Shelby’s first Training Day

Shelby’s first Training Day

Sunday is usually training day with Charlie. Shelby is small enough that she fits in the front seat; so we decided to take her with us. After a good walk with the boys and a good breakfast which was a mix of kibbles, fish and veggies, we loaded up the car for our Schutzhund training. Shelby and I had enough room in the front seat. Initially she was a little bit scared but half way down the road she adjusted and relaxed a bit. No matter where I go I always keep treats with me. So when we arrived at the high school, I walked around with Shelby calling her name. Yesterday, we got her used to the clicker tone and as soon as she looks at me or turns around, I call her by her name and click. She was very curious while she was running on the field. I even started working with her on the “sit” a little bit.  Susan said that she assumes that Shelby isn’t older than 9 or 10 months old; something with the head of a Rottweiler changes when the dog turns about a year old. Susan was also so kind to borrow us one of her crates. In that way, we can keep a crate downstairs in the office and I don’t have to carry his little crate up and down the stairs. Iris Grimm
Her First Day in our Home

Her First Day in our Home

Shelby’s first night at our home was very restful. I got up at 7.00 am and we took her out immediately. And she did her business. Finally, after at least 13 or 14 hours. We took her on a walk with the boys and again – she did so well. We really need to videotape her. All the fear that she exposed at the shelter is gone; like it never existed. When we walked inside the house, we just let her run lose with the boys. And they were fine. They all were standing in the kitchen waiting to be fed. After breakfast, we took her outside again and finally she did her poop business. Then she walked around in the living room but we didn’t allow her yet to go into the bedroom and bathroom. An hour later she finally calmed down and took a nap. This afternoon we took her to Kennesaw park. Sloan thought that we had to take 2 cars but I decided that we should try to put all 3 in one; after all, sooner or later she had to learn. Initially, she didn’t want to go into the car so we had to put the leash on her and pull her in from the opposite door. Once she was in the car, she felt a little insecure. Sloan kept the leash tight on her so that she couldn’t go anywhere. However, in the park she was wonderful. She walked with us the entire time. She was really curious and spent a lot of time just sniffing around. I am glad we brought some water with us. Since she eats that terrible kibble food, she is thirsty all the time. It was fun having her with us. She did really great. As soon as we returned to the car and she saw all the cars passing by, she immediately jumped in the car. We were really surprised to see her do that but I guess her fear of cars was bigger than her fear of jumping inside of the car. We just came home and Shelby just received her first dinner. I added some mackerel in her bowl. I don’t want to get her started on the raw food diet right away but rather take it slowly. I added some probiotics in her food though since I know that they pumped her up with antibiotics. Shelby had an eventful day and now she is laying on Barko’s mat resting peacefully. She is a cute little dog! Iris Grimm

What a Day!!!

