Don’t be fooled by these cute faces! As I sit here listening to Gryff bark incessantly in the backyard, I cannot not help but think one of my family members will soon be howling out the back door. This week there have been a few ‘howls’. The first came when Gryff decided to hop on Kenzie’s bed and pee. Seriously?! Not an accident in weeks and then he does this? There were definitely howls coming from her room after that. Following this extreme reaction, pretty typical of my youngest, Gryff went on a bit of a rampage and I would definitely say it has been targeted at Kenzie.
Following the bed incident, I caught Gryff lifting his leg to pee on Kenzie’s backpack one morning. Luckily I startled him and he missed completely (as her lunch was already inside). Then he went into her room and peed on her talking Hogwarts Sorting Hat (again with the howling). Later the same day, I catch him sneaking into her room and trying to pee on a bag on the floor. It doesn’t take a dog specialist to tell me this is behavioural!! In addition to this, he is suddenly a barking maniac. Some days I can’t help but want to rip my own hair out!
Things were definitely getting a little horrifying around here with all these ‘incidents’ taking place. However, the progress in other areas has continued. The Halti training leash has turned out to be amazing for a couple reasons. We like the option to take both dogs on one leash, wear it around the waist, and use it long or short. The Halti training harness was not for us though. It was too limiting in that it does not provide the option to only use the front clip. You must be clipped to the back clip at all times with the front clip being for additional control. However, we also purchased the Canada Pooch Everything Harness (as seen below). This harness is waterproof, offers front or back clip attachments which can be used on their own and has a seatbelt loop in the back.
The truth is that this harness has provided a huge change in how Duke walks. Duke automatically started pulling to the point of gasping for breath with the back clip harness. We resorted to a choke chain and he continued to cut off his own circulation. I am not prepared to call this a transformation quite yet, but the change is significant. When Duke is connected to the front clip he barely tries to pull. I even tried it with Gryff there, and with Duke’s major “Me First” attitude, I was shocked that he did not start pulling ahead as he always has.
We did not see the same improvement with Gryff though. He does not stop pulling with it in the front and seems to get frustrated by it. In the comments of my last post, Colton shared the idea of the “half hitch harness” with me. While he suggested it could be helpful when you do not have a harness, after watching Gryff walk, I wondered if this might make a difference with him. He has a tendency to lean his entire body to the right. The use of this leash wrapping method provides control to his mid-section, making it more difficult for him to do this. The Halti leash again came in handy here as it’s length makes it easier to be able to wrap and still adjust the length of his lead. I am also finding I have to walk on the road with him because if he is anywhere near grass or bushes, he will not stop trying to tug. With these two adjustments, I am seeing some slight improvements.
Aside from walking, we continue to work on improving how they are expected to greet people. The boys are doing better if WE are prepared. This TikTok from @leaderofthepacklv was a helpful reminder that it is okay to ask our company to respond to our dogs in certain ways. If they let them jump, immediately start talking and petting them without really paying attention to their behaviour, they continue to think it is okay to react that way.
While jumping is not their worst behaviour trait and is not always present, it does happen at odd times. They often do this because they are looking for attention and I find it hard to be mad at them for that. However, at the same time, they need to learn that they get attention when they have four paws on the floor and that people do not want to be jumped on. Gryff also jumps all over Duke at times and I think the proximity method shown in this TikTok may also be helpful. If they feel trapped into a corner, he is more likely to stop.
Brittany shared with me in a previous conversation and blog post, that she found Zak George’s YouTube channel to be very useful in training her dog. I started to look into it and watched one video on teaching a difficult dog to walk without pulling. Today I came across an advertisement on Instagram for a free 30 day digital course. The course is called 30 Day Perfect Pup and includes daily emails to keep you on track. Heading into the last month of this project, I feel like this is a great way to keep myself motivated and on track.
In addition to this, I continue to watch videos and look for tips on how to improve their behaviour. I am frustrated with how little attention I am able to maintain when outside the house, especially from Duke. I think I could have a whole steak in my hand and he would still not give me eye contact. He is clearly too overstimulated by his surroundings to care about ANY treats! I may have to look into how anxiety in dogs plays into all of this. I wonder sometimes if his age will in fact making training him too difficult. However, this TikTok was a nice reminder that it is never too late to teach an old dog new tricks!
As for the final project, I am beginning to worry that I will not have enough video footage or photos to put it together! I am struggling with the idea of how best to represent the learning that is taking place. I cannot manage to take video, maintain my attention on the dogs and ensure they are getting the reinforcement that is needed. We are all busy and I find we are together very little in the evenings making it hard to engage my family in this as much as I’d like. I began a flipgrid with the hope of compiling videos on there throughout this project, but I am not gathering nearly enough.
Do you have any suggestions on how I could approach this final piece of the project? What can I do now, looking forward that will help me document this? What might be the best way to share this in my final project piece? Any ideas or tips would be greatly appreciated!