I knew that Dexter,the dog who I wrote my book series after, was special. I knew he was a perfect , well mannered old man. I never realized how lucky we had it when we adopted him at 9 until we adopted my 5 year old WILD STALLION Carlton! Carlton sure is alot of fun to play with...but man, he barks..and barks..and chases my cats..and barks and barks.. He is a miniature poodle-super cute,soft and smart. The interesting part is he is also part terrier-perhaps Jack Russell-all I know is that part is ALL SPAZ. The Humane Society said, he was good with cats and there was no terrier in him..HA!
We have had our little love bug since August.. he is a doll and fun. He does know "sit" and "come"...and even chooses to listen to those commands sometimes. We have had a lot of extra commotion and stress in our home this year,so I think he is picking up on it. We also have another teen in our home,which means more driving here and there, more people talking, less mommy attention. His behaviors have increased to very loud and barky.
I committed to a 6 week training program-for him and me;) The first week was an utter disaster. He was scared and stressed,so he barked for an hour. Yes, an hour. We were asked to "kindly take a walk in the hall to calm him down" at one point. I was mortified. I was sad. Yes, I will admit..I cried. I am a mom of two(now three)teens, a teacher for 20 years.. but I can't control a dog???
After I left, I calmed down. I realized a few things-the program was not set up well(the instructors even admitted that). We were placed next to a fearful boxer. The smells were too much, none of my treats were interesting enough,and it was just chaotic. I remembered what my kids were like as babies when they had stranger anxiety. I didn't really blame Carlton-he was not aggressive or mean. He was scared. I did not blame myself-I have not had enough training or encouragement to know what to do to calm him down.
Armed with new treats and new tips, I spent the last week training him and "catching" him being good. He has been great. He still is distracted and not easily redirected. When I have his attention, he follows all my verbal and hand commands like a pro. We went back to class on Wed and I had my head held up. When the lady told me to sit in a waiting area with my dog when we arrived, I did say to him,"Oh great, we are going to doggy jail." However, then I shook that off and realized maybe it was for the best.
We rearranged the room, gave him a smaller area with less visual access to anyone and I chose to work alot alone. I was the rock star human student. No one answered her questions but me:) I learned my stuff, despite his barking last week, and I was going to show her that;) Carlton proved to be a rock star,too. I even taught him two new commands this week and he only barked 25-35% of the hour. HUGE improvements! He did not eat my fancy new treats,but he ate cheese that I brought.
Each week is a new week closer to a calmer dog. I am a much calmer dog owner and excited to see what the next four weeks bring for Carlton and me! Stay tuned!
Allison Schley has been in the field of deaf and hard of hearing education for 20 years. She founded a nonprofit for families with hearing loss. She most recently wrote a children's book, entitled Forever Friends. This book shows the how a deaf dog and deaf boy teach the world that all kids are good and being deaf is okay.