Our Sweet and Crazy Coonhound ...

Our Sweet and Crazy Coonhound ...
Run Free: birthdate unknown - Oct. 17 2008

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Help on the way

Well H-Mom got home from the gallery late last night and Booker's blue cushion was moved BACK into Samantha's bedroom.

The meeting with Mark, our prospective behavior/training consultant, evidently has turned someone's opinion around. She has undug her heels and uncrossed her defiant teenage arms.

The three of us sat in the living room to talk - Mark told us about the philosophy of Sit Means Sit. Booker clambered onto the sofa and curled up quietly right behind Samantha, his muzzle up against her thigh. Booker sighed and fell asleep.

"He's obviously a very sweet dog, with a calm, loving disposition," was Mark's observation. He listened to Booker's history. "The one thing that you have to know is that dogs live in this
moment, going forward," he emphasized. "Booker doesn't hold grudges. He isn't still angry at you about the kitchen towel. He has forgotten that he bit you. You have to go forward."

Mark talked for awhile about dog behavior in general. Booker may have had a tough start, an abusive past life, starvation and fear, but he is well-cared for now, his stomach full, his bed soft. THIS is Booker's reality, and he needs to be taught, with no hesitations, how he needs to behave to conform to OUR lifestyle today, going forward.

Sit Means Sit uses non-forceful (no yelling, no punishment) verbal commands with a stimulus collar -- very light attention-commanding "buzz" almost like clicker training. Mark gave Samantha and I a demonstration with his dog, a giant German Shepard. Astounding. That dog was regimented, perfection, frightening ... we don't need Booker to be that kind of dog, but 1/4th ... gee ... 1/8th of that would be a gift.

As everyone who knows dogs has commented, Booker is testing us constantly, pushing around his will for premiere pack-position and trying especially to bully Samantha.
She is a sweetheart, a gentle soul, a lover of small rodents and lazy cats. Booker is really new territory for her and she needs to learn how to interact with him, as much as Booker needs to learn his boundaries.

Some observations from Mark included:
  • Booker was a hunting dog in his prior life, he had a rigorous job. He needs a NEW job ... he is a dog with a temperament modeled and calmed by knowing exactly what is expected of him.
  • Aggression within the "pack" (family) is NEVER acceptable
  • Booker should obey every command without hesitation
  • Everything in the house -- food included -- belongs to the leaders, and he is allowed to have it only with permission. That includes a beef fillet laying on the coffee table. (Well, maybe the countertop, hahahaha)
  • Almost every dog is trainable, there is no reason that we should not expect that Booker cannot have perfect and trustworthy behavior at all times
  • The humans have a lot of work to do --- that would be US
Mark charges a flat fee of $690 for unlimited lifetime training. (Samantha asked me to clarify whether that is for the lifetime of the OWNER or the DOG.) We can also put together a package that deals directly with Booker's aggression/bullying issues, start the process of training both the family (especially Samantha, who is very receptive to input from Mark) and the dog, and then go from there.

P.S. Thank you everyone for your encouraging and insightful comments. Our family team really believes that when you make a commitment, you make it and use all the resources you have to make it work.


Maggie and Mitch said...

This all sounds so positive! It'll be lots of work on everyone's part but Booker is worth it! Mark sounds like a gem!

Love ya lots,
Maggie and Mitch

Kathryn and Ari said...

Good luck! We fell in love with positive reinforcement training after attending some classes. Do you know Patricia McConnell? She's a great author and behavioralist who has written books like -The Other Side of the Leash-. Great reading!

River said...

Boy that sounds terrific! All working dogs do best with a regimen. I know, in a mild way, my beagles get upset when I leave an umbrella open on the floor--something simple we wouldn't think about but to them a major change.

It always comes back to who's the leader--pack or herd--and who's challenging. With dog's we have to do dog leader language and cultural mores not human. It's hard not to spoil them though!!

Bless you a million times for loving him so much to do this!

River's mom

ps--I like the buzzer idea better than clicker. Clicker is irritating to me.

Patience-please said...

Sounds very encouraging!!!

Charlie Daniels said...

Paws crossed it all goes well ...



Biggie-Z said...

Hooray! We have had the same issues with Biggie, and positive reinforcement training has been wonderful. His breed is a guarding breed - and when he was getting close to a year old and BIG, he started testing us. We use a clicker, but only when we're trying to do something brand new and need to mark the behavior exactly.

Good luck, and we look forward to hearing about Booker's education!

Recent example of Biggie learning who is boss:

Jake of Florida said...

This all sounds very encouraging. We know you're all motivated to make it succeed!!!

Sometimes we look at Just Harry and wish he could tell us what his life was like before we rescued him so we'd understand his fears and phobias. For months, we couldn't open an umbrella in his presence, and he'd go nuts when he saw a little girl on a bike.

Now that's all passed and only loud noises (fireworks) upset him. Also one of two small dogs who live across the street who must remind him of something because he is fine with all others.

Courage and patience!!!

Jake and Just Harry

Mango said...

Haven't visited you for a while, looks like you got yourself into a bit of trouble. We have so many rules around here that it drives me nuts!

Momma took me to one of those dog trainers to try and fix the way I react to dogs and peoples on walkies, but we never really got the hang of it.

Sometimes Momma and Master are very stern with me, but it helps me remember who is in charge.


Aoj and The Lurchers said...

Well good for you for sticking by Booker. Fingers crossed that it all works out for you.

Consisntency is the key with dogs. Something I'm good at saying and not so good at doing.

"Sunshine" said...

Hi Booker,

I'm honored to be in your Blog Roll!! It's obvious you have an awesome mom.

Wishing you a happy retirement!!


Eduardo said...

Eduardo's Mom here; Hi Booker's parents, Eduardo was a lot easier to train when we used positive reinforcement, he picked up on every thing so much quicker! We had a problem with Eduardo licking water off of everything! It was horrid, we had to put him up everytime guest came over & yelling at him just didn't seem to make him understand, we were at a loss, scaring him was useless & anything involving dominence training was just worthless. So we tried a new appoarch, giving him a treat everytime he didn't drink the water off the floor, bath tub or anywhere else, taking his attention off the water & onto the treat. It worked that same day! Positive reinforcement is the way to go!
Good Luck!
Eduardo's Mom

Gussie said...

Good luck with the training programme. If it helps, I know a couple of dogs in our agility club who did a similar thing (bit a family member) - those days well and truly behind them now. It can be done, and it sounds like you have the dedication you need. Best wishes!