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Trouble is in the air

August 10, 2010

Little special troubled one…..oh Shadow.  Shadow has gotten nice and comfortable in my home and is doing so much better outside but i want to bring him to a balanced place where he is confident and comfotable but obedient and calm.  There is a fine line here, keeping up with the cofidence but bring back more of the obiendence.  I will go back to beeing a bit more distant and aloof with him in the home and he will seek and want my affection even more if I don’t give it to him, creating a more obiediant shadow.  I need to work more around his trouble areas to desensities him: Controlling lola-he needs to stop and leave her alone when i tell him the first time or else he goes into his crate. His crate- he needs to know that his crate is really mine and he can;t be weird around it with me, so i will try working with his commands and feeding him closes to his crate.

The biggest thing outside right now and because he is a dominant dog is his pulling and strength while on the leash, he needs to be reinforced by me that he can not pee where ever he wants and yank my arm out of socket when he gets a good whiff of something and he can not walk me so we are going on these very long walks where we stop ever few feet because he is pulling and he needs to know that we don’t walk when he is pulling.  I might end up switching back to a prong collar with the plastic things over the prongs to help his sensitive skin out.  I also really think I need to start saving up to buy a used tread mill.  He is a much a happier dog and now that he is confident i;m finding him to have more energy and he is only tired out after our romp through the park and unfortunatly I can not bring him to the park everytime I walk him so a treadmill might be the best solution.

My main thing I want to do is go backwards and work on his obedience inside and get him on a leash inside and stay aloof with him again because we need to find a balance between confidence and obedience and he is a bit more confident now than he is obedient.

In these pictures the two are tuckered out on the same bed even though I now have two they always choose this one because it is bigger and not as lumpy.


And his true colors shine through

August 4, 2010

The more comfortable Shadow gets and the more he starts to respect me I find him looking at life with a happier outlook.  When Shadow is not nervous and afriad of everything around him he truly is a dfferent dog.  He is FULL of energy now as he probably always has been but now that he is comfortable with me it’s really showing he just loves to run through the woods with me at buena Vista before he was to afraid to be able to relaly enjoy much of anything.  He most certainly still ahs his moments and because he is getting more comfotable with me and being at my hosue it is even more reason for me to stay hard on him.  He starts to push me in differnet ways.  He tries to climb on the couch because like i will not say anything.  I cought him chewing on  chair leg, he is pushing his boundaries because I am comfortable and it’s very important that i stay on him.

So in the morning we take a long walk to the park for about 45 minutes we come inside he eats by 7:30 then we we do about 20 minutes of trianing with lola inside and i move him around each room of my apartment even the bathroom especially working on commands like “leave it” and the “look” command I want to be able to break his concentration and have him pay attention to me when he gets nervous or whenever outside of the home.

They then can play for a bit but i tend to break them up and have them both go to their beds about 5 times during a 15 minute play so they know how to listen to my voice when they get a bit to rowdy.  I have no toys around and they will sometimes pull a dishtowel off of the oven or a sock out of the laundry basket to play with.  I use the commands “Drop it”  with a treat reward and “Stop” and then “look” when they get a little to worked up in the house flopping all over eachother and then i escort Shadow to his bed.  The then have to rest in their beds and I take them outside to pee before I head out the door and I bring treats with me and work on the look command away form my front door while the muni goes by etc.  He is still having a hard time but it’s just practice and consistency that i need to stay with it for it to work.

I’m really happy about the progress that we are making but now that he is very comfortable with me I just need to remember to stay hard on him to follow through with ever command to make sure he lays down and stays in his bed when i say to(he is getting up much quicker than he used to)  His personality is really shining through now he loves to just watch people walking by getting in and out of their cars on the street.  He really is a ot of fun to be around and I know that with a lot of more work and an owner that understands him and the importance and discipline it takes to kee a dog like him happy, healthy and safe he will most certainly make someone very happy and proud.

settling in

July 28, 2010

It’s almost been 4 weeks since shadow has been back and I can say  the honey moon period is over and he seems to be  well adjusted.  He is comfortable with my home and my nighbors and their dogs, he has started barking but it’s only one or two barks and never on and on.  I have yet to have him uncrated when someone comes over, that is our next task, he is doing well with strangers petting him at the park and meeting new dogs while onleash.  We make it to the park for about an hour every day and he gets plenty of excersize.  We have elimnated most of his nervousness on walks but he is still pulling a great deal, mainly when he wants to smell a bush he will dart and drag me there, most the time I can stop him from pulling me but some times keeping stern and saying leave it is not enough. He is primarily only wearing the gentle leader but it is leaving a red mark after walks around his nose, so I’m not happy about that, I’m thinking that i might switch to a Halti which has a much more comfortable strap but a higher price tag.  Inside the home he is doing well he still sleeps in his crate at night and while I’m gone.  I hope to have him where I can leave him seperated from lola but out of the crate while I’m gone, because I have been gone for long hours lately and hate to leaving him in there for too long.  My main concern about that is I live on the ground floor and I have seen him jump on the window sills to look out, if there is a dog that he wants to get to he might jump through the glass.  The other room I could leave him in I would most likely come home to him sleeping on the couch, so it’s a tough call.

