We started a new training program with A.J. today. He had stopped responding to me when he was off-leash, to the point where he could easily put himself in danger. I contacted Jerry, the trainer who helped A.J. get over his leash aggression. I really trust him and believe he’ll do what’s best for A.J. and for me. So this rainy afternoon we headed out to Jerry’s house to learn how to use an electronic collar.

I was very nervous about putting an ecollar on A.J. I could just imagine zapping him and hearing him yelp. I didn’t want to scare him. But I should have known Jerry wouldn’t let that happen. We started the lesson by talking about what I wanted to accomplish, then talking about the collar: when to use it, how it works, how the training regimen will work. After getting the overview Jerry showed me how to fit the collar properly. Then it was time to give it a try.

I put the controller on the lowest setting. We were in an enclosed area and I let A.J. wander away from me. (This took a few minutes, he was a little uneasy and clingy when we got there.) As soon as A.J. wandered a few feet away I pushed the button on the controller at the same time that I called him to me. It was obvious he felt the charge, but he didn’t yelp or jump or do anything else that would have indicated it was painful. He came right to me.

Next we went outside. A.J. continued to cling to me. I told him to “Wait,” then walked away. I then pushed the controller button and called to him. He came running right to me. I had to step out of the way to keep him from crashing into me.

We tried this again, but this time A.J. refused to stay put when I told him to “Wait.” (Obviously I should have put more effort into working on that command. But, one thing at a time.) Jerry led him away on a long line and kept ahold of him until I could call to him again. A.J. doesn’t like being led away from me under any circumstances, and when confusing things are happening to him it’s much worse. He fought being led away. Greg was with us so he could learn too, and he tried leading A.J. away, but he didn’t have much better luck than Jerry. What can I say, A.J. is definitely a mamma’s boy.

We continued the exercises. A.J. quickly learned to try to “jump the shock.” He would be told to sit, but he’d take off running back to me before I called to him. He was trying to anticipate the call so he could avoid the shock. But either Greg or Jerry, in most cases, was able to hang onto the leash and get him sitting again so he’d stay put until I called.

Everything seemed to be going pretty well, so Jerry asked if Greg wanted to try. Greg pointed out that even if he called to A.J., A.J. would most likely still come running to me. So Jerry sent me into the house where A.J. couldn’t see me, but where I could watch what was happening. I watched as Jerry led A.J. out into the field. Greg pressed the controller button and called to A.J., A.J. ran towards him … and continued running straight past him to the door I’d gone in.

They tried again, but this time Greg stood off to the side rather than on a straight line to where I was. Jerry led A.J. out, had him sit, Greg called to him, and this time A.J. went right to him. They tried one more time. I saw A.J. take a quick glance towards the door as he was running to Greg, but he went to him.

We’ll practice this weekend, putting A.J. into situations where he’s more comfortable wandering away from me. We have two more sessions scheduled with Jerry next week. Hopefully we’ll quickly reach the point where we don’t need to use the shocker. I’ve been told that A.J. will never be able to be trusted off-leash unless he’s wearing the ecollar. I believe this. Right now he knows he has to listen when he’s on leash, but not when he’s off leash. He’ll quickly figure out that he has to listen when this collar is on, but that he can do whatever he wants when it’s not. But again, the hope is that he’ll have the collar on, but I won’t have a need to shock him.

Stay tuned for more shocking updates next week.


Sore Shoulders

My shoulder hurts today, because yesterday A.J. hung himself.

Let’s start at the beginning. Earlier this week I took A.J. to the park to run off leash. As usual, he was having a fabulous time running wild and getting out a lot of energy. When it was time to go, I called him to me and…he ignored me. So I started walking away, and after a little while he came running after me. Then he went running right past me. I walked a little farther, and finally he came to me. I started to hook the leash on, but because it was very cold and I had gloves on, I dropped the leash. A.J. decided that was his chance to take off running again. At this point, as you can probably imagine, I was not very happy. Then my unhappiness quickly turned to fear. Continue reading “Sore Shoulders”

A.J. Destroys a Backpack

July 31, 2015

Today was the toughest A.J. day we’ve had in a while. Greg and I went for a bike ride. Before we left we did our usual house check, making sure sure the counter tops were clear and the garbage cans put away. I gave A.J. a treat, and we left. I forgot my sunglasses and had to go back in. I don’t like to do that, I don’t want to stress or excite A.J. by coming right back and leaving again, but I needed my sunglasses. So I came in, grabbed my sunglasses, gave A.J. another treat, and we left.

Chewed up backpack
Backpack? What backpack?

When we got back I heard A.J. outside when I was pulling into the garage. I put my bike away and went into the house, and A.J. still hadn’t come in. That’s when I noticed the mess in middle of the living room floor. I had left half a granola bar in the front pocket of my backpack, then left my backpack where A.J. could get to it. The backpack had been there for two days without incident, but today A.J. decided breakfast and two treats wasn’t enough, he needed the granola bar. He completely destroyed the pocket of my backpack getting to it. I liked that backpack.

The temperature reached the upper 90s today. Because the high temperatures of the day don’t hit until 6 or 7 PM, A.J. doesn’t get an evening walk on these days. So to try to keep him from going crazy I took him out into the shade and tried to work with him on some of his tricks and commands. He wasn’t doing nearly as well as usual, so I stopped and threw his tennis ball into his pool a few times to cool him off. We tried the tricks again, and he did a little better. Then I put him in a “Stay,” which he’s always really good with. I had put some treats on the ground that he could get when I released him to go over a small jump. But I left him in his stay for a few seconds and instead of having him jump right away I started to sit down. A.J. got up and went and got the treats. He hasn’t broken a Stay in ages.

So we did a 10 minutes Stay. It was going to be three minutes, but he broke it twice and we had to start over.

Definitely not one of A.J.’s best days. We’re going on a longer bike ride tomorrow, hopefully he manages to stay out of trouble for a few hours.