a Taj MuttHall Dog Diary: Another Week of Dog Training / Tika Possessed by Squirrels

Friday, May 23, 2003

Another Week of Dog Training / Tika Possessed by Squirrels

Sunday and Monday I'll be doing dog agility in Elk Grove. This is NADAC agility, which doesn't penalize you unduly for training in the ring. (That is, you earn an elimination in the run but can continue. In other venues, they toss you out of the ring on your butt with possibly invective from the judge for being so rude.) We probably need this opportunity for Tika.

Then Tue-Fri I'll be commuting daily to Novato for a dog-training class from John Rogerson, a guru of dog behavior & training from England. That'll be long commute--over an hour each way. Luckily someone else in this neighborhood (a club member) is also attending, so we'll carpool. Can't take our dogs; we'll be practicing his techniques on shelter dogs at the humane society where the seminar takes place. Looking forward to it. Not looking forward to coming home after a long day and having wild dogs say "Let's PLAY PLAY PLAY PLAY PLAY AUUUUUUGHHHHHH!!!!"

There were squirrels everywhere at Tika's training this week. This week, certainly, it seemed like such strong atavistic prey drive that she didn't even care when I left the ring and hid. Sometimes that works. Maybe she's figured out that I'll come back eventually. More likely I think she just didn't care at the moment. We spent the next half hour walking around the perimeter on leash (her on one end, me on the other), attempting to get her to focus on me. She mostly did what I asked, but with a desperate frenzy; have a couple of blood-blisters on my fingers (from treats) to show for it. And her attention was *never* fully on me; one ear or both remained cocked towards where the squirrels were. And if we happened to be near a tree where they decided to dance, she was almost uncontrollable.

Went for a walk Tuesday evening, and a dog came out of the driveway about 30 feet away, just a shy, friendly dog, and she also went nuts. I tried to get her to sit as soon as I saw what was going on, but she really was almost uncontrollable. Even with the gentle leader. I had one hand in her collar, one in her gentle leader, one under her collar with fingers under muzzle for control as we learned in class, one hand trying to hold her mouth shut because the screeching, slathering, snarling frenzy of noise coming from her mouth was painful to my ears, instigating to Jake, frightening (fortunately) to the other dog, and I didn't know what to the people who were standing there with their dog.

OK, I don't think I really have that many hands. I was more than a little disconcerted. She's nuts when there's another dog around the neighborhood, but this is the worst I've seen in a while. This was like the first few weeks or months all over again. After I walked the dogs home, I went back to the house to apologize and to explain that I don't really have a dog-aggressive, vicious (maybe viscous) dog. Fortunately they have 2 dogs of varied training themselves, and we had a nice long chat, and they claimed that they didn't even think twice about the whole thing. Very circumspect of them.

It was a bad couple of days.

Plus I've got a 40-hour work week (plus some commuting) going, first in a while, and I'm exhausted, dogs are neglected, house is neglected, having some bad allergic reactions to something (lips swelling up?!--started with middle upper lip wed morning, moved to upper right by wed evening; thursday morning had moved around to lower right, by end of day lower middle; this morning very slightly lower left, but mostly I think it's gone; an odd progression with no logic that I can figure), don't have rental income and it's the end of the month; but at least I do now have a contract for a couple of months, which I had also been stressing about. OK, time to go for a walk with... the dogs... ba-dum, ba-dum.....ba-dum, ba-dum.... (think sharks)

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