Friday, April 24, 2015

Some days just do not work out alright.

Today I would have really liked it to be a nice, relaxed day of celebration.
My wife is trying out a stand-in job in taking care of a handicapped person and she had had her first 12-hour nightshift in years last night. While she was asleep I got a phonecall telling me I have a fulltime summerjob; 40 hours a week, may to september. In order to enjoy this good news and to let my wife sleep in peace, I took Rex for a long walk in the woods. Some woodstime.... It has been way too long....
Unfortunately this did not work out quite as well as I had hoped. Rex was in a mood...... that did not contribute to a smooth cooperation and interaction between man and dog. He has been like this for a while now, but since a week..... charging at the cats, actively hindering them from seeking our companionship, disobedient, restless, chewing on things and hard to hold back. Playing with him almost instantly becomes violent and when he spots another animal..... He is walked 4 times a day with 1 time being more than an hour, but it is never enough.

Today was little different. In some respects he was worse. More and more Rex is showing a combination of 2 characteristics that I do not like to see in a dog simultaneously; very energetic and with a strong mind of his own. I like a lively and playful dog and I do not mind a dog having a mind of his own, but when his master calls he has to stop what he's doing and obey. Preferably at the first command. maybe at the second, but shouting for 4-5 times at a dog before he even responds and then decides if he is going to obey.... Not good. A dog walking his master; not good. When he gets told to not do or stop doing something, you see him glare at you...... and then quickly do it anyway. And you know he knows he's not supposed to do it. Lately I am seriously wondering if he is the right dog for this family. For me. Yet mostly he really wants to be friends, to be good. It just doesn't always work out that way.
The view for much of the walk
It might all be, because of his fase in life; a teenage dog. So for now I will shorten the leash so to speak and be more strict with him and see where this is going. But I do not like the fact that I have to be so firm, almost oppressive in order to get him to do even the simplest of tasks, simply because he just doesn't want to. One of those tasks is to go easy... He just will not go slow, especially on the long leash, no matter how often you slow him down or correct him. He merely turns his head.... and is off again, dragging you along. I have to keep my eyes fixed on the ground, just to see where I put down my feet, so I miss all the details, like a large buzzard sitting on a perch in plain sight, no 15 meters away from me. I noticed him when he took off as Rex came storming along the path. It doesn't really make it any easier to see wildlife, when you constantly have to bark commands at your dog either.
And that was when following the paths. In between the trees he not just pulled, but did that in all directions, nearly slamming me into trees or making me fight for balance on the rocky surface. He acted like a frickin' ADHD dog on a sugar- and caffeine rush!
The walk in the woods was anything but a leisurely, relaxing stroll and, despite a saying that you can not remain angry for long in the woods, but 2,5 hours later I came out pretty irritated (steaming is a better word) and we went home. I kept Rex short this time and he knew he blew it.
Yet, on the few occasions he managed to stand still, when I told him too and I could take some pictures or look briefly at an object of my interest.

Youngsters cheating in order to be bigger sooner.
A hefty burl with an odd shape

No words.....

The buckled area where root becomes tree
A cave of green

The grandeur of the forest as I like to see it!
Feast your eyes on it, as it will be gone soon.
They have begun to cut down the area...

Shortly after we came home I heard a familiar noise coming up the road; a pair of bitching and bickering girls coming home from school.... Great.
I had hoped to bring the good news as a surprise to the family over a nice dinner, but a) the surprise got ruined and b) a major ingredient for the dinner I wanted to make had run out, so I had to improvise and cook up something completely different. Still good, but now what I had in mind...

The dog is snoring in the couch now, the wife off to work again. The kids are off to bed and I am left here rethinking the day...... I think I'll have a beer.....


  1. God, that forest looks beautiful. Why are they cutting it down? :( Hope you can figure out what is going with Rex, crazy spring hormones..

    1. That's what they do with forests around here. It is a resource and these are exploited practically without regard.
      Same as mining.

