The Dogs

Banjo is quite a crackerjack of a pup, which is to be expected for a Jack Russell. I’ve never had a dog with such confidence and determination before, and I am constantly amazed at how brash and dominant he acts. It hit me last night that I’ve never seen a submissive gesture from him. I’ve seen relaxed, I’ve seen happy, I’ve seen tired, but not submissive. I mean, he’s three months old, sure, but unless he’s screaming because he’s been nipped by Penny or yelping in surprise if I have to emergency scruff him to keep him out of harm’s way, there’s nothing that even slightly smacks of submission, and definitely not to the older dog. He’ll sometimes respect her angryface and leave her alone, but the rest of the time he completely disregards her.

Perhaps my perception is a little skewed because Penny is so excruciatingly submissive and that’s all I’ve lived with in recent years. She pees, she slinks, she licks, she averts her face, she yawns, she rolls her eyes, she flattens her ears, she tucks her tail… and on the other end, she’s aggressively submissive for the things she wants: food, treats, pets, to get up on the furniture, to get me to ignore the cat.

It’s taken a lot of work to get her to act mostly like a normal dog and I’ve learned to be extremely soft, firm, and clear when I’m giving directions or corrections. These days she’s mostly relaxed, happy, and responsive, and she even roughhouses with Banjo, which is something I hoped for but never thought I’d see! But her world is carefully controlled, and she falls to pieces if some little thing goes wrong. Her ability to control herself and to listen goes out the window and she usually dissolves into a barking fit if the stimulus comes from outside the house, or slinking if it comes from something in the house.

Back to Banjo: he’s actually a very easy puppy. He loves his toys, he chews on bones and chewies, and as long as we stay on the ball house training is going swimmingly. He travels well, he loves other dogs and people, and is generally delightful, as puppies should be.

But he’s starting to develop some habits that I’m not precisely sure how to curtail. I noticed he was getting impatient with being handled, so I jumped all over that and started to interrupt him and pet him and generally make a nuisance of myself. He struggled mightily in the beginning, but as I release him when he relaxes, he’s learning to go limp fairly quickly.  I hope that’s the long and short of that one.

Another related thing is evasive behavior. He dances just out of reach most of the time we go to pick him up, so we have to resort to having a drag lead on him most of the time. I don’t like this solution very much as he’s starting to chew on the lead during playtime, and I don’t want that to become a habit. I’ve been reinforcing the sit command greatly this weekend and that seems to make catching him much easier. I remember reading a fix for this in one of my training books, but I’m still looking for the specific reference.

The worst offender is his behavior in the crate. We crate him for quiet down times, for times when we can’t supervise him, as well as for short trips out of the house, and at night. He’s mostly resigned to this as long as we are in the room, but if we walk out of the room he absolutely screams with anger. It’s not fright as he’s gotten over that little routine, he just absolutely does not want to be away from us. His squalling has the same timber and quality that an angry baby has when it is frustrated, and I find this to be the only amusing thing about the situation.

I’ve been inclined to ignore these temper tantrums and just let him get the hell over it, except he’s starting to develop some other behaviors such as obsessive digging in the crate that are starting to carry over to his time outside the crate. I’m fine with him digging at plastic, he isn’t going to go anywhere, but when it starts happening on the carpet or at closed doors, I’m a little less understanding.

An interruption and redirect works 100% of the time outside of the crate, but what do I do about the same behavior when I’m trying to ignore his tantrums inside the crate? What if he does it when we are not there to make the correction? I think this might be a wait and see thing, but it’s still frustrating not knowing.

I’ve signed Banjo up for puppy classes at Alaska Dog Sports. I am greatly looking forward to the first class. He’s an eager student for the micro training sessions we have here at home, and I am looking for the insights that a trainer can give to me to become a better trainer on my own.

I had planned to take Penny there before we moved out to the valley, but that didn’t quite work as planned. After I get done with Banjo’s Puppy classes I’ll be taking her for Basic Obedience I and II. She’s extremely obedient, but needs proofing around other dogs. That’s something that has needed to happen for some time, and I’m excited to finally have the opportunity.

If everything goes well, I’m interested in exploring Agility and Rally-O with these little white dogs!


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