The Good Dog Inside

June 3, 2010 at 9:24 am 10 comments

The past two weeks have been exciting for young Charlie.  We threw a lot of new things at the boy, in this short period of time he:

  • Behaved calmly while surrounded by strange dogs and people during the Minnesota mini-gathering
  • Met a diverse crew of men who refinished our deck, and looked on with calm interest while they worked right outside the windows
  • Politely allowed himself to be approached and checked out by several strange off leash dogs at a sheepdog trial
  • Accepted my assurance that a pack of strange dogs staying as guests in our house was not a valid reason for a meltdown (I’ll add that he handled the situation with more grace than Audie did)
  • Developed a crush on our human visitor
  • Threw one brief tantrum when a strange person strode up very quickly then bent over inches away him at the trial (she was picking something up off the ground, and paid little attention to the little snot)
  • Then recovered his wits sufficiently to allow her to pet him just a few minutes later
  • Maintained good off leash manners while four different human guests were here
  • Did his first stint as a demo-dog (albeit allowing me to demonstrate how to apply a pressure-release technique to defuse a reactive dog)
  • Let my client pet him immediately after said demonstration

Charlie has come a long way. It was obvious from the start that a good dog was lurking inside the smart, resilient, obnoxious little jerk who arrived here last fall — but in the beginning, only hints of that good dog showed through.

Today Charlie is a good dog who only occasionally shows hints of the horrid little beast he never wanted to be.

Charlie watching the trial with Mark and D
Note that his leash is being held by the ‘dog un-trainer’

Charlie watches D make dinner
(I love a man who cooks for me!)

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10 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Aunt Faye  |  June 3, 2010 at 10:53 am

    Funny how many of us dog trainers share a home with one of those “Dog Untrainers!” They are simply amazing to watch as they hone their craft. I’m impressed little Charlie wasn’t intimidated by the guests big moustache! And wonder if maybe Audie was channeling his brother with his response.

  • 2. Rob McMillin  |  June 3, 2010 at 10:58 am

    Sigh. Maddy just charged me.

  • 3. H. Houlahan  |  June 3, 2010 at 10:59 am

    Chuckie fell under the spell of the ur-brows.

    His choice of man-crushes is a great indicator of what he needs in an owner.

    In a word, not cosseting and cookies.

  • 4. SmartDogs  |  June 3, 2010 at 11:05 am

    That’s four words, not one – but completely accurate (both with respect to the brows and Charlie’s needs).

    And Rob – Maddy needs calm, firm pressure, not confrontation.

  • 5. Amy@GoPetFriendly  |  June 4, 2010 at 12:59 pm

    Charlie has had a very busy couple of weeks! I’m so glad to hear about his accomplishments. It’s encouraging – if he can do it, hopefully Buster can too! Though, Buster does have the additional obstacle of my less-than-optimal training skills. It may take us longer, but we’ll get there.

  • 6. Casey  |  June 5, 2010 at 12:55 pm

    Found your blog thru the Bark magazine website. Great pics here! Course, I’m partial to border collies, too :)

  • 7. The Doubtful Guest  |  June 6, 2010 at 9:08 pm

    It’s simply amazing how structure and training, even amid a busy life, can calm and center a dog.

    I have never understood the “rationale” for not training a dog being, “I don’t want to crush his spirit.” Crush? How about bring to bloom? Engender? How about finding the dog hiding in that overweight, whiny, squirrelly best you currently have on the end of your leash? As if remaining in a state of entrenched confusion is better for a dog than helpful guidance.

    Yay for Charlie, and for you. You done good.

  • 8. Jackal73  |  July 3, 2010 at 7:40 pm

    Can I ask about the pressure-release technique to diffuse a reactive dog? I adopted a reactive (but not aggressive) dog a while ago. We’ve come a long way, but there are still things to fix. New techniques to try (or to think about if they don’t apply to us) are always welcome! (And yes, I’ve used professional help — we’ve been through two reactive dog classes, and he’s doing *great*. Mostly normal now, instead of the near autistic he acted like when I adopted him. Some things just take time and a lot of practice, but some things have stumped even my trainer, so we keep working, and trying different things.)

  • 9. SmartDogs  |  July 3, 2010 at 8:22 pm

    This post talks a bit more about the idea behind pressure-release techniques. The video by Lori Droin linked in the post shows a very nice way to use leash pressure and the sit command to help diffuse a dog – even though the dog she works with is calm.

    I also like to use touch. I’ll touch a dog with my hand (or another item if, as was the case early on with Charlie, he is overly reactive to my hand) and work my way from calm to mild stress and then back to calm as outlined in this post.

  • 10. Jackal73  |  July 3, 2010 at 9:08 pm

    Great! Thank you!

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