Tuesday, November 6, 2012

When Training Pays Off

Or:  Up Yours, Idiot Woman!

Eddie and I have been taking a training course for the past several weeks.  He's always been a pretty well mannered dog, but his anxiety and excitable nature can sometimes get the best of him.  I wanted to work on his self control, to provide him with mental stimulation, and to enhance the bond between us.  Today that work paid off in spades.

First, some background:  There is a woman in town who pisses me off.  She constantly walks her three dogs off leash in areas where they are supposed to be leashed, and she has little or no control over them.  The dogs are often as much as a block or even two ahead of her or behind her. One hand holds her coffee mug, one her cigarette, and there is no sight of a leash or a poop bag anywhere. She makes no attempt to keep an eye on her dogs or clean up after them.   I call her "Idiot Woman" (IW).

But the biggest problem is that one of  her dogs is Eddie's nemesis.  A little terrier of some sort, he comes barrelling towards Eddie, barking and gnashing his teeth.  Eddie is good with virtually every dog he has ever encountered, but as soon as the terrier goes into action, Eddie goes crazy. He barks his barkless bark, he jumps and lunges, he strains at the end of his leash.  I think he even says the F word.  He really wants a piece of that dog.  Terrorist Dog  (TD)  stops about two feet short of Eddie's leash and continues to harass him.

And, of course, Terrorist Dog has no recall.  Idiot Woman occasionally utters a "come... come here.....come...." in a soft, unassertive voice,  but for the most part she does nothing.  I spoke politely to IW on several occasions,  pointing out the "Keep your dogs on leash" sign and letting her know  why her dog's behaviour was problematic for other dog walkers.   Her response each time is  "He's fine.  He's not a problem."

A few weeks ago, a very large group of dog-savvy people were camping with all their dogs at the RV park along the "not off leash" section of the beach  - about three dozen people with at least that many dogs, all being appropriately managed with crates, xpens, leashes, and voice control.  I enjoyed chatting with them and meeting their well mannered, well controlled dogs. And they enjoyed meeting Eddie.

I suspect, however, that Terrorist Dog  was not so well received. As TD snarled and gnashed and barrelled around the area, I saw responsible dog owners rolling their eyes, moving next to their own dogs, and taking defensive action to keep their dogs safe.  Interestingly, for about a week afterwards, IW only walked two dogs at a time, albeit still off leash.  Then last week, she began walking two of them on leash.  Perhaps someone filed a complaint. Perhaps TD finally got nailed by a bigger dog.  Or perhaps my deliberately taking photos of her and her off leash dogs one day unnerved her just a little, especially if she recognized me from my column in the paper. Regardless, morning walks became more enjoyable for Eddie and I.

Then today,  I took the visiting Sadie B and Eddie to Osborne Bay Park instead of doing our beach loop early this morning. We were no sooner out of the car (Eddie still on leash and Sadie on the long line) when IW and her three off leash dogs appeared over the hill.  This is an off leash park, so perhaps she really has gotten the message - if you want your dogs off leash, go to an off leash area.  Except, unlike most people I encounter in that park, she made no attempt to recall her dogs.  TD charged at us right away, and Eddie went into full-fledged YOU GET AWAY FROM MY MAMA OR I WILL EAT YOU FOR BREAKFAST mode.  Idiot Woman ineffectively called her dog, who, of course, completely ignored her and continued his verbal assault on Eddie.

And THAT  is when all the training paid off.  I said "Eddie, sit!" and IMMEDIATELY Eddie stopped lunging and screaming, came right to my side, and gave the most wonderful sit in the world. He sat completely still, completely silent, his head up and eyes looking straight at me.  Sadie B (who has recently completed the same training course) also immediately came to my other side and was sitting in mirror image of Eddie..  And with no reward except my smirk, both dogs held that position like statues for the whole length of time it took IW to finally walk across the field and pick up her barking, hysterical, teeth-gnashing Terrorist Dog.  She then took off in a huff and headed back to her car.  She said not a word, and neither did I.

Oh how I wanted to suggest to her a training program that would improve TD's behaviour.  But I think my dogs' actions spoke louder than words.

Way to go Eddie and Sadie B!  I'm so proud of you!

