Pupdate #2: Noticeable Improvement
After watching a lot of Cesar Milan (The Dog Whisperer and Mastering Leadership) the past couple of days -- despite some people's objections to his techniques -- there is significant improvement from both myself and Winston and a lot of reduced stress on my end. I'm starting to feel better about this decision, but I'm still concerned he might need a better home than I can provide.
Inline with Cesar's teachings, I am working to constantly establish rules, boundaries and limitations -- three things a dog needs in order to know that I am the pack leader.
Rules About Food
New rule: before he gets food and water in the morning, Winston and I go for a walk. This lets him know he has to work for his food, as all dogs in a pack do. He only eats when I give him permission to approach the bowl. He needs to be in a calm-submissive state before he gets his food. I have stopped using the measuring cup and started using my hand to scoop out his food, so that my scent mixes in with the food and Winston can smell me while he's eating. Apparently this is very effective at helping to establish who the pack leader is.
A few other food-related tidbits: I am working on training him to not eat food that is on the table; while cooking dinner tonight, I dropped some food and trained him not to eat food from the floor; and, in order to get a treat, he comes to me, lays down and waits until I give it to him.
Boundaries of the House
This is Winston's best area of learning so far. He is becoming great at adhering to the boundaries I've set: he doesn't enter the back hallway without permission, and when we returned from our walk tonight, he successfully sat at the front door for a couple of minutes, with the door open and me inside, until he was given permission to enter. This is great progress.
Limitations on Walks
The biggest trouble spot is the walk. Being a scent hound, Winston loves to pull, and it's a constant battle for pack leadership when we're out on our walks. This afternoon we had a nice long walk over to the waterfront. It took us a while to get there as I had to keep stopping, shifting directions and getting him to walk beside me to show that I'm pack leader, but he did a great job. I was able to keep the leash nice and loose as he walked beside me about 50 per cent of the time. Tonight was a different story.
It could be that being home alone for four hours while I taught a class was bothersome for him. There wasn't much on the kitchen table for him to knock off, but he did snag my scarf off the back of one of the kitchen chairs. It seems he dragged it over his bed and was sleeping with it. How adorable, right?! No other damage to report. No urine or poop anywhere. I got him to settle down quickly and put the leash on.
The walk tonight was very anxious for him and frustrating for me. Trying to keep him beside me was very difficult. There were a few other dogs out tonight and we met one of them. I'm trying to keep him in a calm-submissive state when he first meets other dogs, using his nose first. Winston likes to run up to them and try to establish dominance but jumping up on them.
I had to keep pulling him back, being carefully not to heighten the situation by keeping tension on the leash, but redirection of his attention was next to impossible. I'm also being careful not to grab him or hold him back when he is in this aggressive state. Grabbing him is a sign of affection and only tell him I approve of his behaviour, which is not the case. I caught myself doing this a couple of times but was able to correct my behaviour and reassert my dominance by positioning myself between him and the other dog, establishing limitations in his approach.
A Note on Meeting Winston
I would love for Winston to meet you, and many people reading this will meet him at some point. People have come running up to him in an excited state, showed him affection without earning it, and even taken offence when I ask that they not do that. don't take it personally; it's not about you, it's about Winston.
I've learned that there is a proper way to meet a new dog, and I ask that you respect my choice and adhere to this method when you first meet Winston. I am following Cesar Millan's example at my house and have made a sign for my door outlining the rules of meeting Winston. They are simple and as follows:
- No Touching
- No Talking
- No Eye Contact
Touching is a sign of affection and if you offer Winston without affection, you will establish yourself beneath him in pack order. Do not reach down to let him sniff your hands. Winston can and will sniff around your ankles to familiarize himself with your scent. Do not look at him or talk to him. Most of all, do not offer him affection until he is on his pillow in a calm-submissive state. Only then can you approach him to pet him, but watch out, we are still dealing with a submissive urination problem; he's a squirter. Yikes!
Status: Adapting to the situation, but still unsure if my home is the right one for Winston.