Maggie goes Rebel
If you read our Blog, you’ve probably read about our dog Maggie. We adopted Maggie just about a year ago from a rescue that had saved her from breeder farm where Maggie was a breeder mom. She was skinny, malnourished and afraid of her own shadow.
We’ve worked hard over the past year to get her fit and healthy of course, but we’ve also worked at building her self-esteem and helping her get over her many fears. It’s been a long slow process and she’s had good days and bad days, but overall she’s made great progress from the first week when she wouldn’t eat or leave the house she was so afraid of everything.
Because of Maggie’s fears, we tend to be more lenient with her than with Jack. We use positive reinforcement training with both of them, but there are days when Maggie just shuts down and she’s too worried about whatever it is she worries about to focus on her training. She’s had two moods: obedient to a fault – not willing make a single independent move – totally compliant & trying hard to please – or she was shut down. We’ve learned to keep sessions short and sweet with lots of successes.
Over the last few months we’ve noticed Maggie developing a stubborn streak. Sometimes, she will just refuse to do something that she knows perfectly well such as ‘sit’. And if she doesn’t want to go for a walk with Karen our dog walker, she just sits down wherever she is and will not move. Karen ends up taking Jack alone frequently.
And in the last few weeks, a little rebelliousness is beginning to peek out from under that fearful shield. It happened to me the first time last week. We were out for a quick walk, just the two of us as Jack was running with Steve. I took her across the field from our house because I can let her go off leash over there. It was early morning and it’s a dead end street, so no worries about cars. Besides, Maggie never strays too far from me and is excellent at ‘touch’ – coming right back to me. That is until this day.
We turned around and were headed towards home, but instead of following me to the left, Maggie kept going straight – scampering down the road toward the intersection to the cul-de-sac…where there would be traffic. I called her…no response. I called a little louder thinking she didn’t hear me…she turned her head, looked directly at me with this guilty little look and kept on going! I called a few more times, with the same reaction – a glance towards me with a little guilty smirk on her face, but she kept on moving. Needless to say I took off after her and managed to herd her away from the road (luckily it was 6am in the morning so no cars), but I was quite surprised & shocked by her willingness to disobey. Self-esteem and confidence in abundance!
She did the same thing last night when we took the dogs out – I warned Steve that he ought to put her on the leash as we headed for home, but he hadn’t witnessed this little display the other day, so she took him by surprise when she started sprinting down the street.
She’s turned into a little devil! I’m so pleased that she feels confident enough to go off on her own like that – even when she knows we expect her to come back to us – but at the same time, I can’t have her running off like that. I think we’re going to have to work on her recall with a little more intensity, and maybe she’ll have to be on-leash more than she likes.
Anyone else who has a fearful dog that’s developed into a little rebel?