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Abby update

August 29th, 2005, 09:51 AM
I posted a while ago about Abby snapping/growling if I corrected her. In the last two weeks, she's been much, much better. Very obedient. She's still on leash most of the time, I'm slowly letting her have more freedom. But all in all, she's been a good girl. She really seems to see me as the leader now. If I say "off" or "drop it" or "no," 9 times out of 10 she obeys immediately. My boyfriend needs more work -- she doesn't listen to him as well, and I know it's because he's not as firm as I am, so I'm trying to get him to be tougher (he's such a sweet, gentle guy, it's hard for him, but he's trying).

Abby has also gotten 10 times more affectionate. I get more kisses and cuddles. Sometimes she'll drop whatever toy she's playing with and come over just for pets (which she gets only after she sits). She never did that before. She was also a very sweet, concerned girl when I tripped and hurt my ankle last week (I'm clumsy!). She came over to me all upset and smothered me with kisses, then "nosed" my ankle a couple times as if she was checking me for injury! She's too funny. We've taken her to a couple baseball games and to the park a bunch of times and she's been very good. We also took her out to dinner (on a restaurant patio that allows dogs) and she was an angel. The next table also had a golden that she made friends with. Her only bad behavior was that when the other golden came to me to be petted, she put a paw on his chest as if to push him away from me, but I made her lay down and wait while I greeted the other dog -- THEN she got attention from me. After that she was fine with my giving the other pup attention. I also made her let him drink out of her bowl, and they made a game of splashing each other. Too cute. They were very happy pups!

She's had an ear infection, and she's getting much better about letting me put her drops in. At first, she was a wild beast, but now if I talk to her very gently (and cradle her -- I have to hold her in my lap and kiss her nose to get her to calm down, the big sissy dog), she submits and lets me put the drops in.

She's also learned some new tricks; my favorites are "high five" (too cute!) and "roll over."

I just have one remaining issue with her. Saturday, we had friends over, and one of our guests was trying to get her to sit. Every time he wanted her to sit, instead of giving her the "sit" command, he would push down on her backside. I kept telling him, "Just tell her to sit," and showing him the hand signal I use (which, incidentally, caused her to sit like a good girl), but he kept doing it "his way" (argh!). Anyway, whenever he pushed on her backside, she would mouth him. No growling or biting down, but she did put her mouth on his hand. Is that bad? What should I do to correct this? I know he wasn't being a very polite guest by ignoring my instructions, but I don't want her thinking that it's ok to "mouth" people, as I fear it could lead to biting. After she did it a couple times, I grabbed her leash and gave her a stern "no bite!" Should I be worried about this?

How do I handle family/friends who disagree with how I'm dealing with her? My sister has a very submissive golden who has never given her a moment's trouble. While I love Abby, she's just not like that -- she has potential to be a very good dog, but she has a dominant streak, so I'm very firm (but fair) with her. My sister is always yelling at me that I'm too hard on her (because I don't let her jump or get away with misbehaving). What do you say to someone who is trying to undermine you? She even yells at me for having the dog on leash sometimes while she's in the house (which I think has really helped reinforce my leadership with her, because when she was off leash, for a while I couldn't get her to respond to ANY commands). I was supposed to leave Abby with my sister for a week while I go on vacation, but I'm having second thoughts. I think she could undo all of my hard work -- she's way too permissive. Plus, if a dog isn't a perfect angel like her pooch, she automatically labels it a "bad dog." Abby's a sweet girl -- and super, super smart -- she just needs firm leadership right now. Any recommendations? I hate to kennel her, but at the same time I don't want to come home to a beast dog or have her reverting to her old behaviors around my sister.

August 29th, 2005, 11:20 AM
First, congratuatlations on doing so well with her. Sounds like you have really learned how to set some good boundaries. Now we need to translate that to the people in your life. Abby has taught you how to be clear, consistent and firm - great lessons. Let's apply them elsewhere and see how that works.
If someone came into my home and started doing things with my animals/children that I had specifically asked them not to do then I would either remove the animal/child, remove the people from the animal/child, or take control and be more clear.
You can be polite and still be firm and clear. This is YOUR dog and anything anyone does to undermine your rules is very rude & disrespectful on their part. You are simply asking them to respect you. Be willing to put Abby on the leash while they are visiting so that you are back in control and every time they approach her you can ask her to sit - so they don't get the chance. TELL them clearly that if they go to pet her and she starts to put her mouth on them to stop petting. You can also be ready to correct her mouthing.
Her mouthing is poor manners - Goldens are mouthy but she needs to be taught better manners.
It seems that you have surrounded yourself with sweet, soft and gentle people who challenge your attempts at being strong and clear. I consider this an opportunity for you to define yourself as strong and clear person in the face of their challenges. You are perfectly correct in how you want to raise Abby - it is what she needs. The past 2 weeks have proven that. So stay on the path that has proven its self to you. Trust in yourself and what you have learned. Trust in the changes you have seen in Abby.
Your sister will not undermine your relationship with Abby. Does your relationship with your sister undermine your relationship with your mother? No, they are different people with different boundaries. Abby knows that too. However, I would be a little inclined to tell your sister that if she can't hold to the same standards with your dog then you might have to consider sending Abby elsewhere. Put it in the terms of "If Abby isn't clear about the rules and boundaries of her manners in your home I am concerned that she could get herself in trouble - ie, not listening, nipping, etc. and I don't want to be responsible for your unhappiness when she makes a mistake. She is a puppy and she will make mistakes if you are not able to mangage her behavior. So maybe it would be better if she goes somewhere where I know her behavior will be held in check."

August 29th, 2005, 05:11 PM
Thanks, that's just what I needed to hear. On Saturday, I eventually put Abby in her crate after it became clear my guest wasn't going to listen to me. I'll have to be more firm in the future.

Thanks for the help!