Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Finals, what a drag!

Miss Mags is upset because I'm in the throes of finals.

What do you MEAN no long walk!?!??!
This means that I'm a little bit less into our long morning walks since I'm frantically cramming for exams.
I just can't talk to you right now.
She's trying to hide her dismay but alas, she wears her sweet, little pit bull heart on her sleeve.
She is a really great study buddy though.  Well, I study and she's the buddy.
When we do go out for a little longer, she is quite excited by her surroundings (she is, after all, still a puppy!).
Do my ears look big!?
At the end of the day, she still comes looking for cuddles, so all is well.  Good luck to anyone finishing up their semester!!!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Maggie's Nemesis

For the first month that we had Maggie, she wasn't allowed to be near other dogs because of kennel cough and spay surgery. One day, she started pulling like a big crazy girl and thought she saw a dog.

But it was not a dog. It was this disgustingly dirty and mangy looking stuffed dog sitting at the entrance of an apartment on our street. It didn't have the awkward and nasty gangrene looking paw that it now has.

We're not really sure why Maggie is so infatuated with this dirty fake dog so the only logical conclusion is that he must be her nemesis. She is showing much improvement though and doesn't try to attack her nemesis every time we pass.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Good Days and Bad Days

It's hard to remember the good walks when Maggie is having a huge reaction to the third dog in one walk.

However, on days when I'm being a good leader and she's being a good follower, it's incredibly joyous. It feels like we could walk for miles together, though I'm sure she could out walk me.

Every time she comes back from doggie day care, we notice she is first really difficult around other dogs but then somehow remembers that she can't have playtime on leash.

Then, it's like the magical walking fairy has graced our presence and we have a happy, calm walk together.

Inevitably, she sees her nemesis and all is lost. Stay tuned for more details on Maggie's nemesis.

Happy walking!! Where does your dog walk? Behind you? Beside you?

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Maggie the Blanket Monster

It's a lump, it's a, wait!!!

It's a, dog?!??!

Maggie loves being all the way underneath blankets. Whether it's on the couch or the bed (because she is allowed to sleep on both) she just loves being all cozy.

We would have though it was weird but L's parents' dog also loves being all the way under the covers.

The best part is when she wants to escape, she stands up and suddenly, attack of the blanket monster!!!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Adventures: The Art of Running

During our stay in Scottsdale for Thanksgiving, Maggie got to run free.  Living in Los Angeles, Maggie rarely gets to be off leash let alone run free in a big field.  She loves being outside and running so we had to give her some time when we could.

We discovered the many tongues of Maggie while giving her a chance to run.

There's the front, long tongue:
 And the side, jowl slap tongue:
 Opposite side, jowl slap tongue:
 And, of course, the lip smacking, watch me go tongue:

Living in the city means that Maggie goes for long walks but she doesn't get to run crazy like this too often.

What do your dogs love to do???

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Adventures: Maggie Takes On Scottsdale

Maggie went for her first out of state adventure for Thanksgiving! We spent turkey day with L's family in Scottsdale and we didn't want to board Maggie so she got to go on her very first adventure.

We knew we needed to get a harness for her for the car because she normally flops around in the back seat. A harness would keep her safe as well as give us peace of mind that if we get into an accident, she wouldn't fly forward.

"I am SO stoked for our road trip!!!"
Despite Maggie's excitement, she got into something or lost a fight with a bee the night before we left. So, we also had our very first visit to the emergency vet.

Maggie was fine one minute and all of a sudden, her nose was blowing up and she was covered in hives. We freaked out for a minute, gave her a Benadryl and hopped in the car (and woke up my sister to confirm that, yes, when your dog's nose blows up to twice its size, you SHOULD head to the vet!). We didn't get a picture of her giant nose but the one below is after a Benadryl and a steroid shot.

"My nose feels funny. Do I look bloated??!"
The vet assured us that it was most likely a sting or bite and we took Maggie home to finish packing.

