I have said it many times, Melvin was pretty terrible when I got him. He walked on leash as if acid was being poured on him (flip-flopping all over the place) and he also had no brakes. He was physically incapable of stopping. Ask the kids growing up in our old neighborhood. In the car, well let’s just suffice it to say that we’re all lucky to be alive. He had no concept of the dangers of distracting the driver. If I restrained him, he’d hurt himself (read borderline hang himself). If not restrained, he’d climb into the driver’s seat – AS THE CAR WAS MOVING. We trained constantly, pretty much every minute of everyday I spent looking for opportunities to tame his wild ways. We saw a behaviorist, I bought every harness and somehow, we never gave up on each other. Now, well now, he’s perfect.
Enter Jake. Five times out of ten, Jake knows his name inside the house. Outside, he’s full on deaf to my voice. He is moderately OK on leash, as long as no other animals are within 50 miles of us. If he sees a cat, another dog or even a chipmunk, he will do what I call the 5-Fs: Froth, flip, flail, foam and freak-out. I have a choice word that starts with F that comes into my mind when he goes into this mode.
Thus, Jake and I (and by default Melvin) are in training! We have had two in-home sessions. My spoken goal was ‘to have Jake learn to focus on me’. Our trainer is great and Jake (and I) are doing really well. I’ll go into more detail later but currently we are working on the basics of ‘touch’ and getting him to ‘check-in’ with me at the beginning part of our walks (just prior to him going into hunting mode). Touch is going great, checking in on walks seems to bore him, but we’ll get there.
I can’t stress enough that it’s Jake AND me in training. Both of us. I’ve been working on trying to understand him, on identifying ‘why’ he is the way he is in some situations and understanding makes it a lot easier to not get frustrated with him or moments that we find ourselves in. Training Melvin was more about knowing that he couldn’t live that way — it was my responsibility to give him a calmer life and moments where he could find peace. He needed someone to count on. With Jake it’s more about strengthening a bond with a dog that does not care about what’s needed from a situation and also how to best provide calm and structure for him and Melvin as brothers.
Here is an awesome sunset that occurred as Jake was fence-stalking the dog next door. See how I choose to see the beauty in the situation? Training!