We’re boarding Max over the holidays. He is the Anti-Woo; where Woo is small, Max is large. Where Woo is orange, Max is white. Where Woo is curled up on a dog bed in the living room (with his other self:)
Max is laying on a dog bed in my bedroom wishing he, too, could come into the living room.
Alas, TWooie will not let him.
This makes TWooie a rather bad dog, but it does serve one useful purpose … Max wants to eat my cats, so they are curled up on the dog bed with the WooTWoo, where Maxes dare not tread. So in the spirit of Living Cats, I have allowed TWoo to be as much of a dick about the living room as he likes.
What would make me most happy about Max would be if he would shut the hell up. He spends all his outside time obsessing over, chasing and barking at Dexter (who alternates between being oblivious and hating Max for being irritating) and if you ask him to stop doing that and try and focus, he starts spinning in circles. Max is an anxious fella – he was adopted from TDBCR and returned several months later, his adopters citing that he was pathologically shy and needed (of course) “a home in the country, where there aren’t a lot of people.” Still waiting for that magical country home that so many problem dogs seem to be looking for. Besides MY home I mean! I’m full, dammit!!
Anyway, Max’s original foster mum is waffling about keeping him permanently but was traveling over Christmas, so I offered to dog sit to make things easier for her <insert evil grin here>.
Besides the cat thing, he’s pretty easy to have in the house, mostly because he can’t leave the bedroom.
Anyway, I don’t think Max is pathologically shy – he’s definitely nervous of people he doesn’t know, though he can tolerate them in small numbers. I mean he doesn’t really know me, but he was my new best friend within minutes of (re-)meeting him. He’s got a pretty highly developed startle response, but I think with some effort that could be pretty easily redirected to a training response. I got him a head halter, which I think will go a long way toward refocusing him when needed, and if I wasn’t so lazy I’d take him out with it today and work on Look At That.
Alas, I *am* very lazy today, and waited too long, as now it’s storming outside. I spent the morning with my new life partner, Kemore Von Suckenshtein, who is known affectionately ‘ round these parts as Kenny V.
Kenny V was my Christmas gift from my family, and I *heart* him! My last vacuum cleaner went to the big proverbial sucking void in the sky about 6 weeks ago, and life has been hell ever since. The gift was probably inspired by me sobbing hysterically into the telephone at my mother, as I tried to free my area rugs of hair with an old clothes brush (I exaggerate – but not by much!) We celebrated Christmas on Friday, as I had to work at the shelter on Saturday and my sister, who is married, has two families competing for attention. So this morning I was very excited to get up close and personal with my new friend, and we spent the morning vacuuming pretty much any surface in the house that could tolerate it.
Now all I need is one of those floor washing Roomba guys, and a tiny trained monkey that can climb walls and eat cobwebs, and my house cleaning routine would be all sorted out!
…who appears to have stolen Wootie’s missing Flamboyance™. Look at this sad, scraggly little thing :(
The real Christmas miracle around here though, is the new, somewhat more well behaved WooTWoo. I did say somewhat, but it’s better than nothing! I decided, after some deliberation, to try a different approach (because hopping up and down with rage wasn’t getting me anywhere) to their training.
The first thing I did was accept that the WooTWoo is a single entity, and stop trying to train them individually. If I want one of them to do something, best just to ask both of them to do it. Most of the time, at least one of them will comply, which is a 50% higher success rate than neither of them batting an eyelash at the sound of my voice. It may or may not be the one that I asked initially, but at least one of them always does it.
The second thing I did, which flies in the face of all conventional dog training, is to start rewarding the behaviours they gave me even if I had to ask for the behaviour 3 or 12 or 71 times. For example – if I want the WooTWoo to cease hunting and return to me, I whistle the WooTWoo Whistle. Initially I may have had to whistle until my lips were permanently puckered, but when they eventually showed up, I showered them both with cookies, swallowed my intense irritation, and told they they were a Wonderful WooTWoo. Surprisingly, this worked really well. After just a few days of this, they almost always return after a single whistle now.
If they don’t, usually Woo shows up on his own. And after a few more minutes, TWooie eventually comes pounding down the road with his Flambe™ going all furious-like.
The third thing I started doing, and this may or may not be a total coincidence, is picking TWooie up when I return home from somewhere. He likes it when I pick him up, so he’s started standing up on his hind legs and putting his front paws in the air so I will lift him up and give him a big hug, and let him snorfle my ear, which is his version of a smooch.
I say it may or may NOT be a coincidence, because while it doesn’t seem to be a training thing, it has had the rather remarkable effect of breaking through TWooie’s “I don’t offer behaviours to stupid humans” life philosophy. But ever since I started the hugging thing, TWoo seems to believe that I’m not totally thick, and that maybe I can, after all, learn to communicate with him. Previous to this, I could have stood in front of him all day with a cookie and I would have gotten a “sit” – occasionally he would have stood up, wagged his tail, and sat back down again staring at the cookie, or the bait bag, or my pocket, and it could go on for literally hours. But now he has started offering me some other stuff; he’ll try laying down, moving to the left or the right, or offering me a paw.
And just the other night, I taught him to walk a few feet away from the cookie and hop up on a footstool! He has to actually turn his back on the cookie to do this, so it’s really a major accomplishment for TWoo and me.
ha ha. Just kidding.
I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas. We wish you all the joy of learning to speak the language of someone you love.