Saturday, July 9, 2011

Just Call Me Cruella...

So, for the betterment of our dog Schultz, and our fur-parenting abilities, we started  dog  human training AGAIN today with a new trainer.

In the past we had tried someone who worked for Petsmart.... let's just say that when you have a 150 lb. raging beast before you, clicking a little clicker and offering up a smidgeon of beef bratwurst-like-substance will NOT refocus the dog on walking nicely and NOT eating your arm/the arms of those around you/anything smaller than him (within range).

We tried McCann's dog training. They claim to be the best. They are very confident in what they do. In an indoor, controlled environment... With a Halti or Gentle Leader... That he learned to outsmart/outwit/outplay/outlast in three days, with the quick snap of his face back and forth.

They refused to do training at our house. They said it's the same either way (trust me, if you have ever been on either side of our front door, you will know that this is NOT the case... "Indoor McCann Schultz" is a calm, tired dog. Beastly McBark-erson at the door is a whole different ball game).

When I called to say everything we were told to do was failing, that despite our efforts, we were failing and he was about to vote us off the island, I was kindly told that we should take pride in the fact that we "gave him a second chance on life".

WTF? Really?

If we had been on Survivor, we'd have been SCREWED, I tell you! Screwed!

They then suggested trying a prong collar on him.

This is a prong collar:

I have two words for you: OUCH.

That looks fucking awfully painful to me. Plus? Yeah, he was totally starved and abused by his former owners, and his neck is a trigger for him. He has an intense and awful fear response to being restrained by his neck (like, say, by his collar... or a PRONG collar... jaysus).

Thank goodness the vet said that was a ridiculous idea, to avoid triggering his neck area, and to try a Brad Pattinson-method trainer to see if that could help. So that's what we did.

This is the collar he has:

I haz feet.

Much kinder. Much friendlier. And damn effective, too!

Our trainer? Totally no nonsense. No treats. No garbage, but effective as hell. You can tell she loves dogs, and takes no guff.

Worst part? My injuries from the day:

The most hideous, hard to look at part? The vinyl kitchen floor.

And who were they from?

It's really hard to say who is more adorable. Or more furry.

Yeah, this adorable little thing. Not the Dane. I thought she'd be crated while we focussed on the big boy. Turns out I was oh-so-very-wrong. She needs the training just as badly as him, because I am a softy non-alpha dog.

Anyway, the reason I am cruel? We can't talk to the dogs for TWO WHOLE WEEKS! That's an eternity to a crazy person like me who talks to them all day long. You know.... about the stock market, how bloated my stomach is, how cheesy the pre-written vows are from the reverend-lady, how bad my feet smell.

You know. IMPORTANT things like that. THINGS THAT MUST BE SAID.

I have a feeling I am going to be blogging every goddamned day next week to   save my sanity   save what's left of my sanity   force SOMEONE to listen to me   feel like I am talking to someone. The penalty for talking to them is 7 push-ups. I totally want to stick with it, because I know it is training ME and helping THEM, but damn is it hard.

But I am gonna be RIPPED for the wedding. HA!


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  1. wow that prong collar looks evil!

  2. cant believe anybody would use a prong collar on thier pet. What an awful thing.
    Why are you not allowed to talk to your dogs anyway?

  3. @myjoyproject - I know... we just couldn't bring ourselves to try it, even with little rubber nubs for the prongs. Thanks goodness the vet knocked some sense into me.

    @Mynx - The idea is to pay attention to them and direct them using non-verbal cues, like they do with each other (dogs). I think it also helps us to see them more as doggies instead of "fur-kids".

    Right now, we repeat commands and the dogs decide to listen on their own terms. This way, it removes the "win" from the dog. Our words are somewhat meaningless to them now, because we haven't been "Alphas". So for now, they need to look at us to figure out what to do... and we need to watch them to figure out their body language.

    I am sure I am making it sound more complicated than it is... but she said, if the dog were to run into the street, he needs to hear and respect "STOP!". Right now, he just ignores everything. So we need to work on the basics of being alpha, then move on the the verbal commands.

