What To Do This Summer

So for the foreseeable future, I have taken up residents with my parents in Scranton, PA.  I am job hunting and looking to move back to Philadelphia around August.  Until then, I’m having a training dilemma.  I’ll start by saying that I am only open to using force free trainers.  Anything other than that is out of the question.  So anyone I will mention is going to fall under that category.  I am hoping that I can get some advice or suggestions.  Keep in mind that I would like to be less broke with a better trained dog 😉 Here are my options while I’m here:

I can choose to travel approximately 1 hour & 15 minutes to a reputable, force free trainer.  I can do private sessions or wait for a potential weekday Reactive training class to start up.  

I can travel 1 hour & 45 minutes to a reputable, trusted, and force free trainer.  I can do private sessions or group lessons.

I can use a local trainer who is less experienced but force free.  I can do a private session where she will evaluate Leroy and see if he can be placed in any of her group training class (which I suspect he can’t).  Or I can continue to do private sessions with her.

I can work by myself on practicing what I know in controlled and respectful environments.  I can do “pack walks” with trusted friends.

I have been struggling with this decision and am looking for some help.  I may give the local trainer a try.  But I don’t want to waste my time and money when I have heard she may not be the best for my situation.  I also can’t afford to be driving all summer, paying tolls, and racking up more debt… Leroy doesn’t even have a job 😉  (and I am barely employed!)  But I also want to keep working with him and seeing progress.  With the lack of bicycles in my neighborhood, Leroy has decided to recently lunge after two cars, actively trying to attack them.  This type of “unexpected” behavior is what brought me crying into Dr. Reisner’s office in the first place.  We must not regress!  Ok, I’m trying not to fall apart completely.  I understand I changed his environment.  But common Leroy, you’ve already been beaten by a car once.  Let’s be logical here.  Your mom can only handle so much crazy out of you!

Until Leroy understands my English; help, suggestions, opinions, local trainer recommendations, advice??  It’s all much appreciated!

download5

Advertisements

Deep Breaths

Last night, Leroy was exuberantly running around the house, showing off for my parents.  He was flashing his big pit bull grin when he jumped onto Grandma and Grandpa’s bed, quickly lifted his leg, and peed on their duvet cover.

Bad dog..

Bad dog..

People of the world often anthromorphize these types of behaviors, either by saying something like, “Leroy was being spiteful because I made him take a nap in my bedroom”, or “Leroy felt so sorry after he peed on the bed.  He knew he was wrong.”

Well, people of the world; I can promise you that Leroy made no connection between his earlier nap in my bedroom, nor knew that he had done something wrong.  He was simply interrupted and ran away happily.  WHYYYYY??  Why Leroy??

These are the moments I look at him for .3 seconds and say, “Mommy doesn’t love you anymore”, in the sweetest voice I can muster.  Then he’ll do something so cute, it hurts my heart.  Last night his move was cuddling on the couch between me and his Grandma, and propping his head up on her knee, making the best squishy face that ever did exist.  Falling asleep on her with squinty eyed bliss, even Grandma forgot we were mad at the Pudding.  All returns to normal soon after the incident.

But again! The following morning Leroy wants to push my buttons again!  Leroy darling, I am a patient mamma, but you’re making me crazy!  Though for Leroy, I had to accept that he was not trying to make me crazy.  He was simply stressed out, overwhelmed, and unable to handle the situation.  Between the two barking mongrels across the street that run the barrier of their electric fence, the strange collection of men in the backyard with the landscaping company, and the gaggle of seventeen year old kids playing basketball and roughhousing in the pool; Leroy was like WTF?! And I was like WTF?!  These are the moments when I trust my dear friend Christine to tolerate my mental breakdown.  I text her and say, “I’d like to return Leroy and exchange him for a better dog”.  And she says, “No.  You love him too much.  And no one else wants him”.  This of course, is all in jest.  I wouldn’t give up Leroy if you pried him out of my cold, hard grasp.  He is my true love and favorite creature on this planet.  But still, we all are allowed to go over threshold every once in awhile 😉

It’s going to be a long summer…

223558_513616048676715_459274198_n

I am constantly reminded to respect Leroy’s limits, as well as my own.  So as I type this, Leroy is in his “Safe Place” of my bedroom.  He was too stressed out watching the big kids play in the pool, plus he needed a nap after our exhilarating afternoon walk.  And yaknow what?  That is OK.  I’d rather keep him safe and calm than push his limits.  I am working to be the best guardian that I can.  That includes knowing when and how to protect my dog from stress.  And even though he drives me crazy, I love him more than words can express.  So I am happy to do this for him.

