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Sunday, December 31, 2006

My black Ridgeback

I just want to post and say that since July I have been the very happy owner of Hannah, a Lab/Ridgeback mix. She has been very good, though skittish around some pople (not many anymore.) The time I spent talking to her foster mom before adoption was great, I think, because it gave me a different approach to Hannah than I might otherwise have had. That has been a huge benefit to hers and my friendship.

I would urge anyone who knows people looking to adopt to push them to breed-specific rescue agencies like RRUS that evaluate adopters thoroughly. I did not have this when I rescued my second dog from the pound and was shocked at how lax pound adoption requirements are.

Hannah has been a great dog and is up to a bit over 80 pounds. I have a link of pictures of she and Cheever at the dog park on Christmas Eve. Hannah wears the blue collar, Cheever the red.

Though Hannah and I have become famously good friends, Cheever can still be standoffish toward me and often shies when I go to pet him and refuses to do the "give" part of Fetch (he's VERY possessive). However, he is also possessive of me and takes every opportunity to be close to me when Hannah is watching. He is also possessive of me when Hannah is not around, though he is just as likely to be aloof at those times, too. What's oddest, though, is how incredibly well they get along and play together, and how they seem to genuinely like one another.

My big question is this: How do I break Cheever of his possessiveness (my main concern is in his possessiveness of me, which I think is making Hannah insecure.)




At 1/01/2007 8:03 AM, Blogger Patti said...

Hi David,
What gorgeous dogs. They look so happy runnig and playing. As for the possessiveness...can you give specifics of how Cheever acts. How long was Cheever with you when Hannah came into the pack? What was Cheever's behavior like before Hannah? Was he possessive of his toys, food, space? How does Hannah act when Cheever is being this way? Sometimes dogs who think they are the top dog have a hard time giving that position up. Cheever may think of you as his human instead of the way he should look at the are his human leader. In other words he may need to be reminded that you are the top dog and he and Hannah are your followers. You can do this very easily by not letting them go in or out the door before you, not pulling ahead of you on the leash and most importantly they must work for everything. Take the nothing in life is free approach by making them sit for a treat, their food, a toy or go in a down for a belly rub or affection. These simple things remind them that you are the leader and it takes the pressure off of them. Please let us know how things are going. Sometimes our dogs think we need them to take control. They just need gentle reminders that we can take care of ourselves:)

At 1/05/2007 8:34 AM, Blogger Tamie said...

Hi, David.

Great to hear from Hannah's daddy! Sounds like Cheever had it a little rough before you took him in. Resource guarding is a pretty common problem, especially if the dog has had to go without the things he needs. Two effective ways to help Cheever get over this is to always "trade" the object he's guarding for something else, and to help him understand that the resources are plentiful. You must be his BENEVOLENT, kind leader, and all good things (food, attention, comfort, etc.) come from you. And as Patti said, all good things must be earned.

Here's an example. Brodie used to attack other dogs to get toys or sticks from them. Whatever they had must be a prize, so he was going to fight them for it. One day a neighbor's lab came over and I threw a stick for him. He chased it and Brodie somewhat aggressively took it away from him. So I ignored Brodie, grabbed another stick, and threw it for Cash. The same thing happened again three times. I repeated my actions exactly the same way each time. Suddenly, Brodie realized that there was an entire yard full of sticks, and it wasn't a real prize after all. They played like good buddies after that.

Example two: We taught both of our dogs the command "drop it". When Cheever has a toy that you know he likes, offer him a high value food like chicken or liver. When he drops the object, give him the other toy or food immediately as a reward, with excited praise. Then throw the toy for him again. Call him to you. If he doesn't come, ignore him and stop the game. If he comes, trade him the toy for another piece of the high value food and really excited praise. After awhile, the game is the coveted prize, not the toy.

Affection needs to be earned just like treats. If Cheever is trying to push Hannah away from you or stay between you and Hannah, he needs to know that petting and scratching only goes to "polite" doggies. I'd need to know more specifics to be more helpful in this area, but that's the basic principle.

Hope that helps! I'm sure Cheever and Hannah will become more confident about their place in your heart and home as you keep working with them.



At 1/05/2007 8:39 AM, Blogger Tamie said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 1/05/2007 12:59 PM, Blogger sibtigre2 said...

I agree with Tamie. Everything must be earned, including your attention. Cheever will eventually realize that there is plenty of attention and "stuff" to go around. Consistency is the big thing. Good luck. And keep us updated! :)

PS - I deleted the comment above mine because it appeared to be a duplicate. That was the only reason... :)


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