I have eliminated the leash while inside because it has become a toy for him to chew on and shake, So now no leash but I must escort him by the collar to his bed many many time during the day when I am home, he has a tendency to get a little carried away with lola, he likes to role on her and flop his body all around(shakes the whole building)-it’s all in good fun but I want him to start listening to my voice command when i tell him it’s enough.  Lola will back away when i say enough and go lay down but then Shadow is still in the zone and will come over and roll his body onto his, so I continue to walk over and grab his collar and escort him to his bed.  He has been doing really great about not leaning on me or resting his head on me, this is his dominant controlling side that was really strong before, he knows how to lay in his bed when i am eating in the kitchen and cooking and will listen when i tell him to go lay down.

Over all his personaly is really showing and he is a lot of fun to have around, I have seen nothing but happiness in his eyes in my home, and i ahve continued to stay extremely calm but assertive around him.  When I  have to talk on the phone I go outside, if it is with customer service and i get annoyed i do not want shadow to sense my tension so i remove myself from him.  Our main goals are car rides, pulling on the gentle leader, eliminating escalating play time inside(get him under voice command) and staying calm and obedient starting with inside the home and moving to outside my house .

Here are a few pictures of him patiently waiting on his bed for me to say he can roam around.

Sunday in the park

July 19, 2010

We had a great weekend, Shadow got to see Mark and Petra for the first time since he has been here and they brought along Yogi too!

We got a chance to work with him on some of the more difficult things, there is one certain street/block that he becomes unnessisarily uncomforatble with and we brought him down there and we had him pause every few feet and relax and take in the noise and commotion so he will soon trust that nothing bad is goign to happen to him on the street.  I knew he was relazed when he would take a hot dog. We worked on getting him not to pull on the gentle leader and how to stay only one head length in front of me and not two.  Making him heal will take a awhile but it’s a slow road and we have all expected that fact.

We took a nice long stroll to the park yesterday, Shadow loves walking on the trails and sniffing every leaf and every tree trunk.  Here are some of the pictures.

Also i have added a picture of both the dogs in the crate, the crate in the past has caused shadow lots of stress but one night while i was calming trying to get him into the crate lola decided she would go in too.  I shut the door for a second and they could have cared less that they both were in the crate together.

Sunny days

July 15, 2010

So it’s been about 1 1/2 weeks since Shadow has been back with me.  It;s been up and down but now it seems to increasingly get better for all of us, or maybe we are all just adjusting and getting used to the schedule.  I still have a lot of work to do with him trusting me outdoors he isn’t there yet.  Walks have been quite difficult we are now trying a different route that he seems to approve of more, but we are working on addressing those issues on the route that he doesn’t like.  It seems to be interestections and the electric muni that really begin to make him nervous or if people are walking beind us.  This morning I went on a great walk with him at about 8am a little later than i have been )was going earlier to elimante the amount of people that he might get nervous from) this walk this morning we went up towards Twin Peaks and crossed a very busy interestection with lots of cars and he got nervous but I walked him out of it, I am now used to his nervousness and I ignore it completely.  I really ignore it now, before I thought that I was ignoring it but I think there was a part in me that would continue to look down and glance at his body language and think to myself how long should I go, now I really let my mind be blank and I do not check his body language at all but I can feel him on the gentle leader swinging his head back and forth but i push through and he is now coming out of those nervous spells before we even get back to my house and on uncharted streets.  It has so much to do with my confidence and him trusting me but we are working on it. Before walks I now have put on my joggig shoes and actually prepare myself for a work out and stretch before hand.  It’s challenging but when I see results it’s great.

We actually just got back from another successful walk this time we brought Lola with us, he really enjoys being with her but it’s been difficult for me because she is a handful on her own and I don’t want to over stress mylsef or him but we had a great walk.  We went to Buena Vista park and I used a prong collar this time because he is much better on that and controllerable and I think he is more comfortable too.  Once we got there I let lola off the leash and let her do her thing chasing squirrels and running up trees and then I walked through the bushes with him, he was in heaven walking through the trails, he would get nervous when lola would get out of sight though but then he would relax once she came into sight.  He is super tired now and everyone had fun.

Our biggest goal now is to get him to take treats and do the look command outside, we are still trying to conquer it inside and at my front steps outside but he is still uninterested and we are working with hotdog, cheese, and those natural balance log treats but his curiosity and anxiousness is his first concern when outside but hopefully overtime he will soon become desensitized and will realize what he has been missing out on.

He is doing great while inside, he goes right to the bed and lays down when i tell him to, when i go into another room I have him follow me and he does this without me holding onto the leash.  The funny thing is when i tell him to go lay down Lola assumes i am talking to her too and since i only have one dog bed they both go to it and try to cram on it, it’s funny though but they both listen and have no problem being very close to each other.

Hopefully i can start bringing a camera out on our adventures and be able to upload pictures of him in action on the streets.


