Sunday, February 20, 2011

Hard To Live With

I must complain.  I hesitate because I really hate to tell the world about things that make me want to choke one of my greyhounds, but my hope is that when I read this post in ten years that I will laugh because while the first year was tough, she has been a perfect angel for the last nine years.

First let me say that Seven, is extremely easy to train.  She is very motivated and focused.  Other than Katie, I have never had a greyhound become so attentive and reliable so quickly.  It is fantastic.  Her recalls are brilliant and sharp.  She works very hard.  She handles being told she is wrong very well and will keep working.  She will do repetitions over and over.  She never shuts down or becomes lazy even when her tongue is hanging out of her mouth.  Seven is wonderful to train... but she is hard to live with. 

I wonder if I have created this monster or would Seven have been an impossible pet.  You have already read about Seven's sick obsession with me (read here) and that continues to be a big problem.  Despite working methodically on this problem, Seven continues to pant, scream, yelp, bark, and chew on crate bars.  This has everything to do with training sessions and surprisingly she is worse if she can see what is going on.  Her anxiety hits the roof.  I do not have this problem at all at home. 
My approach has mostly been that Seven is ignored until she calms down and I create lots of repetitions for her to practice this.  I did a lot of gradual work in the beginning, but its been four months, I work full time, Riley has to train too, and the world simply does not revolve around Seven.  I thought things might be getting a smidge better, but yesterday she actually broke out of her crate in my van. That cannot happen at a dog show.  So I am feeling very frustrated.

After an hour or two of training, playing, exercising, and/or nervous worry, you would think that Seven would come home exhausted for the rest of the evening.  Nope.  Here are a few examples.  She continues to test her boundaries more than all of my greyhounds combined.  She does not respect gated doorways.  She ate two pairs of my most favorite underwear when I was packing my suitcase.  She is not allowed on our furniture, but she continues to get on our bed despite strategically placed laundry hamper and scat mat.  We have no idea how she is able to work through all of that, but she does (I expect great things in agility) and then lays on my nice work clothes. 

I love training Seven, but......... I love training Seven.


Greyhounds CAN Sit said...

Oh dear. Hopefully she will settle down more over time? Seven certainly doesn't sound like your typical Greyhound. Yes, I think you probably will laugh about all this in 10 years time.

You will have heard the saying about getting the dog we need, not the dog we want?

I can imagine how frustrated you feel though. Perhaps you could talk to people with breeds of dogs for whom this behaviour is more common (and I'm not going to mention any breeds, lol) for suggestions?

houndstooth said...

Does it matter if you train Seven first or Riley? I'm guessing you've tried it, but is there anything that distracts her when she's in the midst of one of her tantrums? I know you probably don't want to depend on someone else, but would having another person talk to her when you're at home help her get over it there? Maybe click and treat her when she's being good in the crate. Have you thought about recording your voice on one of those talking treat balls as a distraction?

I'm just throwing things out. I have been lucky that I haven't had to deal with this problem. I think there's a solution out there for you and Seven, though!

KF-in-Georgia said...

You have my sympathy in the hard-to-live-with department. Last week, Sam (nearly 11 years old now) climbed over an ex-pen to reach an unopened 30-pound bag of dog food in my foyer. He disemboweled the bag, spreading kibble through the breakfast room, foyer, living room, dining room, and kitchen.

While muzzled.

With a poop guard. (In other words, he got to eat none of it.)
I cleaned it up before I took his muzzle off.

The next day, he wrecked the aforementioned rooms, moving furniture and dog beds, searching for any kibble that might have been missed in the clean-up.

While muzzled.

I guess I won't be stocking up on kibble at future dog food sales...

KF-in-Georgia said...

P.S. Is it all because of her focus on you? What if someone else put Riley through her paces while you were out of Seven's sight? When other agility competitors are running, is Seven quiet? Or antsy to get out there?

I'm just remembering why Sam can't go to lure coursing events and isn't allowed within sight of blur-of-fur competitions. He screams and goes berserk. Other dogs, moving at speed, make Sam nuts.

Of course, Sam is my special little snowflake... ;)

Lindsay said...

I can't remember if you've already tried this, but what about something like a Manners Minder in the crate with her. Every time she's quiet you hit the remote and out pops a treat? It still makes it pretty wearing on you if you're trying to work with Riley and also have part of your mind on clicking the Manners Minder. But I do know of people with other breeds who have tried it and it helped.

Otherwise, don't feel bad about posting stuff like this! Lets the rest of us feel a little better about ourselves and our dogs to know that even experienced people get challenged every so often.;0)

jet said...

Aw Seven! How did she break out of her crate? Brute force? Sounds like she would have bonded tightly with her owner regardless of agility training or not. I hope as she matures she settles down a little!

golfgreen said...

Glad you appreicate how easy Seven is to train, doesn't shut down, & repeat drills over & over. If only ... but the other behaviors would drive me nuts too. I join you in your 10 years hope (or even 1, 2,3 years!!)

Kim said...

I feel your pain! My nearly 13-yr old mutt has always been insistant that "she owns me" and not the other way around. I've never had this issue with any other dog. She follows me obsessively, want's my complete and utter attention always, and does whatever she darn well pleases despite KNOWING what she's doing is never actually allowed. She doesn't have seperation anxiety, but crating her while I'm training the other dog is a little like Seven's reaction. How dare the world not revolve around her?! Training her is easy...doing anything with any other animal (including the cats) while she's around is frustrating. I wish I had some advice for you...instead, all I can say is that I feel your pain!

