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We are a family of fifteen: eight already with Jesus and seven in desperate need of Him. This is the story God is writing in our lives. Proverbs 16:9

Monday, May 30, 2011

Whose the Boss?

I specifically told myself I wouldn't let this happen~ Since last year, I vowed that if we got a dog, he would not be an Alpha Male. I did not want to worry about what happened last year happening again. What dog has God provided us? An Alpha Male.

First, it was new children. A friend of mine brought her kiddos by to see the puppy... the cute, sweet puppy. Anakin began growling, then snapping at the oldest girl. Then later in the day, he decided to do the same with Elijah.

So how did I react to my aggressive 4.6 lb. puppy when he chose to act this way? I crumbled. Immediately I remembered the dog attack and let him have his way with me, too. I had no idea what to do. You have to understand that I am not a dog person. I have had one dog in my life that I was only able to keep for a while. I think she just had a docile, sweet nature. I had been reading for days about how to raise a healthy, happy, obedient puppy but apparently Anakin hadn't read the same books. It reminded me of when Andrew came into the world and I was shocked that he didn't understand a eat-awake-sleep schedule!

After an evening of regrouping (i.e. Micah lovingly sending me to have some grown-up time out of the situation), I concluded that I have to be what dog trainers call the pack leader. This is a new hat for me and one I realized I needed to put on quickly. It was also clear that Micah and I had to encourage the boys to show dominance to Anakin after we establish a clear hierarchical structure for the little guy. So how did we do it? From my reading, I remembered a suggestion: I picked up my fuzzy pup, looked deep into his eyes, and growled. As a mom, you end up in situations that one could never imagine and I have to say this now is near the top of my experiential list! Anakin went limp and from then on, things have been better. Micah, being a natural-born male (thank goodness:)) was already on the top of the chain of command.

After gaining control of Anakin, Micah and I sat the boys down and told them, "If we are going to keep this dog, you have to show him that you both are the boss." They made it clear they wanted to keep him thus the people training began. After just a few minutes, Elijah and Andrew were petting Anakin and even forcing him onto his back and rubbing his belly. I made it perfectly clear when he began to growl just how inappropriate that was (a can of pennies and a guttural "NO!" are pretty effective tools:)) and thankfully, it has stuck so far. The discipline is effective and so is the praise. I have heard "That's a good boy!" come out of my mouth in the most ridiculous sounding voice too many times to count. I don't know who has the better reaction~ Anakin or Micah as he laughs and rolls his eyes at me. After a few days, the boys are getting more and more confident handling Anakin. Now, he just wants to play with them all the time! After just one more beginning-to-growl-which-I-immediately-handled incident, he has done really well! We have him signed up for obedience classes in a few weeks as well, so we hope this will give us an even better handle on him. He seems to be a really intelligent dog and young enough that we can establish some healthy habits in him. He already obeys "come", "sit", and "drop it" and has heard "no bite" enough that I think he could almost say it himself:) All in all, we are all growing together. I think this is going to be really good for our family; especially for Andrew and Elijah.

1 comment:

Anna M said...

What excellent dog training and information! Thanks for sharing, Tiffany! My dad has always been a great trainer of dogs...I've said many times that I want to have him raise our future dogs to get a good start...but it sounds like y'all have it under control!