New House, New Structure.

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Postby Tubular Toby » May 23rd, 2011, 10:28 pm

As you guys know, I've been having trouble with Toby lately being reactive to people. He's always been dog reactive on a leash, but now I have learned that he doesn't like any of my female friends. To really tackle this, we have to work on our overall relationship. Although I feel like we have a decent one, I know that it has some serious flaws, he obviously doesn't trust me as much as I feel he should. I also take fault that this last year hasn't been as mentally stimulating for him as it could have been. We are moving into a one bedroom house this week, just Toby and I, and I want to take this opportunity to really start working on things that were difficult to work on with roommates and another dog in the house. Here is my list so far of things that are going to be different. I've been doing a lot of research lately and realizing that Toby must be a pretty bored boy.

1. Buy a basket muzzle and get him (positively) accustomed to wearing it. Can't hurt.

2. At least one meal a day (if not both!) will be more mentally stimulating. Right now he gets fed in a slow feeder bowl, but I also have a Kong wobbler that he can use for at least one meal, and I'm also thinking of stuffing some meals into traditional kongs, and other toys.

3. Of course, back to strict NILIF. This always has a place in our home, but I feel like I could enforce it a little bit more.

4. Take at least one free walk a week, where Toby is on a six foot leash and has the option to explore his surroundings, as long as he isn't pulling on me. This will probably usually be done at a rarely visited little lake nearby, but perhaps also campus during the summer evenings when no one is around. This will be done in areas where there aren't other people/dogs.

5. Take a more structured walk five days a week.

6. No more purple ball. He has been OBSESSED with this toy for a couple of months now and gets very into it. I took it away a few days ago and hid it, but it won't ever be coming back out. It was good to get his attention during the winter when he could see squirrels in the trees and was tempted to jump the fence, but now I feel like it's not helpful to him at all, if not harmful.

7. Introduce different toys on a rotation. No obsessing over any one toy. Get toys that require him to think, rather than chase something around at top speed running over and through anything that gets in the way...

8. Start in neutral territory introducing him to my friend Kelli, doing what Kathy Cascade recommended I do to introduce him to people.

9. Go back to Kathy Cascade for follow up sessions. This probably won't be until July. :(

10. Take him to my mom's to work on his dog reactivity with her dog, at a safe distance, in a safe setting. No more trusting strangers at the popular lake to be able to control their dogs (I used to go and work with Toby at a distance, where he wouldn't get reactive, but it's to the point now that it seems too risky. Too many idiots out there).

11. Do not behave in ways that excite Toby at an inappropriate time. No causing over the threshold/way too excited/ZOMG I'M GOING TO CHEW ON MY LEASH TO RELIEVE ANXIETY moments.

If anyone has any other idea helpful tidbits, feel free to chime in!
-Kristen
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Postby TheRedQueen » May 23rd, 2011, 10:31 pm

Nice! Sounds like a GREAT plan! I'm always in awe of people that plan...I'm so fly by the seat of my pants.
"I don't have any idea if my dogs respect me or not, but they're greedy and I have their stuff." -- Patty Ruzzo

"Dogs don't want to control people. They want to control their own lives." --John Bradshaw
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Postby stompanato » May 23rd, 2011, 11:14 pm

If Toby is a Puller, in order to save your arm and shoulder, and to give you amazing control over your dog, get a leather weightlifting belt, with the wide back and support. Put the hand loop of the lead through your belt. Just lean back and enjoy. You will be amazed at the ease it will be to walk your puller. A pulling harness is also nice to have.
You can also rig a set up for the dog to pull a 13 or 14in tire. The tire will be on a lead attached to the harness. You can walk alongside and offer praise. The lead in your hand will be attached to the collar. There will be no strain on your arm what so ever, and you will be giving your dog excellent work while forming a great bond between you and your dog.
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Postby Tubular Toby » May 24th, 2011, 2:51 am

Ahhhhh. Took Toby on a free walk at the more remote lake two days ago, had a great time, but I got a tick and I picked five off of Toby before we got back in the car. Just to be safe, when we got home I sprayed him with flea and tick spray, but only on his legs because when he gets sprayed with it, his world is ENDING. Even just spraying his legs sent him on a mad rolling, pouty dash through the house.
Tonight I ended up finding another one above his eye, and two larger ones on his side. They were pretty thin, not fat and happy ticks, so maybe the spray worked somewhat, but they were still alive, obviously. I absolutely hate ticks and miss my for the most part, tick free Arizona home occasionally. What do you all use for ticks?
-Kristen
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Postby Malli » May 24th, 2011, 2:55 am

Tick twister!

