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Old November 14th, 2004, 12:56 AM
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moontamara moontamara is offline
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Dog training - teaching the drop it command

Okay, my 7 month old toy poodle (neutered male) is a total sweetheart. He has learned a lot of commands, and he's well trained in almost every respect. One aspect of his training that I kind of gave up on is "drop it." When I walk him (I live in an apartment), he often finds food garbage that I don't see in time to steer him away from. When it's something quite large, I used to say "drop it," (but he wouldn't) and then just pry his jaws open and pull it out. Kind of gross and annoying, but no big deal. However, his jaws are a lot stronger now, and prying them open and pulling something out is dangerous as he really really wants to eat that food!!! Yesterday it got rather serious, and he even snarled at me!!! It was really unlike him, as he is a very good natured and loving pet to both of his owners and to all strangers.

Today he found another big chunk of food and I just let him eat it because I didn't want to go through that again! What should I do? Any advice would be GREATLY appreciated!!!

Thank you in advance!
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Old November 14th, 2004, 08:45 AM
Lucky Rescue Lucky Rescue is offline
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Your sweetie just learned that if he growls, you back off and he wins which means he's the top dog. Dogs catch on to this so quickly it's amazing and it's how they behave with each other. The weaker dog will back down as you did.

You can try taking something irresistable out with you - bacon or hot dogs or anything else your dog goes nuts for. Make sure it's something really special and something he gets ONLY when he drops what you don't want him to have.

When he picks up something, hold the treat in front of his nose, and say "Drop it". He will likely let go of what he's holding to get the new treat. Give it to him immediately and move on. Let the amount of time between when he drops the unwanted item and you give him the treat increase and eventually phase out the treat altogether.

You can practice this "trading" of items at home.

Don't get into tugging contests with him and do not show fear and back down.
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Old November 14th, 2004, 09:10 AM
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I completely agree with Lucky. My oldest, Red, actually bit me shortly after I got her. She wanted to get to another dog, and I wasn't letting her, so she turned around, and bit me! I was in shock, but I grabbed her muzzle and stared her straight in the eye, and spoke loudly and firmly to her, saying "NO! WHAT WAS THAT? YOU DON"T BITE!" She never tried it again.

Definitely don't back down from your dog. He can become even more food agressive if you don't lay the rules down now. I would suggest if he snarls or growls at you, that you speak loudly and firmly to him, and make sure he knows that you will not tolerate his lack of respect for you.

I know it sounds harsh, but it really worked wonders with Red. Now, not all dogs are crated equal, so try the technique you think will generate the best results for you and puppy!
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Old November 14th, 2004, 10:11 AM
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I could take a raw sirloin away from any of the dogs I've had w/o a peep from them

You need to let the silly pup know you're the queen s@$% of sheba!! You are THE giver of all that is good and the ultimate source of retribution and consequence if the pup steps one inch out of line.

Let the pup know you're bigger, meaner, uglier and tougher than they are!!

Think drill sargeant!!!

Lots of different ways to do so, a loud angry voice will often work, in severe cases a scruff shake is sometimes needed. Or grabbing the scruff and holding the pup down on the floor. Which are the things a mamma dog would do anyway.

Don't put up with the BS or the dog will get more and more bossy and thats the last thing you want.
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Old November 14th, 2004, 05:40 PM
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Actually, I didn't back down (I guess I didn't explain my reaction). I pretty much did exactly what Heeler's Rock did, with the big voice and everything -- BUT, when the exact same thing happened the next day (he finding a very similar piece of doughy Korean bread), I pretended not to notice .

