Tuesday, March 12, 2013

A Setback

Tonite I brought Leo to the agility barn while I taught. The first class is too big for me to be able to watch him but the second class is small and low key. He has come with me to the arena more than a few times and has always been very good. Mooching treats. Sitting for pets. Charming all the people there...

Tonite he nipped at someone who ran by. It was near the end of class. He was in a down, relaxed at my feet. She ran by and all I felt was the leash go tight. Followed by a tearing sound.

He ripped her pants. High on the leg. No puncture. But there will be a bruise. It was a nip with intent to grab.

Ugh.

I feel awful. On two counts.

First off for the person he nipped. Secondly for Leo.

The person he nipped at did nothing wrong- and she has been very good about it. Probably makes my guilt worse.

When Leo nips it has been completely motion based- its' not about who, it's about what. This is his issue. It is a real issue- not something that is going to go away really. And I know that. I know better. But I still blamed the dog. I was angry after he did it though and did get after him. Nothing major of course but he knows I was not happy with him. He is still slinking around an hour later at home...

This kind of setback is more mine, than his. I put him in a situation that had the potential for him to lose control, didn't watch him close enough in said situation, and gave him the opportunity to hurt someone. It is completely and utterly my fault.

In my defense, I truly thought that he was past the point of such impulsive decisions. I have worked very hard with him. And because he has been so good lately I guess I let my guard down. He is a good example of why this sort of thing is hard to manage. It doesn't ever really go away.

Lately I've been giving thought about what kind of home would suit Leo. And up until today I was thinking he could really go to just about anyone who has experience with border collie-isms, and the patience and time to help him adjust. I mean he is absolutely perfect to live with. He is smart, fun to train, and is eager to please. I've had him for seven months. And he has learned a lot in those seven months. He will soon be my longest "project" dog. After this today I am just not sure. My fear is that I will find him a "perfect" home and that something bad will happen. He will nip, or growl at someone, or his behaviour could get worse until he is back to where we started, or he will really bite someone.... I don't think I could live with the guilt of that happening.

Ugh. Just Ugh.

Tomorrow I will hopefully feel better about things. But right now I feel like shit.

I have no idea now what the plan should be. I guess back to the drawing board for more impulse control training. Thankfully I have good friends who are willing to be guinea pigs... Jen, you better get your carharts on...

6 comments:

Taryn said...

Don't be too hard on yourself. It is something about the way Leo is wired. Or over-wired, so to speak. I have a very similar problem with Jimmy and sudden movements from skateboarding kids. He doesn't even notice a bicycle go by, but a kid on a skateboard, Jimmy just freaks and goes for them. He really wants to bite the board but anything in that vicinity is fair game. Not to mention that fact that he can knock a fairly fast moving kid to the ground. Plus, he's gotten nailed by the board as well. It's a very tough thing to manage as you can't even hear them coming until they whiz by! Plus I live in a suburban neighborhood full of kids. He has a similar reaction to super fast BCs in class. He wants to take them out! If he ever pulled away from me, he would go for them in the ring, and we would both be expelled. The class thing is at least easy to manage. But he just seems to have a wire crossed up in his brain and I bet Leo is a bit like that, too. Very hard to eliminate...

^..^Corgidogmama said...

Taryn said it all. Hang in there. Leo is a good kid, and you are one heck of a trainer.

Glenna said...

Keep your head, you've helped him make huge strides, never forget that! Everything will be alright. Hakuna Matata :)

onecollie said...

awww sorry to hear that Amanda :(
Also in your defense I would like to point out that you had him in a down, right beside you, you weren't letting him wander all over the place, you had him in control, just now you know he has a bigger bubble then you once thought, don't beat yourself up, he would be dead if you hadn't rescued him.

WhatAmILookingAt said...

A dog in a down-stay, relaxed, and someone RUNNING BY out of nowhere, are neither your fault nor the dogs fault. Its "shit happens". Stop beating yourself up FFS

K9 Chaos said...

Got one just like him....well almost. What sets mine off is a little different, but I am sure it will never go completely away and I will never be able to fully trust him in certain situations. He too is a rescue and I have had him for almost 3 years now. Much better than when I got him, but sometimes we take a step or two back. Often in those situations I blame myself for not seeing it coming even though he seemed to finally be past that sort of thing. So don't beat yourself up and just be happy that no real harm came from it.