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  #1  
Old 07-19-2008, 01:56 PM
EMN EMN is offline
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Default New Rescues, Multiple Issues

I recently adopted two female Brittanys, guessed at about five years old. Great girls, who really want to please and be loved. But they come with challenges, of course. And they're rescues, so I know almost nothing about where they spent the first five years of their lives. Instead of listing them on separate threads, I'm combining them -- partly for convenience and partly because some of the issues and probable causes overlap.

I work from home, so I'm with them almost 24x7. There will be times, coming soon, when I'll travel and my sister will take them in, but so far I'm with them. I've had them about a month. Here are the issues:

1. How do you train when there are two of them? They're not "inseparable" in that they miss each other, but they're each fixated on me enough that if I take one outside the other freaks. If I work with one, the other wants to poke around and watch (read: get in the way).

2. Boy, are these girls "birdy." (Also "lizardy") I don't know if they had bird training, if they're just naturally that way, or both, but it is almost impossible to get their attention outside of the house. They're on high alert the whole time, looking at everything that moves and at everything that doesn't move in case there's something that moves lurking in it. I've tried rewarding for eye contact, but outside they get so focused on everything else the treats don't hold any appeal.

3. A related issue: They don't like to go to the bathroom while on leash. One will if necessary, but the other will hold it until she finds somewhere more comfortable (like my carpet). Usually they're loose in my back yard, so this isn't an issue. But there are times when that's not possible. This, too, has to do with the fact that when we go for walks their attention is focused on everything new, everything that moves, and everything that doesn't move. The fact that they have to "go" isn't a priority.

4 Another related issue. They love sitting in front of the sliding door and watching the back yard. But they freak so much when birds or lizards get near the door that I end up closing the shutters so they can't see out. I hate to do that, keeping them cooped up without even a view. Can they be desensitized to birds and lizards? (Maybe they need to be locked in an aviary for a few days.)

5. Digging is a budding problem. I have gophers. My neighbors have gophers. My community appears to be a resort area for gophers. The gophers aren't going away, I can just try to keep them down. But with these girls, a small gopher mound turns into a major excavation project. When they're 200 ft away from me in the yard, "no" or "stop that" isn't much more than a basis to snicker.

6. One can be a little obstinate about sitting. I know she knows how; with a treat her backside will hit the floor. But without the treat it's hit or miss. I make them sit before I open the back door to let them out. Sometimes she does, sometimes she doesn't. Last night I called her and she came, but just wouldn't sit. I can get a sit with a treat, I can push her backside down, or I can pull the collar up, but I don't want to have to do the latter and I don't want to have to do the former every time I want her to sit.

6. This last one isn't a behavioral problem, I'm just wondering how y'all deal with the issue of wet dogs, muddy or dirty paws, and a clean house. Are they incompatible? One girl is worse than the other, because she likes to cool her paws on the steps of the pool. She'll step in, turn around, give me a look like "Ahhhh," get out, and head for the dirtiest portions of the yard. When I'm watching, I can control this. But I'd really like to let these girls have more time in the yard each day -- they love chasing the lizards -- but I can't watch them every minute and I can't take the time to hose and dry off paws and underbellies every time they want to come into the house. I don't know that there is a solution, but I thought I'd put it out there to see your thoughts.

None of this is "bad dog" stuff. They're young, intelligent, energetic girls who just want to have fun. I'm wide open to suggestions.
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  #2  
Old 07-19-2008, 02:15 PM
EMN EMN is offline
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Default One More Thing ...

Oh yeah, one more thing: They have no interest in toys. None. That just doesn't seem to be something they have experience with. As a result, there's not much I can do to "play" with them. I've tried ropes, rubber toys smeared in peanut butter (they lick off the peanut butter and move on), balls, and stuffed animals, but noting warrants even a second look.
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  #3  
Old 07-19-2008, 09:15 PM
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Ohm Ohm is offline
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Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by EMN View Post
1. How do you train when there are two of them? They're not "inseparable" in that they miss each other, but they're each fixated on me enough that if I take one outside the other freaks. If I work with one, the other wants to poke around and watch (read: get in the way).
if it's just you, i would use a crate and let the dog freak out. maybe alternate training times so that you can exercise one, put her in the crate, and take the other one out for training, so at least one dog is tired in the crate. that may cut the freak-outs down to half. otherwise, have a friend help.

Quote:
2. Boy, are these girls "birdy." (Also "lizardy") I don't know if they had bird training, if they're just naturally that way, or both, but it is almost impossible to get their attention outside of the house. They're on high alert the whole time, looking at everything that moves and at everything that doesn't move in case there's something that moves lurking in it. I've tried rewarding for eye contact, but outside they get so focused on everything else the treats don't hold any appeal.
i would try to find bird like toys and use those to reward the eye contact. you could also use real birds to reward eye contact, but you'll need some birds who are willing to participate, a fence, and a long line to retrieve your dog. basically at the critical distance wait for eye contact and release the dog to chase the birds, and reel her back in to do it all over again.

