Wednesday, October 18, 2006

I am cruel to my dog and someone is concerned.

Heh. Well, I am all for positive training, but I also will not lie to my dog. I don't believe in nagging or cajoling - I think it's better to make one big scary fear-for-your-life, unequivocal correction than to make tons of little wheedling ones a dog is largely going to ignore. Because, when I say something, I mean it - I'm not gonna lie! Dogs are incredibly honest creatures, we owe them the same courtesy.
I am talking about correcting a behaviour the dog knows is incorrect, of course - not scaring the crap out of your dog while teaching it something new.
So, Cooper is a real pig about other dogs. To make things really clear and easy for him, he is not allowed to interact with other dogs, at all, ever, when we're at class, or at a trial. No sniffing, no looking, nada. It's less confusing for him than saying, well this one looks friendly and your body language is OK - but don't look at that dog over there.
And, usually he is really good about this, even in crowds of dogs. If he and another dominant dog start keying off each other or posturing, a quick word from me gets his attention away.
Cooper does not like Boxers, haven't a clue why. In obedience class there's a nice, friendly Boxer and on Monday he stared at Coop - I told him to leave it, and he did. Five minutes later, Boxer stares at Coop again, who decides to do the idiot lungeing cussing dog thing when I wasn't paying attention.
So...he gets put on the ground very emphatically because he knows that was wrong! I held him down and impressed on him what a terrible and bad dog he was, until his eyes went soft and his ears went back.
For the rest of the class he was a model obedience dog, making a big point of NOT looking at the Boxer; instead looking at me as if saying "aren't I just the bestest dog here, look how well I'm doing!" He was quite proud of himself for doing the right thing. It's good for a dog to get a sense of self-satisfaction for a job well done, not merely working to please their human.
Apparently the Boxer's human was quite distressed by this - whether she thought I was too overbearing, or cruel, or was making my dog mean, I don't know. The trainer told me later...and Boxer Mom wasn't at the last class so I hope she didn't get scared away! I really do well with Cooper's bullying ways - I worked REALLY hard to get him to be a gentleman - otherwise he'd never get to play agility, obedience, go to the the Ren Fest or any of the other things he so loves.
I've been told plenty of times that people are relaxed around him with their dogs because I do stay on top of it. I've very rarely had to put him on the ground and shake his little head until his eyeballs rattle (not really) but it sure makes an impression. He is a confident and strong-minded dog who isn't going to get stressed by much. Mainly, he knows there are consequences for acting out and I will not lie.
I'm far from a perfect trainer and make mistakes and learn from every the time I'm 300 years old I might be pretty good...
Anyways Boxer Mom, I guarantee Coop won't do that again!


Blogger yellowdog granny said...

i agree with you 100%...dogs are like kids..they need to know that you love them enough to set bounderies and if they don't stay in them..they need to know there will be a punishment involved...good dog..good dog..

11:02 PM  
Blogger jill bryant said...

I think I'm not the best at training my pup - just because I'm not as clearcut. I think you're right.

Mainly, mine is a very good girl but - she does test. I have taken her on her back a few times but I have the sneaking suspicion, even then, she's thinking: "Yeah, right - as if you're not the softest touch in the book. So, I'll do it because I want to do it - for now..."

In my rambling way - I'm saying - more power to you. Wanting the best dog your dog can be makes them more popular and, it's obviously all done out of love. I wish all dogs had that.

1:31 AM  
Blogger threecollie said...

How many dogs are in the pound waiting for the needle because people don't stay on top of them? SOMEBODY has to be dominant and it certainly shouldn't be the dog. My Mike is a hyper-dominant, really hard dog. He ran roughshod over me in early training until one day I got sick of him driving half a dozen thousand-pound heifers over me, rather than back off when I told him to. I grabbed him by the scruff, shoved him in the dirt and screamed at him for a while. He got up a better dog. Wonder how the boxer lady would have felt if you hadn't corrected Cooper.

7:14 AM  
Blogger JJ said...

Anyone who tells you they train 100% positive is either lying, or they're including positive punishment in their list of "positive".

I mean really, even taking away the opportunity to do something is some form of correction! I take the ball out to play fetch with Aspen, she either brings it all the way back to me, or I take the ball and we go inside. They learn real quick not following the rules ends the fun with mom!

I don't think you're an evil animal beater ;-)

Although on that note, my dogs LOVE the word "beatings". Wade comes home from work and walks in the door and announces "WHO WANTS SOME BEATINGS" in an excited voice and both Derby and Aspen come running ;-)

But I do notice funny looks when I offer her beatings while we're doing agility. "Aspen, do you want some...BEATINGS?"

Wag wag wag wag ;-)

9:15 AM  
Blogger Karen said...

good job, carina. if i ever get another dog, i'll havta contact you for where to go for training.

1:06 PM  
Anonymous Ivypup said...

Good job Carina. Your know your dog and you understand what it takes to put him in his place. I'm sure you didn't really hurt him and he straightened his act right up because mom was serious.

And to respond to Jamie real quick on the beatings. Michael threatens to kill the cats all the time (only the cats for some reason). He is always asking them if they want to be killed or want to die. And of course they go running to him because they know killing means lots of lovings. Is there something with guys having to come up with mean expressions for loving the animals?

2:33 PM  
Anonymous jan said...

Some dogs and children need very firm guidelines and you have it right. Training and disciplining should be different for each child and each dog, but letting them get by is the cruelest thing you can do in the long run. Good for you.

3:56 PM  
Blogger Erica said...

Ok, knowing you and Cooper the way that I do, I get the visual of this situation and know that you handled it correctly. I have seen you in action with your dogs and know that, as you stated in your post, I can relax when you are around with your dog (even Daphne) 'cuz you will take care of business.

We both have those bull headed boys and they are truly a challenge. You know you will have learned a lot from Cooper, as I have from Rave.

You ROCK!! Keep doing what you are doing. So what if the Boxer lady didn't care for your enforcement techniques, that would be her problem. You have a better dog BECAUSE of your steadfast attention and reactions.

I have found that I use the same techniques on my kids that I use on the dogs. They are about the same, in the grand scheme of things.

1:59 PM  

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