As I posted a little while ago I was frustrated at the lack of progress we seemed to be making with Zephyr. I took the advice from a lovely Rottie owner and I bought a soft muzzle. It may seem like a drastic decision but bare with me on this one.
I have always been against a muzzle. I felt it was punishing Zeph for something he hasn’t done. But having done some reading and really thought about it, we felt it was a good safety net for Zeph to wear a soft muzzle. His reactivity was getting out of hand and there is always the worry of, if I was to fall or hurt myself (with my track record, not unlikely), what would the clown do? It is not a permanent feature in case anyone is worrying that I’ve gone from one extreme to another. The big bear isn’t thrilled about the muzzle, but we’ve been giving him treats and spoiling him when he has it on:
He only has it on for very short periods of time, i.e. for a few minutes while passing groups of dogs or dogs we think might cause problems. The rest of the time, the muzzle is folded down off his face so he can breathe properly and enjoy his walks as always. I’ve taken off the harness so he only has a lead, halti and a muzzle. It is being used as a back up, but I have to say it has calmed us all down.
B and I have been going out together with just Zeph on his own, and the team effort has made a huge difference! – and most of the time no muzzle!
Zeph has made it past loads of dogs at a distance with very little fuss. While B concentrates on Zeph I can slip him some treats and/or if needed run some interference if absolutely necessary (i.e. if a dog is off lead and runs at us I can go fuss the stranger dog while B turns Zeph away etc). We’ve only had to put the muzzle on a few times if the distance between us and passing dogs is too close to be sensible and I have to say it has made a huge difference. With Zeph unable to cause quite as much of a scene, even passing strangers aren’t as uptight as they would normally be which has had a positive effect on us all.
Saying that, I’ve also gotten better at praising Zeph. And I mean really praising! I read a good article about how praising your dog while training is all that really matters, who cares about a strangers opinion. By caring about strangers the dog suffers as he doesn’t know when he is doing well or not. I have decided that I care not one bit about other peoples opinions. Look where it has gotten me! Anxious with a stressed out dog. So, I now really praise Zeph. I’m certain I’ve had some weird looks as I open my arms wide and tell Zeph in a really loud and excitable voice “What a good boy! YES! Well done!”. So the combination of a safety net (muzzle), the training as a couple, and all the fuss seems to be finally making a difference to the big guy! I am so excited to keep this going and here’s hoping it all pays off one day.
In other puppy news: B had bother with his back the other day and the boys rallied around him for support;
The pups love a good snuggle up and when one of us is immobilised they take full advantage. The two pups have been very clingy of late, Zeph has been carting around his sooky blanket. I told him it was for babies and that he was supposed to be a grown up dog now….this was the response:
The face of “How could you!?”. He really is the softest most cowardly lump. I just want to cuddle up with him and his gorgeous face. Look how handsome he is!!
Anyway, I am desperate for summer. I miss the longer nights. I have been pushing it a little on the walks at night in my desperation to get into the woods for a walk after work. The woods are a little creepy in the dark I have to say but also very peaceful but B has asked me to not go into the woods on my own just in case. *sighs* I’ll be sensible!
Back to the training thing, now at some point B and I may wish to try for a family. We aren’t there yet I hasten to add! but at some point in the future who knows. And I was thinking about the dogs manners. I often wonder how other people manage to have such well behaved dogs and mine are a riot. I am well aware I am not the best at making boundaries (we all know how the no dogs on the sofa rule went)
So I was thinking about boundaries and well obviously we might have to make more to accommodate any new arrivals and besides that, it is about time I actually taught my dogs properly. So I thought I would try out a new rule. I like to sit up in the office with the door open so I can hear the dogs downstairs. The downside being, that they often join me in the office, which is fine if they come and lie down but often they want to steal things, climb on the bed etc. So I decided that no, they cannot come through the door. It is still a work in progress but I managed to get them to lie out in the hallway. I did this by getting up out of my chair and walking towards the dogs as they tried to come in the room. As soon as they went back out the door I backed off and sat back in the chair. It took a few attempts for them to get the idea but eventually they realised that I was in the room, it was mine and I didn’t want them in it. They sulked a little and Echo had a tantrum (full on, flail about on the floor like a child) but they got the hint. I am going to stick with it. I will need to make the wedding bouquets soon and the office is the only place to do that so obviously I don’t want them stealing anything! Once we get this under wraps, I will think of what I want to teach them next.
And to finish it all off, here is some nice pics of the boys: