Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Quirky Ellie: Its a process, not an event.

Ellie has some quirks.

I've been working with training dog companions to become service dogs for over five years, and I have to say, Ellie can come up with some stumpers. As my friend and horse rehabber, Stacey Kollman, says, "Ellie is your final exam in using positive reinforcement methods and training dogs following yoga principles."

A little background: Ellie came to us from Central Arizona German Shepherd Rescue. She was surrendered to the animal shelter for the reason of "not having enough time." She is supposed to be 3 years old (although she seems much younger to me), and she was spayed through the shelter. When I went to see her, I tried some click-n-treat, which she picked up within about 4 clicks. She seemed affectionate with Mike, who cares for the GSD rescues, and she jumped right into the car and quietly rode the 2 hours home with me.

And then the fun began. Miss Ellie

  • chased our cats
  • loved her kennel from the get-go
  • is housebroken
  • jumps on people (she's very light on her feet!)
  • pulled HARD on the leash, seemed to have no concept of leash walking
  • mouths a lot, with little to no bite inhibition (doesn't break skin)
  • runs to her kennel when I brush my teeth
  • boxes my ankles HARD
  • still occasionally goes for 'the takedown' - biting at my ankles and boxing HARD
  • would grab the leash and yank HARD at the end of our walks
  • leaped and lunged at people, dogs, anything that moved
  • had her gentle leader off faster than any dog I've ever worked with!
  • lays quietly within about 6 feet if I putter
  • gets agitated when I sit in the chair to work on the computer (but not with my husband)-jumps into the chair, grabs my hand or goes for my ankles, noses the computer
  • would clicker train 24/7
  • ducks her head and flips your hand to under her chin if try to pet anywhere near her head (clever girl, interesting strategy)'
  • is all about play (yay - it gives me a key to help her learn to moderate her own behaviors so she's socially acceptable around people and dogs - and - cats)

It's a process, not an event. There are a lot of behaviors to divert, replace, extinguish, and otherwise address. We've made great progress, and we're having fun.

And for now, she's resting quietly at my feet. Thank you, good girl.

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