Challenging Week

This sweet-faced little girl has been giving me such a challenge this past week, which is why I haven't blogged much. Cabana continues to be so wonderful indoors. She has terrific manners, loves her toys, waits calmly, loves to snuggle. But when we go for walks, it's a struggle.

Different things seem to set her off and cause her to have one of her episodes. Sometimes, it's passing a lot of dogs in quick succession. Or a loud motorcycle going by. Or being near or walking on large stretches of grass. Or it might be none of those things--maybe she just feels like having a tantrum. I have tried going for shorter walks, skipping a day, different walking paths, going back to the head collar, giving firmer corrections, and using a deeper "I mean business" tone of voice. But things seem to be getting worse. This morning, she had THREE episodes. Usually, it's just one, and then she seems to get really penitent and behave herself.

I don't let Cabana get away with it when she's having an episode, but I've been very good about remaining calm. Maybe too good? I wonder if this is backfiring on me. Maybe I need to get a little angrier. I think I'm being firm, but maybe she's not taking me seriously? I think my kids would say I'm still too nice when the episode is happening. But I'm usually by myself, so no one is there to assess me. Sigh.

Anna and Avani  – (April 4, 2009 at 9:22 AM)  

Awww. Do keep calm (that is a very good thing to be able to do!), but use a firm (not angry) voice.

You might try puppy trading or sending her off to a puppy sitter to see her reaction with another handler over a 3-5 day period.

Hoping that this gets resolved soon for your sanity and Cabana's!

Cabana's Puppy Raiser  – (April 4, 2009 at 10:15 AM)  

Thanks, Anna. We are supposed to puppy swap in May, and I agree with you, that might help to reveal some things. I appreciate the sympathy--it really does make me feel better! :)

Lisa and Ellie  – (April 4, 2009 at 5:34 PM)  

That's really tough. Good luck!

Poppy The Puppy  – (April 5, 2009 at 10:00 AM)  

We will puppy swap in May! I really wanted it done this month. For Cabana and the others. We'll talk today about doing a swap with our two dogs before then. Then, you can see that Poppy has a whole different set of issues, but just as many.

You are doing an amazing job with the dog that you have. She is a toughie. I wish I had video of her first meetings to rewind and remind you of how far she has come. She has done at least a complete 180 since Costco. She just has to complete the circle now. She will get there because YOU are doing amazing things with her.

And your girls are smart cookies! Listen to them :)

Cabana's Puppy Raiser  – (April 5, 2009 at 11:47 AM)  

Thank you for the encouragement! It's good to be reminded that Cabana has come a long way. I guess issues are okay, as long as we recognize them and keep working on them.

Martha G  – (April 5, 2009 at 6:08 PM)  

I found it helpful to walk with other raisers who have some experience. One thing is that puppies often model their behavior after an older dog. Another is that if an experienced raiser can observe you walking they could comment on things like maybe you're holding the leash too tight. This was communicated to me once and I was told I was tensing up because I was afraid of a reaction my dog might have and that I was making her tense up as a result. I've paid more attention to calming myself while walking and things are pretty good now.

Another thing - I was told yesterday at graduation that it's often at 8 months that you see a dog integrating all that they have been taught and they start acting like the dog they are going to become, especially if you really work on things the months before (which it sounds like you are doing). It made me feel better to understand that at 5 months Ardella isn't going to act like an adult dog.

Lani  – (April 6, 2009 at 4:09 PM)  

I'd echo what folks are saying and just add, that with your 1st pup everything seems to be hard, you worry that you are doing things wrong or that you're ruining the dog! YOU'RE NOT! Just relax, things don't happen overnight, it is great that you trying different things and haven't lost your cool. You are doing great, just keep consistent with what you are doing and she will be fine.

Relax, and know you're doing good things. Besides you'll need it for when she goes into to heat! ha ha - just kidding a little PIT humor :D

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