So, instead of talking about training methods I guess I should give you a bit more background on Mufaasa and how he arrived.
It had been about three months since my last dog died in an accident. She was a beautiful German Shephard/rottie mix and only four years old—it was quite a shock and I still think about her all the time. Since she was my first dog, I of course made every mistake possible, and yet she still managed to become a wonderful companion despite my mistakes. I thought after she died that I would take a while to start looking again, but I’d say about a week later I found myself on Petfinder looking for a new friend. I was living by myself, working two jobs and living in the country with no vehicle and let’s say “limited” bus service. Being in a house with no dog was quite traumatic, especially when you’ve been in the habit of modelling your life around one for the last few years. So I started looking. I thought I wanted an Australian Shepherd, and frankly I still do (and will probably get one soon, hopefully), but I also really believe in adopting. So I starting talking to breeders and stalking all the adoption websites, and eventually found one that peaked my interest.
I waited a bit but found myself repeatedly coming back to his picture, and finally one Friday I talked my manager into driving me over to the Halifax SPCA so I could go meet him. I was already pre-approved (highly recommend if you’re serious about getting a dog, makes it way less stressful) and I figured if I waited until the weekend someone else would be sure sure to snatch him up. We got there and he was bat shit crazy. Could not stay still for more than a second. But it was painfully obvious that the only reason he was like that was because he was desperate for human attention. We took him outside and he was curious but more than willing to give us his attention. He didn’t seem to know any basic obedience but I had a treat on me and it was easy enough to lure him into a sit and a down, so I knew it wouldn’t be too hard to work with him. By the time we left, my manager (who already has two dogs) looked at me and said, “If you don’t get him, I will.”
My mom and I picked him up the next day and brought him home and he did something that he does now on a regular bases. Quietly proves what a kick-ass dog he is who can adapt to just about any situation. I expected him to go barreling around the house, but he just walked around, sedately sniffed everything, peed on his dog bed (which, to be fare, smelled like two other dogs) and then settled in. He didn’t have much of an appetite but was otherwise happy to just hang out. It would be later that he would remember that he was a puppy and it was his job to make trouble. I was working part-time at a horse barn and I took him over. He saw a horse in a paddock for probably the first time and let out a low, surprised “woof” and then walked past. I brought him into the barn and he saw a mare in her stall and just lay down, totally at a lost to do and instead of barking or freaking out, just said, “Alright, I’m just going to wait here and see what happens.”
Not long after he arrived Mufaasa made friends with the resident guard donkey, who was named Fuzz. And by friends I mean they actually rough-housed, chased each other back and forth, and generally had a great time. I was hoping Fuzz might teach him to respect the horses a bit, since the donkey was more than willing to give a kick if something was bothering him. He did it to Naala shortly after she met him and she proceeded to give his rear-quarters a wide berth. Unfortunately, Mufaasa proved immune to being kicked, and decided that all ponies were his friend. Some ponies begged to differ. He did at least listen to me fairly well, but I couldn’t trust him loose since the first thing he would do is try his darnedest to to go into their stalls or paddocks to go hang out. Aside from that he spent most of his time running around the indoor arena (when there were no horses in it, of course) and making it his personal mission to jump on just about every piece of equipment, stack of hay or any other convenient object in sight.
After a couple more months of waking up at 4am and finishing at 9pm I’d had enough of the two job thing and quit working at the barn (a part-time job I really should have figured would become a full-time one). I moved in with my mom (whose home was the least puppy-proofed place on earth) and spent a couple of months looking for a home to buy in between rescuing various items from going down Mufaasa’s throat and walking him for at least two hours a day. Somehow, no matter how much time we spent outside, if it didn’t include a trip to a dog park he would start running around the house at warp speed the moment I took his leash off.
Happily I found a place just a 10 minute walk away from a great fenced in park, and a fifteen minute walk away from work, so my spoiled little pooch could come into work with me (and yes, I am bragging!). He’s matured into a great, super savvy dog, ball obsessed, and generally hysterically funny (with a strange vendetta against dog beds, resulting in me getting one of these).
So that’s the long and short of it for now. Hope you enjoyed and I’ll try and get in some more details about actual training next time.