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Mar 1, 2014

Updates: Boot Camp & life in general

He's home.



The training facility allowed us to pick him up last night, but not before a training session for the parents.
I went alone while Bayou dealt with a major drainage problem in our main shower.
More on that in a bit.

Boot Camp.
Man....I don't know what I had expected the outcome to be.
I guess part of me figured that to submerge a dog into a facility with five trainers and nothing but rehabilitation and obedience guidance, not to mention a boat load of money, he would have learned a few things.
You know......like to be less psycho.

I honestly don't know if learned or retained anything, quite frankly.
I showed up last night, after stopping by the ATM for the final $250 payment, and a round lady met me.
She was going to check me out and show me his progress, and then show me how to help improve what they had been working on.
So I started questioning HOW they worked with him.
HOW they taught him not to jump or pounce at smaller dogs or kids.
HOW they worked with his food aggression
HOW they worked on his excitement with new people, and small children, and doorbells
HOW they taught him manners, like bolting through doors, pushing people and furniture out of the way.
HOW. SHOW ME HOW.

What I was shown instead is how to walk with him on a leash.
Fucking great.
We did  this exact same thing in puppy classes when he was 8 weeks old.
And I clearly stated that we have a fenced yard, and we don't walk him anymore.
But please, continue.

She showed me how they worked with him to get him to sit.
THAT'S AMAZING!
Because I spent YEARS getting him to do that already! And he does it wonderfully.

His base for training prior to boot camp was this:
He can sit when told.
He can shake on command, with both paws, especially when there is food involved.
He knows down and roll over.
I have NEVER had issues with these
We have been working on stay. It's tough for him. But the foundation was there.
But alas, she showed me that they too, had been working with him.
From what I could see it had not improved, not at all.

I realized 10 minutes into the Show and Tell portion of my training, that he, in fact, had not improved much.
I have no idea if he jumps anymore on people. We didn't really get into that.
I don't have the confidence that he won't go after small dogs. At all. She actually told me to never take him to any sort of facility or dog park where dogs interact with him.
Awesome.
Now, I know that his upbringing with Crash is the reason he is an asshole about that.
Crash bullied him and now he bullies other dogs. I get the psychology.
But the issue is I KNEW that BEFORE we took him here.

In puppy classes, we saw a glimpse into their "rug method" that taught the dog they had a spot to stay at while "distractions" are present. It keeps the peace in the house or outside, and for our family, could avoid more dog fights. 
Brilliant, I thought.
They will be teaching him to go to a rug, stay there, and not move until I said so.
That sounds awesome.
However, the way they WANT me to train the dog to do this seems counter productive.
They preach not to say much, rather, to show them. Every. Damn. Time.
Which is awesome, if I didn't have a full time job and other responsibilities.
But what I need is, if I see a situation getting out of control, to be able to say some sort of command, and the fucking dog walks over to the rug and stays there
Instead, they want ME to walk it over, every time.
I don't know how to explain it, but if there aren't any commands involved with getting to the rug, HOW do they know they are doing it right?
Bulldogs aren't bright. They need feedback and vocalization and reinforcement.
There needs to be a command associated with good and bad behavior.
These aren't German Shepherds. They aren't smart. They are stubborn as hell.
For instance, most dogs learn not to bite humans because of simple guidance and feedback.
Bulldogs, at least Burn, learned not to bite humans by me attempting simple feedback for over a year with no improvement. I did it by the book, like you are supposed to, and guess what?
He had no fucking clue what was going on.
So I upped the playing field.
He wanted to bite me? Then I would grab his jaw, say NO firmly, and stare him down.
I'm pack leader, not him.
And guess what? Within days that nonsense stopped.
It takes tough love. Swift meaningful actions. Little harm. And the results come rolling in.
I would say that you probably don't have to be so rough with most other dogs.

Another shining example was when we resolved to use shock collars for his training.
He would NOT leave Crash alone. Always in his face.
If Crash wanted to roll around in the grass, Burn would come darting at him, thinking it was play time.
But really, it was fight time, in Crash's eyes.
Me yelling NO and STOP from across the yard did nothing.
So on went the shock collar.
I would yell out STOP and give the collar a buzz on low and that ended that.
Burn would switch up directions and move away from Crash.

But guess what?  When he wanted to run after the cat?
No amount of shocking stopped him.
I had the force turned up to HIGH.
(I made Bayou try it, and it nearly made him pass out)
Again, Burn locked eyes with the cat and took off after him.
I would yell out STOP and buzz the collar.
Nothing.
He kept going.
I yelled out again and hit the HIGH shock.
Nothing.
He kept going.
He could have cared less about any obstacles in his way.
So WHY THE HELL would me saying nothing as reinforcement do him any good?

I'm frustrated.
Frustrated with the time away from Burn.
Frustrated with the amount of money we dumped into this.
Frustrated with the lack of results.

I'm trying to see the good in all of this.
I suppose it DID give me the kick start, again, that I needed, to make this rug technique work.
I do see the good in it.
I just need to do it MY WAY.  I doubt he retained anything anyways, so me modifying it shouldn't be an issue. These last two weeks gave me a chance to slow down a tad, not have to keep the eyes in the back of my head focused on the dogs constantly.
It allowed us to deal with other issues independently.
Issues like other, new hurdles, we have come to find with our TTC process. (which will be another post)
Issues like the drain, that took 48 hours for Bayou to fix.
(We thought the pipes were completely frozen, but apparently he pulled out 4 hairballs the sizes of possums.
Je-sus. I'm glad I wasn't here for that one. )
Issues like me having another ailment for nearly a week, and it taking me another week to get my strength back.

Burn arrived home last night, I bathed him, and tried to feed him.
He wouldn't eat.
He has thrown up twice overnight and has not left his place on the couch since 9pm.
I feel terrible.
He seems defeated.
I hope he is just recharging.

I know things will get better.
It's hard to see the light at the end of this tunnel, but I know it's there.
Every day will be a chance to work on training.
Every day he will get better. If I'm going to train Burn on the rug technique, then you better believe Crash will be following suit.
If I can train an angry, biting bulldog to stop rushing through the door or try to bite my feet to do so, then I can train the other one as well.

This has been one expensive and mentally draining couple of weeks.
We'll get through it.
TBag. Out.