Tuesday, July 4, 2006

Josie Climbs the Ladder of Success

Over the last month I've written quite a bit about Luna and while she's adjusting well Josie is creating her own success. I've often referred to her as my little pest and that there was a reason she's so darn cute. Well over the last month my little pest has gone from ignoring me 90% of the time to giving me her attention at least 80% of the time. I'm able to get her attention while she's playing hard and when she's asked to sit she no longer stares as if she's not learned the action in the past.

To say training Josie has been frustrating is a huge understatement. She frustrated me to the point that I basically gave up, that was until our foster greyhound Annie came to stay with us. Annie had a few problems and Josie the pest was not making them easier to manage. The only option I had was to step up my training with her and that is exactly what I did.  We had many long walks together where I drilled her on basics, tried to get her pulling on leash under control and to rein her in during the early morning hours. The basics were the easy part, with in two days she was responding immediately. I regained her focus on me as well. By the end of the first week I noticed her looking to me while outside in the backyard. When she would look to me I would call, "Josie, come!" and to my surprise she came 99% of the time. When her play became obnoxious with Wyatt or Dexter, I would call, "Josie, come!" and she would and I would lavish her with yummy treats and pets. 

The recall then led to my success with stopping all three W, D & J from barking at the fence. When the six ankle biters that live on the street behind me would crawl through my neighbors fence and yap, yap, yap at my fence my dogs would bark right back. It was annoying and I decided to take my fence back. I would get to my fence upon hearing the first yap of the ankle biters and then I would catch Josie before she could bark and ask for a sit or a down. D & W would follow and do as Josie did because they saw her getting treats. After the third day I didn't have to approach the fence, Josie would come running to me when the ankle biters started their yapping! And as of today those ankle biters rarely enter my neighbors yard because my pups no longer pay attention to them because I hold the pouch to the good stuff!

The biggest success happened about a week ago, while on a walk. You see when it came time for evening walks no one wanted to walk Josie, not because they didn't love her but because the little 50 lbs pest would drag the one holding the leash. She walked us. Well, something clicked in her hard head and the pulling diminished. The walk started the same way they always did with her charging through the neighborhood dragging one of my family members behind. It must make quite a sight to see since our other dogs walked happy along side of us. Halfway through the walk she fell in line with my youngest daughter and began focusing on her instead of pulling. I quickly handed her a fistful of treats and she promptly reinforced all the focus and calm loose leash walking. From that day forward walking Josie is not so much a chore anymore. She still tries to pull but it doesn't last. Since she's a mix of beagle and basset hound with have double the sniffing and now allow her to sniff the front yard but once she hits the sidewalk it's our way and she happily obeys.

It's not the end of training for Josie, but we have reached our goal of pleasant walks much sooner than I thought we would. Instead of giving up completely, I took my own advice of consistency, patience and my persistence is now paying dividends that will last a lifetime as long as I am more hard headed than Josie.

Until next time Woof, Woof, Woof and a Roo!

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