Great Improvements, But…

January 15, 2014

We had another freestyle class on Monday. Again, A.J. did great. No reaction to the other dogs, he stayed quiet in his crate, and he had great focus. He’s such a show-off. He’s really starting to get the idea on some of these tricks. And last night, for the first time, he did a “Roll over” when I told him, without me having to lead him through. He can be a smart little guy when he wants to be. Then there are other times… Continue reading “Great Improvements, But…”

The Lowest Point

Note: We’ve reached the ultimate low point in our journey. This journal entry is a tough one, but I’m sharing it because it’s part of the story. Like everything in life, adopting a pet can have plenty of ups and downs. We’re about to experience a big “down.” Ready or not, here it is:

November 27, 2013

A.J. could bite me and hurt me very badly. Today is the first day that thought has seriously entered my mind as a clear reality.

Note, July 17, 2015: As we’ll see as our journal entries progress, it’s unlikely A.J. ever would have bitten me. I was just frustrated at not being able to communicate with him. I also in the past had worked with rescue dogs and I had experienced dog bites from dogs who were as frustrated and in need of exercise as A.J. was around this time. With that said, on with the story… Continue reading “The Lowest Point”

My Jekyll and Hyde Dog

Note: This journal entry occurred shortly before my relationship with A.J. hit an all-time low. His leash aggression/reactive issues were making it impossible to walk him; that and our training regimen were making it very difficult to get this energetic young dog the exercise he needed. We were going through some serious growing pains at this point.

November 26, 2013

A.J. is just crazy.

We’ve been to three Reactive Dog classes now. The dogs spend most of their time in crates. Well, all the dogs except A.J. Most of the time I can’t get him in the crate. And whether he’s in the crate or not, he has a little tantrum. He cries and barks, and continues to get louder the longer I ignore him. Our trainer, Mary, has had me do various things to teach him to be quiet. I basically end up standing over him throwing hot dogs at him when he shuts up for a second. It’s not working.

This week we took each of the dogs out one by one and Continue reading “My Jekyll and Hyde Dog”

Still Lots of Issues

November 14, 2013

Since A.J. has had kennel cough and hasn’t been able to go to day camp we’ve been going to the park every day this week. We had quite the adventure yesterday. We got into the park and stopped. I had him sit, and I switched the leash from his harness to his collar. I stood up and said “Look at me.” A.J. looked right at me. I said “OK!” Next thing I know I’m skidding across the grass landing face-first, and A.J. is running free through the park. Continue reading “Still Lots of Issues”

The Right Reward

November 2, 2013

I realize I haven’t really explained in any of these posts what our training method has been for teaching A.J. to walk nicely on a leash. As I mentioned, we’ve started working with a trainer to get this under control. Using purely positive reinforcement, the idea is to get him to focus on me and not be so intent and overexcited about everything around him. What our trainer is having me do is to tell him to “Look at Me,” and when he does give him a treat. (We also have been doing clicker training, where I click then give him a treat when he does something good. Unfortunately juggling treats, clickers, leashes and a crazy dog can get difficult, so sometimes I forgo the clicker.) Continue reading “The Right Reward”

Mounting Frustration

October 10, 2013

Absolutely no progress. I’ve been taking A.J. to a personal dog trainer. I’ve been working with him. I’ve tried everything on our walks. Nothing is working. No progress at all.

We went for a walk this morning. He did pretty well. He didn’t pull very much, and when we walked past a house (on the other side of the street) where a dog was in the yard barking, A.J. barely reacted at all. That sounds like progress, right? Continue reading “Mounting Frustration”

Working on Walking Calmly

Note: As I look back on this journal entry, I see that my future probably is not in dog psychology. A.J. is a very energetic Springer Spaniel who needs tons of exercise and interaction. So while some of what I was guessing at in this entry was probably accurate, a lot of it was just me desperately trying to figure out how to communicate with this crazy young dog.

September 16, 2013

I came up with a new idea as to why A.J. turns into such a monster when he’s on his walks. Maybe he’s overstimulated. His paperwork said he spent all his time in the backyard with no walks. Now, the fact that he’s completely housetrained, wants to spend his time on couches and beds, and wants to walk on my left, all say otherwise. But what could be true is that he spent all or most of his time outside the last couple of months before he was turned over to the shelter. That means he was pretty isolated before he was even a year old. So getting out into the world could really be overwhelming for him, and he doesn’t know how to deal with it. Continue reading “Working on Walking Calmly”

A.J. Goes to Day Camp

September 11, 2013

Yesterday ended as a bad, bad, A.J. day.

The day started well. A.J. had his first day at doggie day camp. I brought him in at 9:00. I got to watch on the webcam from the lobby as they took him into the room with about a dozen dogs already there. He walked right in with no problems. After a few minutes the attendant came out and said he marched right in, no fear, and was doing great so far. I left him and went home, where I watched him online on the webcam. Continue reading “A.J. Goes to Day Camp”

A.J. Gets a Cone of Shame

August 24, 2013

A.J. got a cone of shame a couple of days ago. His foot started to heal nicely, but I couldn’t keep him from scratching his face. I had a horrible day that day. I went to do some volunteer work at a local organization, but it turned out to be a very frustrating, tiring, and unrewarding day. When I got home I was tired and frustrated, plus I was tired from waking up constantly the night before trying to keep A.J. from scratching the sore on his face. Because his foot was healing up so nicely I had left his sock off. When I got home I checked his face, and the scab was all scratched off and his face was a mess.

I called the vet’s office; I brought him in to get fitted for a cone. Continue reading “A.J. Gets a Cone of Shame”