Blue "The Blueminator" Lewis

Blue "The Blueminator" Lewis

Monday, March 24, 2014

The sprayer made its appearance.

You see this?

Do you know what it's for?

This is used to spray water in Blue's face.

Do I like doing that?

Actually, yes and no.

First of all, I didn't do it. Blue was throwing another tantrum in class and just to be clear, let me first explain what that is.

This is when Blue decides to not behave. He begins jumping up and down and then grabs the leash, pulls on it AND WILL NOT LET GO.

Sounds cute?

Well, it isn't. It's extremely frustrating and a bit worrisome.

This isn't a case of a dog just wanting to play for a moment.

Blue does not do that. When he gets in this state, he's "gone," meaning mentally he is in a zone somewhere. His eyes dilate and his eyes and ears get red.

Have you ever had a 70 pound pit bull pull on you?

If so, then you know what I mean. You can understand where the myth came from about their locking jaws. Mammals don't have locking jaws, but a pit bulls jaws are incredibly strong.

If you haven't, then before you tell me how cute and funny it is, I'd like for you to experience the strength of this breed as he pulls on the leash and practically takes you with it. Allow yourself to feel your arm get pulled suddenly and have the leash that is wrapped around your hand get tighter and tighter and tighter. And then experience the pain in your thumb a bit later.

While this was going on, I saw the trainer quietly walk over to us. When he does this, I have to do my best to walk away and get him far from the other dogs. I do not talk to him. I just hold onto the leash and try to walk away.

I see her coming up so I hold on as best as I can. Blue is pulling as hard as he can on the leash. I'm a bit worried that he will chew through it. He tugs and pulls and has his heels dug in. The grass is wet and somewhat slippery.

Suddenly there is a shot of water hitting his face.

He stops and looks around. He looks like someone just walked up to him and slapped him across the face. His butt hits the ground and he lets go of the leash.

For a moment, all is quiet. I wish I had gotten a picture of his face. Priceless, as if to say "WHAT THE HELL WAS THAT?"

I stand there and look at him. He is staring at the trainer and unsure of what happened. We both suppress our laughs. She hands me the spray bottle and walks away.

Blue sees it. Suddenly he is now sitting in front of me, eyes up and his ears back. All thoughts of pulling on the leash are gone. His eyes dart back and forth from my face and the sprayer that I am holding.

I keep him out of the main circle and have backed him out of the group. This is where he will stay until I can get him through this.

Why is he doing this?

Well, when he is acting like that, he is being a puppy. I mean a young puppy. He is not acting like an adult because he doesn't know how. Just because he is almost 3 years old means nothing. Visualize how a little puppy plays and you'll get a good idea of how Blue plays.

So we are back to baby steps. Now when I take him to the park at night, all I have him do is sit and look around. Every time he looks at me, he gets a reward.

He has the attention span of about 1 second.

He is a wonderful, sweet and affectionate dog who doesn't know how to be a dog.

He may or may not get through this phase.

I think he will but no matter what, he'll always be with me.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Blue's tantrums

Yes, Blue throws tantrums.

They are quite cute. Well, OK, maybe not all the time.

But once his trainer pointed out what he was doing, my first thought was:

"Payback is SUCH a bitch!"

I understand tantrums. I know what it's like to get frustrated at not getting what you want. Though it has been decades since I've thrown things around the room when someone told me "NO!" I suppose as an adult, the urge is still there.

I just cover it up better.

What are his tantrums about?

Not getting a treat when he wants it or thinks he deserves it.

Not wanting to drop his toy or bone when I tell him to.

Not wanting to stop chasing the cats around the house.

It is most apparent during his classes. He's getting much better at sitting quietly and looking at me. I've gotten him to be able to keep his attention on me longer and longer.

But when we walk past anyone who has ever given him a treat, and he doesn't get one, he begins to jump up and down on me. He starts pulling the leash and refuses to stop. He'll put his mouth over my hand and hold it.

Anything to get my attention and give him what he wants. His ears go back, his tail is going a million miles an hour and he bounces up and down.

He is a strong dog and just wants what he wants when he wants it.

It doesn't work.

I turn my back and look away. He comes around and jumps on me. I turn away. He does it again and then grabs the leash in his mouth and pulls.

This will go on for quite a while.

The trainer smiles and stands quietly and watches.

Now, he never does this at home or when we walk. He only does it in class.

Can you even imagine what that might look to someone if he was doing that while we were walking?

I don't even want to think about it.

It used to take me several minutes to get his leash on him. As soon as he would see me pull it out, down goes his front legs and up goes his butt. I step near him and he begins to bounce and then run around the yard.

I would stand up straight, turn my back to him and wait.

This would go on for quite some time.

He finally got it through his head that I ignore his bad behavior and he only gets my attention when he is calm.

He rarely does this now but his new thing is to act up in class.

Well, that's what class is for. Find out what he needs help with and work with him on that.

Our homework for this week?

Get Blue to be bored for longer and longer periods of time.

I say "OK, we will do that this week."

So how do you train a dog to behave when what you're training them on drives YOU up the wall?

Who is learning now?

So I try. I try really hard and what I am overcoming is my own boredom. I am learning to ignore the bad behavior of PEOPLE around me. I stand there after I have gotten him to sit and wait. I can do this for about 5 seconds before I want him to come to me BECAUSE I AM BORED!

I want to throw my own damn tantrums in life too! Damn it! I want to jump up and down and body slam people who are being assholes and bitches and who refuse to listen to me.

So this week, I am practicing holding my own space for as long as necessary and not reacting to the jabs and barbs I get from people. I am learning to remain calm and wait things out. I am learning to not respond when someone uses their words to poke me on the chest and then blame me for getting angry or annoyed.

I am learning to just BE. To only pay attention to the rightness and goodness of people and my surroundings. I am learning to be aware of and ignore the tempers tantrums of others. I am learning to ignore those that want to blame me for their own emotions.

It has been said many times that dogs are a reflection of us.

I am finding that this may very well be true and one of the hardest things I have had to learn about Blue and therefore, myself.