Thursday, September 02, 2010

Adventures In Puppy Raising

"If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went." ~ Will Rogers

If you've been reading this blog regularly, you know we recently added a beautiful Golden Retriever to the family mix. Cedar is now nine months old and 70 lbs of sheer goofy stubbornness.

Now, I'm not saying Cedar is a bad dog. He's actually quite delightful for the most part. But then there's the other part. Like when we tell him not to do something, he'll stop the one time, then do it again a few minutes later. The worst of it is, I know he knows he's not suppose to do it because he has that guilty look on his face and watches you out of the corner of his eye waiting to see if you notice what he's doing.

We took him to obedience school and he did great. Well, medium great. He was easily distracted when anyone new entered the room. Whatever was going on had to stop while he rushed over and went crazy with exuberance over their arrival. That was all well and good when he was only a small, fuzzy puppy. But he's a big boy now (albeit still a puppy), and if you've ever been barreled into by 70 lbs of muscle, you'll know it isn't exactly a joyous experience. At least you'll come to that conclusion once you regain consciousness and find yourself laying prone on the ground, your body feeling as if it's met the business end of a Mack truck.

Anyway, I have been bemoaning the fact that we have not kept up with his training and now we are having some issues. Mostly pulling on the leash, trying to jump up on any newcomers (or just anyone walking by), and his new thing - barking then biting the arm of the couch when he wants our attention.

We tried several methods that our trainer suggested, and while they worked when he was a younger pup, now they no longer do. Frustrated with how to handle the situation before it became a permanent thing, I found myself watching
At The End of My Leash yesterday. Brad Pattison, the trainer guy, told the people on the show who had similar issues as we did with their lab, that they couldn't talk to the dog for a week, and when they needed to correct him, to give a quick snap to the leash. Not a hard, yank-you-off-your-feet yank, just enough to get their attention.

Hmm...I thought. I wonder if this would work with Cedar? I had the opportunity to find out about a minute later when he started barking and biting the couch. And oddly, it did work. J and I stopped talking to the dog and did the collar jerk when he barked, interrupting his behavior and showing it was unacceptable. After a few minutes, he figured it out and settled down at our feet. But he kept looking at us all night like he couldn't figure out why he was ensconced in the Cone of Silence. Have you ever had sad, golden retriever puppy eyes turned on you? It's a deadly weapon. But I was determined and refused to cave! Plus, it was working.

It's only been one day, but the walk this morning went better than usual. J rated it a 5/10 as opposed to his usual -12. So, we are going to keep the silence up for a few days and see how it goes. Hopefully, we are onto something, and the bad behavior will be a thing of the past. Our goofy not-so-little pup will grow up to become a well-behaved member of society. And this time, we will keep up with the training and not slack off. I refuse to become one of those dog owners people point at (curse at) because they have no control over their animal.

10 comments:

Anne MacFarlane said...

Kelly, dog ownership sure is a lot of work. But at 70lbs the things a little pup can get away with sure aren't so cute anymore. It's kind of the same with kids. If you ignore their bad but cute behavior at three - it isn't so funny when they're still doing it at thirteen.

Stella MacLean said...

Hi Kelly, I love your story. So funny.
I have to tell you that we once had a Gordon Setter named Woody who needed obedience training, and my husband decided he'd take him, maybe learn a whole lot himself.....
Well, about three weeks later, neither Woody nor Garry had leaned any form of obedience training. They were both tossed out of the course!
Woody just kept on keeping on after that round...
Stella

Jennie Marsland said...

Kelly, Cedar is going through adolescence. Seriously. Chance did exactly the same thing at the same age. His breeder told us that eight or nine months is the age when dogs start to test, to try to figure out their place in the pack. Tollers are a handful at best, but at eight he's pretty well behaved, though easily excited. Echo is a little firecracker and we're having our struggles with her. They both do the guilty, 'devil made me do it' act when they know they've done something they shouldn't.

Kelly Boyce said...

Tell me about it. I keep referring to him as the 'belligerent teenager'.

Toni Anderson said...

not talking to/ignoring them is a huge thing for such a social animal. Fingers crossed it works :) A whole week though? Why do they say to do it for a week? And you still need to give him commands, right? So how does it work? I miss my dog but pups are such a lot of work and you are at the most difficult age :) Golden retrievers though :) Gorgeous :)

Kelly Boyce said...

Toni - I think it takes a week to get the message across. I know it was explained on one of the shows but I forget now...should look that up. As for commands, we used voice and hand commands so the dog can understand either (when he chooses to). Usually if he's doing something bad, if I stand up or clear my throat he'll drop to the floor in his 'down' position like he wasn't doing anything wrong, don't know what you're talking about position.

Bev Pettersen said...

Laughed at your post, Kelly, remembering all our puppies. Glad the silence thing is working, and once they hit a year they often settle down. But all the training is worth it!! Good luck. He's a beautiful guy:)

scotialassie said...

Great blog post, Kelly! I can totally relate to the dog training issues. Mine is 2 1/2 and although not huge, he is definitely stubborn. And, I agree, sticking to your guns is best. That's how they learn that you mean business.

Cat Schield said...

I haven't owned a dog for years, but I know how challenging it can be to break bad habits. Sounds like you're on the right track.

I love watching It's Me Or The Dog. Victoria is my hero. The things she's able to fix, amaze me.

Keep up the good work and you'll have a perfect pooch.

Melissa Marsh said...

Oh boy. I don't know if I could stand not talking to my dog for a week! (Well, if I had a dog...I still haven't replaced my beloved Charlie Brown).