Doggie DI Boot Camp–The Final Days

Above: Saying goodbye…all the ranch animals will miss our amusing antics.

The past few days have flown by. I’ve had 6am to 8pm hours and can only say that I am tuckered out! Sunday was my last day with the gals and they are now successfully home. I am going over in a little while for my second appointment with the owners but wanted to catch you up on some of the last events in the Doggie DI boot camp.

Above: The girls actually resting while they wait to travel.

The girls showed that they retained their training despite the day off. The camp owner had family up and requested I not visit the facility that day. So, I filled my day with other activities. As usual, when I arrived at the camp the gals were wild because they did not have enough exercise or play; the gals were really full of themselves expecially dog “A.”

AND my collar ceased to work. Wow, it didn’t even last a month so I have to call the manufacturer as it is a valuable tool to humanely train behavior when the animals are 50 feet away in high distraction. In case you have not read this whole log–the collar is a spray device that interrupts behavior without causing pain.

Above: Wow, good girls.

During out a long walk and practice near the ranches, the stable gals (they lead the horseback riding) all said goodbye to the dogs and were really happy to hear they were heading home. I couldn’t help feeling both relieved and sad–relieved that I can fill my schedule with other clients and begin work on my next book–and sad because I will really miss the girls.

Above: More appropriate in-home play behavior.

Once we burned off some of that energy I loaded them up. Exercise is one of the first things I assign to most pet owners. I know I mentioned this to you before ,but most problems stem from a lack of daily exercise and lack of consistent rules.

The best exercise is when you get the animals OFF your property. What happens is the animals are both physically and mentally stimulated and burn off a lot of excess energy because of it.

Above: Really good girls.

Once we arrived at the training location, the behavior inside the home was better. However the gals are still a bit active upon entry but they now settle down quickly. They at least know what behaviors are considered good behavior so they can remain in the home.

Above: Gentle on the stairs.

The stair navigation and walking behaviors in new environments are still not to my liking and probably would have been better if the camp owner hadn’t clipped two days off the schedule. Still, they still did well–but we animal trainers would prefer perfect behavior!

Above: Wait!

Still they pay attention to the commands and try their best to accommodate requests. If I don’t get a response on the first command, I find myself reminding them–“Don’t forget the rules.” Funny. I really don’t know where some of my verbal communcation has come from or why it morphs the way it does.

Above: Captain John loving the girls…the girls loving the attention.

One of my clients says she now uses “eX-sa-LENT” with her clients now. I don’t just say good any more…when they do really well I say, “eX-sa-LENT.”

On the last day of training I thought we would go down to the lake for a nice adventure. Captain John greeted us and asked me where I have been. So, I took the opportunity to have him greet the dogs as an answer!

They are such love bugs and enjoy all the attention they get from being calmer animals with manners. Gone is the jumping on anyone new and the bouncing off the walls for absolutely everything.

This is good.

Above: Ready for boating?

Needless to say, we took the opportunity to explore the whole marina. First venturing to the shore, we then ambled onto an empty dock, and then strolled over the the main dock where some of the boats remain in the water. This is the time of year when people pull their boats out of the lake in preparation for winter.

Above: Not land lubbers!

The gals loved every minute of the time we spent down at the marina. Dog “A” was a little jumpy when one boat rocked and rubbed loudly against the side of the dock. Other than that, they had a great time.

Above: Investigating!

They are so excited about life each and every day. They investigate absolutely everything. So, we took our time meandering and finally headed up to the truck to start our last ride. They are absolutely joyful to see anyone.

Part of this comes from their early life situation where they were sequestered to a yard without any human interactions due to their wildness. I smiled every time I approached their pen because they would hear me come in the perimeter gate and would position themselves on the deck away from their pet gate–because they learned they were good girls when they did that.

And they LOVE being good girls.

Above: Taking in the shoreline view.

The day they went home was mixed. I ended up spending a couple of hours working and exercising the gals and when the owners did not show up at the meeting location–I called them.

In the end, I had to go to their home. The yard was not ready for the gals yet and things were more chaotic then I would have liked–but that is the reality. They live in that environment and so they have to learn to adapt to that environment and respond correctly in it.

Above: Meeting a new dog.

The really great thing was that the owner was speechless. Her jaw actually dropped down and her mouth remained open when she saw how calm the girls were waiting in the crate.

It does a heart good.

We did a few things and brought them into the home. They made a few mistakes but overall it went well. I also worked at integrating dog “B” with the puppy in the home.

She hates her.

Hate is not the right word exactly. Dog “B” is a omega animal (low on the totem pole) and gets her security from either dog “A” or the human she bonds with. Then, she gets possessive of that dog or person and aggresses. Also, the pup does not have good manners and is a pain.

So, the reintroduction was done on neutral territory. We left dog “A” behind and the owner was floored that dog “A” did not pitch a fit. The puppy was worse than I thought–she shows no good dog eitquette and so jumps and gets wild with any animal she sees.

Dog “B” aggressed of course and got squirted and told “no.” However, the pup had her first little taste of what the boot camp training was like.

Totally immersion.

To digress, I am famous around these parts for my syringe work. Basically, I use a 60cc syringe filled with water to discipline my students–dogs and humans.

What I find funny is that is has become sort of a badge of honor if you, as a human, get squirted. In fact, during my last class two private students first words to each other were, “Have you been squirted yet?”

Too funny.

Anyway, the pup got many doses of water in the face. We finally got the dogs back into the home and the work with dog “B” is going to have to continue until we can get the aggression down to a level where she does not react. She skips any low level warning and goes into ritualistic aggression.

When I say ritualistic aggression I mean it sounds worse than it is. She uses restraint but is warning the pup in a manner too escalated for the situation. However, the pup makes matters worse because she doesn’t heed any warnings of any kind.

Puppy brain to the 10th power.

I left after several hours and with the knowledge that the dogs will settle in well.

My preliminary report from the owner on Monday was that they were able to take the grandma out into the yard and that she was also floored that the dogs were so good. The owner is really happy.

That makes me happy. Yes, I get paid to do what I do but my life is animals and knowing that these dogs will be incorporated into the home and loved the way they need to be loved is a BIG reward.

The pig and dogs are getting along but I did recommend they build a fence and separate the yard for safety and health reasons. No results on the fecal samples yet but I bet they find something.

Today I plan on working on stationing (where the dogs have to position themselves in certain locations for entry and exits) , the aggression, and anything else needed specifically for the household.

Tomorrow the dogs are going on their first trip after boot camp. Instead of being left behind they are going on a long outing. Also, they are getting a nifty new dog house that is being custom built for them until the relocation into the family’s new home (being built).

At the moment, the house is too small for everyone (kids, adults, and three dogs) so they are in the home for periods of time but not 24 hours.

Also, the house toilet training sense is still not solid and has to morph into acceptable patterns before that can happen. Not ever living in a home or an environment the gals never learned good toileting behavior so this is going to take a while.

On that note, I need to mention what happened out at camp. I can only say that I was really glad to get out of there.

The place was the perfect location and we had hoped to have a good symbiotic relationship but the camp owner’s behavior was inappropriate. It escalated during the last two weeks.

If that was not enough, when I stopped by to see the clients during week three–they bent my ear about her actions.

I can’t give you details but can only say, “Wow, bad behavior” and tell you that I have experienced similar stuff myself during the last week.

Needless to say, I won’t use or refer the facility again.

I’ll have a report on the girls tomorrow with any luck and then a surprise for you here after that!

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