Or make them get to work! Ginger has been working hard with her new trainer, Donna Elliott. Donna is a good friend and excellent trainer, who is licensed as a Victoria Stilwell Positively trainer. She has owned and operated Mutts with Manners for a number of years, to great success. I asked her to help get Ginger over her fear-aggression with other dogs, as well as help minimize her pray drive that is directed at our cats.
I don't know why this lady won't just GIVE me that treat already!
Ohhh...she wanted me to lay down. Got it. Check. Now...where's my hot dog?
We’ve been doing all kinds of great work, and it has made me realize how important it is that I am always ready and prepared to reward the dogs for good behavior. How else will they know when they do something I like? One of our biggest goals is to teach Ginger that looking at me in the eye is the most rewarding thing she can do; if she is looking at me, that means she can’t be focusing on another dog. So, I’ve been wearing a treat bag on my belt and will randomly ask the dogs to “watch.” This is what that looks like:
Watching and waiting. Good dogs.
Another exercise Ginger and I have been doing is working on desensitizing her to outdoor distractions. This is definitely my favorite part of training, because it means Ginger and I get to sit in the front yard and enjoy the sunshine. When distracting things start happening (dogs, joggers, mailman, etc.), I begin to reward her and keep her focused on me. This is a hard process but it’s vital to the operation.
Hey this thing's on my face again. Hey. Heyyyyyyy. Quit taking my picture and give me a hot dog. And please fix my ears. They feel weird.
At the end of the day, all of this mental working out (and eating) can wear a dog out. This becomes even more evident with Ginger, who is always the first the in house to fall asleep. See below:
Snoozing with the newly de-eyed duckie.
Please don’t forget that Ginger is still in need of a forever home. Send anyone you know who might be looking for a dog this way; Ginger has a lot of love to share. And maybe a couple of farts every now and then, too.
After I realized that Ginger wasn’t going anywhere anytime soon, I knew that we had to start working on getting her socialized. Of course, mastering the walk is at the top of that list. We had gone on walks with Pete and our neighbor Stella, but at the sight of other dogs, Ginger just becomes nearly uncontrollable. It’s really frustrating and sad to experience, especially because she’s very sweet and calm otherwise.
For the last few days, we’ve been taking a solo walk at night. This minimizes our chances of running into another dog and allows Ginger to focus on walking, and walking well with me. After watching an episode of “Dog Whisperer” that involved a Shepherd who was dog-aggressive while leashed, I found that using a pinch collar was possibly escalating aggression/excitement. This makes a lot of sense, because pit bulls seem to have no sense of pain; any other breed would react immediately to the discomfort of the pinch. That night I used a simple lead on her (a slip “knot” around her neck) and her pulling was noticeably reduced. She was tested halfway around the block when a couple were out walking their matching puppy bassets – off leash! The pups came right over to us, and Ginger started to really go bananas – she was yelping and straining against the leash. At one point I had to essentially suspend her so she couldn’t get to the pups. As soon as the dogs had passed, we stood together for a minute or two so G could calm down and we could continue on our walk.
When we got home from that walk, I decided that I should make a strong effort to get Ginger to wear a Halti for our walks. It’s my go-to for walking Pete, who pulled like a sled dog for a long time, even after he became desensitized to the pinch collar.
I AM AWESOME AT WEARING THIS THING!
After we were all inside and calm, I put the Halti on her; of course she immediately tried to paw it off. I ran for a handful of treats, and was able to distract her for a few minutes. We sat back down and she kept pawing, but I kept correcting her. Eventually, she gave up:
Tonight for our walk, I put the Halti on her but didn’t attach the lead to it. BRILLIANT MOVE, ME! Not only did she get used to wearing it, but she can’t paw at it if I’m forcing her to walk or jog. We didn’t encounter any dogs tonight, but she was markedly more focused; she kept her eyes looking forward instead of swerving all around and tripping me. I’m looking forward to walking tomorrow, to see some more progress.
Sister-in-law Amy came by to visit!
