Time/Space Intersects in the Universe and My Adventures with the Allipython

I try to keep my belief systems simple.   I don't care about what someone believes, but how someone acts.  You can believe that the universe is but what a dung beetle rolls, and I'll not judge that so long as right action is what you choose.

The simple choice of going to Home Depot v. Lowes yielded a time space intersect that propelled Dexter into our lives.  We chose to give this frantic pup with bloodied feet from running on pavement a home.  Every day that his feet healed, his energy escalated.   I understand the importance of being alpha and all of that. But, I cannot say that I've done much in the 'training' area with our dogs over the years.  The universe is sending a message through the vessel of Dexter that it is time to step up our game. Our right action, then, is to give this guy a chance to be a trusted and valued part of our family.

"Stepping up our game" means that we need need to give this guy clear guidelines.  Enter my cousins who my sister and I are reunited with.  (See my post about that here.)  Both of them grew up training both dogs and horses.  They are very experienced and accomplished in their ability to handle dogs (and horses).  We had a 'play date' on Friday evening where they generously provided their time (and Chinese food!) to give me an opportunity to learn some strategies for working with Dexter. I'm pretty confident that he will not be claimed.  I'm pretty confident I understand why.

V has experience with all types of dogs, in most recent years, pit bulls--a breed that she is devoted to rescuing.  Our first 'bully' girl was an American Bulldog mix, Macy. Though she was well socialized with dogs and people, we could have had a better level of control over her. V tells me that Dexter will need  exercise, discipline and affection--in that order. With my English Setters, I know very well the need for intensive exercise.  A tired dog is a happy dog.  The same goes for us. (And I should be just deliriously happy given my last two days.)

The rain was coming down softly but steadily.  We were undeterred. V had her rednosed pitty girl, Abbey, out there under the canopy of a large oak tree.  Dexter is wild wanting to go 'see and play'.  Out of sight, he's good on his lead.  In view of Abbey, he is keen on visiting.   V observes both him and me.  The verdict?  I need a martingale.  Uh, I'm using one, (not not that green one in the picture).  I think that a metal pinch collar is in order to give more effective corrections.

My cousin D now joins us.  He's inside and tied off.  She pulls up a chair and talks to him quietly.  He's happy to have a new friend, and he gets excited.   He begins his mouthing. (I think that he does this because he is still a puppy (they believe 8-10 mos old) and it is instinctive behavior that was never corrected.) V says it is a dominance thing, and I'll take her word for it.

Neither D nor V were impressed with this antic, and showed me how to get him down and hold him down gently but firmly to allow him to reflect on his failure to respond to a clear verbal and physical command regarding no biting, and to reinforce his place in the world.  No theatrics, just confidently holding him down.  No words.  No praise.  No stroking. 

Dexter in Repose--or my very own Allipython.
Now time for Leisa to do it.  At one point, I felt that I might as well have been wrestling a mythical beast with the head of an alligator and a body of a python.1 (I have a name for that:  The Allipython, (ah-lip-i-thon or ay-lip-i-thon if you are from the South!which came to me this morning).   My natural instinct was to say "Good Boy".  V snapped. "Don't say that.  He has not been good which is why we are doing this."   I see that I have demonstrated one of the many ways that we unwitting dog owners sabotage what we think is 'training' but is really reinforces poor behavior.

It worked effectively.   But his Saturday a.m. the lesson had to be administered 3 times.  I'm not having to push him down.  He is going is going down on his own--he's on his back and he is trying to play--but we cannot play this way.  I'm merely rolling him over and reinforcing "no bite" for him, and ensuring that he brings his energy down.   He is learning that rough play with his mouth is not an option, and he is understanding "no bite" and how to check his energy.

The 4th time the correction was administered on Saturday, I failed. The Allipython showed his power.   Because I had a lead and a slip collar on him, I pulled him up. The move was so quick and unexpected by him it got his attention, and it snapped him out of his frenzy, and he immediately laid down.[I'm really ashamed that I did this--but I really felt that it was my only options at that moment. ] After he lay quietly, he received treat and affection. That was the last next to last lesson he needed yesterday. He had one more. Each time he receives the lesson, he settles more quickly. Today is Sunday, and I've only had to do this once this a.m. (v. a succession yesterday). 

He is too rambunctious to 'play' with my dogs. They are old--and they really don't play anymore.  He is young and uber-exuber.  Ella ignores him.  She is very submissive and does a dive and roll.  Daisey thinks that she is dominant--and she probably has the best chance to play with him as she and Macy were 'ball buddies'.  But Dexter wants to play one on one, not chase the ball.  Daisey's not interested in that type of play, and resorts to growling, barking and snarling.  Dexter just wants to play, and the escalation is not what we need now.  I don't want to provoke any aggressive behavior in Dexter.  Accordingly, I'm not allowing this interaction until we have a fuller understanding of each other.

Angel Marie (Spice Girl)
Now we come to Angel Marie.  Angel KNOWS that she is dominant.  She's acting like a "spice girl" and is enjoying taking every opportunity to show him 'her stuff'.  She's got the goods given that she is built like a Sherman tank, and she has the constitution to match..  There is NO fear in that girl.  (Though 99.9% of the time, we don't even know that we have her.  She sleeps, and for small slices of time goes outside to sunbathe and 'do business'. )  Being a super-sized offering on the 'bully' menu, she's not intimidated by this new interloper.  In fact, she's intent on taking every opportunity to make sport with him. She has what I call "Spice Girl" moves that basically are her doing block and tackle with a cute little bunny hop.  I try to limit her incursions into his space. The funny thing, this old girl is clearly reclaiming some of her former vim and verve. This behavior is new. 

Yesterday we played ball.  He enjoyed it. I let him drag a 6' lead, but afterwards, I made him a 50' lead.  I tied the other end to a truck tire (sans rim).  He will not hurt himself, nor can he get away from me. Further, we can work on recall with no chance of failure.  After further ball play and practice on recall he came in tired.  He showed no foot tenderness.  He took a long nap. He does look sweet in repose. Afterwards he ate his dinner,  and then helped me dig some potatoes out of the garden. He was overjoyed to have this job.

While he is a handful due to his being intact (and soon to be detached) he is innately sweet, smart as a whip and very eager to please.  Thankfully, he sleeps well in his crate--and he does so all night without soiling.  Potty accidents are rare during the day.

Overall, I am keeping Dexter in 'lock down' mode.  He has a lead inside.  I generally have to tie him out because he wants to jump on the other girls and make other boisterous advances (launching himself into your lap).  Once he settles, then I untie him and he can trail his lead.   I want to pick my battles with him--meaning I don't want to provide him with too many opportunities requiring correction. Keeping his environment controlled and focusing on our interaction (no bite play) is my priority.   The last two days have been intense, but I can see the results.

Today, I put on a sturdy canvas belt and hooked his lead to it.  My only objective was to have him 'with' me, while I did some 'chores' outside.  We emptied and cleaned the catbox.   It gave him a chance to relax and be a dog in a controlled way.  Daisey was doing some cruise by's (she's a devious girl!).  He tried to give chase but he's on a short lead, and he cannot go far.  I simply changed direction.  Though I was frustrated with Daisey, it did provide a training opportunity for him.  He soon ignored her.  That is progress. 

1 Truthfully, this alligator head on a python body is not original concept (though Allipython is!), but rather how an American Bulldog was described somewhere on the web.


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