Also, they can carry disease, so you may want to look into that at your vet; you can send a live tick(undamaged) away for testing, and also talk to the vet about local tickborne illnesses
I can only please one person per day. Today is not your day, tomorrow doesn't look good either.
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Postby TheRedQueen » May 24th, 2011, 8:04 am

I've honestly had NO luck with anything for ticks...I just pull them off when I find them. And I stay away from heavy tick areas during the summer...I have places I love to go/walk, but we come home covered. :(
"I don't have any idea if my dogs respect me or not, but they're greedy and I have their stuff." -- Patty Ruzzo

"Dogs don't want to control people. They want to control their own lives." --John Bradshaw
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Postby Malli » May 24th, 2011, 12:11 pm

Tick twister! I swear it works. It doesn't keep them away, but it pulls them out cleanly.
I can only please one person per day. Today is not your day, tomorrow doesn't look good either.
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"You didn't know of the magical powers of the break stick? It's up there with genies and Harry Potter as far as magic levels go." SisMorphine 01/07/07
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Postby Tubular Toby » May 27th, 2011, 5:51 pm

Thanks Malli, I'll be getting one with my next pay check (why yes, I am that broke! haha)
-Kristen
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Postby Tubular Toby » May 27th, 2011, 6:11 pm

In other news, Toby has been playing with his wobbler and dinner at the new house and we also went on a walk yesterday while at the house. It was rather successful, overall! Conquered some scary objects and places.
-Kristen
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Postby amalie79 » May 27th, 2011, 8:48 pm

I've started splitting River's meals-- I put just enough in her bowl to add her supplements...and then I put the rest in a Kong Genius Leo. I've made a little funnel to keep the kibble from spilling all over. Then I wedge a treat in the skinny neck and after it's totally stuffed with kibble, I take a piece of duck jerky folded in half and wedge it in with the kibble, folded end first. That bad boy is packed TIGHT. After dinner she can have another piece of jerky, a few pieces of buffalo and a few small-dog sized crunchy Natural Balance treats in the Leo. She loves LOVES LOVES that thing. We've also picked up an Amaze A Ball and we have several nylabones. She's currently barking at me like an a**hole because I won't fill it again. That's the downside. She has to go lay in her bed and wait for me to fill it on my time. 8)

I'm also teaching pointless tricks, just for fun.

Keep us posted on your progress!!!
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Where you invest your love, you invest your life." --Marcus Mumford

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Postby Tubular Toby » June 2nd, 2011, 11:20 pm

Well it was almost a successful day. =/

Toby has been getting EVERY meal in either the wobbler or biscuit ball or regular kong. So we are doing good in that department! Moving has been crazy, but we went on a walk today to my boyfriend's house to pick up some of my stuff. It's probably a thirty minute walk if we walk there and back. Not too terribly far, but a quick pace and a safe place to walk Toby with plenty of room to avoid other dogs and people if necessary. He did great! He didn't pull (we were using our harness and leash set up that Kathy Cascade taught us!) and we saw other people and he was fine. Once we got to my boyfriend's house, I tied him inside by the doorknob and went to gather my things. His brother had a girl over, and with Toby's explosions that seemed to be based towards females, I didn't want him to even see her. They ended up coming out anyway and Toby loves my boyfriend's brother, so they were greeting each other. The girl walked up and I told her that Toby might bark at her, she said okay!, covered her ears and walked up to him. He was fine with her. Hrm. Okay, maybe it's a no females inside HIS house sort of thing. Whatever. I get my stuff and we walk back. It was simply lovely.

Tonight I decided to go for a super quick run around campus as people walking around were few and far between. I decided to take Toby with me, let him get some extra exercise. As soon as we walk out the door, a young black man (I only include race because I'm trying to include as many details as possible, although I doubt my dog is racist :lol:, seemed to be a body posture thing) was getting out of his car and walking to the cafe. He works there. He stopped, turned his body straight on to Toby, and just stared at him. My own body language may have had something to do with setting Toby off, as quite frankly, I don't think I like this guy. He usually just turns and stares at me too. Without ever saying a word. So that combined with it being dusk, the guy was dressed entirely in black (we had an episode in a very similar situation once long ago with a figure in black at dusk) and the body language, Toby ignited. I pulled him around and ushered him back inside. In the mean time, the guy asked how long I had owned Toby. I said three years, and he said, "Oh, he's just not very friendly then?" I lied and told him that Toby doesn't usually do that, I think it was just the new location. But even after Toby had gone off on him, he still just STOOD there and stared. It pissed me off.

Got Toby inside, calmed him down, and went to try again. As soon as we turned the corner onto the street, about twenty feet away was my long lost friend and her dog. So I gave up and took Toby inside and went to walk with her without him. He was definitely over threshold by that point.

