Dogs, Cats and Other Phenomena

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Nikki Goes to Boot Camp

Nikki is buckling down to some serious training. She now weighs 70 lbs. and since she tries to be the master in this relationship, life isn't always fun. So I have turned to Dan Atkinson who owns Kind to Canines. Nikki and I went to meet Dan at his kennel a couple of weeks ago ... I brought a list of 20 items that need correcting. "Everything is on this list!" he told me. Yep.

He assessed her by herself a few days later when I left her at his kennel. She was a big fraidy cat - spooked easily at noises, etc., but she did play with the other Golden that was left there that day. He felt that the training would take place at my house.

Dan came by the house for his first visit today. Nikki was in her crate when the doorbell rang, and she didn't bark quite as much as she usually does. I let her out. She was excited of course and was all over him - but she also remembered him and seemed a trifle subdued. (She probably thought, "Oh, he's the guy who makes me do things." Although whether he actually tried any training with her when she was at his kennel, I don't really know.)

We went into the den where she proceeded to leap onto the couch. He asked me if she does this when we're alone and I said, "Oh, yes!" and explained how she bites at me when I try to get her off the couch. He was surprised at that. He asked if she had a bed. I showed him the now-torn bedding that I had had in her crate and he said no - did I actually have a bed? Oh, yes - I showed him the one that I posted the story on - The Monster That Ate Her Bed.

So we worked on the exercise, "On Your Spot." He put his Gentle Leader on her and led her to the bed. "On your spot," he said. She got off the bed. He led her back on to it. This went back and forth. He had mild success. It didn't matter if she stood, sat or lay on the bed. All 4 paws had to be on the bed, however, until permission was given to get off of the bed.

My turn. She really resisted me, even more than she did him. She kept getting off the bed. "No!" I'd say, with a tug on the Gentle Leader, guiding her back to her bed. "On your spot." All 4 paws on the bed? Good. I'd drop the lead and sit back down. Oh, up again because she got up and is sneaking away. Step on the trailing lead to stop her. "No!" Tug on GL, guide her back ... well, you get the picture. This was a fight for dominance.

After a long struggle, Nikki gave in, tired. Stressed. Panting, legs splayed as if she had been through the most horrible thing ever. Dan said she was a very stubborn, dramatic dog. He told me to buy a bigger bed for her and special toys only for this bed. This bed is put up for the most part and is only brought down for her to go to her spot. I'm to work on this with her 4 times a day for 2 weeks. If she improves greatly, then we'll continue working at my house. If not, he may have to take her for a week and train her for 6 hours/day. He said she was one of his bigger projects. Of course.

Dan told me to use the GL only when I work with her on this exercise and to give her treats only when I play ball (so she'll Sit and Drop It), put her in her crate and to get her to sit nicely when I put the GL on her.

Nikki and I went to PetsMart and bought her bed and toys. She was very excited to see her new toys. We did the exercise one more time today. She started out not too badly - lay on the bed, played with some of the toys a bit .... Right away, we got up to 5 minutes and then she was off the bed. "No!" And then the struggle commenced. I finally got her back down for 6 minutes and then she was off the bed again. Really stubborn. Finally, she lay on the bed, tired, eyes starting to close, panting for 15 minutes. OK. Took the Gentle Leader off of her.

Anyway, On Your Spot teaches her who is boss and teaches her boundaries. After we master this, then we'll work on having her go to her spot when the doorbell rings. We'll also work on her front yard boundaries - where she can go and where she can't. This will also help in the house because she'll only be allowed in the front of the house while the cats will have the run of the entire house.

It's too bad that I waited to take her to Dan. I had thought of taking her when she was much younger - before I started Puppy Training at PetsMart, but I and others figured we could try the cheaper way first and then go to Dan if necessary. If I had realized that she was quite the little hard-headed kid (more so than other dogs) - that, coupled with my inexperience - I would have gone to Dan first and then to PetsMart. You know - better to show her who is boss right away with this more intense training and then take her to PetsMart for the general training.

This should be very interesting!


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