Monday, September 6

Playgroup, Fearful Fido, Training

Friday I took Dax to a playgroup with Merlin da Corgi, as a comfort dog. Things started out a little rough, with Dax having a definite case of the "OMG!!"s and zooming everywhere. Then came the butt biting.

It didn't matter if the dog were running or standing still, Dax decided all butts looked tasty and sunk his chompers in. It wasn't an aggressive action, so much as a "play with me I'm an outta control puppy and you've gotta play with me and I'll keep biting you until you do!!!" Needless to say, he got ejected from the small dog playgroup, and we decided to give him a shot in the big dog playgroup, as none of the small dogs would correct his behavior. (Merlin would rather let Dax crash and burn)

Big dog playgroup was a bigger disaster - entering a play yard where there are already a dozen or so dogs, all of which are bigger, and all who wanted to sniff Dax at the same time, was just a bad scene for him. Tail tucked, running in circles, and as his last resort, showing the teeth. So, that ended Dax's night of playgroup. I walked him outside along the fence and gave him a ton of treats to try to end on a positive note.

The next day we had Fearful Fido class, just for dogs with fear/anxiety issues. I'm happy to say that Dax was one of the least fearful in the class - but he was very much like the most fearful one just a few weeks ago! He has more issues with men than women, usually allowing women to at least feed a treat without shutting down, sometimes even a neck scratch. I don't know if he's scared of big dogs, black dogs, or big black dogs, but so far all the big dogs he's met besides my own have been black also. He really, REALLY wants to see these dogs, but after a sniff or two, darts away, then squiggles back in for another sniff, darts away, etc etc. Maybe he likes to scare himself, or maybe he's just playing it safe. One of my doggie pals is bringing her large Borzoi on Wednesday for Dax to interact with (very, very calm dog), and as he's mostly white, we'll see if it's big dogs or big black dogs. At any rate, it should be a positive experience.

Today I was working with Roofus and Popper on their Dog Scouts stuff - stays, leave its, heeling, and some distance downs with Roo. I decided it would be a great time to start some more intense training with Dax, rather than the casual "down" I tell him every once in a while. :) I read that crazy dogs should be kept moving, so I started by teaching him to weave through my legs, which amazingly, I thought he'd be hesitant doing, but he has no qualms about it at all. Then we moved on to heeling.... which is a bit trickier. He gets really nuts and starts jumping up and biting/mouthing, and no amount of "crying" is going to deter him from it. I only treat for all four feet on the ground, and when he starts biting, I simply turn away. Sometimes I get dizzy, because he can go on for a while. We also worked on stays, which are sooo hard for puppies, and hard for cattle dogs too! He's up to about 5 feet, in just one session. :) I also introduced the tire jump, set at about 6", which for him means he can just step through it. He didn't seem overly thrilled about it. Probably because stepping over things isn't too exciting. I'll raise it up a bit, but he is still a puppy so I don't want to go too high. Just a  short session doing this outside (about 10 minutes total), and he's taking a nap. :)

I'm strongly considering switching Dax to clicker training, especially with his jumping up and biting issue. I've tried every method known to man - even scruffing him, which was slightly more effective than the obnoxious crying thing you're supposed to do. He thought that was a fun game - bite Mommy, she cries! What a great toy. Look, I can make her cry again! And again! And again! He is not very treat motivated, but I think he'll "get" the clicker much more quickly.

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