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Old 07-19-2008, 12:56 PM
EMN EMN is offline
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Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Phoenix, AZ
Posts: 4
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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