog often with me and my dog Buddy's long-time friends. Generally, since we usually congregate at 5:30 a.m., we let them off leash at a large, open, park-like area. I keep watch on Buddy, since he can be reactive to new dogs, and leash him when we see strangers. So... this new dog is a rescued golden, who came home at about 11 months. He's VERY outgoing and "in your face." After a couple too-rambunctious attempts to meet Buddy, greeted with snarls and nipping that clearly said, "Leave me ALONE!", the two settled into a general good pattern of no interaction. Buddy usually tolerates him, and he usually stays about 5 feet from Buddy. A while ago, this woman had the dog at a park in another town, where he got repeatedly in the face of another dog, who finally reacted with a nip to the dog's nose. Since the dog was bleeding, the woman took him to the vet. Since the vet didn't know the history of the dog who had nipped, he told the woman her dog would have to have a booster shot of rabies vaccine, and be kept away from other dogs for six weeks. The woman told us this story, and that she was supposed to keep her dog away from other dogs for this six-week period. She then proceeded to bring him to the park and let him off leash, again and again. She told me, by way of explanation to why he could be off leash, "He won't bite your dog." I told her, "I'm afraid my dog will nip him, and then I'll end up having to have HIM quarantined for six weeks, too!" It completely didn't register with her! This dog was humping another golden a few weeks ago, and when the owner said, "She doesn't like that; she's going to go after him," the woman said, "It's OK as long as there are no vet bills." Then, the other night, I was walking my dog, leashed (too much foot traffic in the evening), and this woman came up to my friend and I and let her dog off the leash. He hadn't been exercised, and was feeling really rambunctious, so he kept charging straight at me and Buddy, hoping to get Buddy to play. I knew this wasn't going to work, especially with Buddy on leash, so I kept tugging Buddy back and moving away from the other dog. I kid you not, this went on seven, eight, nine times! After about five pulls back, Buddy got frustrated and started to growl as the dog ran at us. I said, "If you want to keep your dog off the leash and walk ahead of us, that would be fine." The woman replied, "No, I need the company!" So I ended up having to leave. I should have said, "My dog, who is on a leash and under control, is going to bite your dog, who is off the leash, rude, and out of control. You are then going to expect me to pay your vet bills, even though that is both illogical and immoral. So KEEP YOUR DOG THE *%$& AWAY FROM ME!" Grrr! How can people be so clueless!? ::Rant off:: Mary
  23. Buddy definitely has a gay tail, and would probably be useless on stock, since he just wants to play: And Buddy usually falls in love only with other male dogs. I love my happy gay border collie. Mary
  24. After four long years of living with the ugliest bathroom in the WORLD... ...I've got guys coming to demolish and replace everything. Now, I'm lucky because I'm a teacher and have family nearby, so I can generally take the dog out of the chaos and put him in a quieter environment while this is going on. However, I'm looking at it as an opportunity to work on Buddy's ability to settle down when people are coming and going. He can learn to love specific people, and lets them in the house with delight, but strangers are another matter. If they sit calmly and feed him treats, he'll warm up and even snuggle with them. But he's really reactive when people come and go, stand and move, leave one room and go to another, etc., etc.. It's REALLY loud, as he alerts me to every single change that happens in his house! It's very hard to work on stranger friendliness, because after a few visits, strangers become friends, and it's hard to find generic strangers who are happy to come in a house to be barked at! Now, Buddy will happily take treats from strangers, but I'm worried at this point that I might be inadvertently rewarding him for the barking behavior. He barks, I say, "No, it's a friend," and he settles down while they give treats. But then, when they move, he begins barking again. I'm not sure this is a problem, though, since this is how I taught Buddy to adjust to the city, crowds, etc., etc.. I've always done treating for quiet, calm behavior, and then removing Buddy when the stimuli get too overwhelming. He's learned to be calm in all outside situations. It's just this stranger-in-house thing that freaks him out! What do y'all dog people think? I'd love input on how to use these strangers to my advantage! If I can do a few minutes of training at the start of each day, before taking Buddy to the quieter places, I think I can make a big improvement in this general area. Strategies? Hints? Thanks in advance. I LOVE these boards and all the helpful people! Mary
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