Friday, February 18, 2011

Oh you flippin' dog.....

We have two doggies, both mutts we rescued from a shelter.

Gibson, our dalmatian-and-something mix, was in the big, downtown shelter as a puppy, back in 9 months later as a stray, adopted out, but back again 9 months after that because his family was evicted from their home.  He was taken from the shelter by Austin Pets Alive, who brought him to an adoption fair where we found him.  That was 13 months ago, the longest Gibson has been with any of his three families.

The result is that we don't know much about his upbringing.  We don't know if he was an only dog or if he had other animals around him. He's fine with kids and gets upset when they cry.   Not long ago, there was a wasp in Zoe's room, underneath some of the rubble on her floor.  Her friend stepped on it with her bare foot and got stung. As I was running upstairs, Gibson was running down to get me.

We added Peavey, a black lab-and-something mutt, this last August.  Gibson and Peavey do some wrestling around, but none of it is fighting.  They make snarly noises, but it turns into grooming and their tails are wagging.

We call it "alpha dogging" when Gibson decides to jump Peavey.

However, when we get him around other dogs, it's sometimes an issue.  Yesterday, I took the two canines to a local dog park.  Peavey ran off.  While our backyard is a nice size, he likes having the extra room to really run fast and far.

Gibson, went up to the other dogs in the park and started chest-bumping.  He was wanting to play with them the way he plays with Peavey.  I'm very careful to keep an eye on Gibson, sticking close to step in should it appear he's making anyone upset.

It depends on the dog he's trying to play with and the humans that are in the park that day.  Once, we met a woman who said "Oh nah, he's just vocal.  He's sooooooo not being aggressive, he's just playin'".  We've also met a man, who gave us the term 'chest bumping', which he sees his animals do, just the alpha dogs from various homes doing their thing.

Then there was yesterday.  The dogs he was trying to wrestle with didn't have a sense of humor, didn't like he was doing that and reacted in kind.  And their owners responded the same way, which ended with us being politely asked to leave.

 There's another enclosure where there weren't any other dogs, so I took my two over there and had a cry. It's upsetting and embarrassing that my dog has no manners, will run away if he gets out without his leash on and won't sit on command unless you're holding a treat or his leash. 

Now what do I do?  I want to bring him to the dog park, but how do I control this behavior?  Will taking him to training classes help by really establishing that he's not in charge? 

There's also the fact that most people think he's part pit-bull.  His head isn't shaped quite right to be part pit, his jaw is too small, but when he smiles he looks pit like.   Put him next to a pit-bull, he has the same squatty body, but a number of dogs have that, boxers, bulldogs, rottweilers, etc.  But, almost everyone who sees him asks if he's part pit, which makes people think he's aggressive instead of playing. 

It's really stressful taking him to the dog park, but Peavey loves it and I want to take them both so they can run and play.   And if we're going to take him, we need to deal with the way he acts.

I'm looking into training classes now and getting that into the budget.

Oh, why does this make me feel like it's one of my kids that is misbehaving? 

Amanda's beauty tip of the day:  When coloring or perming your hair at home,  perm clean hair, color dirty hair.  In other words, wash and dry your hair before you perm and don't wash your hair before you color.

1 comment:

bedlamhouse said...

Check with your Rescue places and Humane Society - they often know (or sponsor) good and cheap or free obedience training.

From experience I can also tell you that helping with the training can be a great thing for Zoƫ to do if she has time.