We headed over the fields, through the woods and down to the beach for some fun.

Is it all right if I go for a dip?

Aren't ya gonna throw a stick for me?

My Mama's so proud of me!


georgia little pea said...

She's not the only one who's proud of you, Eddie! And Sadie too! Well done.

What a horrible woman. What idiot walks 3 dogs with a fag in one hand and coffee in the other? Was she in her dressing gown and curlers too? I hope someone did report her. You know Georgia has "taken care" of dogs like that by pinning them. She's very quick. Never hurts them, just rolls them over and holds them down by the throat. Some owners realise they/their dogs have been stupid and actually say something to the effect of "Good!" It always surprises me how so many littledogs like her rough and ready style :) Mr T had an even better technique. He picked them up in his mouth. Oh yes, that usually shut the little yappers up.

I'd love to know if IW does something constructive after this. We need a happy ending!

Wendy Hamilton said...

Good story...
sounds like you all passed the training course with flying colors. Congratulations!
I'm a wee bit envious - as I have taken my dog to obedience.. but don't know if she'd be as good as Eddie & Sadie in that sort of situation (likely not)
Who was the trainer?

Charlene and Storm said...

ha ha ha!!! fab story! good on ya Eddie!!! xxx

i love it when you can smirk at other people when there dogs make them look like a complete tit LOL!!!

Charlene and Stormy

EvenSong said...

Good for the furbabies! And good for you!
One thing I teach my kiddos at school is "what goes around, comes around" (or karma bites!)--that woman surely has some negative karma built up, Your properly trained and respectful dogs are an excellent model for her to consider...and her dogs too.

Jean said...

GLP - I can just imagine Mr T picking a Terrorist Dog up in his mouth! LOL!
Wendy, we've been doing the Foundations Program clicker training course with Lisbeth Plant and Bev Maahs of Cowichan Canine in Duncan (www.cowichancanine.ca). They are certified with the Karen Powers Academy.
Eddie has completed four weeks of the ten week course and already passed 22 of 29 learning objectives. Of course, he did have the advantage of having worked with me at home prior to beginning classes, and he's very food motivated.
He's far from perfect, especially when excited, so I was astounded when he responded so immediately and so beautifully to my command.

Dawn said...

Jean, what a wonderful story! And you are only 4 weeks in? Amazing. I do love clicker training but tend to forget about it. Thanks for the reminder.

My Becca has a couple of dogs she just can't stand, but we have been lucky. They have always been on leash.

I sure enjoy your blog - thanks for sharing.

georgia little pea said...

Jean, that's how we met. At the rescue, someone forgot to pick up a little chi that was at the reception area. Rufus came out and immediately picked the littledog up. Everyone just froze, including the rescue workers LOL. Then he just dropped him, unscathed.

He did it a few more times in his life, but only when provoked. The dogs never had a single puncture mark on them. The owners however... let's just say if Rufus wasn't the dog he was, he would have been in deeeeeeep poop.

Kimberly said...

Well done all of you. I don't think I could excersise the same restraint.

Anonymous said...

It probably wouldn't do any good, but maybe you could keep a flyer from the training class folded in your pocket to give her next time you meet. It can't be enjoyable for her to constantly deal with the TD's bad behavior.


CAPB said...

Well done Eddie and Sadie! Excellent results from the training class - especially for being only part-way through. That's fantastic!


Anonymous said...

I hope IW reads your blog. ;-) Way to go Eddie (and you).

Deb S.

Anonymous said...

Your restraint with IW is commendable, Jean. I think some of her relatives live in my neighborhood, and they have TD's too....

Awesome to hear how well Eddie's training is going. What a good boy, and Sadie too!


Jean said...

Judy, I think I just may keep a card of flyer handy. I doubt IW would take it, as she apparently thinks her dog is 'not a problem', but if the opportunity arises..... :)

And today I was fixing a sandwich and dropped a piece of cheese on the floor. Eddie was standing before me and went to grab it as it fell, and I said "Leave it!" - AND HE DID!! What a good boy! I followed it up with a piece of dried liver and a "Take It", of course.

Pauley James said...

YAY for Eddie! We too have had encounters with people/dogs like this; no fun.

Love the title!