Thursday, February 11, 2010

pit bulls are brilliant!

After just a few days, Fozzie has made HUGE progress.

Any new-ish trainer who needs assurance that positive methods work, and work fast, should work with a pit bull. Even more importantly, any trainer, shelter worker, evaluator,
anyone who believes that evaluations are an accurate or fair determinant of who lives and who dies, should spend one day--no, 15 minutes!--with a pit bull and some treats. I am so amazed at the intelligence of this dog, the power of positive training, and the transformation I am beginning to see.

The other day was really stressful--I thought I'd made a big mistake and taken on more than I could handle and this was going to end in tragedy and disaster. After just a few days of working on Sit, Touch, Watch Me, rewarding calmness, training Wait and Stay, I am now confident that I did the right thing and that this is a brilliant dog who will make a stellar companion to someone someday.

He still gets overaroused quickly, and does the leash grab thing sometimes--but other times I see him get that look in his eye like he wants that leash so bad, then I interrupt him with Leave It! and he looks at me and gets a treat instead. I cannot describe the relief and reward of seeing that this is going to work out. Fozzie is a gift to this trainer.

Friday, February 5, 2010


This morning, I took my new boy--now Fozzie Bear, which I think conveys a much better message about pit bulls than his shelter name Bullet--for a walk, and we went to the park and did fine until I was leaving the park and walking down some icy stairs. I guess he was frustrated at leaving, or excited to be out, or just wanted to communicate something, because he grabbed his leash in his mouth and started tugging away. Really intense, complete with growling, shaking, etc. I ended up sitting on the ground in the snow, holding on to the leash for dear life, unable to hold his collar because his collar had slipped off his head. When I did get close enough to take the leash, he redirected his excitement (aggression? Reactivity? Hyperactivity?) onto my arm. It was a awhile before I could get the leash away from him and I'm still not sure how I did it.

Then this afternoon, I was in the yard trying to get him some exercise, and he chased sticks nicely but when I turned my back he went after my pants legs, then coat, then mittens. I don't know whether to call it aggression or overexcited playing, but it is hard to stop him once he starts. In all these cases I was eventually able to get the leash or the mitten away from him, then hold his collar and stroke him as I asked for a sit and treated him, and he did calm down.

Eegad. I have my work cut out for me!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

new foster dog

Well, when I took a break from fostering I knew I'd do it again someday, but I told myself it would be with a mellow, maybe senior, female dog of an easy to place, medium-sized breed. Meet Fozzie, the one-year-old male hyper presa canario/pit bull mix who failed his temperament evaluation!

The shelter folk begged me to take him, as he was going to be pts. How could I say no?