Noises, Nuisances, and New Experiences!
Angel came to board with me so I can work on her problems. She came all the way from Illinois because the city she used to live in banned her after she got into a fight with a neighbor's Chihuahua. When she arrived she was very hyper and distracted by all the new sights and smells. Her family had a hard time saying goodbye, but I reassured them that I would do everything I can and that she will find a good home if they can't get her back with them.
Like I do with almost all dogs I start working with, I take them for a walk so I can gauge how bad their problems really are. Angel came to me with a muzzle and a choke chain but I quickly discarded the choke for a Comfort Trainer headcollar. She took to it really well, didn't even fight it hardly at all. We went out, just her, me, and my whistle that I keep on me just in case. About half a block up the street a little terrier started barking at his fence, and Angel lunged forward towards him, Alert, focused, but tail wagging and ears forward. Acting off instinct, I blew my whistle, and that got her attention very quickly. Judging by that interaction alone, I knew her problem was not animal aggression, but excited-reactivity, which is both easier to work on and a lot less dangerous to deal with. We also ran into rabbits and a cat, but as soon as she saw them and started getting excited, I blew the whistle to get her focus off of them and then said her name to get eye contact, then praised her for ignoring the distraction. She responded well and aside from when we ran into distractions, she had very good leash manners. She doesn't pull at all, which is something I'm not used to, because most of the dogs I work with are pullers.
Once we got home again I gave her some food and some treats, but she wasn't really interested in the treats or food. Not surprising, considering everything in her life just changed. I did notice while out that her muzzle was too big and when she lunged forward it took a chunk out of her nose, so I made plans to get her a Baskerville muzzle so it's still a cage muzzle but better built.
After dinner I took Angel out on another walk. There were plenty of rabbits around but using the same whistle technique she responded exactly as before and we had no problems. On our way home we ran into a small family out for a stroll and they thought Angel was cute. She loves people so I wasn't worried about walking with the family and just chatting for a little while, and I believe that it helped Angel relax.
All night she cried, barked, and howled off and on. I knew she'd probably do this because she's used to being an indoor dog and she's in an outdoor kennel to keep her and my dog Jessabelle separated while Jessabelle heals from her recent spay surgery. She'll eventually calm down and get used to being outside, and once Jessabelle and her meet and we figure out how well they'll get along, we'll see if she'll be coming indoors or not. Either way, eventually they will meet and will be walked together as part of Angel's training.
This morning, Angel and I went on another walk, much further than the day before. We walked past a fence, and a beagle rushed us. I blew the whistle to stop Angel, but funny enough, it made the beagle change his mind about barking at us too. We walked past his fence a few times in a row, each time he rushed at us I blew the whistle and both dogs stopped. It was actually kind of funny to watch him, because he just looked at us with the most curious face. Eventually his family came out and brought him inside which stopped us from being able to borrow him for very long, but Angel learned to only look and not lunge at him after a couple times. We continued on for a while and then circled back to pass his fence again, and he was back outside. He rushed us again, Angel looked and took a step in his direction, I blew the whistle quieter than the first few times and it still worked to stop him from barking and Angel from advancing.
When we got back home again I trimmed her nails because they were getting really long. I thought about using the Pedi Paw that her family had brought but decided her nails were too long at this point to fuss with it and I wasn't sure how she'd do with her feet being messed with so I went with my old fashioned dog nail scissors instead. She fussed a little bit but didn't really mind.