We did it! Shelby is at home laying in her crate in front of the guest room. But let me start with the beginning of the day. This morning I took my car to Kauffman Tire just to get an oil change. Since they also found an axle problem, they dropped me off at home. Around 4.00 pm we took the boys to Kennesaw Battlefield Park. We walked with them for almost an hour and allowed them to run around and chase the ball. After all, our intention was to get them “dog-tired” so that they would be more controlled when they meet Shelby. Then we went by Kauffman Tire. At that time it was almost 5.30 pm and I wanted to hurry so that I wouldn’t pick Shelby up too late. Sloan and the boys went home real quick while I went to the Shelter. I learned from the Cesar’s tape that one should give the dog a bath before you pick it up from the shelter. When I arrived there, Ann had already a crate waiting for me. Dr. Good approved that I take her home and she is not on any medication anymore. I was so glad to see Heiro at the shelter; he is always so nice and friendly; I like him a lot. When I asked him where I could give Shelby a bath, he explained to me the water and the hair dryer. I took Shelby out of her crate and she was excited to see me. But when I picked her up and layed her down in the bath tube, she freaked out. I am glad Heiro showed me how to tie her to the bathtube; otherwise she would have jumped out of it. She was frozen; her little body was trembling, and her eyes were filled with fear and worry. I didn’t say a word to her but rather massaged her very gently. (The doggie shampoo actually smells very good; I am surprised. After all, this is the first time ever that I gave a dog a bath.) She calmed down a bit when I massaged her and it was easy to rinse her off. However, the next hurdle was the dryer. Oh man, that is a loud thing. If I was a dog I would freak out over this loud noise as well. Shelby tried to jump out of the bathtube, she was completely afraid and intimidated. I couldn’t even dry off her belly since she was just laying in the bathtube, clamping to the ground. Poor little girl, this was probably her first bath. But I couldn’t speak to her. I was gentle but assertive. When I untied her from the bathtube and put her down, she wanted to get away from me. She wanted to run away. I took her outside but as soon as I opened the door, she hit her breaks. Now I had to be careful, it was a beautiful Friday evening and there were a lot of volunteers around. I couldn’t drag her for a couple of feet until she got up. People probably think I mistreat the girl. But believe me, it hurts my heart as well when I give her the tugs but I have to do that in order to get her brain and paws going. Action moves the spirit, action moves the brain. Shelby started walking but as soon as she was in the middle of the street, she layed down. And a car was approaching us. I didn’t have a choice but drag her off the street. She sat down in the bushes and would just hide. In the meantime I called Sloan on his cell phone but he just didn’t answer. Man, where is he now? I asked him to be here and now he is running late again. That is all I need. It is getting dark, it is already 6.15 pm and this dog is still half-wet. Shelby and I was waiting for Sloan and the boys for at least 20 minutes and really wanted to get angry at him. But I couldn’t because I couldn’t do that to the dog. She cannot meet me with that weak energy. Instead, I have to stay calm and assertive. She was still hiding in the bushes, so I leaned over and had a 1-1 talk with her. “Shelby, I know that you are not feeling very comfortable in this world right now. I don’t know what happened to you before you came here but there is nothing we can do about that. I know that you are a strong girl because if you wasn’t you never would have made it alive out of this trap. When you can tap back into your strength you will realize that this is a wonderful world. But as long as you are trapped in this body of fear, you will miss out a lot in your life. You can have an awesome life as soon as you realize again how strong you really are.” Shelby sat there for a few more minutes and then she got up and sniffed. As soon as she did that, I saw Sloan’s car approaching the shelter. He took out Cito and walked with him down the hill towards us. Shelby and I walked towards them. As soon as Shelby smelled Cito, she became interested in him. She followed him while Cito was busy checking out all the smells in the area. She sniffed Cito’s behind, she moved forward with him. I already noticed a shift in her energy. Did she recognize him from a couple of weeks ago? No matter where Cito walked, she followed him. Next Sloan put Cito back in the car and brought Barko out. Barko – as always – was more spirited than Cito and Sloan had to put him under control but then they both walked around a bit. I put Shelby in the crate in my car and I could see the terror in her eyes when I closed the car door. I walked back to the shelter to pick up some of the kibble food. Man, that stuff smells gross. She won’t be on that one for long. I said good bye to Heiro and left. The shelter is only a mile away from our home so our ride wasn’t even long enough for her to calm down and lay down. Sloan and the boys followed us in his car and we parked the cars in front of the garage. I baited Shelby with some food to step outside of the crate. She stood there for a while and didn’t want to come out of the car. I wanted to take her and lift her out of the car when Sloan stopped me. “Don’t lift her. Don’t feel sorry for her. She is a real dog now and real dogs jump out of the car. Give her a little tug and she will jump.” I gave her a little tug and low and behold, she jumped out of the car. As soon as her little feet were on the ground, she started sniffing. She went straight to the backyard and smelled the grass there. We didn’t hesitate but rather locked the cars and started walking. Wow, Shelby walked with us as if she had done this her entire life. She didn’t hit the breaks on us, she didn’t lay down on the ground but she walked by my side along with the boys. We were astonished, we were excited, we were exhilarated. Shelby walked with us for 30 minutes around the neighborhood. She hesitated only once when she saw the cars from I-75 behind us. But that was it. Sloan always said, “we should have videotaped this.” But who would have thought that she overcomes her fear immediately and starts walking. That is unbelievable. When we walked into the house, we made sure how dogs understood that we meant leadership. Cito and Barko walked in first, Shelby last. We took her upstairs, brough her crate upstairs and immediately put her in the crate. We made sure that the dogs wouldn’t interact with each other at all but rather kept a distance between them. Shelby feels very comfortable in the crate and she immediately settled. I decided not to feed her that night; after all I was told that she was fed just a couple of hours ago. I took her out about an hour ago but she didn’t do any business. That really surprises me about this dog. I assume that she has always been a crate dog because I never saw her doing her business outside. Only in the crate. Now that can mean that the housetraining will take a while. Thankfully, Ann gave me a rather small crate, as requested, so that she doesn’t have much room in the crate to do her business unless she wants to lay in her own feces. When I just took her out, she ran in the grass and layed down and rolled in it. She tried to roll to the other side but she struggled a bit since the “missing leg” doesn’t give her the weight to roll over. This is something that she needs to learn. However, this was the very first time that I saw her being a real dog. I am sure Shelby will be rehabilitated very quickly which will allow her to live a happy doggie life after all. I am so happy that the introduction went so well.

