Freia and the Knitwhit

A Blog about a Dog with some Knitting thrown in here and there

Off the Sofa! October 22, 2006

Filed under: Chesapeake Bay Retriever,Dog Training — knitwhits @ 9:01 am

Full Freia FlopRules for the Dog: The furniture is off limits, and no jumping on people when you are soaking wet from swimming.. well.. no jumping on people at all, and no chasing small children at the beach, no matter how fun you or the child’s parents think it is.. (no, they really aren’t little dogs for you to lick), and you really don’t need to protect me from the cats, and if you stop trying to lick them, then they might want to play with you.

Freia has now completed Intermediate Obedience and we are into Rally Obedience. She’s was the youngest one in the Intermediate class and has done a pretty good job. It was a lot of fun, though slightly stressful and chaotic. There were a couple of high maintenance dogs that are aggressive to others and (over)react quickly if they are stared down by another dog. Fortunately Freia doesn’t play that game and it’s easy to bring her attention back to me rather than focusing on another wound up dog. Even if other dogs get to growling at each other, she usually looks up to me for direction, so I would tell her to sit or lie down (or something) until the dust settles in the room.

However, Freia does get all caught up in the prospect of treats for work. She gets insanely amped up and excited and it’s all I can do to keep her in a down/stay while the instructor is talking. Once we are actually doing the training and moving about, she is fine and fairly well focused.

Freia really responds to the teacher, she’s a great lady, good energy and very good at what she does. It’s interesting how dogs can really tell a “doggy” person. Now it’s Rally Obedience.. all to keep her little mind occupied so that she feels less obligated (and too tired) to defend me from imaginary threats.

Training a dog, especially a Chesapeake that has such strong protective and possessive instincts, is challenging, frustrating, rewarding and fun. It takes commitment and practice. The commitment I have, but the practicing sometimes gets lost. These days I train her during every outing as she has been acting up again and it’s just not acceptable.

Outside of the house, she’s fine. She’s submissive to other dogs, even when they pick a fight with her. She’s friendly to pretty much everyone, and if she has a worry, she looks to me for guidance. She’s fine around joggers, bicyclists and passers-by. Roller bladers are less frightening to her, skateboarders are still not her favorite, she’s as equally curious as intimidated, but not aggressive.

Inside the house (or whichever new space she has defined as “ours”).. not so good. She becomes territorial, protective of me and even a bit scary. She’s nothing but a gentle lamb with me, I can take her food away or walk in and out of the house and she has no reaction other than being pleased to see me. She’s better with the cats and is less worried that they plan to steal all her toys and drink all her water. The trouble starts if someone steps beyond the threshhold into the house. She jumps up, barks, and when I grab her collar to pull her back, she has the fiercest growl you’d never want to hear in a dark alley. After her most recent bouts of bad behaviour, in addition to her nicknames of “poopy”, “little monkey” and “waggle-butt” she got christened with a fourth nickname.. “Cujo”.

UnimpressedThe biggest problem is really a lack of in-house socialization, she’s just not used to having other people in “her” space. My next door neighbor has very kindly volunteered herself to help out, but quite frankly, I’m a bit nervous; though I realize it has to be done. The second hard part is to get other humans to take me seriously when I say, “don’t come in until I say it’s OK” or “hang on until I get the dog away”. Freia is so darn cute that people just don’t see her as possibly being aggressive. I’ve heard numerous times from complete strangers, “oh, she’s too cute to be a mean dog” as I walk past them. I’m just glad these same people don’t have reason to come to my door.

I feel that having a protective dog is not always a bad thing. But it has to be something that can be turned off just as quickly as it’s turned on. Granted she’s only 7 months old, and her brain is not developed enough to really be able to make the wisest decisions, but dog aggression is not something to take lightly, at any age.

And so the training goes on.

Freia’s Goals: passing the Canine Good Citizen Test, no separation anxiety, a good solid down/stay for 3 minutes at 40 feet, “Heel” when called, and of course, no lunging/growling/barking at friends or friendly strangers, ever.