Friday, February 8, 2019

Chronicles of a Rescue Dog, Part 6--What the Trainer Did

Kai after the February thaw
(If you want more of the background on this story, please read my previous posts so we don't bore everyone who has been following along.)

We wound up rescheduling the trainer a couple of times due to weather (I hear you, Minnesota. Ohioan are wimps. A little -10 temp mixed with 30 mile an hour winds and we stop going outside.)

Anyway, the trainer came on Saturday after it warmed up a little, bringing a training collar, a shock collar and a couple of her own dogs.

She started out with the training (aka prong) collar by putting it around my wrist and demonstrating what it would feel like when popped gently (barely noticeable, and I bruise/cut really easily) and more firmly (definitely something I'd pay attention to, but with Kai's heavy coat of fur, still no more than uncomfortable).

Then she showed me the shock collar, which I could use to gain control when he's at a distance. Its settings ranged from 0 to 100. Up to 5, I felt only a vibration. At 7, it gave me a little shock, less than what I get when I shake out rugs and then touch the metal door handle. (Note: I haven't invested in one of these and I'm not sure I will.)

We then tried to lure Kai into a behavior that warranted a correction, but even when I set a peanut butter cookie at the edge of the counter, he didn't try to snatch it. You could see him thinking about it, but then he gave us the side-eye and walked away. (Which obliterates his "I didn't know any better" defense, by the way.)

So, we took him for a walk in the neighborhood. He continued to be angelic--right up until we got to the house with the barky little hound dog inside the underground fence. Kai was convinced he was a threat and tried to rush him, giving the trainer a great opportunity to show me a firm correction. I'm not sure how well it worked, because for the first time, the owner of said barky little dog called it into the house.

So, we decided to bring Remi, the trainer's Aussie, into the house to meet Kai on his own turf. Kai had met Remi previously, at the PetSmart near Cincinnati. Their first, face-to-face, encounter there did not go well, but when I turned Remi around and he presented his hindquarters for sniffing, Kai was able to accept him.

So we tried all that again, with not great results. Face-to-face, Kai was very aggressive and only a combination of training collar and shock collar correction finally got him to back off. At the trainer's direction, I turned Remi around so that he didn't present any kind of threat--and Kai bit him on the butt. Only the fact that Remi has an extremely dense coat of fur (the dog looks like a tumbleweed with legs) saved him from being hurt.

In dog world, biting another dog who is presenting his butt is an act of aggression and a breach of basic canine etiquette. It's the human equivalent of shooting an unarmed man. And the spookiest part was that up until the split second before he attacked, Kai appeared to be simply sniffing curiously.

So, I muzzled Kai (which he doesn't love) and we took them out for a walk together. Over the course of the walk, he stopped snarling at Remi--at least until we passed a yard with barking dogs, which got him all riled up again. I was grateful for the muzzle when one of my neighbor's dogs ran out of her yard. If Kai hadn't been muzzled, she might have been hurt.

From now on I will muzzle Kai when he leaves the yard. He hates it, but I can't risk him hurting someone or someone's dog.

In other news, the training academy placement came through. Yesterday, Old Dog and I took Kai to Kentucky for a week of onsite training and evaluaion for his potential to become a working dog with an actual job.

If you're curious about the place, here is a wonderful success story about the place.

Next installment: What the K9 Academy guy said.


  1. Thank you for the update. I know this must be real hard for you. Looking forward to the next installment:)

  2. Thanks. It is hard, but I believe it will be worth it. I missed him like crazy yesterday. He may be a brat, but he is brimming with personality. One reason I wanted a dog was to keep me from sitting in a chair without moving all day. He delivered on that!


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