Monday, 25 March 2013

The Saga of Crazy Dog

Crazy Dog I shall get on to in a minute, but first my apologies for the gap in news. I did plan to write yesterday, but we had a splendid thunderstorm at the wrong moment...
This was a picture of it building near Oakey, to the north of us. It didn't do us any harm here, though I'm always amazed at how far sturdy eucalypts can bend before the wind and still whip upright. Folk towards the coast weren't as fortunate, with some people ending up with trees through their roofs and thousands having no power. Our power only went out briefly but I turned everything off for safety's sake. Very loud, very dramatic, and I discovered that Banjo is scared of storms. That could be predicted given his background: he has probably been shut out in storms all his life.

And no-one is interested in those spectacular blooms I posted? Oh, well, so be it. I'm aiming to grow some next year, though mine won't be anywhere as good as El's I'm sure.

Now to Crazy Dog (Greg the vet's name for him) - Banjo. I thought I'd give some more detail on him, in case anyone reading of my struggles with him thought I was too mean. A recap: I adopted him recently from the local Pound. We managed to contact his previous owner but he wasn't interested in having his dog back. So Banjo was facing a very uncertain future as a hard-to-adopt dog. I called him a 'street kid', for he had the same attitudes many of the kids do - he controls his life, no-one else, and he makes his own rules. When he came he constantly eyed me up and down with squinted glare, like a challenge to me to do as he wished or else. The 'or else' included biting me whenever I tried to put him on a lead or tie him up briefly so I could shift the goats without his attacking them. It wasn't a hard bite and didn't break the skin but he had obviously worked out a way to make people release him by grabbing at them. He was also totally uncontrollable with his food, being prepared to take anyone out who got in his way. He was underweight on arrival, but within two weeks I got his body condition up to 'perfect' according to the vet. Now he looks like a proper dog instead of a tadpole with large head and scrawny body.

The problem with such a dog, where he has never been properly socialised either with dogs or with people, is that he is now a young adult with plenty of muscle as well as the attitude. Hence I have to use fairly unorthodox methods to break through (like the scragging I described before).

I think we make progress. He knows that I expect him to sit before having his food, though that lasts a micro-second unless I grab his collar and hold him back for a moment before releasing him to eat. When I teach him proper manners I'm not sure but he is better he was when he came, when he leapt up and snatched the food from me.

I'm still working on his lead training. He is good if I have him on his own where there is nothing of interest around for him, but as soon as I take him out for a walk he goes ballistic so I end up tying the lead around his nose like a makeshift Gentle Leader. Then he fights me...But we arrive home with him being good. He'll get the message, eventually.

With The Pack, Banjo is learning his basic manners. As I said earlier he has a chip over one eye from being rude to Virginia, but Cody is being the best trainer Banjo could have. He is prepared to bounce with him in boy play for hours a day, and Cody always wins amiably in any disagreement. Cody also comes running when I have to tie Banjo for a few minutes at Goat Time. Cody goes, 'Yes, here I am, tie me!' which has more or less convinced Banjo that it is acceptable to be tied. He hasn't bitten me for several days either when I have tied him or when I have taken hold of his collar.

Apart from learning his basic manners, Banjo needs encouragement too. He has shifted from hating the car to valuing a ride out in it, and he will even put his head through the loop of lead I offer him so he can go out to the car. I am also starting to bring him indoors for short periods, on a lead and next to me. It's a wrestling match to settle him, but then he lies down happily. He is a very clean dog so I don't expect any house training problems. It would be easier if  I could use treats for training him, but with his snatch-it attitude to food that isn't an option. He is delighted though when I tell him what a good boy he is and give him lots of pats, so we progress.

Sorry if I have bored you senseless with all that, but I'm interested in this challenge and want to see how far we can go.

To all my relatives and friends in the UK, my sympathies about your extra helping of snow - I do hope it goes quickly so you can find some flowers under it!

Take care - 

Cheers - Fliss

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