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Monday, July 28, 2014

Any dog whisperers out there? PITA & we need your help.

Posted Wednesday, November 24, 2010, at 8:48 AM

(Photo)
Pita the pumpkin eater (and destroyer of many other things)
For a year now (Thanksgiving Day 2009) we have been the adoptive family of our greatest challenge PITA. Nearly every day she gets into trouble, mostly of the destructive kind.

She is not nasty with our other pets and while she annoys most of them, she annoys her human family most with a wide range of activities that to her are probably playful and mischievous, but for those who read my blog regularly, you know.

This morning, another potted plant destroyed and my readers know that I take my plants seriously. Something has to give. PITA has NO ONE in the family to defend her but me and I am about to take her to the pound.


Comments
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She looks to be a hound mix, they need to be outside.

-- Posted by Easton on Wed, Nov 24, 2010, at 9:43 AM

putting her outside would, of course, merely transfer the problems from you to your neighbors.

it is a shame, tho. the most troublesome dogs are also potentially the best dogs. it is the intelligent, active canines that get into the most trouble. were someone to take the time to train her, and provide her with plenty of work to do, you would be amazed at the change in her behavior.

not every dog has its needs met by having food and a place to sleep.

-- Posted by lazarus on Wed, Nov 24, 2010, at 10:02 AM

She's bored...does she have something to chew on that's "hers"...my .02...I've got my own stupid/untrainable cainine to contend with. But our lab is an angel and we trained her watching "the dog whispherer" show. And it works. But my guess on your problem is boredom.

-- Posted by neighborhood mom on Wed, Nov 24, 2010, at 10:26 AM

Sorry, I forgot some of you may not know, but Pita has the run of 66 acres and is free to come and go in our green house with two their dogs.

Thank goodness for me, I never let her into our house. Deb would have ME sleeping with the other dogs.

She collects "things" from all over including out firewood. If I could teach her to stack, it might me a winner.

We have also given her toys and plastic bottles (on of her favorites) and bought a hard rubber toy from the pet store that we hide a dog treat inside. We can throw it or just let her chew at it until she gets the snack out.

She plays with the other dogs, usually catches a opossum or two every month and now has what appears to be a freshly severed deer's leg to carry around. No, we don't allow deer hunting, but we find several deer remains each year.

By the way, I doubt seriously that she killed the deer. She runs from her own shadow.

-- Posted by stevemills on Wed, Nov 24, 2010, at 11:59 AM

Steve,

I am no "dog whisperer", but I have read that working breed dogs without a "job" get bored and can be deemed by their owners as destructive. I do believe that PITA looks like a hunting dog. She may need a "job" that suits her innate skills.

There are places in Tennessee that provide this type of training and productive "work" for some types of dogs. I know of one such place that works specifically with bored herding type dogs. The owners of these dogs claim that by taking them weekly to this "camp" where they are trained to herd sheep and goats has improved their behavior throughout the rest of the week.

Maybe you could find someone who hunts with dogs and see if they might be interested in training her to hunt with them. There is a Raccoon Hunting group in our area that hunts raccoons (no kill, just treeing) regularly by the Duck River. We hear them and the dogs regularly.

Just a thought.

-- Posted by amalphia on Wed, Nov 24, 2010, at 7:54 PM

read Jelly Bean versus Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde by C.W. Meisterfeld

Three main causes of dog behavioral problems

Improper training where you use physical pain to get compliance

Lack of any training where the dog forms it own behavior based on what makes it happy

and humanization where the dog is treated as a child substitute.

shrink the dogs territory to a 4' x 20 foot kennel and only reward the behavior you want. in a matter of 12 weeks of obedience training you can change his behavior.

-- Posted by Jamesw2 on Thu, Nov 25, 2010, at 5:47 AM

Amalphia is correct...they need a "job" and even though she's got free "rein", she's bored playing by herself, so she finds "trouble" to get your attention. I'll trade you...you take our "dumber than a box of rocks" bloodhound and I'll have my husband train your dog! :)

-- Posted by neighborhood mom on Thu, Nov 25, 2010, at 8:47 AM

Some interesting thoughts. I agree she seems bored but that is why we have given her so much to play with ( and apparently why she "finds" so much more). I tried wearing her out with games, but it wears me out first.

If she really could be a "hunting dog" I would love to give her to someone who would treat her well. Alas, I am afraid that after a year+ she may have lost her ability to "focus", BUT if someone promises not to put her down and treats her well.......watch out what you offer Neighborhood Mom.

When she acts up, I have been putting her on a log chain that she can move but with a LOT of effort and she can basically only get water or move to a new spot in the yard. It only stays on for an hour or so, but maybe I should start extending that as a variation of the 4X20 kennel.

Right now she is sprawled out on our deck after I night of spreading our recycled plastic all over the yard. She also drug in a skull with spine attached and carries that around. I will dispose of that today. If my mother-in-law sees it, she will sleep less than she already does. I also have to play plastic collector and cut more wood, so... I'm gone for a while.

-- Posted by stevemills on Thu, Nov 25, 2010, at 9:37 AM

Steve,

I think working dog breeds suffer from "puritan work ethic." Play is good, but they need the challenge of a "job," whether its herding or hunting. They enjoy playing, but seem to know the difference between play and "work." We also tried to use play as a substitute for "work" with one of our dogs. He knew the difference.