"Just throw my deer antler and blankie in, okay?"
Maggie was still feeling a little icky the next day but she got used to the car after a few hours.

"Ooooh, I can SLEEP in here! Who knew?!?"
The Kurgo harness we got was pretty great for most of the trip. She had a lot of room to move around but was also really secure.  

"Does this harness make me look fat?"
There was one moment when she twisted herself so much it actually looked like she was wearing a regular seat belt.

Otherwise, she didn't get too twisted and she was safe and happy in the back seat.

Maggie also had some walking adventures in Arizona.

"I'll take this side, you take the other...I WILL GET THIS BALL!!!"
Overall, we had a great Thanksgiving.

How was yours?!?

Sunday, November 18, 2012

The Fouche Way - Week 1

The "New" Maggie

One week after visiting Brandon for the first time, it's almost as if we're living with a different dog.  She walks behind us on leash and hasn't gotten overly hyper in the apartment AT ALL.  The mouthing is almost completely a thing of the past.  Maggie doesn't seem to miss her plush/squeaky toys or her balls and ropes.  She is totally content hanging with us or chewing on a deer antler when we're together.

The fact that we can now walk Maggie without feeling like a water skier is huge.  She's in a crate four days a week for a good amount of time so we like letting her go out and stretch her fantastically muscular legs as much as possible.  She's become fun to walk.  It's just nice being outside with her now.

As far as her indoor behavior goes, there are no more "oh goodness, we can't control the dog" moments,  She has started to become overly hyper only a few times in the past week and each time, we shut it down so fast that she normally stops, submits, and proceeds to lay down or sit patiently and wait for cuddles.

Our relationship with Maggie has changed and much of it is due to us changing our interactions with her.  We don't rough house and we don't play fetch but we DO get an insane amount of cuddle time and overall, a very calm and loving pooch.

And most importantly, now that we feel Maggie is listening to us and following directions most of the time, we can do all of the fun things we want to do with her like planning a camping trip!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Reactive puppy = MISERABLE walks!

WOW - Our dog is STRONG!

From the first day that we had Maggie, one thing was clear: Maggie was strong and would only be getting stronger.  She is a puppy and naturally pretty high energy.  Immediately on walks, she was distracted and pulling every which way when she saw a squirrel, cat, dog or anything else that moved (even falling leaves!).

We noticed that she was really reactive to other dogs while on leash.  I don't even remember now if she was barking and whining right off the bat or if we helped make her that way (possibly both).  Either way, she had become a "reactive" dog.  The problem was that she was sick when we first adopted her and then recovering from her spay surgery SO she couldn't be around other dogs for almost a month!  All of a sudden, we had a healthy dog who could finally mingle but honestly, we didn't know if she was aggressive or just excited to play.

 We took Maggie to an obedience school class (her first time being in close proximity to other dogs) and she just went NUTS!  The trainers couldn't help at all.  They gave Mags a bag of treats and a gentle leader while trying to get her to calm down via positive reinforcement.  It didn't really work.  She was still nuts when we left the training room.

The Fouche Way

Seeking help, I reached out to a local dog rescue in Los Angeles called Downtown Dog Rescue.  The founder, Lori, and a frequent volunteer, Debbie, strongly recommended that we take Maggie to Brandon Fouche.  Brandon is a dog behaviorist and is touted in LA as being a "dog whisperer".  He seems to work wonders with dogs that are unruly or aggressive.

After Maggie's failed attempt at obedience school, we decided to contact Brandon to set up an evaluation.  We wanted a safe, structured environment in which we could test Maggie's reaction to other dogs.  Brandon had us fill out a short survey and then asked us to drop Maggie off at his facility at 9:30am.  He sat with us and one other couple for over an hour while we talked about the difference between the way we treat dogs and the way dogs actually think.  He told us that the toys we gave to our dog were reinforcing "the hunting instinct" in her.  Brandon began to explain the way we treat dogs (give them lots of love and affection, no matter their actions) and how we can change our thinking to interact with Maggie in a way that would promote our status as her pack leader.