  2. Sounds like you've got dog being a teenager. Time to go back to basics, keep the training short and fun, and if he pushes it, finish immediately and carry on doing something without him, he'll soon learn what's good for him, and you. Enjoy your beer.

    1. I did take him out today and maybe there still is some part German shepherd in him.
      He responded quite well to a sergeant major kind of voice... ;) Bellowing short, harsh commands at him did yield an almost instant result....

  3. I have an extremely intelligent dog with a mind of her own. I have to correct her now and then but for the most part positive reinforcement works well for her. She has to have a lot of exercise and work or she makes it up on her own. If you move his collar up to the top of his neck it might help with the pulling. I had to make it completely uncomfortable for mine to pull on the leash. I usually never leash a dog but this one had to be leashed until she was over a year old. I've heard harnesses work well to take some control away from the dog and give it to the person at the other end of the leash, but I haven't used one.

    Congrats on the jobs! Awesome news!

    1. Hej Robin,
      he actually wears a harness, but that one's more suited for pulling I am afraid. We tried a collar, but he hates them and really tries hard to get rid of them. We are looking at alternatives.
      Dogs must be leashed here for at least half the year, from spring to autumn and even after that it would be very advisable to keep Rex leashed. To the masses he looks too much like a wolf and wolves are not really popular around here. Happens all to often that some triggerhappy, wolfhating yahoo guns down the dog of one of his fellow villagers.
      Thanks for dropping in!

    2. Sounds very much like a teenager. I guess most dog owners recognizes that behaviour. I know it's pretty difficult not to lose your temper when you tell your dog to do something, he is looking at you clearly understanding what you mean, and then just ignores you! Goes over by the time, if the dog is healthy minded I would say.

      I have only spitz type hunting dogs, so it's clear they have and should have an instinct to the game. Even they can be relaxed and calm at home, it's still there. Can be laying relaxed, and just suddenly dash after some game at very next moment. Maybe Rex has some of that in him....

      Have you thought of a training collar, that turns the head when the dog is pulling? I have no personal experience with them, but it has worked for some dogs. Well, you wrote he doesn't really tolerate a collar, so I guess he would need to get used to a normal one first.

    3. Rex does have a huntínginstinct too, so going loose is a no-go at any rate.

  4. Thank god for beer! I can just picture you slouched on the couch with a frayed look on your face. I am so sorry!

    How old is Rex? Has he had any formal training? What breed is he? Is he neutered?

    I have experience with feisty dogs, big dogs, dogs with lots of energy, dogs that need a job. I wonder if I can help.

    Until I know the answers to the above questions I have only one general observation. You must never feel bad about disciplining him. See, you are his pack leader. Look at how the wolf pack leader treats the rest of the pack. The pack leader calls all the shots and if not obeyed you know how nasty he gets! The pack leader even eats before the rest of the pack.

    Rex sound like a dog who wants to get along but has a big energetic personality. He needs a job. His job will be pleasing you.

    I have had many dogs in my lifetime and I and my husband also train horses. There's nothing worse than a large animal that doesn't respect you. (I also believe there's nothing worse than a miniature animal that doesn't respect you but that's another story). I don't get mad at animals. I may get exasperated. The animal is just being what they are. However if you have a large animal that gets in your space in an undisciplined manner it can be dangerous for you. So we need to keep ourselves safe.

    Let me tell you about my current dog as an example. He was saved from a shelter and they pretty much were wrong about every thing about him. It turned out that he had some very bad habits that stemmed from fear. He had other bad habits because that's his breed. He is a very assertive dog with a strong personality. He would bite when you tried to touch his neck like putting on the collar. He was kicked out of the first training class because of the trainers concern about liability. (This is not like Rex at all. I know. I am just telling you this to show that you can turn a difficult dog around.) Well, first thing I did was adjust my behavior. Never was the dog allowed to be on my bed or couch. He always eats after me. If we go out the door I go first he goes second. He sits and stays in the car until I let him out. You get the idea. He doesn't do ANYthing without my permission. He doesn't get any food treat unless he does something for me. Then on walks I put him in a prong pinch collar. This sounds awful but compared with the wolf pack leader it's just the same. The training is in the timing and release. To get him out of his habit of pulling we'd start out on our walk on leash and the absolute minute he strayed ahead of me I commanded Heel and of course because he had no discipline he didn't listen, made a mistake and pulled ahead. He didn't know what my command meant so who can blame him? But we're about to give him his place in the pack so education begins! It's then I give him a very firm correction. I mean very firm. It shocked him out of his mindlessness. He's not wrong. He's just not educated about what is acceptable and what is not. The pack leader lets him know in a very clear consistent way.