Hiking Hounds said...

I can definitely feel your pain when it comes to the throwing of fits at practices. That sounds a lot like how Zephyr and Astro act. For them it's mainly really loud barking, panting, and some pawing at the crate. ARGH, little beasties. ;-) I reward quiet calm times, and I've tried the ignoring. It's just so hard because they don't stop, they are so loud, and it drives me nuts and I worry about them driving the others at practice nuts too. It's the worst when I have both of them at practice, so often I only take one. On their own they are a lot better, but do still bark some when I'm away. Last time I took both of them to practice and they were able to stay in a fenced part of the yard or something like a large x-pen. When I was working one the other would still bark, but it was a lot better, they showed less anxiety. I think I probably created most of the monster. :-) However, they are both really vocal dogs too. They bark a lot in general and they "talk" and "sing" a lot too. I'm hoping that with experience they will become more confident and understand that we have to take turns. This probably didn't help much, but I can understand how frustrated you are feeling. I hope it starts to get better, and it's great that Seven is so happy during training.

Anonymous said...

Ady Bea had severe crate phobia and couldn't stand being separated from me ... especially when in a crate. In her past, before she was with us, she tore up her mouth and has a permanent notch out of her tongue from attempting chewing through a crate. I thought it might be hopeless. However, one of our trainers recommended "Crate Games" dvd and it has helped Ady immensely. You may already have tried this, but since it was helping us so much, I thought it might be worth a mention. Here's a link to more info:

Best wishes for you and Seven!

Shelly & Ady Bea in OK

Twiggy said...

Oh Seven. After reading some of your other posts about her I was reminded of my Greyhound, Twiggy. Twiggy definitely has separation anxiety though and being in a crate makes it go into full force. She's actually broken out of the kennels at our Vet's office she hates being in them so much. I'm amazed at well you train your Greyhounds though. It sounds like Seven has more good moments than bad! And I'm sure age will help. Twiggy has gotten better with age. How do you get your Greyhounds to sit for so long? Twiggy will only sit for a few moments; then she lays down. She'll stay that way for quite awhile, but seems uncomfortable when sitting. She did break her right hind leg about 18 months ago and has a pin in it now. Not sure if that affects what it feels like for her to sit or not. But, I'm impressed by your Greyhounds! :)

Jenny said...

Aw, Jennifer, I'm sorry you're having such difficulties with her :/. She does sound like quite a handful. I know I've mentioned this before, but hearing about Seven makes me appreciate my Ferguson and what he CAN do that much more. I guess in the greyhound world, you get one or the other...I'm pretty sure you'd get quite frustrated attempting to train Ferguson, who does start to shut down within minimal training sessions, and who'd have little to no desire to do agility, yet he is easy to live with. Seven, though, sounds like she has the potential to be the best of the best! Hopefully her anxiety fades in time...I'll be thinking of you guys!!!

Brooke said...

Sorry to hear Seven is giving you trouble with the crate thing! DeeDee was much the same way - hyper-attentive to my every move, throwing a fit whenever I left her sight (or if she was crated with me in her sight), etc. We tried everything to help DeeDee calm down, and to be honest, the only thing that helped her was time and maturity. It took a full year before she showed any improvement, but I'm happy to say we can now leave her alone without too much fear of what will happen while we're gone.

The only suggestion that popped into my head for Seven is related to what you said about her eagerness and tireless passion for training. I know you said you've tried to work up to longer times alone in the crate, but what if, rather than putting her in there with treats, etc, closing the door, and walking away, you turned it into yet another training exercise (like a down-stay) in order to re-associate the crate with something good? You could start with the door open if need be (so she doesn't associate it with past issues), and eventually work up to closing it. Eventually, she could perhaps hold a down stay in her crate while you're out of sight (which could help prepare her for future obedience trials).

If you increased the length of the out of sight time to the maximum for Seven and practiced frequently enough, maybe her brain would eventually associate being alone in her crate with calmly waiting for your return. That way perhaps she would eventually be less panicky when you need to put her in without a down-stay. Just a thought... I have no idea if it would work or if perhaps you've tried this, but since she seems so eager and tireless about training, it may be worth a shot. Good luck, and keep us updated!

Never Say Never Greyhounds said...

Brooke, yes, its a very good idea. You are basically describing Susan Garrett's Crate Games which we have done. Regarding turning it into a stay, I have pondered that. I get torn about starting something I can't do with 100% consistently... right or wrong. There are times when I simply need to train Riley and with no regard to Seven... so do I undo my work by putting her in a crate and just closing the door. Am I worrying too much about it? I don't know.

Donna and the Dogs said...

You have my sympathies. Sometimes the best ones are often the worst ones! Smart definitely does not mean easy!

As an owner of a rescued Lab - I can say I love him with all of my heart and he is whip smart - but sometimes I really understand why his first family finally said, "Enough!"

I hate to tell you this, but I have had him for 6 1/2 years now, and he is still quite the PITA.

But do I regret adopting him? Not ever. Good luck, you will eventually look back at this and laugh. (Hopefully) :-)