I feel so defeated sometimes. I know things won't change overnight, but I feel like I am in over my head. And I feel so weird always saying how awesome pit bulls are and how they are friendly yet when people want to come over, I have to say, sorry my pit bull will bark at you and you can't meet him. Arrrrgh.
-Kristen
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Postby TheRedQueen » June 2nd, 2011, 11:55 pm

Eh...shit happens. Don't worry too much about it, and don't put the entire future of the breed upon your shoulders (and Toby's). You did the right thing, and you worked through it...be proud of yourself.

Remember...there are times where you just need to call it quits and walk away without bothering to explain.

And yes, dogs can be "racist"...it falls under the category of socialization...dogs can freak out about different skin color, just like they can freak out about facial hair, hats, sunglasses, odd gaits, etc.

I mentioned on FB one of our worst moments in the past year or so...at the park with three dogs, one of them being Inara. We walked past a different path, and there was a guy in a ghillie suit lying on the ground...not moving, not speaking. He finally got up slowly as we walked past and put his arms out like a zombie. Inara just went OFF. I actually didn't walk away quietly that time...I dragged Inara off, all the while yelling to him that I should just let Inara off her leash to deal with him. Idiots. Too many idiots.
"I don't have any idea if my dogs respect me or not, but they're greedy and I have their stuff." -- Patty Ruzzo

"Dogs don't want to control people. They want to control their own lives." --John Bradshaw
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Postby Tubular Toby » June 2nd, 2011, 11:59 pm

TheRedQueen wrote:And yes, dogs can be "racist"...it falls under the category of socialization...dogs can freak out about different skin color, just like they can freak out about facial hair, hats, sunglasses, odd gaits, etc.


I guess I should have specified that I knew that, my training friend told me about it. But he's met black people at Petco and on walks before and been just fine. I think it was the black clothing/body language/ dusk that set him off. Because like I said, that happened before too.

Thanks for the encouraging post. I guess I should just focus on the GOOD walk we had today and write the idiot off. I'm still not thrilled about him working right next door to me. This will probably happen more than once. He seems to have a staring problem...
-Kristen
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Postby TheRedQueen » June 3rd, 2011, 12:02 am

Tubular Toby wrote:Thanks for the encouraging post. I guess I should just focus on the GOOD walk we had today and write the idiot off. I'm still not thrilled about him working right next door to me. This will probably happen more than once. He seems to have a staring problem...


People always had a staring problem (and still do) with Inara...because of her crazy-colored eyes. It just made her worse about her stranger-danger issue. A lot of work with LAT helped...because it broke *her* eye contact because I couldn't get the idiots to stop staring! :cuss:
"I don't have any idea if my dogs respect me or not, but they're greedy and I have their stuff." -- Patty Ruzzo

"Dogs don't want to control people. They want to control their own lives." --John Bradshaw
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Postby pitbullmamaliz » June 3rd, 2011, 6:36 am

Patience, my friend. Many of us have been there, and are STILL there some days! lol

You did the right thing. One of the hardest things for me to learn was that sometimes it's better just to call it quits for the day. Also that, like Erin said, the fate of the breed doesn't rest on Toby's shoulders. :wink:
"Remember - every time your dog gets somewhere on a tight leash *a fairy dies and it's all your fault.* Think of the fairies." http://www.positivepetzine.com"

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Postby TheRedQueen » June 3rd, 2011, 9:05 am

pitbullmamaliz wrote:Patience, my friend. Many of us have been there, and are STILL there some days! lol

You did the right thing. One of the hardest things for me to learn was that sometimes it's better just to call it quits for the day. Also that, like Erin said, the fate of the breed doesn't rest on Toby's shoulders. :wink:


I brag about my Inara all of the time...she's come soooo far over the years. Yet we still have major episodes of her freaking out. My training advice...just forget it. Be more like little hippie me...just let it roll off of your back.
"I don't have any idea if my dogs respect me or not, but they're greedy and I have their stuff." -- Patty Ruzzo

"Dogs don't want to control people. They want to control their own lives." --John Bradshaw
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Postby Tubular Toby » June 3rd, 2011, 10:07 pm

Took Toby on a lovely half hour walk tonight around campus. As soon as we got near the fountain on campus, he started pulling like a mad man. Got in and ran around, enjoying the cool water. We worked on walking ALONG a narrow, short wall. He is great at jumping over things on command, but I figured getting him used to walking on something he wasn't comfortable on couldn't be bad. I held on to his harness and I could tell he felt a lot better about trying it with me there. By the end of that mini session, he was walking along it like a champ.