On a lighter note, we do have an exciting announcement to make!  Check back tomorrow for that 😉   And until then, deep breaths!

If you have any suggestions or force free training articles on how to stop territory marking, please send them my way!  Also, please comment with any questions or topics you would like me to write about.  🙂

Progress!

 

 

 

 

So if you read my letter to Leroy or noticed my lack of blogging, you may have gathered that I’ve been a little bit busy.  But I’m back!  This month I received my MFA from the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.  (WOOT! If you’re interested in the other half of my life, you can check that out)  I will be busy and working to figure life out, as always.   But I promise to start providing more regular updates on Leroy’s progress!  However, it was a good time to take a blogging break, because Leroy is officially on Prozac (it takes 6 weeks to see any noticeable changes).  So I am ready and able to say that we are making progress!  But I am 100% certain that this progress is a combination of Prozac and very diligent training.  The Prozac is helping Leroy to stay under threshold more easily, and the training is giving him something active and productive to do when he becomes stressed out or overwhelmed.  It had been a great combination!  Not without mistakes, meltdowns, or errors of course.  But the overall trend has been progress.

Leroy is more capable of coping with a slowly moving cat in the distance, or even a very still cat a few feet away!  He uses his new favorite command, “Look at that”, to find something that is exciting and chase-worthy.  When he sees the exciting kitty, he has a moment.  Maybe we’ll call it a mental freak out.  He sees the cat and he wants to chase it!  That’s what he knows- that’s what he does!  But then he remembers- If he sees something exciting and he looks up at mom, he gets treats!  Good boy Leroy, good boy 🙂

We are still struggling with skateboards.  Those buggers are a challenge.  But we had a nice moment yesterday with a boy walking past us who was holding a skateboard.  Leroy didn’t quite go over threshold, but he was crying and worked up about it.  On the one hand, I could have been upset.  He wasn’t even riding the skateboard, he was just carrying it!  But on the other hand, I knew what to do!  And guess what?! Leroy knew what to do!  I waited Leroy out while he had a minor freak out… and then he gave me a very nice look away.  YES!  Good boy Leroy, Michaela would be proud.  🙂  Leroy got a nice reward and we left!

I goez for nap nao

I goez for nap nao.

 

Sorry for the delay in posting.  Please comment if you have any questions, post suggestions or anything at all!

 

Sponsor us here– 5k Race to Rescue

A Letter To My Dog

Dear Leroy,

Thank you for your continuous support and friendship.  You have been an amazing help to me during this past month while I finished graduate school.  I could not have done it without your patience and understanding.  I would like to thank you for being so wonderful, as well as apologize for my faults.

We both know that when I was looking for a companion, I wanted to meet an adult, preferably older than three.  You came into my life as a young one year old mess who needed a friend, and after being your foster mom for many months, I could not say goodbye.  I was happy that you did not have a very high energy level, even back then.  I knew that these two years in school would require a lot of my time, energy, and attention.  But what you lacked in energy, you began to make up for in behavioral issues.

I let things get to a bad place.  I can not fully express the depth of my sorrow for that.  I was often tired after I finished a long day in school, and you seemed to prefer cuddling and tug-of-war over a walk.  Philadelphia is scary.  You seemed very overwhelmed, so I let things slide.  This is not acceptable.  I am so sorry for this mistake.  When a child does not want their vegetables, their mom will not let it slide.  They get creative.  They ask for one bite.  They ask for a second bite.  They are encouraging.  They persist.  I did not persist.  You didn’t like walks, so we stopped.  I promise to never let this happen again.

 

I did take you on the occasional walk.  And we did a lot of playing, fostering, training, and games.  So things were not all bad.  But something happened during this time that made me truly understand your stress level.  Not anything obvious.  Maybe I just was reading, training, and trying to understand.  You are after all, my first dog.  We did a lot of learning together.  But I started to understand that maybe you needed more help than I could offer.  I don’t like seeing you stressed.  But I didn’t know how to fix it.  And avoiding the outdoors certainly isn’t a good solution.

I finally accepted that I needed some help.  So after the holidays we went full force into behavioral adjustment training and started you on Prozac.  I blamed myself for your lack of progress.  But now I blame myself for letting things get as bad as they did.  I know this last month has been crazy, but I promise I will never let things get to that place again.

So Leroy, thank you.  Thank you for letting me slack off this month.  I can not say that life will never get busy or overwhelming again; I’m sure that it will.  But I will do my best to remember all of your needs, and take them seriously.  You may be willing to skip the walk, but it does not mean that we should.  Thank you for everything.

Your Loving Mother and Friend,

Casey

IMG_6253