I guess it all started with my Beautiful Raja. She was momma's first mastiff and at the time momma fancied herself a pretty good trainer having previously trained my Grandpa Angus the Airedale to sub novice obedience and her little Pi dog (whom I never met) to be a therapy dog.
But when Raja was a teenager she started to get really grouchy and didn't want any doggies or people getting close to her. Curiously, she did still enjoy daycare (and didn't get kicked out like me). Apparently she spent her daycare days getting snuggles and yelling at doggies who ran too fast.
Well Raja also had the bad hips and suffered from a lot of pain during her short life and momma figured that was what caused her to be so grouchy.
When I came along I was a pretty happy go lucky kind of guy, but then when I became a teenager I started to get scared by a lot of things. I did the show dog thing a couple of times but had to stop because I was afraid to go into the ring. And then I got too scared to go into Grandma and Grandpa's house and even afraid to go into the dog store!
It didn't take me long, though, to figure out that because I was so HOOGE I could make scary things go away by going AR AR AR and lunging at them. So I started doing that whenever I got nervous on our walkies.
By this time I was approaching two hundred pounds of Mango-ness and momma was most concerned on our walkies. She tried to act calm, but I could tell she worried too whenever we saw another human or doggie so I would scare them away to protect her. After a while, she would find herself sitting by the window timing the comings and goings of our neighbors and the school buses to try and find a time for walkies when there was nobody else out. Well that certainly made her even more nervous.
We went to lots of obedience classes and trainers. I think the trainers pushed momma too hard and tried to make her do things that she wasn't ready for because I could tell that sometimes even SHE was a little afraid of me which made me really sad. Momma says she lost all her confidence as a trainer. Sob.
When I was almost four years old I told momma that we should stop going on walkies because it just upset her too much and it was making me really stressy. After all, I still went on ROTE and I have a nice big yard to play in and get exercise and we kept doing our dog dancing. But it made me sad because once momma "gave up" she stopped challenging me to try new things and started treating me like a baby who couldn't handle any new stuff. And I was getting confused because I was making all my own decisions which was really too much and I admit that I started getting kind of bratty and disrespecting momma even on my estate.
Then I started reading blogs from doggies who had good human trainers and who had some special needs such as my large and handsome self. Doggies like Honey and Loki and Monty. Even Lance and Vito (who don't have special needs but have a wonderful momma who sends my momma nice peemails).
But especially Honey and Loki because they are big doggies. I have to say that most trainers did not appreciate how it affects the humans to have experienced 230 pounds of barking lunging doggie on the end of a leash. It is not something you can just walk away from. In fact I pulled momma right off her feet a few times. Hehehe.
They convinced momma that even if I didn't leave my estate, I could still enjoy walkies right in my own yard! So we started practicing. Now we don't practice every day and we don't practice for long, but we have learned many things which I will enumerate for your thusly;
- If your doggie is not well behaved and minding you at home it is too soon to try and get good manners off the property.
- Never ever do anything that makes you nervous on the inside because even if you make calm face that would fool another human, your doggie knows that you are nervous.
- Training is not an "event." It happens every time you interact with your doggie. We are watching for sure.
- Keep your trainings doggie appropriate. Speaking for my large and short attention span self, I am most happy to only train for a few minutes before I get frustrated and bored. That's OK. But learn to stop before that happens.
- Your goal is to improve your relationship with your dog. Period. And there IS NO TIMELINE. That is most important. No marking on the calendar that we will be doing such and such by this and that date. Sheesh.
The other day I was out in my yard and my neighbor started leaf blowing right along my fence! I charged for sure all yelling and puffing myself up for him to get lost. But at the same time I kind of was looking over my shoulder at momma because I wasn't sure anymore if that was still my job. She made happy voice and clapped her hands and even though she didn't have any cookies I went right to her. She told me that it was OK and that he was not dangerous. I was so relieved and was able to lay down on my deck and meditate while she went inside to do "stuff" and my neighbor kept blowing leaves along my fence.
Yuh, and it isn't like we spend all our time training either. We do a "formal" training where I put on my training gear about 4-5 times / week.
I wear a pinchy collar and a sports bra. My pinchy collar is for if I start disrespecting momma but so far it has not been "activated" because I have been such a good boy. At first my leash was not even clipped to the pinchy collar, but now it is. That's OK. PeeWee has a pinchy collar and sports bra too and he says that sometimes sneaky momma hooks up one and sometimes the other. My sports bra is "just to get me used to it" so that we have "options."
Right now we warm up with walkies and jogging in my back yard and lately we have been going out front very briefly to practice too. We end with some fun dog dancing. But in between I also get to practice some stuff inside like targeting and roll over and even when we aren't training I am still learning to wait in doorways, drop my tennis ball, and come when called (sort of).
Momma tries to trick me into being a bad doggie sometimes. Here she tempts me with my most favorite cow milky thing toys, but I was having none of it.
Don't you know it's training time silly woman?
We still have issues over when it is time to come inside. I was really surprised one day when I refused to come in and momma came out and put my leash on. I did a most amazing bucking bronco but she just waited me out and then kind of snapped the leash and used stern voice and I knew I had to follow her in. Now I will always come in like a gentleman when she puts the leash on but we still don't agree on coming in without the leash. Oh well.
I could share more words about our bad training experiences and details of our journey but I think this is enough for today and I would be keen to learn what my readers might want to hear about in more detail.
The most important words are that my relationship with momma is so much better and we enjoy each other's company more and I am getting lots of good attentions and mentals stimulations and that was the whole goal, right? Will I ever go walkies like PeeWee again? Who knows? Who cares? We're having fun!
Mango Man! Oh yeah!
P.S. I am supposed to tell you that stupid PeeWee should also be thanked for my new trainings. I guess that when he came along momma thought that she was hopeless as a trainer, but he is a labradork and will work for air treats and praise which I guess is a good thing because his total suck up attitude towards training did help momma get her confidence back.