Amy's a great kisser.
Amy has the best knees.
Did you know Ginger can do impressions?
Look! I'm a corgi! Get it? See what I did there?
Pete cares not for Ginger’s brand of comedy.
IIIIII AAAAAAAMMMMMM YAWWWWWWNNNNIIIIINGGGGGG!!!!!!
*unintelligible happy sounds*
Pete tends to claim Amy too, in addition to me and Sydney.
I don't really mind sharing my people, but Ginger needs to know that I'm in charge around here.
Turns out if you actually exercise a dog, she will stop pacing the house and instead will immediately lay down and chew on a bone.
Or, she’ll find a second bone and chew on that one.
Another bone! Yessss!
Or better yet, she’ll get out all of the bones:
Don't worry, I found 'em all.
We’ve gained a little more info about Ginger’s demeanor in the past few days. We had a dog visitor that she did not take kindly to. Everyone’s alive, but we have had to question whether or not Ginger is dog-friendly. We realized that she came to our home when Pete was already here; he made sure she knew he was alpha, and she respected that. Once she became comfortable (within 24 hours), she became more aggressive towards our cats. We think she attacked our friend’s dog because he showed up AFTER she was here. Granted, an attack is an extreme reaction to a new dog, so that’s definitely some behavior that needs some modification.
Otherwise, Ginger is doing well. We’ve had to keep her outside quite a bit, since “The Incident,” but she easily settles after she realizes that’s where I want her to be; she’s happy to oblige. She’s even learning to go to her crate at night, which is a huge step. We’re also working on sitting before treats and dinner.
The next big hurdle (besides finding her a foster or permanent home) is that she needs to get a check-up and probably a spay. We definitely don’t want to deal with a dog in heat around here. Due to our recent expenses at the emergency dog doctor and the emergency people doctor (the visitor dog got a hold of my arm during the fight), it’s going to be super tough to come up with extra money to get her checked. If we’re able to take her to Lifeline Animal Project, we can get her basic vaccines and spayed for about $120. If you can spare anything to help us, we (and Ginger) would be SO appreciative. You can donate directly through PayPal, using our email address email@example.com.
I didn't like it, but my ears really needed it.
Further evidence of Ginger-Goose’s calm demeanor.
Hello friends. I’d like you to meet Betsy (Ross). That’s what Amy & Clayton named her; I prefer to call her Goose, due to her giant, webbed feet; she also equally ignores “Ginger,” which was an obvious choice due to her great coloring. She was caught by Sydney after she had bolted across Memorial Drive in East Atlanta.
On the way to my home-away-from-home
Due to some logistical problems, I was unable to get Goose from Sydney, who had to go to work. In the meantime, sister-in-law Amy took care of her. Clearly she is a handful:
I'm SO *yawn* MEAN!
This gave me some time to get the house straightened up, get the baby gates up so the cats have “safe zones,” and get some flea shampoo from my mom-in-law. My dad came by after work, and hung around so I’d have an extra set of hands for bath time. That turned out to be a good decision; she wasn’t a big fan of the water and tried to pull away. However, what I have learned is that she’s accustomed to humans; we’ve had our hands all over and under her, near her mouth and ears, and I even took away her food bowl and she didn’t fuss one bit.
This older guy is great at petting!
Her stats are limited right now. She’s clearly had puppies somewhat recently and has a few scars/abrasions on her neck and body. We don’t know yet if she has any diseases but hope to get her checked this week. She also has these AMAZING webbed feet; it’s hard to say if this is natural for her, or if there’s something wrong with the tendons in her feet. She doesn’t seem to be in pain, however. We took a pack walk today and she pulled like a sled-dog, though she responded well (for a first-timer) to our pinch collar (tried a Martingale and a Halti first). Also we’re working on sitting/staying for treats.
If you or someone you know might be interested in taking Goose home as a foster or permanent dog, please contact us as firstname.lastname@example.org. Also we’ll of course welcome any donations you can make to help us pay for her vet exam and any medicine she needs.