This is my fault.
Bobby is a rescue who was delivered to the kill shelter by a policeman. We got him with 48 hours before his death sentence. He was so incredibly lame, emotionally. He was terrified of everything and while I was raised on a hard-knocks ranch where hard-knocks were delivered (often too much, I could tell you stories that would leave you crying on the floor and I’m not talking about what was done to me).
I didn’t have the heart to say the word ‘no’ to him, let alone ‘punish’ him for anything, not even in the tiniest of ways. I’ve always used positive affirmation and rewards. The only time I ever used restriction/ redirection (‘have a heart’ leashing) was about a year ago — he was 3.5 years old.
I’d never have done this had it not been for the vet telling me off that part of my job was to socialise him. Well…he lives in the middle of NOWHERE on a ranch that is RETIRED, so it’s not like there’s any socialisation to be had!
He’s extremely people-friendly BUT kills (or tries) every other animal he meets.
My main training focus was simple: get him to eat out of a pan, not only single bites from my hand. That’s the only way he’d eat when he came to us: directly from my hand and cautiously, at that.
We got him to where he’d not only eat but eat by himself! That took months of stages.
He wouldn’t go indoors, not even a doghouse or crate. That took months and months. I worked on a crate first, as it was the easiest (I could move it when empty, to different locations to get him used to that, as well), then the doghouse, then the outer buildings, then the house proper.
Once he got used to things, he seemed to always love them!
Lately, he got a rash. I medicated him externally and internally and as a precaution, brought him inside basically 100% of the time.
This is where the problem stems, I’m sure. He is an action pup and loves being outside but he’s nosey and A LAB and loves to be with me, as well.
When I moved him to sleeping overnights indoors? I think he got all territorial on me. I didn’t even realise it til last night.
Our usual thing, every night of his 4+ years with us, is that I get him off his indoors ‘pallet’ by petting him, talking sweetly and ending with ‘Time Go NightNight.’
At this, he usually rouses. Sometimes, he lifts his head and looks at me like, ‘You crazy bitch! It ain’t Time Go NightNight yet!’ but he gets off the pallet and heads to the door.
Last night, he didn’t move at all. I did my next thing:
I have never grabbed his collar except the time he was trying to kill St. Mark’s lab and that was simply trying to restrain him. I don’t like seeing people yanking animals by their collars (the ‘have a heart’ gives a squeeze but it’s to the chest or schnoozle, which uses VERY LITTLE PRESSURE).
What I do is with my fingertip, touch his collar. It’s a ‘reminder’ like ‘hey, you.’ He growled. I stood back up with my mouth ajar.
‘Did you just growl at me?’ I decided that I had gone more insane than usual. I repeated the process of my barely touching him.
I stood up, eyes blazing. Are you fucking kidding me? My sweet, spoilt rotten dog is going to do this territorial bs with a hillbilly?
Dude. This isn’t good.
Let me tell you something: dogs that bite their family members are no more. At that instant, I realised this could be very ugly, very fast.
I took my fingertips (all of my right hand) and briefly pushed his chest, ‘NO!’
He rolled over on his back, tummy up, eyes wide, submissive.
Which was the right bloody thing to do.
He went outside after that.
Being a dog, he lives in the now. I can’t hold a grudge against him for my poor training and my poor boundaries.
All of his privileges to my apartment are gone.
I’m truly upset about this because it means that we’re at a stage that I created and it puts him in jeopardy. He’s whacky in the head and came that way. I have overly-babied and not minded boundaries and now we have a problem.
I’m sure reclaiming the apartment will help. I’m sure because he’s screwed if it doesn’t.