The Decision to Take Shelby Home

This morning I went back to the shelter to work with Shelby. She was just as fearful as the night before. I had to almost drag her across the street to the grassy area and then she just sat there for at least 10 minutes. I was waiting patiently; after all patience is a virtue Shelby is teaching me. Eventually, she got up and started to sniff around. And then she followed me behind the little church house. Well, that was a little bit better than last night but by far not as good as on Tuesday.When I returned this afternoon I noticed on the billboard that someone else took her out again. I must admit, I don’t understand why some people do that. I had a sign on her crate that said, “please do not walk Shelby. She gets walked twice a day by Iris.” That sign was taken away. I always crossed her name off on the list so that volunteers would choose dogs that haven’t been walked yet. Oh well.Unfortunately, she didn’t do any better this afternoon. She actually was just as fearful as yesterday evening. So rather than waiting, I decided to take her back inside and walk other dogs instead. While taking out Dudley, Sloan drove around the corner. He had the boys in the back and since one of his clients just canceled her appointment, he decided to walk our boys with the dogs from the shelter. We walked the boys with Cricket, the “dog-aggressive” Rottweiler, Mozelle, the sweet Rottweiler female, Montana, the shy and fearful German Shepherd mix. While walking the dogs, Sloan asked me how Shelby was doing and he heard my disappointment in my voice. “The only way how you can help this dog is when you take her home. Here she won’t improve much as long as the other volunteers are following the program.” I heard his words and I agreed with him. “But do you think the boys would accept her and get along with her?”, was my reply. Sloan couldn’t answer that question. When I returned with Montana, I saw how Joani took out Shelby. Shelby stood outside of the door and was about to lay down. Joani spoke with Shelby in her high-pitch voice begging the dog to follow her. I approached Joani and said, “Please, stop speaking in that high-pitch voice. It doesn’t help her. Instead, grab the leash shorter, lift her up and give her a tug. Don’t speak to her, just move forward and hopefully, she will follow you.” With those instructions, I walked inside the building while Sloan and my 2 boys waited outside. When I came outside, Sloan told me that as soon as I disappeared behind the door, the lady fell back into her old behavior of speaking to the dog and begging her to move. “You see, you are wasting your time with this dog as long as other people walk her.” Unfortunately, I had to agree with him. While eating dinner, I asked Sloan, “so what do you think, can we bring Shelby home?” He said, “I don’t know why not.” I was surprised about his answer. I told him that this would be the opportunity for us to prove to ourselves how good we are as dog trainers. We trained our own dogs, we competed with them in Schutzhund, we went to seminars with Debbie Zappia, Gene England,  Kate Lawrence, we read the Cesar Millan books and dozens of other dog behavior books but this would be the opportunity for us to put all our knowledge into action. Sloan agreed with me to take Shelby home. We agreed that we would bring her home for the weekend to see how she and the boys would get along. If there isn’t a problem we will keep her longer. That is a fair decision. We both got excited about our decision. “Let’s watch the Cesar DVD again about bringing a dog home”, was Sloans next response. That was a good idea; after all we want to make sure we introduce the dogs correctly. I must admit I felt so excited tonight, I started cleaning up the house. This is so funny, when I am looking forward to something or someone, I always feel excited to clean up. Not that Shelby cares if our house is clean or not, but I want it to be clean so that I don’t have to worry about cleaning up this weekend. Instead I can devote all my time for her and my boys. Wow, we decided tonight to bring Shelby home tomorrow. This is going to be interesting; this is going to be exciting. I know we will learn a lot from this experience. Iris Grimm  