I will try what you said, Lucky Rescue, and I hope it will work like a charm. You guys have to realize that it's similar to walking a dog through a garbage dump sometimes out here (we're moving soon and will have much better walking situation). Yesterday I steered him away from fish bones!!! I also find it's much worse when it's almost feeding time and he's hungry AND like another pet my family had, he snarled at night and seemed almost fearful.
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Old November 14th, 2004, 05:45 PM
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Teaching 'drop it' and 'take it' is one of the very first things we teach. It is a matter of respect when it comes to dropping things to you on command. He needs to learn that all things belong to you - even if he found them first.
First, put your dog on the leash (for control) then get a stick or stiff toy at least 6 inches long - not a soft toy he can get a grip on or food he can break off and swallow. Start with an object that doesn't have high value to him and work towards an object that does have high value. Food will probably be the toughest challenge as it is easy for him to just swallow it and win.
Offer it to your dog and say 'take it' in a happy tone. let him chew on it for 15 seconds - do not let go of the item. Say 'drop it' short, sharp and firm in tone. Almost startle him with the command as you point quickly at the item and his nose. The startle alone should impress him. If he lets go then praise him and gently stroke his face and head. If he does not let go - ask again and vibrate the item in his mouth moving towards the back of his mouth. This should be strong enough to make him want to let go, but not so strong to hurt him. When he releases be very pleased and praise & pet.
Repeat this - holding the item and sharing it with your dog for longer times each round. As he gives willingly then allow the item to be his for just a few seconds, keeping your hand close by and then move your hand in and ask him to 'drop it'. Again increasing times until it can be his for five minutes and he still drops it nicely to you. Working him in his normal obedience commands just before you do this can help. It places him a submissive role and makes him more agreeable over all and ready to be more cooperative.
Practice a lot when you are just hanging around the house - get him to drop dozens of things throughout the day, don't wait to teach it when you need it and don't avoid teaching good manners like you did today.
This command is serious enough to save his life. What if it were a pill you dropped? or a big chunk of chocolate?
Good luck!
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Old November 14th, 2004, 07:55 PM
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Thanks all, thanks Elizabeth. (I'm going to try not to be offended by your suggestion that I avoided teaching good manners today -- you know I was avoiding potentially being bitten and instead came on this forum to find out what I need to do to avoid the situation... )

I will go out and get a more appropriate toy to teach "drop it" properly -- I like your advice on that, Elizabeth and can imagine it working well -- especially since we can work on it indoors. I'm not so sure it will translate to when Casey finds a piece of fish or beef jerky on the street, however... but perhaps your idea combined with Lucky Rescue's will do the trick.

Please understand that I'm not in an ideal dog training situation in Korea (huge understatement!). Not only do I deal with treats constantly on the road just outside my apartment building (we live next to a public school and garbage cans are almost non-existent in Korea -- instead they have daily street cleaners employed by the government ), but I also deal with Korean people who do not understand the concept of dog training even when it's explained to them... I don't have a yard, and even the park across the street is filled both with people and with food items! One positive aspect is that my dog is very well socialised!!!

I'm sorry if I'm coming across ungrateful, because actually I'm EXTREMELY grateful for all the advice I've been given here, and tenderfoot is a wonderful addition to the knowledgeable people on this board. I just feel like I'm trying to do the right thing, and am not really in the mood for feeling judged! I'm doing my best!

Thanks again. I'll let you know how it goes!

Tamara
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Old November 15th, 2004, 10:08 AM
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You absolutely did the right thing by seeking out help, and wanting to improve your relationship with Casey so that you can both feel good about being together. Casey has just learned that snapping at you works but he can also learn it doesn't work, in a heart beat, without you ever being at risk.
I have been telling everyone how difficult it must be for you in Korea. I do not envy your situation at all. Having dogs is a challenge no matter what and to be surrounded by people who don't understand the concept of training must make it that much harder.
I am so sorry to come off as judgemental. I did not mean to condemn your choice not to teach that day, but was trying to help you recognize that it was an opportunity to teach. Many people whose dog might have a tissue obsession just put all of the tissues in the house up at a level the dog can't reach it - to avoid having to deal with it. We say put tissues all over the floor with good toys inbetween and teach the dog good vs bad choices. Create the opportunity to teach and then its done.
It must be so difficult to walk a dog through the smorgasborg you have described and scary too - who knows what he could pick up. So in my mind it is that much more vital to get the 'drop & take it' down pat.
Keeping him healing at your side would also help you see things he might be tempted by before he does. The "leave it" command would be perfect for this situation. Again teach it in the house first. Get him to "leave it" with all of his favorite toys, treats, etc. This tells him to back away from the very thing he might be interested in - before it becomes a 'drop it' issue. Drop things intentionally on the floor infront of him and have him on the leash to ensure success. Tell him to 'leave it' in a firm tone and if he goes for it step towards the object with a stomp (throwing energy at the object and towards him - to get him to back off), and/or a correction on the leash as you say 'leave it' again. Pretend in your mind that the object is a baby bird and he absolutely can't have it. Use whatever energy that evokes in your voice and body language to get him to leave it alone. Then, while he is still on the leash, place the object between you and call him to come. He should put his own imaginary circle around the object as he comes to you. Now he is repecting your word and understanding that everything is not his to grab, but you call the shots and he needs to repect you.
Catching him before he rushes to something can make a huge difference. It's easier to stop him before he makes his move than to have to stop him in mid-stride. This gives you a greater vocabulary to use with him aswell. Which gives you the chance to 'talk' him through his choices. Besure to praise him when he makes the good chioces - so he is clear when he has done the right thing.
I am honored and thrilled to be able to communicate and hopefully help you create the best relationship possible with Casey. How amazing is it that you can reach out for help and others can reach back from thousands of miles.
If you can forgive me for my faux pas (not being more clear in my meaning), I would love to keep in touch and help as much as possible.
I wish you the best.
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Last edited by tenderfoot; November 15th, 2004 at 10:31 AM. Reason: typos +
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Old November 15th, 2004, 10:24 AM
Lucky Rescue Lucky Rescue is offline
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Moontamara, we all learn from our mistakes and we all make plenty of them!

