Sophie also comes with a person who loves her dog and knows what to tell her to do, but has no idea why she's not doing it and how to get her to do it. When she doesn't listen, my friend just kind of yells at her or repeats herself 8 million times with no response. The only way I've only see her get Sophie to lie down is to push her down. So I explained that I think we have to bring her back to basics and stop saying any commands to her when we are not almost 100% sure she will listen or else we are just setting her up to fail. She has become numb to commands, whether she knows them or not, and I think she just hears gibberish when we say them. I know it sounds simple, but it was actually really hard to bring up to my friend. I was so worried that she would feel like I think Sophie's a "bad dog" or that mine are in any way better, but I keep explaining that I've had them much longer and I've spent so much time working on the things they know. She was open and willing to do the training though to make it work for all of us, including Sophie!
So I showed her with the clicker and bite-size treats how to work on basic commands like sit, down, leave-it and watch in a room with no distractions. I showed her how to lure her into positions with treats if she's not getting it and to make a big party when she does it. I told her the best way to get Sophie to improve was to do several short sessions a day and always keep it fun and successful. The rest of the time while at home, we would have her on a tie down or leash to keep her from chasing flies or going after Gina.
I also showed her how to turn walks into training walks that she could still enjoy. I told her she's better off doing 2 blocks keeping her attention than a mile of her pulling you down the street. We worked on asking her to sit and watch at curbs and giving her a command to go sniff and another to come back to attention. Though she was way too distracted to get it, it's a start in the right direction.
|All this training is exhausting!|
So far the clicker training has gone well but Sophie still completely checks out if she sees a fly. We try to change positions or even rooms, but she remains fixated. Any advice on distractions, even in a small controlled space? She loses interest in even hot dogs, chicken and bacon and has no interest in toys. I am hoping the clicker training will start to help so she knows the second she takes her attention off it, she has done the right thing.
The walks are still difficult because she has no interest in treats and is very distracted by bugs, birds and cats. I'm finding it challenging to explain what I know I would do instinctively. Just like I didn't realize my dogs have learned as much as they have since I got them, I didn't realize how much I had figured out through the years of walking, sitting, fostering and owning dogs. Though I am no professional dog trainer, I think I know what she should do but can't always seem to find the words to explain it!
So far all of that has been the fun part. But the part that I'm finding difficult is that we started all this weeks ago and I haven't really seen my friend follow through. I see her doing maybe one training session or walk per day and she sometimes joins us for our off leash hikes in the afternoon. That is good exercise for Sophie and though she's not bad, if she was my dog I would not let her off leash before her basic listening skills are better. Even if your dog doesn't run away, off leash time is a huge reward and has to be earned in my opinion. I learned it the hard way taking Kaya to the dog park too much as a puppy and not working on her training!
|Who me, naughty? No.....|
Part of the problem is that my friend also seems to copy me on certain things that I wish she wouldn't. For example, parking at my apartment is street only but I'm usually parked less than a block away. I do not leash my dogs when we walk to the car. Not because I'm lazy or I don't care but because they know the drill. Without saying a word, they wait at the top of the stairs until I motion for them to join me by the open gate, then they sit, make eye contact, follow me out, sit beside me as I lock the gate and then stay by my side as we walk to the car. They do not stop to sniff, pee or say hi to any people or dogs. And they have no interest in things like cats, squirrels and even skunks that we have around the neighborhood. I could throw Kaya's precious ball across the street and she wouldn't think of going after it. And it's not because they just showed up and I trusted them and they figured it out. It's because we worked on it day after day after day for months until I knew it would be safe. So on the first day, my friend let Sophie do the same and of course, my mind flashes to a vision of her darting across the road after the neighbor's cat and possibly in front of a car. It didn't happen, but it easily could have. Then I felt like such a jerk telling my friend to leash her from now on.
She also told me months ago that she does not want Sophie on furniture and she is well trained to stay off of it. This proved to be true but after a couple nights, she asked Sophie to join her on her bed. Sophie obliged and several times since then has decided on her own merit to get on the bed. Then my friend started to get annoyed, saying I don't want her on my bed, why does she keep getting on it? So this evening, she tried to get Sophie to get on the couch. I had to jump in and ask, "What happened to no furniture?" Yes, it would be hypocritical of me to say she can't get on the couch if Kaya and Norman are on it, but the fact that she expects Sophie to stay off the furniture once she's told to go on it just makes no sense. She said, "Why does it matter if you are getting rid of that couch anyways?" Because it's not about the couch, it's about setting boundaries, besides the fact that Sophie did not even want to get on the couch. And I know this is all partly due to the fact that Sophie is in no way cuddly or affectionate and my friend seems to really want her to be that way, especially now that she's experiencing it with Kaya and Norman.
|My friend is Kaya's new favorite cuddle partner:)|
Though my friend has somewhat disappointed me in her efforts to work with Sophie, I also do not want to be a nag. I feel like I should do more to encourage her, like I should just wake up in the morning and suggest we work on some training together and go on a walk. It's hard though because I work from home and since my friend is not working yet, I'm trying to balance everything while my friend sits next to me bored all day. Phew! I don't mean to gripe but moving, work, 3 dogs, 2 people and a scaredy cat in a studio apartment is a bit stressful!
On a side note, the dogs are getting along great. You can see Sophie even cuddled up next to Kaya or maybe she just didn't bother to move when Kaya plopped down? But Gina remains very cautious and I feel so sad to see her in fear. Though she comes back to eat a little, she doesn't stay long and I really miss my little mini-cat.
Has anyone ever had any challenges involving not only working with a dog but also their person?
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