  4. I can't believe a prong collar is legal. That seems like animal cruelty to me.

  5. prong collars should be illegal. they're horrible and really not effective at training. positive reinforcement is ALWAYS more effective than negative punishments, with dogs and humans.

    cats, not so much. we're working on that at my house. they kind of just, you know. do whatever the fuck they want without any fear of judgment, repercussion, punishment, or bodily harm (usually my body is the one about to be harmed).

    i'm a bad dog trainer. i'd be like 'shove them on their backs and see their bellies. then they'll know who's in charge. then cuddle with them while they're on the floor'.

    not so good. but fun.

  6. I spent a few months with a neighbor (I had no hot water at my house, don't ask), so I went over every day to shower. He had three untrained beasts that liked to steal my shampoo when I cut through the back yard.

    Over time, I actually managed to get them all to sit down when I said to (although they wouldn't listen to anyone else). A few weeks later, I was babysitting a friend's two year old. He was getting rambunctious, and me, not being used to children, was getting frazzled. At one point, I just popped out with, "SIT!" and the toddler dropped to the floor.

    I think if you can train a dog, you can train a toddler, and vice versa.

  7. If you ever have trouble training your dog, I hear Michael Vick has a dog obedience school. lol

    Just Kidding.

  8. what a horrible collar why anyone would suggest that is beyond me so glad things are working out though

    Everyday Life

  9. Feel free to "talk" to Schultz and Ella(?) on your blog here. I think that will help. I'd be willing to barkand everything as I read it,..just so you won't feel lonely. I'll even read them to my black lab Belle. She'll like that but you can't use the following words: Treat. Walk. Park. Eat. Let's go. Out? Truck. Want to help me? Were you a good girl? Um,..well use whatever words you must. I will just skip over them when I am reading to Belle. Peace.

  10. @Brandy Rose - They claim to be really effective if used properly, but they seem cruel to me, too.

    @steph gas - We're learning. This method is C.E.T. "Certified Education Trainer" or something, and in 2 days we can already see a HUGE difference with the nice, friendly collar.

    And yeah, cats just rule the roost. But at least they don't grow to 150 lbs. like the dog!

    @Leauxra - Interesting point. Those dogs clearly saw you as Alpha. It probably helped that you had nothing to lose with being stern with them (save your shampoo).

    Feyoncé™ keeps saying this will make us better parents. I think you've just proven his theory!

  11. @Oilfield Trash - Oh, you watch it mister, don't get me started on that dbag!

    @becca - Thanks! I'm glad, too.

    @middle child - I love it! Talk about an awesome reader. Filling my withdrawal by talking to Belle. SO cute! I will write a new post and ensure those words are crossed out. ;-)

  12. You have a reverend lady? I'm jealous! Um, wait, this post was about dogs... No prong collars, please. And you're awesome for saving Schultz.

  13. Yaaaayyy....that's amazing that you are seeing results so quickly!
    Hope an untrained dog-sitter (such as myself) won't undo all your hard

  14. 1 - I can't believe you can actually buy prong collars.
    2 - I REALLY can't believe a trainer told you to get one of those!

    I never had problems with dogs I've had, but I looked after my friends dog that kept jumping on the table when I ate, so I always got some lemon juice ready before I ate and rubbed it on his nose when he jumped up..... They HATE it! Associate jumping with sneezing for 20mins and it doesn't hurt them, the faces they pull can be funny too!

  15. I love dogs, especially the bad ones they are way more fun. The pinch collars are supposed to only be used for a dog who pulls on the leash. They are not meant to be used as punishment. My goose hunting friend has one that we use on his dog when we have to sneak quietly into a pond or lake to hunt next to. The collar keeps the dog from lunging forward and making a racket and dragging us through the brush. When he starts to lunge forward the collar is uncomfortable around his neck. He controls the pressure not the human. If the dog does not abide by the collar then it should not be used. Some dogs would bloody their necks before stopping. It is a very useful tool only if used correctly and on the right dog. I do not recommend this as a replacement for a choke chain either. Love, respect and commitment are the three best tools I know of to train with!


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