I inadvertantly taught one of my cats to wake me up at 3 a.m. for cream and cheese!

My dog knows two commands with regard to not touching things. She knows "OUT" which means open your mouth and drop whatever is in it, and she knows "Leave it" which means don't even pick it up at all.

Get two treats and hold them one in each hand. Put one behind your back. Hold one (open hand) out to your dog and when he moves to grab it, close your fingers on it and say "LEAVE IT!" quite abruptly. Try again with the open hand, repeat. After the second time, he should not even try to take the treat.

When he obeys the Leave It, say "Okay!"(happy voice) then give him the treat you had hidden in your other hand.

I can drop anything on the floor, and my dog will not touch it until I "Okay" it. Very useful and can save your dog from being hurt or poisoned.

I once went into the kitchen to find a foster dog with a very sharp knife, chewing on the handle. "OUT" came in very handy that day.
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Old November 15th, 2004, 10:52 AM
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When Daisy was a pup, I used to reach in her bowl while she was eating, and even sometimes pull food out of her mouth. My wife, who has seen dogs bite, was kind of freaked, especially since Daisy's a pit X. I explained, "I am getting her used to it while she is a puppy, so she'll learn not to bite when someone goes near her food. Either that, or I'll still be able to get my arm back, and I'll learn not to do that again when she's older!". Fortunately, she learned not to do it. We caught the 1 yr old neice taking food out of her bowl while she was eating and hand feeding kibble to her!

To this day, I still grab Daisy's bone from her while she's chewing on it, just to re-affirm who alpha is (that's usually when she looks at my wife, letting me know who the REAL alpha is!). If I pick her up when she's chewing, she'll sometimes growl. This used to make me angry, until I realized that she isn't actually trying to bite me, just let me know she doesn't like it (I'm not sure this is wholly acceptable that she's growls, but then it really isn't fair for me to pick her up like that, either. So I usually hold her for a few moments to make sure she isn't going to be aggressive). What I might be inclined to do would be to grab her food (or whatever makes her aggressive), and if she tried to bite (or did bite), I would grab her by the nose very firmly (not enough to hurt, but enough to know I'm not playing), and get very close to her face and very loudly tell her "NO!" I'd definitly let my actions no I wasn't pleased, then take the food away. I'm a bit of a cement head, so I don't worry about breaking skin (Cheryl still has visuals of the bloody scrapes on my hand from Daisy's puppy teeth, teaching her "Take nice". To this day, however, everyone is amazed how gentle she takes treats), so if you're nervous, put on a heavy canvas gardening glove or something.

I'm not an expert, but this is what has worked for me in the past.
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Old November 15th, 2004, 11:19 AM
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What I might be inclined to do would be to grab her food (or whatever makes her aggressive), and if she tried to bite (or did bite), I would grab her by the nose very firmly (not enough to hurt, but enough to know I'm not playing), and get very close to her face and very loudly tell her "NO!" I'd definitly let my actions no I wasn't pleased, then take the food away.
I would not recommend doing this with most dogs. Someone is taking the chance of being seriously bitten in the face by acting this way.

