Meet Tiny!

In March of this year, a man was found shot to death in his home in West Philadelphia. When the police entered the house, they found what appeared to be a pitbull breeding operation. A female pitbull, protecting her puppies, lunged at one of the officers. He shot and killed her. Her litter of puppies, along with 2 male dogs and 4 female dogs were taken to the PSPCA. The 2 males were evaluated and it was determined that the big one (my boy) was most likely used for breeding because of his size. It was possible that he had been used in fights as well. Both males were treated for bite wounds and after further evaluation from a behaviorist, they were deemed adoptable. This is when I got my first look at Tiny. When I saw his picture on the PSPCA’s website, it was love at first sight! He has this massive head with a big Pie Face. He looks a little goofy though because he has no ears. We set up a meet and greet with our girls, Ginger (our 5 year old Bullmastiff) and Reese (our 1 year old Plott Hound). Everything went smoothly so we adopted him. All of the dogs were getting along great, but one day, Tiny attacked Ginger out of the blue. My husband, Dave, said Tiny had to go. I was crushed. How could he mess up his chance for a loving home? Luckily, Dave said we could foster him until a good home was found…we would just have to keep the dogs separated. Meanwhile, Tiny wiggled his way back into my heart. He’s just such a gentle giant around people. He and Reese, who is a ball of energy but very submissive, get along great. About 6 weeks later, I got an email from a lady who was interested in adopting Tiny. I was so sad and hoped that her adoption application wouldn’t go through, but it turned out that she was the perfect candidate. She owned her home, was there all day and had experience with pitbulls. My only concern was that she had a 6 month old baby. When she and her husband came to meet him, they instantly fell in love with him. The deal was sealed when Tiny gave their infant son a sniff and then laid down on the floor at his feet. So they took him home and I cried the rest of the weekend. But 3 days later, we got the call to come get him. He was too powerful on the leash, he barked non-stop and he was a little too interested in the baby. I knew when I realized he was coming home, I would never be able to say goodbye to him again so I had to find a training program that was the right fit. Everything that I researched brought me to Leerburg Kennels. Their method is based on the fact that dogs are pack animals and they depend on a strong pack leader (owner/trainer) to give them guidance and direction. The more I read, I KNEW this is how I wanted to train Tiny. Not only to be the great dog I know he already is, but to be the perfect PET…a loyal companion for our family. This blog is meant to hold me accountable for his training by making it public.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Tiny Learns Patience

Thursday brought more progress for Tiny. After he had breakfast in his crate, we went for a 45 minute walk...same rules as the day before. Complete silence and I pretended like I would rather be somewhere else. Did I mention how difficult this was to do? :D After our walk, he went back in his crate and I went to work. I ordered a wire basket muzzle for him to wear when we finally let him socialize with the girls, Ginger and Reese. My theory is that there's no sense in setting him up for failure so I went the extra mile mile and bought the one that he can drink and pant in with no problem. He'll even be able to take treats while wearing it. Of course, he'll look like Hannibal Lechter, but whatever it takes. Dave called to say that he let Tiny out of his cage at lunchtime. He mentioned that it's tough not giving him a scratch behind the ears, but he can see a difference in him. There was a certain calm about him within just 24 hours. When I got home, I fed him dinner in his crate and took him for another walk. We then spent 30 minutes on walking through gates and doors. The idea is that the pack leader (that would be me), always goes through the gate first, then the dog. This was a challenge at the back gate, because that's the one we go through to go on ours walks. But I have to hand it to Tiny. He's a fast learner. The first few times I would open the gate and if he started to go through first, I would shut the gate in his face. Within minutes, he was patiently waiting for me to go through first, then he would follow. By the end of our 30 minute session, he had it down pat. What was so amazing was that I never uttered a word to him. Afterwards, we hung out on the back patio. It was awesome to see the dog who looks terrifying, to just lounge out. He would occasionally lick my hand, which is a sign of submission. However trying to be a worthy pack leader, I had to ignore it. He seems to be catching on quickly so I'll be able to show him some affection soon. Cant wait! :)

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