Buster goes to school


This is Buster, he is not a rescued dog. But I guarantee that he could be just the same as any rescued dog. He is 5 months old and because he is so young he has not had very much experience in the world. In another home he could easily have ended up in the shelter.

It does not really matter whether your rescued dog is 5 months or 5 years old. I know dogs 5 years old who have had the life experience of a five month old puppy. They are taken home, make mistakes and are gradually banished to the back yard and then ignored for most of the time.

Here is my plan. I am going to document a short term training plan where I am going to provide this dog with the Foundation Training that he requires to live happily at home. You may find there are some ideas and clues which will help you bring your newly adopted dog in to your home happily and safely.

Buster is a little shy with the general public and can consequently be a little timid around new people both out in the street and new people who arrive in the home. His fear has meant that he has started testing people by voice and body posture and starting to scare his family as he pushes harder and harder. He barks when his family bring friends around to the house and charges and has nipped at several people including children in the home. It is not unusual for a herding breed and I am sure that this will ring some bells for many people with rescued dogs. His family are disappointed that Buster is not Lassie yet, and the seven year old boy has been bitten a couple of times, and is now becoming fearful of Buster. There is a four year old, a seven year old and a nine year old child in the family and mom has her hands full. She has been exercising him for two hours a day on leash but dare not take him anywhere off leash that is not completely and securely fenced as his recall is non existent. His house training is improving but he is not trustworthy without constant supervision. He seems to just not get it. He stops squats and pees as if he just cant help it and once the flow is going interrupting it is almost impossible!

Fortunately they have the wisdom to get expert help and were referred to me by a previous client.

I have known people drop their dog off at the shelter for less.

Here is the thing, he is just a puppy. People get puppies because they are so cute, they look like Beanie Babies and the kids want one. Somehow forgetting to factor in the time, effort, commitment and knowledge it takes to raise one. However this dog could be any rescued dog ( or most family dogs, rescued or not) of any age. Not house-trained? Check. Barks and rushes at the UPS man? Check. Herds the young children and especially their friends when they come visiting? Check. Digs up the back yard? Tears out the irrigation? Check and Check. Chews childrens toys, baseball bats, baseball helmets, basketballs, bicycle tires, dads MG when it gets locked in the garage? Check. Pulls on leash? Check. Bites the hand that feeds it? Check! Bites the hand that doesn’t feed it? Check! Jumps up? Check!  Bites clothing? Check! Steals food off the counter? Check!

Just being a dog.

So here is what I do. I take Buster into my home. I give Buster a structure to his day. I work him with other dogs whose skills I am familiar with and they parent him and teach him some manners and social skills. I teach Buster what is ok and what is not ok. I give him a Basic Foundation in obedience training, with voice commands, hand signals and whistles. Then I take Buster back to the family and show them how to achieve the same thing at home. Following on from that Buster will come back to me for Advanced training and probably some Refresher Training when he comes to the cabin for Camp and his family go on vacation. Meanwhile I video and send updates to the owners so they can see what he is up to. The first session is two weeks residential. You can follow along here.

2 thoughts on “Buster goes to school

    • Kris,
      One of my constant mantras. It’s not a dog problem.

      It was just not a good match. It happens. People sometimes are not who they seem. One of the huge flaws of the adoption process is the expectation that we can ask 20 questions (or 100 questions) and get a full disclosure psychological profile on a complete family and find the perfect match. That is nuts. The idea that we get a wrong match and so we ask more questions next time, also flawed! We can’t bat 100%. There are too many variables. We have to trust. Each time we are let down it is harder to trust. We have to suck it up and treat each mismatch as just one mismatch. Not a trend, not a failure, not our failure, not a dog problem. Just the “luck of the draw”. It is hard.

      Missy’s a spirited dog, maybe too much character for some people. It’s a parenting problem combined with unrealistic expectations. Giving Missy too much freedom to make mistakes and not enough guidance as to what is expected. Not giving her time to adapt and heal.

      She is so cute, she attracts people who want cute. These are more likely to be people who want a cute fluffy puppy to adore and spoil and for them be loved in total adoration in return. What they get is a dog that has had few boundaries, no time to bond, been shuffled from pillar to post from the home where she was born, to a shelter, to another shelter, to a foster home to foster home to shelter to foster home in her short life. Missy is just being a dog. A dog who needs the right home. Someone patient and secure in themselves who will not take it personally if Missy is not Lassie yet. Who will give her the guidance and the chance to be all she can be.
      Guess what? If you did that to a child and it felt insecure, anxious and acted up for a few weeks or months we would shrug our shoulders and give her time to heal. It could take years in a child, even going through therapy and being able to explain to the child what is going on and “it is not about them”, maybe there would always be some residual fear that they are not good enough and no-one will ever really love them unconditionally, even if they are not perfect.

      She will find the right home, she will make someone very happy. Probably not overnight. Healing takes time.

      Thank you for all you do for the waifs and strays! You are awesome!

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