Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Going Home: Lil'Lady

Welcome to Woof Wednesday, dear reader! As you know from our long-standing feature of Going Home posts, we love nothing more than catching up with those families that adopt animals from us. Hearing how an animal settles in and becomes a real member of the family is so rewarding!

And sometimes you get a response that is so thorough and shows so much concern and effort that we just have to feature it. Not only to celebrate Lil’Lady (formerly known as Mocha) and her fantastic family but also for all you people who are considering bringing a new dog into your lives but wonder what that process might look like. 

Below you can read Anastasia’s report of adopting a big, high energy dog and integrating her into the daily goings-on of her family. Because Anastasia also asks our staff for advice, we consulted with our resident dog behavior expert, Nancy, and we have included her answer here. Settle in for a good read!

“[…]I'm happy to say Lil'Lady has continued to adjust well here and is becoming part of the pack =) 

Lady and Big Boy have become great pals, hanging out in the back yard together either lounging around,sniffing and exploring the yard, or chasing each other and wrestling. Lady's energy level is perfect for Big Boy (who has a lot himself!). She actually tires him out! They are eating their meals together, taking walks on a split leash and hangout indoors and outdoors together very nicely. We have also started using Lil'Lady's feeding times to train her. So, instead of feeding her out of her bowl we are hand feeding her while training (we are working on the following: sit, stand, down, watch, leave it, off, here). She is better at some than others, and still figuring out the more tricky ones (like stand and here), but overall has caught on quickly. Her watch and leave it are particularly nice. 

She is still taking some time meeting new people, usually barking at a friend who is visiting the house or a neighbor making noise in their yard. She has gotten used to Davi's mother visiting (as well has her elderly dog) which is wonderful since we see her often. Most of the time though, when there are visitors, Lady happily relaxes in her kennel. Oh, right, she has gotten used to her crate which has been awesome. She is happy to go in, and of course happy to come out =) 

As for the fish tank, she is still very interested and sometimes putting her paws on the counter top to get a closer look, but she no longer tries to jump on the counter or sit staring intensely as she did before. She is also responding to "off" more quickly when she is putting paws on the counter. This has turned into grabbing food off the table/counters too, so "off" is becoming very handy =) She actually pulled  a pizza box off the counter last weekend which was a surprise my younger daughter - but luckily we salvaged most of it without too much trouble =) 

I think overall, Lil'Lady has become much more comfortable here, showing more of her sweet personality, and the more mischievous one too =) And as for the kids, they feel very comfortable with Lady, and she with them. Lady does well listening to them as well as she does to us, which I'm very 
happy for. 

Thank you again for checking in! We are considering signing her up for lessons soon, although I'm not sure how she'd do in a class setting since she still seems to lose interest in treats when we are on walks. So I imagine being in a class with lots of other dogs and people might make her too anxious to care about treats or listening to us . . . any thoughts on this?  […]” 

How is that for a investing in your new dog, eh? Anastasia, you and your family are an amazing example for everyone. We are so grateful for your continuing effort to make Lil’Lady live up to her potential and we are sure she feels very lucky to be in your home. 

With regards to your question about bringing an energetic and easily distracted dog to a training class, we asked Nancy Frensley, Berkeley Humane's highly experienced dog behaviorist and trainer, and this is what she says: 

“Here is what I tell everyone who has doubts about their dogs being able to function in a class setting.

The purpose of Basic and Small Dog Basic Obedience is to help you get your dog started on a path that will build confidence and increase functionality.  Our trainers are experienced and helpful.  Any of them can help you learn to motivate your dog.  At first, your dog might feel a little overwhelmed in the class setting but we have techniques that manage that.  You go home with routines to practice and, through those, your dog becomes more confident and habituates to the class setting and many other situations that have proved overwhelming.

Training builds not only confidence but increases your dog’s trust in you as a protector and teacher.  It also increases the adopter’s confidence in handling and coaching their dogs.  You can’t go wrong trying a class.  Some of our late evening classes are small and well suited to the under-confident and less motivated dogs.” 

There you have it! A good training class will teach both you and your dog and coach you how to work together in situations that may be challenging for you. 

For more information on our Basic and Small Dog Basic Obedience classes, look here. If you have questions that you want to ask of Berkeley Humane’s behaviorists, you can do so here. We encourage everyone to reach out with any questions or concerns they may have.

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