Dog training – Pit bull versus terrier mix

It’s been a little while since I wrote a dog-oriented post… about a month 🙂 Less than 😉 Here’s a little video that well displays the differences between Lupe, the terrier mix, and Mesa, the pit bull mix.

Lupe is incredibly defiant. He is not ashamed of his awful behavior. If a treat is involved, he will agree to do what I say…. but he must protest. Mesa, on the other hand, wants so badly to please. Look how great she does in the face of Lupe’s distraction! She is calm, she loves obedience training and her bulk means she often bullies her way to the treats faster. They are such opposites. Lupe, horrible to train – is supremely gentle and laid-back with people and other animals. Mesa, a pleasure to train, wants to kill other animals and is fearful of people. Giving them both what they need is a challenge – but one I honestly enjoy attempting to achieve.

This afternoon, I spoke with a “professional dog trainer” about Mesa’s behavior problems. She goes INSANE when she sees another dog on a walk (on leash). At the dog park, she charges other dogs so that they fear for their safety. More than once, she has been taken down by another dog at the dog park. Yet she is seen as the aggressor, because of her excitement and what one owner called: “Balls.” We don’t go to dog parks anymore. She growls over bones, toys and her people. She bit the vetrinarian’s dog at my second job. She is not easy. Though I love working with dogs, I am at a loss sometimes with Mesa because I don’t know how to treat her aggression/ reactiveness.

So I called this professional lady. She was extremely UNHELPFUL and even got to the point of pissing me off. As people who know me understand… “pissing me off” is a pretty hard line to cross! I anger slowly…. except when it comes to my babies, it seems!

However, one of the things this Professional told me was that I should put Mesa in doggie daycare more regularly. See, the last time I brought her, she attempted to jump the 8 foot fence. It freaked me out! It’s a chainlink fence and I’ve heard stories of dogs getting their legs caught and broken in those things. And Mesa – she can jump! She clears our 6 foot fence. She’s a little girl, but she’s got some propelling butt muscles!

However, the Professional said something that made sense to me. She said: Putting Mesa in daycare for a few hours helps her learn to “self-soothe.” Now, I’ve heard that term only in regards to human baby sleeping. But I know what it means and it actually makes sense in Mesa’s case. She has such anxiety from being seperated from me, in a lonely place – like a doggie daycare – similar to a baby in a nursery – she needs to find a way to cope from her own brain. Much like a human baby would in a nursery, alone. And it needs to be a consistent experience. She’ll go there often enough she’ll hopefully, eventually, relax in the presence of other dogs, other people, other strange places. And it will build her up. Just like it would build up a baby, to trust itself and its environment.

It’s so hard, isn’t it? As a parent? Of either a human or your best canine friend… to know when it is best for THEM to learn on their own. That you cannot always be there to protect them, and they must learn to be stable, strong, wonderful individuals on their own, without you?

Man, it’s so hard for me with Mesa!

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One thought on “Dog training – Pit bull versus terrier mix

  1. You take such good care of your pack, I’m sorry that trainer was a jerk! I think it’s hard for people to understand that a tough-looking lady like Mesa can be so fearful, and it’s really unhelpful to just call that aggression. For me, working with a dog trainer felt a lot like working with a therapist. Even if someone knows all about dogs, they need to be someone who makes you feel comfortable.

    One of my favorite dog bloggers has been writing about working through similar issues as Mesa’s, and she recommends some good books about training reactive dogs:
    http://ohmydogblog.com/2013/04/reactive-dog-training/
    http://ohmydogblog.com/2013/07/the-literature-of-reactive-dogs/

    -Robyn

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