Nope, class isn’t in session yet for the university at which I work. I mean doggie school is back in session.
I enrolled Lucy in an eight week puppy school course almost exactly two years ago. The trainer, Mark Cusick, was/is fabulous. Now, Lucy isn’t the most obedient dog on the block but that’s because we let some things we learned slide, not because of Mark’s teaching.
Anyway, I haven’t talked about it much publicly but we recognized pretty darn quickly that Isaac’s behaviors around Lucy were neither appropriate nor acceptable and I’ve really been struggling emotionally with Isaac not fitting in well with Lucy thus far.
A happy humper or playful dog isn’t foreign to me; they are dogs, not humans, and don’t always know what’s appropriate and what’s not. However, despite our (attempted) corrections and Lucy’s own verbal warnings – yes, I let her snap at Isaac so he knows she doesn’t like his behavior – zero impact has been made on Isaac. He still persists in mounting Lucy and annoying the crap out of her. It’s almost as if he’s obsessed with her and we don’t know why; both dogs are fixed and Lucy certainly doesn’t encourage his behavior.
I also can’t tell if Isaac is this way around all female dogs, only smaller female dogs, etc. because we haven’t let him interact with other dogs yet; that could be a potential disaster.
Long story short, I was upset, really depressed and frustrated with the situation so we called Mark and asked him if he could do a home visit training session with us; he said yes and tonight was our training session.
Let me tell you, tonight’s session was worth every penny (and it was a lot of pennies!).
Sure we addressed his inappropriate behavior with Lucy but a lot of the session was geared toward me (and Marty) establishing our role as the leaders, not Isaac. I have no idea what his previous home was like but I’m willing to bet a very significant amount of money Isaac was the leader in his previous home.
By establishing ourselves as leaders, Isaac can’t try to establish himself as leader over Lucy or anything else that isn’t technically his (toys, food, etc.).
It will take a lot of work – on our part and Isaac’s – to keep re-enforcing and practicing what we’ve learned. His behavior is not going to change overnight but we now know what to do to elicit the behavior we do want out of Isaac.
Mentally and emotionally I feel like a load has been lifted off. There’s hope that Isaac can change and all four of us can peacefully co-exist.
Lucy, meanwhile, had a blast. She loves Mark and got plenty of practice (and therefore treats) as she showed off what she still remembered from puppy school.
Now we have one tired dog (Lucy)…
And one semi-tired dog (Isaac)…
In other news, Isaac has another vet appointment on Saturday to re-check his thyroid levels (initial blood results showed they were very slightly low which could have been a cause for his hair loss) and to get a second skin scrape to rule out demodex mange (the vet is 99% sure it’s not mange but wants to officially rule out what we can).
Also, Isaac got his official “welcome” package from S.N.O.R.T. so I’ll be sure to share all about his vet visit and welcome box.