Saturday, April 26, 2008

Seeking: Opinions of Dog People

It's spring, spring, spring, even though it SNOWED last night. So it's muddy muddy muddy as well. And, all the little critters are back, too.

To celebrate spring and the absence of huge snow drifts, husband fixed the porch fence so that Scout can run out the back door directly into the yard: but not the street.

But the puppy has been taxing our patience this morning. She discovered a chipmunk or a gopher in one of our gutter spouts when we let her out this morning, and she would not come back in. She HAD to get that animal out of the gutter. Husband moved the gutter spout, but she was then interested in every other gutter spout: there HAS to be an animal in there somewhere.

When I got home from church for lunch, Husband said we had gone on to the Next Level: the small animal had finally vacated the gutter spout, and Scout caught her. I look out the back door, and there she was, tossing it up in the air like a squeaky toy, running around with it in her mouth.

She would not come in.

She would come up near the door, and then, when we opened it, she would run back the other way, toward her catch. Then she would move the animal to another area in the yard.

Finally, I went out to the yard, and called her. I was surprised when she came right to me, and sat in front of me. She let me take her collar and bring her in. (And I wiped off her Extremely Muddy Paws.) I guess those obedience sessions paid off some.

The thing is: the Animal is still out there. If I had time, I'd let her out again, and have her practice coming to me, and letting her go back to the Animal. We could also just go out and find it and just get rid of it. But that might make her more possessive the next time she catches one. Or, we could.... is there another option???

What would you do?
P.S. Disclaimer: the picture is not our yard.


St Edwards Blog said...

Oh, I have a cat and not a dog, so what can I say.

I will say that I may post one day about my old house in Nyack, old meaning formerly mine as well as the age.

Critters would sometimes breach the boundaries, so to speak.

A cat likes nothing better than a living toy.

I can assure you that no good came from these visits and that a dead critter is of no interest to a cat.

Deep sigh.

Good luck.

I just realized that I am here in my alternative ego form. You know who I am, FranIam!

Lindy said...

Well, congratulations to Scout. Rowan has never actually caught anything. He chases stuff... just doesn't catch it.

No advice. But, cute photo. Cute, cute, cute.

Ruth Hull Chatlien said...

I'm not sure anything you do will change your dog's instincts much because they run so deep. If my dog caught something, I'd definitely get rid of it before I let him back out just because I wouldn't want the mouth that slurps me to be playing with an aging corpse. I don't think I'm really answering the question though. The only thing Smokey (my dog) has caught is flies.

Hot Cup Lutheran said...

i forget what breed(s) scout is... but having a lab myself it's usually about the hunt for him and playing. a buddy to play with mom! look! look! look!

i would check on said animal... it might be injured and if so, you'd probably be able to put it out of its misery. i know... an unpleasant task at best. we've had to do this with more baby bunnies than we can count. birds the dog just kills - because afterall he is a hunting bird dog.

i think it's just part of nature... but disciplining scout to "come in" is another matter. we are bad. horribly bad. we bribe the dog. if he comes in with a minimum amt. of fuss - meaning we only have to call 1 or 2 times - he gets a biscuit.

mompriest said...

I'd get rid of the dead critter...dogs will remember but also forget so it won't be a problem. I'd also continue working on "Come!" it's the best command we can teach our dogs and it's so important that they learn to drop or stop everything and "Come!" when called....

Cute photo - what a happy puppy!

mompriest said...

Oh....not that my dogs always "Come" when called....sigh...but I do keep working at it...

GreenishLady said...

I'm for disposal of dead things rather than leaving them as playthings, but that's just squeamishness, not necessarily about "good practice" or anything. Luckily, the only creature my dog ever found in my garden was a hedgehog. Boy, did she get a shock! Woof, woof.

Marsha said...

Ginger has never gotten to a critter as far as I know of but Mr. Woody K. Nibs, the cat, is a completely different story.

Woody is a proud hunter. You name it... lizards, mice, moles, birds, even a baby snake (a poisonous ground rattler) that managed to bite Woody in the foot before he met his demise.