July 5, 2010

It’s been a few weeks and there is a lot that has happened.  I met with Shadow and his other dogs friends in San Jose 3 saturday’s ago, it was not as hot and it was a successful day, Bronco came along too. Two Saturdays ago we did not meet in San Jose due to scheduling conflicts, but this 4th of July weekend Shadow came  back up to stay with me in my apartment in San Francisco.  He came a bit stressed out form the ride and he seemed to remember my home, in a postive way, but he was and still is very excited.

I have been limiting his excitement and just about everything else because I do not him to get overwhelmed.  So right now he is on astrick schedule and is only allowed inside my house while attached to me by leash.  That means i have him at my heel when doing the laundry, washing dishes brushing my teeth etc, he is very good about this.  I am trying to establish boundaries and that this is my home and I tell him where he is allowed to go and what he can do.  He has a good look in his eye and he is very responsive and looks to me for apporval so I’m hoping that i am on the way to gaining his respect.

We started off with long walks to make training afterwards easier but we cut back until he get used to our route and routine for the day, i want to do everything gradual and  in a very controlled way but also having it all be sucessful.  After we were chased for about a block and a half by a corgi on our heels yesterday morning which tunred into anxiety I decided we would stick to shorter walks more freqesntly until he is comfortable. Though we both stayed calm and justed pushed through our walks until the corgi realized we were not going to acknowledge him, not sure where his owner was at but there seem to be a lot of arrogant dog owners in my neighborhood that like to show off how “off leash” there dogs can be in the city, which I see as irresponsible and a way too show off and let alone it could be dangerous: cars and other dogs that aren’t friendly, luckily Shadow is well accustomed and has no dog-dog issues but it could have been a bad situation for everyone if it was a dog reactive dog that was being heel chased.

He seems to be very happy but is he still in his “awe” phase so being constistant for close to 4 weeks until he is comfortable is key, I have to be very strict with him but I know it’s for his own good.  Lola is great around him they both really just want to play with eachother but they know that I will not allow that just yet so he sits at my feet and she will lie across the room and they will just stare at eachother while they rest, it’s nice she stays back when i work with him on his commands and he is very comfortable with her around and still follows through with each task.

My one concern now is that he continues to keep me as the leader in his eye and that he eats and stays calm, I have broken up his food routine to twice a day, he eats a cup in the morning after our walk and then a cup after our early evening walk.  He is too excited to eat it all at once- it’s just too many new things around him that his attention drifts halfway through his bowl of food.  We have changed the located of food time too, he seems to be more comfortable eating in the kitchen then he is eating in the great room where his crate is, which seems to cause a bit of stress for him. He is very good at leaving the food and stepping back half way too and then resuming when i say he can, which is very important on keeping me in control and desensitizing him to food behaviors.

I have included some pictures of our last San Jose meet up and a few of him at my house sitting and waiting patiently with the crate door open while I put on his leash, he is doing this really well and I hope to keep my home environment as peaceful and well structured where I am still the leader in his eyes, and hopefully if I stay disciplined with him throughout the next few weeks the big transition from this being a vacation to this being his new home will be as smooth and less stressful for Shadow as possible.

I have a few great pieces of literature and handouts that have really been eye opening to me, that I am now working on with Shadow: Nothing in life is free, look and touch commands, desensitizing the next update I will be more indpeth about what Mark has been working on with him and what I am and what Davis suggest once we get a routine in place and figure out what works for us i will make sure to share.  Right now it is half way in between our walks that I start asking for commands and then throughout the remainder of the walk.  When we get back in side we then use treats and do some more commands.

UC Davis

June 15, 2010

I went to UC Davis for a behavorial appointment, I met Shadow and Mark there.  We saw Dr. Bain and it was the first day of summer summester so it was a bit crazy in the clinic and Shadow was acting a bit crazy too.  I was okay with him acting out, better that than him acting like an angel.

The meeting today really made me think and I realized it was more for me than for him.  It was eye opening, the doctors were concernced if I was doing it for the right reasons and if i knew what i was getting myself into.  After talking long with Mark and both the students and Dr. Bain I realized that I was prepared for long road ahead.

Since Shadow has very nerotic tendancies, and he is very nervous most the time they suggested I try clicker training.  It will be just another tool in my tool box and i know I could use as many as possible especially when dealing with a dog like shadow.  He is a very alert dog and I think clicker training will work really well with him, something to pull his attention in when he starts to become nervous.

Of course my camera was dead and I couldn’t snap any pictures of him unfortunately.

The drive home was a little under 2 hours and it gave me a lot of time to think about what I had ahead of me and I think I’m ready for it.  I see hurdles up head as far as my living situation but i feel as though over time I will adjust and he will become part of the family.  I know there is someone out there that will see what I and others close to him see in him and someone that will fall in love with him and might want to adopt him, but I’m ready for it to be alot of work and it might take  a long time.

Please take a look at UC Davis’s behavorial program,  I think it is a great resource though expensive we are so lucky to have this fairly close to us.  They don’t use one set method, they deal with every dog on an individual basis.  For this program to work it is essential for the owners or people working with the dog to be committed and understand that the success of the dog is based on their commitment.  UC’s suggestions and assestment do no good if their prognosis is not handle or taken seriously.