He is a mix of two working breeds (one is ruff-coated collie) and I never realized how important and innate the desire to have a "real job" was until we had a toddler as a guest for a week. Up to that point he had eaten or chewed up anything he could get his mouth on. He would knock you over just to say "hello." We were concerned that he and the little one would be an accident waiting to happen. He took one look at her and did not leave her side for the entire visit. He went behind her up the stairs and in front of her coming down. He was gentle and slept at the door of her bedroom and always awoke if anyone came near. He wore himself out protecting her and was the calmest and best behaved I've ever seen him. After she left, he looked for her and fretted, but some of the destructive behaviors went away. He has transferred that protective behavior to me and to our rescued kitten. He's not perfect, but he's 100% better behaved now that he knows his job.

-- Posted by amalphia on Fri, Nov 26, 2010, at 5:17 PM

Can you loan out that toddler? We are worried that PITA will knock Deb's mother down since she walks right through us.

We don't know exactly what PITA is but I suspect more Labrador because she loves to get in our goldfish pond and she "retrieves" everything she can. Luckily, she brings most everything to the same area of the lawn. When we lose something, we know where to look.

I am not a hunter so how do I work her? Like I said, I wish she would bring in wood but I have no idea how to work that. She carries logs much bigger than her jaw span and during the growing season she picked squash about the size of watermelons. Of course we don't want her to do that since teeth marks do not make squash appetizing.

-- Posted by stevemills on Fri, Nov 26, 2010, at 7:13 PM

I'd love to, but she was "rented." She's the daughter of friends of ours. Labs and Lab mixes are one of the most common breeds to be trained as Service Dogs. Labs, like collies are very social and most of them want to be part of the people "pack." They want to please.

If you pick your vegetables, why wouldn't you be pleased with her when she "helps?" Steve, in reading what you do around your place - isn't PITA mimicking your behaviors. You bring in wood, dig in the garden and greenhouse, you pick vegetables, so does she. Her technique isn't the best, but she is trying to please you. She just hasn't figured out what talent she has that will make you happy.

It's hard to praise and reward good behavior, when we don't see much of it. We have had some success with praising the good and "shunning' the dog when it misbehaves. By "shunning" I mean - saying "bad dog" firmly, crossing your arms and turning away. Make no eye or physical contact (positive or negative) with the dog. Until you decide to (I don't mean days, 15 minutes can be a lifetime to a dog) and then it is quiet talk and pets.

When they are puppies and they play too rough or annoy the momma dog, this is what happens to them. The other puppies and/or the momma will push them away, isolating them until the puppy figures out how to behave.

This technique worked for us on a dog that weighed ultimately about 115 pounds. (He outweighed me.) After a while all I had to do was give him "the look" and he would go sit in a corner waiting for his time-out to be over so he could come back and sit with the people. Once he got it, his time-outs were far and few between.

It takes patience and time - and boy is it frustrating trying to find the right technique for the individual dog. They are just like people "one size fits all" just doesn't work.

I wish I had the solution for you, because PITA sounds like a dog who wants to please, but just hasn't figured out how to do it yet.

As to training a dog for hunting, it's something I've never done. I'll ask around and see if there are any trainers/hunters in the area who would help.

-- Posted by amalphia on Sat, Nov 27, 2010, at 1:21 AM

Your insights Amalphia have probably saved PITA from a real bad day today. If your method is correct, she will still not have a good day, but at least she will avoid the "physical contact".

For maybe the 8th time she has chosen a plant to destroy. THE SAME PLANT and I don't know why it has fought to stay alive. I left the carnage (minus the plant, which now had 5 parts to try to regrow) on the greenhouse floor so that when she comes in she will know what my ill humor is about.

She will not come into the greenhouse now (she knows) but being outside is no punishment, so what do you think about putting her on the moveable anchor, (log chain) for 100 days? Well, maybe not 100 days but at least 100 minutes.

She will have access to water but nothing more. The dogs stay away from her because they know what is happening, so it might be my best way of giving time out.

-- Posted by stevemills on Sat, Nov 27, 2010, at 7:27 AM

If she associates the log chain with "time out" it might work. Your meeting her basic needs, but no eye or physical contact. The other dogs are "shunning" her too, because she broke the "pack" rules.

She may have come to associate physical punishment as attention (negative attention is better than no attention.) Restraint and patience is hard when they have ruined something you care about. Consistency is important. Some dogs don't immediately get it. So you have to decide the best behavior modification technique for the particular dog and apply it every time, it could take weeks or months.

I wish I knew the right answer for both of you. I understand your frustration.

One of our abused rescue puppies used to eat my shoes when I was at work. He had been beaten so badly by his previous owner that a tap on the nose, yelling or the sound of newspaper slapping meant nothing to him. He ate my favorites one day. I sat on the floor, cradling my "dead" shoes crying. He came up to me crawling on his belly and whining, I turned away and and continued to cradle the shoes and cry. My other half came in and thought, these shoes where the last straw. He said he would find the dog another home. I had to stop my act for a moment and tell him I was okay. The next day I came home, there was the dog with one of my shoes. This time the shoe was in pristine shape and he was sleeping with his nose buried in the toe - no more eaten shoes. The downside is - my other half doesn't believe me if I cry. Small sacrifice to pay, I had that best friend for eighteen more years.

-- Posted by amalphia on Sat, Nov 27, 2010, at 8:31 AM

Strangely, PITA stayed outside all day today. Mostly laying in one of the gardens (it is not in use right now) I will clean up the mess tonight and see whayt happens tomorrow.

-- Posted by stevemills on Sat, Nov 27, 2010, at 4:44 PM


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Steve Mills and his wife have one daughter and live on a farm outside of Bell Buckle. They previously owned two coffee/ice cream shops, currently operate an internet sales company and teach classes, but his primary job involves the paper industry worldwide. Hobbies and interests lie in gardening, photography, recorded music and of course, their pets.