Home > Life Experiments > Alpha Bitch Update: Progress!

Alpha Bitch Update: Progress!

To those of you who know of my problems with my dog Evee from an earlier post, I thought I may want to give you a positive update!  It’s actually been going really well these last couple weeks through a consistent effort from both me and my husband.  So, what have been doing differently?

  • Being more “on top” of Evee: It sounds easy, but when its the end of the day and none of your experiments worked, and your husband is aggravating the crap out of you, you don’t want to correct your dog non-stop.   As I mentioned before, Evee learns pretty fast and I’m now convinced she learned pretty quickly that we can be easily overcome with her bad behavior if we’re tired.  Hopefully, now, she knows it ain’t happening so she better quit it.  I think I made the biggest impact yesterday when a man came into the house to help us get an estimate to replace our door (blech, four figures) and we had put her in her crate.  She was barking in her crate and I had grabbed her snout and said, “No.”  Nothing that would hurt her, but I did grab firmly, and she whimpered through it, but eventually she subdued to my will, laid down on her bed, and shut up the entire time he was there.  Its been generally good for me to be more physically domineering in general…when I want her to stop play-fighting with Hanu, I barely talk anymore, I just insert myself between the both of them and try to emanate enough of a presence to get her to quit it.  (It works on her…Hanu not so much.)
  • Supplements: I know it may sound crazy, but I really think the tryptophan is working.  The PetAlive stuff is more questionable, but I’m really thinking the tryptophan is making Evee calmer.  I’m not sure if I can truly measure this, but now that I’ve reached a certain level of tryptophan, I’m just doing maintenance at this point.  Actually, the way Evee looks sometimes makes me wonder if *I* should be incorporating more tryptophan in my diet.
  • Continuing to be kickass on walks:  I read this article in the last week or so how city dogs are happier than suburban dogs.  The theory was that to compensate for the tinier location, city owners go through all the right efforts to make sure their dogs get enough walks and activity and entertainment so they know how to deal with strangers on the street, or how to ignore bicycles, or to not go crazy when someone enters their home.  Suburban dog owners have a habit of just leaving their dogs in their yards thinking its enough and that they get enough stimulation that way.  Luckily, we have a tiny ass yard so we never had that mentality.  We knew not to let Evee lead on the leash, but after her injury, it was really hard to figure out what to enforce and what to let slide.  Adding a crazy Hanu into the picture didn’t help the situation either; but Hanu has calmed down greatly and the weather has been temperate (until this sweltering past week) so more walks have been in order.  Evee (more than Hanu) has been wonderful on the walks, letting me or my husband lead, not pulling for the most part, sitting at corners without prompt, etc.  Our vigilance with walking combined with the next tidbit has really helped her with other dogs.  Keeping positive and negative reinforcement is key for the walks.  The spray bottle is highly effective, but I’ve noticed I can get Evee to ignore “distractions” like bike if I time it right with treats in my hand.  (Poor Hanu though — he barely get “distracted” and always knows when that treat gets pulled out of my pocket!  But if I gave him treats whenever he did that, he’d be super fat.)
  • EXERCISE!:  I really wish I could run because then I could take the pressure of my husband to run my dogs on a nearly daily basis.  Both of them love their runs and are more reasonable children for it.  My husband, in his own way to lose weight, has been extra good about making sure they get exercise.  In fact, he doesn’t mind me waking him up earlier to beat the heat.  That said, making Evee run in the heat tires her out wayyyy faster which gets the desired effect much quicker.  Also, a new technique we’ve been trying is that my husband runs her AROUND the dog park with the dogs in it.  So, Evee sees the other dogs she really wants to eat/play with but she has to keep on following the run.
I think the really palpable sign of progress I’ve seen with Evee is how she interacts with other dogs on our walks.  Normally, we don’t try to let Evee sniff the smaller dogs because 1) the small dogs don’t tend to be socialized well, 2) small dogs tend to be afraid of dogs that get into their space, and 3) small dogs can be little sh*ts.  However, Evee has recently been awesome with smaller and younger dogs.  As in, those poor, ignorant doggie mommas have on idea how insane Evee can look.  In fact, they compliment on how well behaved she is and ask US for ADVICE.  (It’s a little hard to keep a straight face.)  I think the next move is more dog park runs and scheduling LOTS of deliverymen in a day to our home to have Evee practice her entry meeting skills more.  The next level from this also is to get Hanu not be as problematic since when he misbehaves it seems to give her cart blanche to forget everything she’s been taught.
Any advice from the Internets?
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