Thursday, June 30, 2011

Who's My Type A?

I was struggling this week with coming up with a blog post - as cute as Hurley is, there are only so many puppy pics I can post and get away with! We are working on reinforcing the training breakthroughs he had last week and other than the unfortunate Leaving Sadie Outside All Night incident of earlier this week, not much has been going on in doggie world. Other than the general chaos that is our home. :)

So when Kristine of Rescued Insanity posted about this doggie personality test, I HAD to take this for my pack and of course post all the results.

Whether or not this test is scientific, accurate, etc is unimportant to me. It's a fun way to check to see how well you know your dogs and so I am going to take a guess at the results prior to taking it. Check back tomorrow for results of the real test.

To summarize, the test evaluates 4 "drives" and asks situational questions to evaluate your dog.  You get to rate 1-10 so it's not simply a yes/no, black/white sort of deal.  I read through the descriptions of each drive (prey, pack and defense, which is divided in fight and flight) and examples but didn't look at any of the questions on the actual test. Here are my rankings for where each drive will score with each dog.

Maggie



 Maggie will likely score high in all areas, except flight. She is my high energy alpha female.

Prey: 70  I ranked prey as the highest score due to Maggie's obsession with fetch and how she must destroy every toy ever to enter our home. But her chasing of cats, squirrels, etc seems to be a learned behavior from Sadie (she never lunged for cats prior to Sadie showing her how fun it can be). She is also extremely food motivated.

Pack: 65  Next to ball, Maggie loves people next. Once upon a time (when she was a puppy), I would have ranked her lower on this scale as she wasn't much of a cuddler and didn't seek out attention from me. My suspicion is that, back then, she didn't consider me her superior in our little pack. She knows better now. :) She still is somewhat of an alpha dog but I'm going with the theory that being the alpha is a distinct pack behavior. Plus her gentle behavior with puppy Hurley really showed us her softer pack side.

Fight: 55  It is my sincerest hope that we will continue to lower this score but the reality is that Maggie has shown a tendency to fight - through her aggression with small dogs and on the leash. She doesn't, however, pick fights where she might lose. While this shows her intelligence, it also shows that she can rein in that fight instinct when it suits her so I'm not going to score her that much over 50 here.

Flight: 25  My girl doesn't really back down or run away from anything. Except maybe fireworks and the lawnmower.

Sadie



Her behaviors are usually one extreme or the other so I'm pretty confident in my scoring here. 'Course I do tend to anthropomorphize her behavior more than the other dogs so for purposes of a canine behavior test, I could be all wrong.

Pack: Highest possible score, whatever that is.  She loves giving and receiving attention, is the dog most likely to be grooming other dogs and is most confused by the changing pack dynamics in our house (she totally doesn't understand why her alpha Maggie submits to the puppy sometimes). There is zero doubt in my mind that she will rank highest here.

Prey: 65  I will never, ever trust Sadie around someone's cat. It might just be the chase that she loves but since she's proven herself to be an effective mouser, I just can't say for sure what she would do if she ever caught a cat. She also loves squirrels and is that dog at the dog park barking up the tree. Currently, she is being harrassed daily by a crow in our backyard. The crow waits for her (seriously, it does) on the ground and the minute we let her out, the crow flies to our fence, roof, shed, etc, leading Sadie on a chase around the yard. I'm pretty sure the crow enjoys this as much as it frustrates Sadie.

Flight: 60 Sadie is not one to get into confrontations. In fact, she gets really worried whenever Maggie gets into a confrontation with another dog and even when Maggie & Hurley are playing a little rough.  Her instinct is definitely to avoid conflict as much as possible.


Fight: 20  Even with her fear aggression problems in the past, it was always obvious that Sadie did not want to bite anyone. She had just learned that snapping would get people to leave her alone when she was scared. Even when Maggie has most viciously attacked another dog, Sadie just mans the perimeter and has never once joined in, not even remotely. She's a lover, not a fighter.

Hurley



Hurley is the hardest for the obvious reason - at 4 months, he is entirely too young to have fully developed his personality and we have yet to observe the full spectrum of behaviors. So...my guess is that he will score low on all drives because the test tells you to skip the question if you have not observed the behavior.