Major Setback

I am disappointed. Not in Shelby but in people. Tonight when I took Shelby out she reacted the same fearful way as I met her 2 weeks ago. As soon as she stepped outside of the door, she layed down and refused to move. I couldn’t even coax her across the street. Rather than getting frustrated I returned her to her crate. And when I looked on the white board, I noticed on the check off list that someone else walked her. At that time I understood why she slipped back in her default fear behavior.

Wow, isn’t it amazing how quickly an animal can progress but at the same time regress when the training is not persistent? I watch the volunteers interact and talk with those dogs and I am saddened to see how little knowledge they have about dogs and dog behavior. Here they come and spend hours a week walking the dogs; why don’t they maximize their time and treat the dogs like dogs (meaning fulfilling their dog needs) – in that way they truly could make a difference in those dogs’ lives.

Nowadays, almost every other dog has the line “dog aggressive” on their name tag. Those dogs, Cricket, Macguire, Sampson, Dudley aren’t dog aggressive. They are frustrated animals who don’t get their basic needs for physical activity and mental stimulation fulfilled.

Instead they should write on the name tag, “We made them dog aggressive.” That would indicate to me that people are taking responsibilities for their actions and inactions. After all those dogs weren’t dog aggressive before they came to the shelter. That makes me so angry and almost people aggressive!!!

A Walk around the Neighborhood

Special, special, special news!!! Shelby and I are walking around the neighborhood!!! Yesterday Shelby and I walked the first time around the neighborhood. This little round usually takes me 15 minutes when I walk it with other dogs from the shelter but with Shelby it took me a little bit more than an hour. She started out very fearfully and – as usual – I had to give her a couple of tugs in order to move her forward.When she breaks on me, I usually give her a second to evaluate the environment so that she can decide for herself that she is in a safe place. If she doesn’t move forward, I visualize my action with her, I take a deep breath, I walk up to her calmly, I take her by the short leash, I kindly lift her up and give her a tug. I always remind myself that forward action will move her brain forward and I visualize the process. Sometimes I have to pull her 2 or 3 feet but eventually she realizes that she doesn’t have a choice but to move forward. Once she smells something interesting, she forgets her fear completely. There were several times where Shelby just stood there and evaluated the environment. No hiding, no laying down, just plain curiosity. Once I bait her with a treat, she feels compelled to move forward and pick it up. I am so glad this dog has such a strong food drive. If she didn’t it would be harder to get her going. The funny thing is she never pees or poops outside. I have never seen her do that. I wonder if she was a kennel dog that only lived in a crate and therefore never learned to eliminate outside. Since Shelby is making small progress, I decided to come to the shelter in the morning and evening. Yesterday as well as today I was here at 6.45 am and we usually do a quick walk to the grassy area across the street. The street is her biggest obstacle anyway, she is terrified of cars which will be another project another time. For now all I want her to learn is to be a dog again that gets on walks and enjoys life outside.