Back to Basics

As sweet and wonderful as Anna’s personality is, it is clear that she has never been taught how to be a ‘house dog.’ She was found as a stray when she was brought to a shelter in Mississippi, so no one really knows what her story is. In order to help her more easily find her perfect forever home, the Mr. and I decided to enroll her in a basic obedience class ASAP.

While we are well equipped to handled teaching things like sit and down, it is the more complex behavioral habits Anna has accumulated throughout her life that we need to learn how to correct. For instance, any time we go near the front door Anna bolts to go out. We’ve taught her to sit before we open the door, but she has a harder time learning to wait while we open the door. She also gets SUPER worked up any time we grab her harness and leash to go for a walk. So much so that she is almost uncontrollable. And the other major thing we are working on is walking nicely. She is getting better, but just the sight of a cat or another dog sets her off into a whining, jumping, barking tornado of excitement.

The rescue organization recommended Shannan from Finish Forward Dogs, a trainer who has an obedience class, Good Bully!, specifically for bully breeds. I was so excited to read the class description and to find a teacher who knows the breed traits and characteristics and could help with some of the more ‘pushy’ aspects of her bully heritage. However, the class was full. So, we had to settle with a basic obedience. After speaking more with Shannan, she said I could come sit in on the Good Bully! class and that she would be happy to work with us and Anna.

So, last Friday I went to the Obedience I orientation. My first impression of Shannan was fantastic. She has three pitties of her own so I was so happy to hear she had the same problems with her dogs at some point. And, I loved the facility. I love that there are partitions between each dog and there are even hard walls that can be inserted if a dog needs a bit more privacy (like Anna).

After the hour long orientation, I sat in on the Bully Obedience class and LOVED it. I could see things that Anna does in every single one of those dogs. I also met an AHR adoptable, Atticus and his foster dad. Atticus was brought up from a shelter in the South and has had some issues around other dogs. He LOVES people, but has a hard time when other dogs are around. His foster dad was doing great playing the ‘name game’ and teaching Atticus to pay attention to him, not the other dogs.

Handsome boy Atticus watching his foster dad for directions.

I learned a lot from these two hours with Shannan and was re-energized to start training Anna with some professional help. Her first formal class was this past Friday. It went OK, but like the case with Atticus, most of it was spent trying to get her to pay attention to us, not the other dogs. We had to partition her off so she couldn’t see the other pups and we focused on mat work to get her to relax on her mat. It was a good to see how she does in a controlled environment with a professional. We haven’t taken her out and about as much as we normally do with our foster dogs because we don’t want to overwhelm her. Shannan is also coming to our house tonight to see first hand how Anna is at home and to give us some more tips about how to shape her behaviors into what we deem ‘acceptable household behavior.’ I will let you know how it goes!

If you are interested in helping sweet Anna Banana become a well trained member of the family, fill out an application with Almost Home Rescue.

6 thoughts on “Back to Basics

  1. I totally get the totally worked up part about going for a walk. Our Chi-Chi has a high pitch bark and each morning at 6ish when I am readying 4 dogs for a walk she is waking my daughter and, I think, the neighborhood with her excitement. I talked with a trainer at my local store and have tried what she suggested but it just didn’t feel right (leash her and pull her down to floor and hold her there with my foot on the leash). The spray bottle became a game for her. She doesn’t like it so she stops and then the moment I put it down she starts again. Not only is she barking and whining, but she is also mouthing the other dogs’ leashes and harnesses. I really don’t know what next to try to control it. But, phew, at least when she gets out the walk she walks nicely!

    By the way, she came through Almost Home Rescue as well from Wynne, AR.

  2. Sounds like you guys are doing everything right! I hope to hear in future posts some specifics about how you increase her focus and attention… we are in the same position of being able to work on the basics, but needing some help for the more advanced behavioral things, particularly when teaching our foster dog to greet new people and new dogs.

  3. This is so cool. I wish Ray’s first classes had those partitions. For awhile he was that obnoxious kid who sits in the back of the class and makes fart sounds with his armpit and throws spitballs. Ok, he didn’t really do that but he was very distracting. Calming himself is still his challenge. We have a great trainer but she lives 2 hours away so in his other classes I’m not completely as confident.

    Thank you for stopping by and commenting. I’ve seen your blog name in other blogrolls and am happy that I finally made my way over here. I will definitely be a regular visitor.

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