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.

Monday, May 23, 2011

"What became of your lamb, Clarice?"

Well, I have to say that as of today, I am really happy with the way Tiny is progressing.  He has “Sit” mastered.  I still have him sit before going through gates and doors and now before we go up or down stairs and before he eats.  If we see a dog or a squirrel on our walk, I have him sit until he relaxes enough to move forward.  Tiny has been wearing his muzzle for a few days now with no problems or issues.  I’m guessing it’s comfortable only because he doesn’t try to remove it.  He only wears it on walks.  It looks like something Hannibal Lechter would wear.  Don’t worry!!  He can still pant, drink, yawn and take treats without any problems.  I have to say…it’s kinda fun to walk around the neighborhood and see the reactions from people we pass.  Some people even cross the street!  Haha!  But I do feel safer with him wearing it…not because I’m afraid he’ll attack someone.  On the contrary…he’s a gentle giant.  I live in a neighborhood that has a lot of little dogs.  Most of the time, they are on leashes, but you never know when one may get out of the yard or run out the front door when their owner isn’t paying attention.  Tiny has a very high prey drive and if approached by a small dog, he would probably injure it (at the very least).  Having Tiny wear his muzzle while we are out and about is just erring on the side of caution. 
                The only problem we have run into is teaching Tiny “down”.  While having him sit, I hold my hand up and drop it straight down in front of him in hopes that he’ll drop his chest to the ground.  Instead, he thinks I’m trying to "shake paw".  I have provided the stinkiest meat as a reward, I have tried to urge him down by placing my hand on his shoulders, and we’ve tried to get him “down” while having his butt up against a wall.  Nothing…nada…zip!  If anyone has any suggestions, I’m all ears.  Until then, I’ll keep watching YouTube until I find the technique that works for him. 

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