    The reinforcing has to be very very consistent. Not just now and then. It has to be all the time or the absolute majority of the time.

    It did not take long that this unruly dog became an angel on leash. Now when he is on leash there's a "float" in his leash. No pull from him whatsoever. If he forgets a little all I have to do is say heel and take the slack out. I don't have to discipline. He comes right back and walks calmly. I can go into more detail if you want. PS my dog has very strong prey drive like Rex.

    I believe you know what to do. You just need some revisiting of what you know to be right and a re-commitment to that.

    Now cat training. That's hard! I think that takes copious amounts of raw steak, a chair and a bull whip.

    1. Well, I actually never made it to that beer. A cold got the best of me, so it became tea with honey.
      Rex turn 2 in june, is not neutered (yet), has had no upbringing of any sort before he came to is, let alone training and is a mix between German shepherd and Alaskan husky. But we suspect only the colors to be shepherd....
      He has come a looong way since we got him and I am amazed at what he has learned so far. He has started to obey and that is becoming better and better. It was just this particular day.... and he does have such days from time to time.... where you have to assert dominance over him in a very strict (more than usual) and even physical way. (No, no kicking, screaming way).
      We'll get there eventually and like I said in a previous post, it is not just the dog that is doing the learning here.
      On a practical note; he needs a job. A physical one. In winter it is pulling a sled. In summer.... we're thinking about that. He doesn't seem to like warmth as far as we can tell, so maybe he'll be down most of the time anyway.

    2. Just curious why is he not neutered? Did you want to breed him or did you want that special energy only an intact animal offers? John Lyons offered this about horses for example: it takes 2 hrs to train a gelding, 10 hours to train a mare and 30 hours to train a stallion. So unless you have a really good reason not to neuter him I would do that right away.

      You've got that right about the breed. He does need a job. Some way to get all that energy out. But even with the energy he should be so obedient that even if he's off leash (some day) you should be able to call him back. We have a very high energy herding dog for chasing cows but when you tell him Platz! He platzes! He is unneutered too. We wanted the special energy only an intact dog can offer. But we paid for it with much extra training. (Well, my husband did; we even bought sheep at auction to help train him then we sold them back when he was trained)

      Why not give him a hair cut? Take off the doggie anorak. We give our rescue dog a hair cut. Otherwise he might get heat stroke in 110 degree weather.

      The nice thing about the prong collar is that it is very kind actually. You don't have to use it but a few times. The ruff around their next protects them. This is why a flat collar or harness means practically nothing to them. They can't feel it. That's why it's nice to pull against when pulling a load, right? The kindness of the prong comes in the hands of the leader (you). When applied just at the moment of mistake quickly without anger (assertion is not anger) and then immediate release when obeyed it gives the dog a loud and clear message. They actually appreciate it if done properly. They crave having a strong and fair leader. They are looking for it and feel happier when they have that.

      I know you've got it in you. I hear you have a learning mind so I know you and Rex will make it. Animals are our teachers. What they bring to the table is not complicated human stuff. They are true. They are straight. They are never anything but exactly what they are.

    3. Neutering, and any veterinarian help, is insanely expensive here.
      And a haircut want be necessary I think. Half his fur was or is flying through the area already.

  5. Oh Congratulations on your job! Yippee!

    1. Thanks, even if it only is a summerjob.
      It will create opportunities!!

  6. My heartfelt congratulations!

    ...and best of luck with your strong-willed companion...;-)

  7. Doesn't sound like the best day ever, but...congrats on the jobs! :)