And by taking a dog's food away, you are confirming to the dog that the food needs to be guarded by whatever means. By snatching his food away and expecting him to be submissive, you are asking him to go against the strongest instinct he has - the instinct to survive.

Grabbing, shaking, rolling etc are not needed, and many dogs will see this as an attack. More dominant dogs may very well retalitate. Body language and desensitization are usually the better route.

Hey, WE might get very cranky if someone came and grabbed our dinners away repeatedly, or lifted us up while we are eating. I know I would!!
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Old November 15th, 2004, 11:33 AM
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As I said, that's what I have done in the past, with good success. I've also done it with the realization that I was putting myself into a situation where, if the dog did not get the message, I could wind up with bites. Also, it's usually been when our dogs were younger. I also have enough strength that when my face is that close, I'm holding the dog's mouth, and they can not open it or pull away from me. It's all about psychology, and showing the dog that you are in control. When they growl or get aggressive, they are trying to control the situation.

Again, I want to reiterate that I'm not an expert, this is what has worked for me. It's also been suggested that the little voice that is supposed to go off when you are doing something that would be considered perrilous may not work very well (or just doesn't like me, which explains my skiing, mountain biking, and goalie career... ) I also think that, whatever approach you take, you have to do it 100% and not show any nervousness or fear, because you do need to be completely confident with trying to regain alpha status (even if momentarily lost.). One more disclaimer...when I do get hurt, it's usually with the realization that I probably deserved it (again, with my dog, skiing, mountain biking, etc)
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Old November 15th, 2004, 12:13 PM
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"Leave It" and "Out" (or "Give) are two very important commands, IMO. But they are also among the more difficult to train. We used the "trade" method outlined by LuckyRescue above. Hey, we don't have nearly as many distractions as Moontamara does, and it's still a bit of a struggle for us on some days! Another thing we learned that I've ingrained in Phoebe's training is "Wait". This is used for a variety of purposes (walking through doorways, getting in and out of the car, etc...), but I also use it when feeding. Phoebe is not allowed to eat until I give her the release command. Today, she got leftover beef stew for lunch. I gave the "wait" command, and poured the stew into her bowl. WOW! Was she ever staring at me intensely! But she was a very good girl and waited until I gave her the go-ahead to eat. This, in my mind, reinforces to her that I am Top Dog and the giver of food and praise and all things good, and so she would do well to listen to everything I say.
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Old November 15th, 2004, 02:27 PM
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Actually 'leave it' can be taught in a matter of minutes, and 'drop it' doesn't usually take much longer. It really just comes down to clear and effective communication - so long as your dog respects you. If you observe dogs interacting they are very clear about their intentions and can get the message across very quickly and effectively for the most part - sometimes with just eye contact and body language.
We have 'relationship drills' that we do before we do anything in order to ensure we have the relationship in balance first - this sets us up for success from the start.

Dear Schwinn - I love your sense of humor. Thanks for the laughs .
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Old November 15th, 2004, 05:53 PM
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Elizabeth, there was no faux pas! You did great, and you're always so thorough in your explanations on this board! I know I'm overly sensitive at times, especially when I'm frustrated! I went to clear one thing up though -- there are actually two of us living in Korea on this board (don't know if you got confused -- there's a new member called "Hound dog" who has also benefitted from your advice on the "Agressive dog" thread.)

Also, I want to add that I did show my authority and won the fight when Casey snarled -- that wasn't my worry here. I just don't want to ever be in that situation again! One additional thing -- in the house it's all totally different. The only bad thing he does is run away with socks, but that's my husband's fault for chasing him and making it a game more than once , and we're all working on that! He doesn't show any food possessiveness whatsoever with any food in the house, whether it is dropped accidentally or given to him -- only when we're outside with food that he's found.

Thanks so much Elizabeth, Lucky Rescue (I laughed out loud about the cream cheese thing -- wonder how that happened!), Schwinn and W4F. Advice and support are always appreciated!

I've got a lot of free time while I wait for our real estate issues to be solved and I can move to the city where my husband is already working -- I guess I know how part of my time will be spent!!! I'll let you know how it goes!

