Making doggy strides

We adopted Missy almost a month ago. She’s a very well-behaved dog with us, knows how to go potty outside, and can obey simple commands like “sit”, “down” and “bed”. However, when we took  her on her first walk, she was walking on her back legs because she was pulling so hard on the leash. I was nervous and impatient with her. I had this puppies and rainbows vision of having a dog who would stay right by my side and be the perfect walking/running companion.

Everyone in our neighborhood it seems has at least two dogs, one of whom is usually a Chihuahua or other toy breed, and they leave them out seemingly all. The. Time. These dogs run up to the fence, bark, yap, whatever, and make the hair on Missy’s back go up. I get nervous because I’m thinking about her reaction and afraid that she’ll lunge or bite.

When my friend Jess brought her dog over for a meet-and-greet before the weekend we were supposed to watch her, Missy did not take kindly to Lux. She growled and lunged and seemed like a completely different dog than the one we adopted. After all, at the shelter, she was very calm with other dogs around. So what was the deal?

(we think she's a basenji/boston mix)

I think she was in a period of transitioning into her new territory. I checked out a couple books from the library about dogs and watched as many episodes of Dog Whisperer as Hulu would allow. I’m no Cesar Millan, but on our walk today I had a much calmer, more confident companion.

I started stopping in my tracks when she’d pull on the leash and coax her to come back by me. I don’t usually have to coax now or call her; after about 15 seconds of standing still, she gets the idea and puts slack on the leash. We encountered a couple dogs barking and coming within close proximity of us.

One of these dogs is the ugliest dog ever and it lives next door. I guess its owner lets it out and it poops and pees in our yard. Anyway, I redirected Missy’s attention while walking past when this dog was barking and she did well!

My attitude and confidence during our walks have been much better. As Cesar Millan says, dogs live in the present, so when we anticipate their actions and get worried about something that hasn’t happened yet, that “energy” transfers to the dog and they can get worked up for no good reason.

Besides pulling on the leash, she has a problem with jumping on us when we get home. We tried Cesar’s “no-touch, no-talk, no-eye-contact” policy and that helped a little bit. We did tell her to go lay down or go to her bed (kennel). Now when we get home, if we leave her out of her kennel, all we have to do is look at her sideways and she goes and lays down on her own.

In the car she gets very defensive if we’re driving by someone walking on the sidewalk. She needs to be socialized around more animals and people. There are dog parks, but none on our side of town. There is a park that’s pretty busy with families and their dogs on the weekends, so I want to take her there. I think Missy has a lot of potential. She’s a quick learner! Now that I’ll be home more, I’ll have more time to train her, and hopefully when she’s ready I can take her to the house where I’ll be tutoring and babysitting; they have a lot of property, and many animals, including a dog.

2 thoughts on “Making doggy strides

  1. I can’t wait to meet her! It’s amazing how quickly they learn things! I can’t wait to be home for the summer and get to dog-sit Chief again. I love that little guy!

  2. You’re the best dog owner ever! Thanks for giving Missy a chance, and for being so devoted to making sure she’s a well behaved pup. The world could use more dedicated individuals like you! 🙂

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