I don't know if you saw my other post, Katrina, but Mickey recently watched our neighbors little boy have some interactions w/me (even touch/hug me)... and did not go berserk. I have not sat next to/talked to "a stranger" in ... ever, I think... while Mick was close enough to see it.
The funny thing is - even though I moved Mickey behind
the baby gate, I was not worried about him hurting the little boy. I wasn't nervous or anxious at all, just very matter-of-factly asked my dog to go inside and sit/stay. I expected him to obey w/out turning into Cujo - and he did.
I am thinking that my own body language is a HUGE indicator to Mickey as to how to react to unfamiliar people/situations... he "reads" me rather than "hears" me.
Since we have been doing strict NILIF at my house (everyone
has to practice it w/Mick) I have noticed that verbal commands carry some weight around here now... the first
Mick has always "listened"/been obedient... just sometimes not as prompt as I would have liked... and that has been our biggest improvement so far. I stopped nagging, and the selective hearing episodes have just about disappeared... he's not partially deaf after all.
I have also discouraged any and all "protective" behavior as far as my own person is concerned... no more draping himself across/over me on the couch, no "leaning" when anyone walks by or sits next to me, no "rushing over" to place himself between me and anyone else, no taking my things off the table or the floor (he tends to carry my "stuff" around a lot so my daughters won't touch it, I guess... ???
), and absolutely no "being in charge" of my own personal space... barging in the bathroom, for instance, to "check" on me, is not permitted anymore.
I know that sounds stupid, but - even though it never really bothered me -a lot of this behavior reminded me of an "over-protective/jealous boyfriend" type situation, and I think it creates a lot of anxiety/stress in a dog like Mick. (And, yes, my daughters have called him my boyfriend
He still follows me around for a good amount of time during the day, but he doesn't seem to be as compulsive and "driven" anymore. I guess I'm doing a pretty good job of "protecting" myself and can be trusted in a room w/out supervision now...
Wow - as I'm typing this, I realize that Mick has given himself
this job and has performed it for the better part of six years... and we thought it was "cute"...
I guess the thing I failed to understand all this time is that my dog has been in a state of constant anxiety and worry for most of his life, and that - by not providing consistent structure and training
(didn't want to hurt his feelings since he had a horrible start in life...) - we did this beautiful boy a terrible dis-service. I let him "run things" and it totally and completely overwhelms him...
I wasn't kidding when I said that I needed the training more than he did...
The other misconception I had was that real and serious training
involves a lot of yelling, punishment, yanking on a prong collar, and "beating" a dog down (not literally!) to get a desired behavior... and I'm more of a learn-while-you-play-and have-fun kinda person. Mick would just die if I ever raised my voice/hand to him in anger or frustration. I am the one person he completely trusts to never, ever hurt him... so , while I had been very hesitant about "officially" training
him... I have taught him a lot
. I know it's semantics... but, still...
On a side note:
I have also decided to stop worrying about Mick giving pit bulls a bad rap... he is my Mickey
first... and second, he is a dog who happens to be a pit bull
. A difficult one, who needs to be leashed and muzzled in public... but one who is under control and poses no danger to the neighborhood.
The posts about Tyson made me very upset/sad - it sometimes seems to me that the "bigger picture" of what this breed faces tends to make us forget that the breed is made up of many, many individual dogs who are all
deserving of humane (I use this term loosely, however...
) treatment, dignity, compassion, and a chance at a good life.
Yes, there is always "another" pit bull who needs rescuing... but if we only want the "perfect" ones... what does that say about our
values/ethics and morals?
I am not sorry that I decided to share my life w/Mick - he is one of the best things to ever have happened to me. I don't sugar-coat our difficulties, and I don't make excuses, but I'll be damned if I let one more person put the responsibility to the whole entire breed
on my one
puppy's shoulders... and the next person to consider euthanasia to appease the neighbors... well... I might have to take a big chunk out of someones butt myself.
(sorry, I forgot your screen name...
)... I hope-hope-hope that you reconsider Tysons fate! Three/four months ago I had no hopes for Mick what-so-ever, and euthanasia was suggested to me several times... but look at my boy now!
And Tyson sounds like he has far less issues
and is already ahead of Mick by leaps and bounds.
I am actually cautiously optimistic for the first time in years, and while Mick will never
kiss the vet (Funny, Liz!
) or live life like a "normal" dog - I am happy that we are making some progress.
Mick will always have to be supervised 100% of the time and I will never
trust him completely around anyone other than myself - but I can deal w/that.
And you don't owe your neighbors shit, but you owe your dog and your daughter... and yourself... a chance...
Read this thread (from the top), and follow Katrinas advise, if you can. Time, patience and hard work - I swear to you - it works!!!
CRAP! I went off on a tangent tonight... sorry...