Oh, one more thing... What do you think about leaving Casey home alone and giving my keys to the landlady when I have to go out without Casey? (this is what the landlady wants). Bad idea, right? Casey might get scared and run out if strangers just come into the home when he's expecting me... Any ideas? He is no longer crated during the day, and I'm sure he would still freak out and make quite a ruckus while the viewers were there. My current plan is to always be close enough that I can get home within 20 minutes (not an easy task in Seoul!!!), and just leave my phone number on the door. What would you guys do?

Once again, THANK YOU!!!!
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Old November 15th, 2004, 06:28 PM
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Originally Posted by moontamara
Oh, one more thing... What do you think about leaving Casey home alone and giving my keys to the landlady when I have to go out without Casey? (this is what the landlady wants). Bad idea, right? Casey might get scared and run out if strangers just come into the home when he's expecting me... Any ideas? He is no longer crated during the day, and I'm sure he would still freak out and make quite a ruckus while the viewers were there. My current plan is to always be close enough that I can get home within 20 minutes (not an easy task in Seoul!!!), and just leave my phone number on the door. What would you guys do?

Once again, THANK YOU!!!!
I would tell her thanks, but my dog will be fine. Why does the landlady want the keys? Honestly, it would boil down to how much you trust her. Nothing to do with your pooch, I would just have issue with giving my landlord carte blanche to enter my apartment.
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Old November 15th, 2004, 07:15 PM
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Originally Posted by Schwinn
I would tell her thanks, but my dog will be fine. Why does the landlady want the keys? Honestly, it would boil down to how much you trust her. Nothing to do with your pooch, I would just have issue with giving my landlord carte blanche to enter my apartment.

Sorry Schwinn, I didn't explain myself very well. She wants me to give her my keys any time I leave (including when I leave Casey behind) because we're showing my apartment to potential replacement renters. Because my husband and I are the ones breaking the 2 year lease, we need a replacement before we can move out! It benefits me for the greatest number of people possible to view our apartment -- but I won't jeapordise my dog's safety for that! Anyway, does it make more sense now? I am kind of sleepy this morning!
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Old November 15th, 2004, 07:21 PM
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Moontamara, how about putting Casey in your bedroom and closing the door, then putting a sign on the door that says "Please don't let the dog out!". That's what a lot of people did when we were looking for a house.
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Old November 15th, 2004, 08:41 PM
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Well here's an update -- a family just came (while I was home and they just loved Casey) for a second look, and then the real estate agent came to say that they are going to take it!!! Woo hooooooo!!! So I guess that solves one of my problems!
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Old November 15th, 2004, 09:59 PM
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Originally Posted by moontamara
Sorry Schwinn, I didn't explain myself very well. She wants me to give her my keys any time I leave (including when I leave Casey behind) because we're showing my apartment to potential replacement renters. Because my husband and I are the ones breaking the 2 year lease, we need a replacement before we can move out! It benefits me for the greatest number of people possible to view our apartment -- but I won't jeapordise my dog's safety for that! Anyway, does it make more sense now? I am kind of sleepy this morning!
Okay, that makes more sense. We ran into that issue when we sold our last house. We asked that we be given notice, and we made sure that we took Daisy out. And when we did go without her, we put her in her bedroom (yes, she had her own room, since we don't have kids) with the baby gate up, just in case.

That being said, it sounds like it's a non-issue now, so congratulations!
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Old November 15th, 2004, 10:46 PM
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wow i would love to see the realestates person face if they ever opened my door if i was not home, chomp chomp chomp, charlie would eat them alive, casey is a good boy and daisy is very good also, wow. daisy is PB yes, didnt she go off her head at the strange voices and foot steps?? charlie would freak if she didnt know the foot steps or voices, but then us gals lived alone for many years so she is a good little watch dog and VERY protective of her mummy .

my realestate would never come here without me, its against the law for one and they know about the dog, i have told them she would tear their legs off if they ever entered my property without me, she really would (meaning the house not yard). and what do you know, they give me at least 3 weeks notice, ha ha ha.

i always said if anyone were ever brave enough to come in when im not home (not family and friends, i mean streangers) and rob us, they can have the lot for a reward for the bravery and sheer stupidity

glad casey is on his way to not eating all the rubbish, gosh that must be hard.
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Old November 16th, 2004, 07:52 AM
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Daisy makes a lot of noise, but once you're in the house, it's mostly whining because you aren't paying attention to her. I think only one person actually showed up when she was home. Mostly she just tap dances with her ears back, and that pathetic "NOTICE ME!" look on her face. Yea, that's our big bad pitbull.

