Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Boot Camp

I am home from a trip to meet my newborn granddaughter. I couldn't leave Chou Chou by herself, with a pet sitter coming just twice a day. She is still too young to be trusted for long periods of time outside the crate alone, and she can't stay in a crate all those hours. So I decided to board her.

It was difficult for me to leave her. We had not been apart since she came to live with me in June. But it was a trip I had to take and delighted in. 

Dogs are not left at kennels anymore. That is so last century. Now dogs go to "resorts" or "hotels." I found one that was recommended by my veterinary hospital and I liked what I saw: very clean, and large indoor "rooms" for each dog; playtimes with other canine guests twice a day; the usual potty trips; special treats, and extras that were available for an extra charge. 

The dog resort was very accommodating and I liked the staff. I arranged to have Chou Chou brushed out each day, and she could sleep in her portable, canvas crate, like at home, placed inside her "room." I also brought her food from home, and a couple of toys. 

The best thing I did was arrange for Chou to get training while she was there. Six intensive days of obedience -- "boot camp" -- away from me and bad habits from home; the goal was to get her to stop jumping on me, and others. This was the most expensive and extensive training by far that I had tried, and I needed this to work! She was getting bolder, with the jumping including snarling and grabbing my jacket in her teeth. I was becoming afraid of getting knocked over, and my fear made the problem worse. She was fighting me for dominance. ("Mais Non! I play with you like I play with my puppy friends! We wrestle. They like it. You don't?")

So with nervousness about leaving her and hope that she would have a good experience and come home more manageable, I left her and travelled to Illinois. I called the resort every night and they reported she was making good progress in training, eating well, and enjoying playtime with the other dogs.

When I went to get her, she was glad to see me. She did not jump on me. She was in a pinch collar; I did not want to do that! But I could see that she was calmer in it and didn't need any correction, so I am supposed to continue with this training collar for a few weeks; then, if no jumping, I can change to a different collar. I was given tips on how to be more assertive in a way that a dog could recognize. I think this will work. 

It feels good to be home. ("Oui! Me, too!")

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