Thursday, January 26, 2012

A Tiny Flicker of Light in the Dark Abyss of Boxer Puppy-dom

Boxer Puppies are both a Joyful Bundle of Wiggly Love
and  Hard Headed Bossy Bullys Demanding
to get their own way.
Plus, they don't focus on anything but Play.

I'm probably going to 'Jinx' it, but I think I can see the light.

The chests are 'dropping' and the butts are filling out.  As some of you know, I've spent the last 2 years trying to figure out how to keep Malcolm from pulling my arm out of it's socket every time he sees another dog.  I've been through books and books that discuss 'reactive' dogs and 'aggressive' dogs. 

See these 3 posts from last August........

I couldn't figure out why wee Malcolm was 'aggressive'.  Then some people started telling me he wasn't aggressive but 'reactive'.  Well.  It didn't matter to me.  My arm still hurt from trying to hold him back.  And I was very tired of not being able to have a conversation with anyone else who had a dog while I had him with me.  I had to stay off in a corner by myself.  Oh.  And the squirt bottle worked for about 3 days.  Then it was no longer a deterrent, but a treat.  Both Malcolm and McKenzie started offering behavior that they knew I wouldn't like just so they could get squirted!

The books I read really offered nothing new to me.  I was all ready doing the things they advocated.  But it wasn't working (fast enough) for me.  The Freedom No-Pull Harness is a great device for an aggressive dog.  But he isn't aggressive.  He does not pull me down the road on a leash.  It's only when he sees another dog.  He actually walks very well on a leash and always has.  So it wasn't the right tool for the job.

McKenzie is the barker.  She just won't shut up.  Plus she 'springs' around the house like a 'pogo stick' and you can't catch her to correct her.  She also does that around the agility ring.  She absolutely can not focus on the task at hand.  She just looks like a cartoon character bouncing off the walls.

All these things and many more make raising boxers very difficult.  Some (many) people just give up.  I see so many beautiful boxers given to shelters, left abandoned and unwanted with no one to love and care for them.  With Malcolm's horrible eating habits (see Buffet Table and Malcolm's Antics and Chew Toys), and the stress of trying to train 3 (Nessie is always in training and all dogs should be in training throughout their lives), and learning to live in a house with 2 puppies and an older dog while still keeping my house in order, it has passed through my own mind to find a different home for them.

But I'm determined to get a grip on the situation.  I will never give up on them no matter how tired I get.  And just when I think I might stick my head out the window and scream at the top of my lungs... "I'm tired as hell and I just can't take it any more!", I begin to see the light.  Some slight acknowledgement is thrown my way like a prized chew bone.  

*When some one came into my house last week, I was able to re-call all 3 dogs into the family room to sit/stay until I released them.
*Malcolm has stopped lunging at other dogs. :))  The last 3 times I've taken him up the the dog club, he's been able to walk right by his nemeses (the weiner dog, Buster, the fluff ball, Lacey and all the others) without so much as a twitch in their direction. He just lays down by Boo and Piper and Normandy without even looking at them.
*McKenzie stops barking right away when I ask her to and while she still wants to run to the window, if she knows there is something in it for her, she restrains herself.
*Nessie doesn't even bother to run to the window any more.  She comes straight to me.
*Both Malcolm and McKenzie have greatly improved in their attention at school. While they still want to play more than anything, it is becoming a bit easier to keep their attention.  Their focus is much improved.
*Since I've been playing the Victoria Stilwell CD's and the Through a Dog's Ear CD's, things are much calmer around here.
*And the free Boxer Screensaver download (linked at the bottom of this page) plays some really good 'elevator' music that also seems to calm them.

I really hope that by saying all these things publicly, that I haven't jinxed the whole thing.  My next post just might be about me wanting to jump out a second story window, but I'm beginning to see some hope.  With all that said, it's kind of sad to loose the silly puppy antics.  Thankfully, boxers don't mature as fast as other types of dogs and they stay true puppies till they're 3.  The great thing about Boxer Dogs is that they never loose their playfulness and clownish behavior.  I know they will keep me laughing for the rest of their lives and they will teach me patience, forgiveness, love and how to have a great attitude even in the midst of a stressful, crazy world.  I truly love them and each different personality can teach me something I need to know about myself.  What a gift they are!  And yes.  What a mess!

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