Pack & Prey: 40  I am going to show Pack and Prey in a tie. Hurley is going to be a heck of a well-socialized pup through spending his days at NoPo Paws with me. He already shows a tremendous love of people and has done well with all the dogs he has met. He picks up very well on the social cues he receives from other dogs and adjusts his behavior accordingly - sometimes he plays, sometimes he just follows & sniffs and sometimes he just lays down and watches the other dog. Yes, my 4-month old puppy sometimes just lays down to watch another dog. Yes, I know how lucky I am. He is vastly different in his behavior with his own pack - Tasmanian Devil would be an appropriate description for his behavior when he plays with the girls at home. On the prey side, he is most treat-motivated. He is quite demanding about receiving treats when he performs his commands, which is why I am turning to clicker training as a way to alternatively reward and mark behavior. I can tell already he's got an incredible nose and can sniff out food anywhere.


Fight: 20  Hurley does have a tendency to vocalize his frustration / excitement / need for attention by barking at dogs/people/toys. If he is not allowed the opportunity to meet & sniff, his hackles are raised and he barks. I am determined not to let this blossom into leash aggression so we are working on sitting nicely when dogs pass the shop or while we are out on our potty breaks. However, it is a puppy behavior that seems more prevalent than with most puppies so it's on my radar.

Flight: 10  Quite honestly, I don't think I've seen Hurley back down from anything except for getting in and out of the car. The hubby reported that he was terrified of the lawn mower but that's it. Water bottle squirts to discourage jumping and barking? Yup, he LOVES being squirted with the water bottle. He is definitely a confident puppy who explores his world with complete abandon.  He's going to be one of those dogs that just rolls with the punches when introduced to new environments.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Tail-Chasin'

Here's Hurley engaging in what is hands-down the cutest puppy behavior: The good ol' tail chase.


Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Training Breakthrough!

After WEEKS of working on our down, Hurley has finally got it!  Today, for the very first time, he did down on a verbal command only.  Woot!  We've had the hand signal nailed for a couple weeks but the verbal always takes longer. 

And if that wasn't enough, he went down on verbal signal from a distance of 10 feet away from me, stayed in a down stay and a sit stay for about 10 seconds with me increasing the distance or walking around stuff in the store PLUS he obeyed a Leave It with a treat 2 feet in front of him. This is nothing short of magical for my psychotically treat-obsessed puppy.  He's not solid on that last one yet but the fact that we had a few successes today was a miracle. 

In all honesty, I have been slacking on the daily training sessions over the past couple weeks (you know, launching a website, bringing in raw food and cat products all within a couple weeks of each other...not busy or anything!).  But he is such a superstar.  Today, it was like he'd just been waiting for me and had tons to show off. 



After all that hard training, it was nap-time.  This is my favorite part of the day.  Hurley forsakes the mat and the blanket, both in separate locations for him to snuggle on and curls up right underneath my chair.  Awww...I love you too lil fella!

Wordless Wednesday: Big Head Hurley


There's no doubt this little guy is going to have a BIG St Bernard head!


But where does this curly tail come from?

Sunday, June 19, 2011

My Puppy Daddy




Happy Dad's Day!  Thanks for finding these amazing dogs to share our life.  143!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Oh the Cuteness!

I downloaded some pictures from my camera yesterday and had forgotten all about this photo shoot we had a few weeks ago.  Hurley looks so big in these pics but he's even bigger now.  He weighed in at 24 lbs at the beginning of the week, which means he's officially quadrupled since we got him almost 2 months ago. 

Ready to Pounce!

I don't quite understand fetch yet but aren't I cuter than my sister? 

Who me?  Dig?  I don't know what you're talking about.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

My Happy Ending

Over the past few weeks, I have read several blog posts about troubled dogs with fear aggression issues.  The pet blogger community is full of many wonderful people doing amazing things for dogs - from fostering to advocacy to adoption.  But many times, these stories of troubled pitbulls don't have a happy ending.  Rehabilitating a fear-aggressive dog is a long, arduous process and one that is without guarantees of a happy ending.

So I'd like to share my happy ending.

