Friday, June 23, 2017

Dog Sitting #2: the case of the rowdy adolecent

I'm currently sitting my second dog (the first was for the Great Dane puppy that went horribly wrong), and this one is just as tough--if not tougher--as the first. At first, I thought it was mainly due to my lack of experience, but I've discovered, no, this dog has some issues.

The ironic thing is that this dog that I'm currently watching is exactly like the hypothetical dog that I'm supposed to study for my Phase 8 evaluation. He is the same age too, although a different breed.

For this eval, I will be graded on the advice that I give to my mentor for common problems that many dogs have. (Luckily, I'm told in advance what the problem behavior is so that I can prepare for it.) This case is titled "Rowdy Adolescent" which is exactly what I'm calling the dog I'm sitting for, with the same problem behaviors.

It's like they met our dog and made a case study after him.

What makes it even harder, is that unlike my hypothetical dog in my eval, my current dog is not neutered. I've discovered the hard way that this makes a huge difference in behavior! I didn't realize that he wasn't neutered and the owner never brought it up. And well, I'm not very good about noticing those things despite the fact that everyone keeps saying that I would know because it's "very obvious." (It's only obvious if you're looking!)

Not only that, but Ace doesn't like rowdy dogs, as we've already discovered with the Great Dane puppy we sat for (who also was not neutered.) We've prepared by training Ace to wear a muzzle if he's around the dog, but since I've discovered that the dog isn't neutered, we've kept them separate.It is possible for dogs to bite through a muzzle, and I don't want that to happen with this dog.

Sorry, Ace.

Even the kids are worn out by this poor dog, who acts like an engine is always going inside him and never gets a moments rest. His Gentle Leader, which the owner left with us, keeps falling off, and so this poor dog is always straining against his leash, choking and gagging. On walks, he's everywhere, hopping in this direction or that, lunging with no warning, or trying to catch his leash and pull it from your hands. Needless to say, I can't let the kids walk him.

And yes, even though he's eight month old and should have outgrown a lot of the play biting,  he still nips and does a lot of mouthing. This morning, he drew blood on Lucy's arm--he just walked up to her and grabbed her hand with his mouth. This poor dog is just crazy with energy, and doesn't know what to do with it all. The kids spend a lot of time throwing the ball for him (indoors, since we have no fence) and that does seem to help. But even when the dog is tired, he lays down for only a few seconds and then hops up again. He just can't seem to settle down, so we give him two breaks a day in his kennel so he can rest. And us too.

I have to keep Joey and Ace separated from him, now that I know he's not neutered. This is what they do at Countryside Vet, mainly because un-neautered dogs are so unpredictable in their behavior. And obviously, to discourage the humping (which can cause fights.) Keeping them separated for four days isn't easy. Where Ace and Joey are, this dog can't be in the same room. So if Ace and Joey are upstairs, the dog has to be downstairs (with someone watching him, since he seems to like to eat and chew on everything he sees.) Or if Ace and Joey are outside, the dog has to be inside. It's a constant juggle.

So yep, it's been a little difficult. I don't know how I keep getting these young un-neutered dogs. I'd like some older neutered dogs, please!

But I will say that it's been great for teaching me some dog training skills. I've also discovered that he only knows one command which is "sit" and maybe "come". (He seems to know what it means, and will come some of the time.) But he doesn't know "down" and I'm also teaching him "Watch", which is great when you want to get your dogs attention focused on you. He's definitely trainable and when he's tired, he's fun to be around. He has a great personality. If he could just get some consistent training and get neutered, he would be a perfect dog with both kids and dogs.

Not the best picture, but Anna was trying to hold him still long enough to get a picture.

I'm happy for this opportunity though. It really has forced me to put all of what I've learned into action. And that's what I need! I hope that this will lead to many more dog sitting jobs for the future.

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