Quote:
3. A related issue: They don't like to go to the bathroom while on leash. One will if necessary, but the other will hold it until she finds somewhere more comfortable (like my carpet). Usually they're loose in my back yard, so this isn't an issue. But there are times when that's not possible. This, too, has to do with the fact that when we go for walks their attention is focused on everything new, everything that moves, and everything that doesn't move. The fact that they have to "go" isn't a priority.
do you think it's a matter of proximity to you? if so, maybe a long line will give them some room for privacy.

Quote:
4 Another related issue. They love sitting in front of the sliding door and watching the back yard. But they freak so much when birds or lizards get near the door that I end up closing the shutters so they can't see out. I hate to do that, keeping them cooped up without even a view. Can they be desensitized to birds and lizards? (Maybe they need to be locked in an aviary for a few days.)
i would say it's going to be tough and instead i would look for ways to feed this energy in an appropriate manner. maybe they would be good working dogs in goosing golf courses?

Quote:
5. Digging is a budding problem. I have gophers. My neighbors have gophers. My community appears to be a resort area for gophers. The gophers aren't going away, I can just try to keep them down. But with these girls, a small gopher mound turns into a major excavation project. When they're 200 ft away from me in the yard, "no" or "stop that" isn't much more than a basis to snicker.
you're talking about the worst possible training scenario, so i'm not surprised they don't listen. this is a tough one to control so i don't have any ideas on this one. pretty challenging girls you have there.

Quote:
6. One can be a little obstinate about sitting. I know she knows how; with a treat her backside will hit the floor. But without the treat it's hit or miss. I make them sit before I open the back door to let them out. Sometimes she does, sometimes she doesn't. Last night I called her and she came, but just wouldn't sit. I can get a sit with a treat, I can push her backside down, or I can pull the collar up, but I don't want to have to do the latter and I don't want to have to do the former every time I want her to sit.
what happens if you reward the one that responds, but ignore the one that doesn't?
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Old 07-19-2008, 11:31 PM
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lizzybeth727 lizzybeth727 is offline
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I make them sit before I open the back door to let them out. Sometimes she does, sometimes she doesn't.
Are you letting her outside when she doesn't sit?

Are the dogs litter mates? Have they been together their whole life?
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Old 07-20-2008, 12:02 AM
EMN EMN is offline
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Default Yeah, but

Lizzybeth: No, she sits before she goes out. But it takes a number of requests. Sometimes I have to push down her backside or pull up her collar. Other times a step toward her will do it. It's a absolute willful thing. But once I ask, she's gonna sit.

Ohm: I thought about crating, but everything I'm reading says you don't want the crating to be a negative thing. If I close one in when she really wants to be out, and leave her feeling abandoned even for at ime in there, I'm guessing that'll cause negative feelings. I may end up just leaving one inside while I take the other out. Last time I did that I found out they each know how to open the gate that keeps them in the kitchen, and that one of them knows how to open the door from the house to the garage. Having someone watch one while I work the other works on occasion, but not for any regular training.

A long line wouldn't work for the going-bathroom-on-a-leash thing, because I need to be able to take them for walks along a street and have them "go." This would be for traveling, and for when I can't use my yard because of irrigation.

Thanks for the thoughts, though. Yes, they're a challenge. I'm starting to think they'd look just as nice and be just as furry if they were stuffed into a curled up position and placed by the fireplace.
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Old 07-20-2008, 12:19 PM
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lizzybeth727 lizzybeth727 is offline
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Originally Posted by EMN View Post
Lizzybeth: No, she sits before she goes out. But it takes a number of requests. Sometimes I have to push down her backside or pull up her collar. Other times a step toward her will do it. It's a absolute willful thing. But once I ask, she's gonna sit.
Ok, stop pushing or pulling her into a sit position. Once you do that, she has stopped thinking about what you want - you don't want that. What I do is, stand by the door, ask the dog to sit, ONCE, and if she doesn't do it, walk away... come back in 3-5 minutes and try it again. If you have the two dogs, ask them both to sit, and if only one sits, let that one outside and leave the other inside. She will learn quickly that she has to figure out how to get what she wants (to go outside).

Quote:
Originally Posted by EMN View Post
Ohm: I thought about crating, but everything I'm reading says you don't want the crating to be a negative thing. If I close one in when she really wants to be out, and leave her feeling abandoned even for at ime in there, I'm guessing that'll cause negative feelings.
Don't worry about a dog feeling abandoned. It sounds like you are having a harder time with crate training than your dog is! It's perfectly fine, and definately encouraged, to leave one dog in the crate while you work with the other, they will quickly accept it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by EMN View Post
A long line wouldn't work for the going-bathroom-on-a-leash thing, because I need to be able to take them for walks along a street and have them "go." This would be for traveling, and for when I can't use my yard because of irrigation.
I would suggest putting them on a leash every time you take them to potty. If they really have to go, they will go. If they don't go outside, when you bring them back in the house keep them on leash with you. Give them 15-30 minutes and then try going potty outside again.[/QUOTE]
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