But the biggest prize (uh make that surprise) he has brought to me was the headless bunny I found on my front porch Easter morning. It put a whole new meaning on the Easter Bunny at my house! I'm glad none of the grands were here!

BTW, two days later I found Woody with what appeared to be a sibling of the first bunny on my back porch. The poor thing was near death and I did all I could to save him but it was too late. Those bunnies were almost as big as Woody.

Needless to say, there wasn't an ounce of remorse in Woody K. Just a smug look in Ginger's direction as he waltzed in through the door.

zorra said...

I would just go out and get rid of the poor thing. Scout may go looking for it again, but I think trying to use it to to work on "come" is a battle of wills that you would lose.

(I'm surprised she didn't just swallow it on the spot. That's what Zorra once did in a similar situation.)


Jan said...

I hope you've gotten rid of "the body." I figure dogs' memories aren't that good, though maybe Scout's is, and so he'll quickly forget what he had there.

And could you get rid of the word verification--I'm already on my sixth try!

Diane said...

Zorra, It would be easier if she would have swallowed it. Then it would have been gone.

MadPriest said...

Don't panic.
Teaching a dog to come back to you whatever the situation is a gradual process. In the coming months you must bond with your dog so that you are the most important thing in your dog's life. At the same time, you must train your dog to come back to you, step by step. When you are out and your dog is off the leash, let it go a few feet in front of you and then call it back, giving plenty of praise when it returns to you. Gradually build up the distance. Make it a game, give treats if you like (this is quicker but is not necessary and will create problems in the future). Loads of loud enthusiasm and praise - no praise if your dog does not return but don't punish. Saying "right then," turning around and walking briskly in the opposite direction is scary but sometimes works.

Your dog will always remember the gutter - you have to get to a position in your relationship where you can easily control your dog, rather than training your dog to not be interested in certain things.

Also start to teach the stay so that you can tell your dog to stay whilst you walk up to it and remove any item you don't want it to have.

Do go out and remove the gopher. Your dog will realise by using its sense of smell that you have removed it, very quickly. Have your dog on a lead under control with you when you remove the gopher and show your dog that it has been removed. Dogs are intelligent creatures.

Above all, don't worry. This is a puppy. You have six months steady training ahead of you (if you take it seriously) before you can be completely confident that your dog will come back to you.

Join a dog training club.

I have been a qualified dog trainer for 35 years.

Diane said...

mappriest: I am impressed. You are a dog trainer AND a priest? wow.

this is good stuff.

we have taken Scout to some dog training, but will get her in another class soon!

gartenfische said...

This is a very timely issue for me, too. Isabel will not come to me when she doesn't want to and she got out the other day, running out behind me before the front door closed. Thankfully, she did not run off, but she avoids me if she thinks I'm going to make her do what she doesn't want to do (like go back in the house, which of course, I promptly did, reinforcing the fact that she doesn't want to come to me).

I am going to buy some hot dog and try to train her to come to me when I say "hot dog." This treat will only be used very specifically for the exercise of getting her to come from a distance when she may not want to. My neighbor did this with great success (using a whistle as the recall, but I can't whistle).

I am also glad the Mad Priest is a dog trainer, though I am really afraid to try off leash stuff anywhere but in a fenced yard because she is VERY fast.

Diane said...

Garten: do not try off leash at first unless you are in a fenced-in area! all of the dog trainers I have talked to say "safety first" and to start working on off-leash "come" when you are in your fenced-in backyard.

Scout has been going to indoor playtimes at an indoor dog-park area this winter. that's why I think at the last, I was able to go out and have her come to me. She is still very bad at sit and down from a distance.

They say when you first start teaching "come" you should make sure that ONLY good things happen when your dog comes. Whether that would be treats (though as madpriest says, there is a downside to that) or praise, or something else good.

I think it also takes a lot of patience.

Diane said...

well, and Scout has posessiveness issues, and that's part of our challenge too, although she is much better than she was.

Mary Beth said...

We had a possum in the yard last night. Bigger than the dogs but still worthy of BARKING AT.

Oh, the barking.

Oh, the not coming in.

I said to DH, "Well, we could have a screaming baby to walk, but I don't know what else could be more enervating.