Sadie, my fearful-aggressive HAPPY GIRL!
Last night, the hubbie had some friends over to watch the Bruins game, drink beer and listen to the webcast of Phish's Alpharetta show.  This is exactly the situation where Sadie would act out in the past.  She was surrounded by her "triggers":  a roomful of men, 2 people she hadn't met before, cheering for sports and loud music.  The last time I remember her snapping at anyone was a few years ago during our Super Bowl party.  A guy she was sitting next to jumped up to cheer for his team and scared her.  Snap.  Needless to say, I tend to get a little nervous when we have these types of gatherings for fear that situation may happen again. 

Last night, Sadie was a happy, friendly dog.  There was not one iota of fear in her.  Not one semblance of bad behavior.

Everyone was there when I got home with pizzas in hand.  The girls were outside and, hating not to let an opportunity pass where Sadie is able to be exposed to these "triggers", I let them back in on my way down to the full basement.  She didn't bark.  Not once, not even at the new peeps.  She sought attention and engaged with everyone there (I'm pretty sure the pizza in everyone's hands helped).  There was no need for anyone to give my dog 5 minutes to get used to them.  There was no need for me to explain her behavior and needs.  She was perfect (except for wiping her drool on a guest).  The moment it clicked for me?  Maggie was doing her darndest to prove that she is a lapdog and was climbing in the lap of one of our guests.  Hurley was busy trying to chew everyone's shoes & pant legs.  Sadie was sitting quietly in front of me.  I leaned over, gave her a kiss and said "Since when are you my most well-behaved dog".  And she was.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Why Hurley

My wonderful hubster had many reasons for picking out Hurley when he decided to surprise me with a puppy to celebrate my new store.

#1:  He knew it would surprise the h-e-double-hockey-sticks out of me.

#2:  He knew I wanted a shop dog, a dog to be in the store with me day in and out and to create a welcoming environment for my customers and their pets.  Mission accomplished!  Hurley is quite the super-star and has his own fan club.  It's great that I have neighborhood peeps stopping in just to see the puppy but it's double awesome when they kids come in to play with him.  He's winning hearts left and right!

#3:  He knew I wanted a BIG dog.  As if 2 60-lb'ers aren't big enough, Hurley could, as I love to tell people, be anywhere between 60 and 200 lbs.  I say that only because I love the wide-eyed expressions I get at that range.  Realistically, he's on the small side for a St Bernard puppy, even if only half Bernie, so I think he'll only get to a measly 80-100 lbs.  He'll be more of a good-sized pillow than an entire beanbag.

#3:  He knew I wanted a FLUFFY dog.  Growing up, I had an American Eskimo dog named Snowball (yes, I was 5 when we got her, hence the silly name).  I loved, loved brushing her and if I dog-sit my friends' fluffy dogs, they often go home with a good brush out.  We're still not sure exactly how Hurley's hair will develop as he grows; he's certainly a little fluff-ball right now.

#4:  He knew that both St Bernards and Golden Retrievers were great breeds for temperament (as are Pitbulls and Labs, I will point out) and in addition to needing a dog that will be well mannered in the store, I had also mentioned that someday I'd like a dog that would be good for therapy work.

Hurley is obviously a super smart puppy.  He sits on command as well as my other two girls (even better sometimes!).  We're still working on down and have begun stay.  I'm pretty sure he'll have a reliable sit-stay before I can get him to lay down on command.  Best of all, he pays attention to me with the intensity that Sadie often has.  His attention span is incredible for being 14 weeks and it's always focused on me (as I am the source of all yummy treats but hey, I'll take it!)

The plan is to train Hurley to become a therapy dog; I would love to volunteer with him and participate in reading programs for children.  Much of this plan depends on his developing personality and if I've learned anything from Maggie & Sadie, it's that you can't force a dog to be your ideal, you can only help them to become their own ideal.  Time will tell if he's got therapy dog in him.  Time will also tell if I'm a good enough trainer to get him to that point.  I certainly can plan well enough - we've already got a Hurley training goal list, which I am about to transfer onto calendar format so we can see our weekly training tasks.  Goal #1 is to pass our Canine Good Citizen test when he's a year old.  I say "our" because I think this is much a test of my abilities as his.

Go Team Hurley!