Well, despite our skepticism as to how much could change in just one day, we were pleasantly surprised.  Maggie wasn't aggressive!  She was just really excited and most likely under socialized as a puppy.   She needed to spend more time around dogs in a safe environment with supervision.  Mags had a blast that day with Brandon's dogs! 

She came out to see us and was in a submissive state, something we rarely saw her in (ears back, sitting, very quiet and obedient).  Brandon taught us his methods of what I call "tough love" (because I'm a softie and hate yelling at my adorable pooch).  We had to take control and set boundaries for Maggie.  We needed to show her through raising our voice that we were the bosses. 

Brandon's evaluation with Maggie helped us immensely, mostly because he showed us what to do in person.  We obviously weren't getting to what we needed just by reading stuff online or watching Cesar Millan videos.  We needed in-person tutoring.

Seeing Brandon was pricey but ultimately worth every penny.  Maggie is a different dog with us now.  We're still working on her reactivity during walks but she's gotten MUCH better.  We now feel like we can also stop her when she gets into her hyper crazy mode inside the apartment.  She hasn't mouthed either one of us in two weeks!  The last issue we need to work out is her barking while we're gone and she's crated but compared to the mountain of problems we had before, we're ready to help her become the superdog we know she was born to be!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Our Pocket Pittie

The Pup

Maggie (also lovingly nicknamed Wombat Smush, Mags, Magsters, Magdog, and a variety of other silly names) is our 10.5 month old pocket pitbull mix.  We adopted her on September 20, 2012.

This is Maggie at the shelter (then Lola).  She looked so sad and we could tell that she just wanted a home.

This is Maggie after a few days with us.  She was much cleaner and already feeling at home in our apartment.
She immediately became comfortable and started showing her extremely loyal and cuddly nature.

She is just so cute.  We can't take enough pictures!
A great picture of her two different colored eyes.
So many wrinkles!!!!

Getting to know Maggie

After reading a lot of Cesar Millan materials and one of his books, we came to believe that the walk would be our best way to bond with Mags.  The only problem was that she got extremely excited whenever she saw dogs across the street or in front of us.  We chugged on and kept trying to teach her to walk very nice and ladylike next to us or behind us.  We tried using a backpack and different kinds of leash/collar combos (even a front clip harness) but nothing helped all the time to get Maggie to listen to us or not pull on walks.

Even though she was incredibly cuddly when she was tired, she was also extremely hyper during other times of the day.  She would run like a crazy maniac between the bedroom and the living room and jump over furniture.  She's incredibly fast so we couldn't catch her and sometimes, we felt like we were totally out of control.  Physical restraint didn't work at all with her.  We could yell but all that did was rile her up even more.

When Maggie showed excitement, we assumed it was because she wanted to play or go outside to walk.  We would throw a tennis ball for her or take her for a walk (which was mostly become a frustrating process).

We hadn't seen Maggie interact with other dogs for 7 weeks because she had kennel cough when we first adopted her so she was contagious and shouldn't have been around other dogs.  Then, she was recovering from her spay surgery so she shouldn't have been around dogs because of possible rough housing.  We tried obedience class one night and Maggie went nuts!  She was whining, crying, barking at the other dogs.  She was acting very cujo-like.  She wasn't allowed to stay in the class.

After many weeks of frustration at not knowing where to test her for aggressive issues and just about how she was around other dogs, we got the name Brandon Fouche from some nice people at a pitbull rescue foundation (LA's Downtown Dog Rescue).  They use Brandon to evaluate their pitties that they rehabilitate, foster and adopt out.  The two women I talked to could NOT recommend Brandon enough.  They said that if we had any doubt about Maggie's ability to be with other dogs, Brandon was the guy to go to.

We finally brought Maggie to Brandon's facility for an evaluation.  Check out the next few posts to see what happened!