Attitude Adjustment, Lesson one
Today was the first visit from the trainer. Jerad arrived at 3, after we’d had a morning out at Starbucks and the Princess had been treated to her normal weekend turkey bacon. A quick visit to Top Dogs and Cool Critters resulted in a new temporary harness that can be used until her Dachshund Delight harnesses arrives. We retired the dreaded Puppia harness that went over her head and upset her so much.
Jerad is a very young man, but he seems to have the credentials to be a good trainer. He does a lot of “boot camp” training, meaning he takes the dog to his house to train for a couple of weeks and then returns a trained dog to you, and he had initially suggested this route to us… but I thought it was important that we take on this task as a pack. We humans realize we have contributed to the problem, and we need to be a part of solving it. So, our classes will be held once a week in our home.
The first big area we’re addressing is the fact that Penny thinks she “owns” the sofa and to a certain extent, the bed we all share. Day before yesterday, Penny was on the sofa and I touched her lightly on the rear, and she arose with teeth bared, snarling, ready to take my hand off. We had to shoo her off the sofa with a pillow to keep from getting bitten. Another big problem is when I’m sitting on the sofa and using the computer she demands attention by biting at my hands and at the computer.
Fortunately, she demonstrated this biting for attention to Jerad today when he sat down on the sofa. He responded by rolling her over and giving her a slight pinch to the neck as a correction. He did that repeatedly until she figured out he was serious about it. She made one more lunge for his hands at which point he responded with a small squirt of Bitter Apple – right to the mouth — resulting in one unhappy wiener dog. Of course, I was just absolutely dying. But she settled down and lay down on the sofa beside him and stopped the behavior. And she’s been laying quietly on the sofa with me all evening.
Our assignment for the week is to have her on a leash whenever we’re in the house with her and to get a pinch collar to use for a slight correction when she starts the growling and snarling, since that seems to be the most distressing problem that we’re having right now. My real fear is that she’ll bite a stranger — or God forbid, a child — and it could end up badly for all of us. I’m not thrilled about the idea of the pinch collar, but Jerad assured me it was a very temporary fix and if she responded as fast as she did to the correction today, we wouldn’t need to use it for long.
We’re supposed to banish her from the sofa, but in order to see if the snarling, growling “I own the sofa” behavior is going to stop, we have to let her up here for now. After we get a handle on that, we then remove the ramp and let her know she is allowed on the furniture at our invitation.
She’s not supposed to sleep in the bed with us — but I haven’t decided if I can go that far yet. She hasn’t acted out in the bed, and I love having my girl where I know she’s safe. I also have to admit I cherish those quiet times when I wake up in the middle of the night and she comes to see me and we have a moment… just she and I… where I pet her and tell her what a good girl she is and how much I love her… and then she’ll snuggle up next to me for awhile.
Baby steps. For all of us.