Saw people from a distance (30+ feet away) and did fine. When three bicycles zoomed past about 40 feet away, he started barking, but not necessarily aggressively. Turned him around, asked for eye contact, went through a few commands, and then he was back to (good) normal Toby. =)

Overall, a very successful walk! I am loving his harness, it's working out so well.
-Kristen
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Postby Tubular Toby » June 5th, 2011, 3:23 am

Excuse me for any typos, incoherent sentences, etc. I'm typing this through tears.

Went on a perfectly pleasant walk tonight to Allen's house. We've been dating for two years and Allen and Toby have always adored each other. We sat out on the patio with his brother, our other friend, and Toby. Toby was doing so well. He started to get worked up, trying to leash chew, etc. I would stop him by giving him something else to do (command, etc). Allen walked around the corner to take some trash to the dumpster and Toby walked to the end of his leash and started whining. I should have taken his mind off of it or something, but I didn't. When Allen came back, Toby greeted him happily, Allen went to sit down, and Toby immediately started lunging and barking at him. Allen went inside and a few minutes later came back out. Toby went off again. This is someone that Toby has known for almost as long as I have had him. Allen stays over enough and comes over enough for Toby to know him and love him, and he always has. He didn't redirect at any point to me or our friend. Just focused entirely on Allen.

I am really really really really torn up about this. It's one thing for him to bark at people he doesn't know, etc, but to go off on someone that he has known for 2+ years?! I feel like I am in way over my head. I am totally defeated right now. I walked home, sobbing the entire way. I am not sure that I am in any way equipped to handle this. I love Toby with every fiber of my being, but I'm really starting to worry.
-Kristen
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Postby amalie79 » June 5th, 2011, 8:21 am

Kristen, I'm sorry. :hug3: We all have set-backs. Hopefully you've had a little sleep and are feeling a bit better.

Years ago, Simon bit a woman and it was one of the worst days of my life. That's when I went to positive reinforcement and started learning about fearful dogs and dog behavior. I felt way, WAY in over my head. My boyfriend and I were about to bring Simon to live with us and his daughter, so the timing could not have been worse.

Simon was fairly old by that point, but he still had a lot of years left in him and we did a lot of management.

If I were in your shoes, I'd have Toby checked at the vet's, if you haven't already (I couldn't remember...)-- checked for pain, thyroid, eye/ear problems, etc. Anything that may be causing physical discomfort or pain or instability.

Then I'd go into management mode. I know we all want our dogs to be as social as we are; we want a dog we take to the store and to people's houses and the park, but I wonder if some dogs just aren't cut out for that life. With Simon, he got walks around the neighborhood and car rides, and lots of time with us at home, but I never took him to the store, always went to the vet's the minute they open (it's a walk-in) to avoid the crowd, and didn't really have people over. We had a couple of friends who came, but they knew the drill-- Simon generally went in the yard or another room while they came in; they had treats they could drop on the ground for him immediately or wait until we'd settled on the couch, and then they basically were instructed to ignore him completely, which was hard; he'd put his head in their lap and practically crawl all over them as long as they ignored him. Only people I could trust could come over. And there were certain things that Adam couldn't do with Simon. They lived together for years, but with certain things, only I could handle him.

It all just became part of the routine, part of our lives.

With Robin, we have to do a little of the same management, and it's even harder for people, because she cannot tolerate eye contact from people she doesn't know. And if she hasn't seen someone for a couple of weeks, she's a little wary of them again. If it's not someone she lives with or sees very, very regularly, she's extremely skeptical of them. And if it's dark, if she can't see us very well or immediately, she'll bark at me or Adam until she can see us well. If Toby was already going over threshold, and Allen approached in the dark, maybe he freaked and then just had a hard time cooling off. Was Allen then staring at him while he was freaking out? Talking to him?

Like I said, if it were me, I'd have him checked out, and then go into management or at the very least, require less sociability from him and ask the people around you and him to be aware of their bodies and facial expressions. And then I'd schedule another visit with Kathy Cascade to talk about some of these things.

Hang in there. :hug3: :hug3: I think there might be a lot of details worth dissecting in what happened. You might start building a pattern. Even though he knows Allen, he may not see him as his owner/handler since he's probably not the one who feeds him, walks him, etc., and so the same issues may apply. :|

Keep your chin up.
"In these bodies, we will live; in these bodies we will die.
Where you invest your love, you invest your life." --Marcus Mumford

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Postby Tubular Toby » June 5th, 2011, 11:30 am

I will post more later, but I can address two issues right now. Pattern- Anxiety. Every time he starts to meet someone, he gets really excited, and then just switches into "OMGI'MGOINGTOBARKATYOUALOT".

As far as going to the vet, since the first time he barked at my friend, I've wanted to take him. I want him to get a full exam to be sure that there is nothing wrong, because this is so truly unlike him.
-Kristen
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