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Saturday, January 29, 2011

Finding the Training Addiction


So remember in that first post how I mentioned that the shelter said that Clementine was low energy and sweet? That all got thrown out the window after the first day I had her. She is smart, feisty, full of energy and not a fan of cuddles. When I first got her she was also terrified of everything. Every noise, she would flatten on the floor and pee herself. I lived on a very busy street here in Denver and it was a bear to potty train her because she was afraid of the traffic too.

I attempted to crate train her and I'd come home and find her in the crate, 15 feet over from where I left her. The whole apartment would smell of fear and she'd be shaking and shivering. I stopped trying to crate her once I got her house trained. The solution that worked for us was me keeping her tied to me with a leash at ALL TIMES unless she went potty outside. Once I figured that trick out - it took all of two days to have a house-trained dog.

Her separation anxiety then turned towards chewing and getting in the trash. I thought I would cleverly outsmart her by getting one of those step lid trash cans. I had that thing home for all of two minutes before I found her with one paw on the step and her head buried in coffee grounds and paper towels.

It was right then I realized I didn't have an average dog on my hands. I vigilantly researched everything I could about the breed and joined online chat groups. I read website after website on what to do with a fearful cattle dog. EXPOSURE, EXERCISE AND TRAINING - LOTS OF TRAINING.

I thought back to what my horse trainer always told me - to be calm, to not react. I began by taking Clementine everywhere I could. Don't like car rides? Too bad, get in. Don't like that other dog? Too bad, keep walking. Don't like loud noises? Yeah, you get the picture.

My dogs may be spoiled rotten, but I will say they are not babied and they are not sheltered. I understand they are dogs and they are not perfect. All I can do is try to make them the best dogs they can be.

It has taken years of this exposure level with Clem to get where we are today, but it has paid off. I now have a dog who used to be afraid of everything, to only being mildly upset over car rides, thunderstorms and fireworks. She trusts me and even though we often butt heads - we have a partnership that is beyond rewarding.

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