I always visualize her running down the road to lick someone, and when people yell, "AHHHHH! IT'S A PITBULL!", I picture her getting that scared look and chasing them going, "PITBULL! WHERE? WAIT FOR ME! I DON'T WANT IT TO GET ME!" (In my head, that is quite entertaining!)
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Old November 16th, 2004, 08:07 AM
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Awww, your pitbull is like Grover who was terrified of "The Monster at the end of the book." He didn't know he was a monster! Daisy doesn't know she's a pit... so cute!

Just a little update: Day one of intensive training (with lots of breaks of course) went EXTREMELY well! I even got him to drop chewing gum, which is something I wouldn't have wanted to try wrestling from his mouth!!!

THANK YOU AGAIN EVERYONE!!!
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Old November 16th, 2004, 08:10 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by moontamara
Just a little update: Day one of intensive training (with lots of breaks of course) went EXTREMELY well! I even got him to drop chewing gum, which is something I wouldn't have wanted to try wrestling from his mouth!!!

THANK YOU AGAIN EVERYONE!!!
Let me know when you get him to blow bubbles, then I'll be REALLY impressed!

Just kidding! Glad it is going well. I think if you can make any progress at all, then that shows you will be able to lick this problem. Good luck, I'm sure you'll get it done!
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Hagar:"What kind of dog is that?"
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  #25  
Old November 16th, 2004, 08:16 AM
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moontamara moontamara is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Schwinn
Let me know when you get him to blow bubbles, then I'll be REALLY impressed!

I'll work on that!
  #26  
Old November 16th, 2004, 08:18 AM
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Schwinn Schwinn is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by moontamara
Awww, your pitbull is like Grover who was terrified of "The Monster at the end of the book." He didn't know he was a monster! Daisy doesn't know she's a pit... so cute!

By the way, that cracked me right up!
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Hagar:"What kind of dog is that?"
Man with dog:"He's a nice dog!"
Hagar:"You know, at the end of the day, that's always the best kind."
  #27  
Old November 16th, 2004, 08:43 AM
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Writing4Fun Writing4Fun is offline
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Very cute, Tamara! We're big into Sesame Street these days.

Glad to hear everything is looking up for you. Congrats on finding someone to take the appartment. What a load off your shoulders that must be! And it's great that Casey is doing well with his training. We knew you could do it! Keep up the good work, and let us know how Casey likes small-town living.
  #28  
Old November 18th, 2004, 07:04 PM
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moontamara moontamara is offline
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Just wanted to let you all know that the training is going great, although he still isn't perfect! Yesterday something hot from the oven fell on the floor and before I even said, "leave it," Casey was looking at me for advice. However, when there was a small tub of ice cream left on the sidewalk where we walked yesterday, he managed to get his nose in for a couple of licks . The thing is, I can hardly blame him for that one! I've found that "Leave it" has also cured his sock attack issue (if he sees someone putting socks on he goes crazy as if the socks are great little toys), which is something my husband will be very pleased about when he comes home tonight!!! "Drop it" is going well also, but not as well... He won't always drop things, but he doesn't do the lock jaw thing anymore and will let me take anything out of his mouth with no fight. This is a huge improvement, but we've still got a ways to go. Thanks so much all!!!
  #29  
Old November 19th, 2004, 12:19 PM
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Actually, if Daisy dives in to grab something hot, I'll let her get it. She doesn't dive for food of the floor any more...
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Hagar:"What kind of dog is that?"
Man with dog:"He's a nice dog!"
Hagar:"You know, at the end of the day, that's always the best kind."
  #30  
Old November 21st, 2004, 01:17 PM
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tenderfoot tenderfoot is offline
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I am so happy things are going so much better. Sounds like you are getting some well earned respect. Besure to keep it up - sometimes when our dogs get better we slack off and then they regress.

Schwinn - "if Daisy dives in to grab something hot, I'll let her get it. She doesn't dive for food of the floor any more..." - I know it can work, but the risk you run is if the dog swallows the hot object and it burns the throat going down. This can cause swelling and future infection - not pretty.
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