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.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Teach-a-bull Moments

Even big boys sleep with blankies :)

Tiny…AKA “Wee Man”…AKA “Mush”…AKA “The Boy” is becoming a pet.  I mean a real pet J  For the most part he now hangs out with the girls (Reese and Ginger) during the day.  He continues to wear his muzzle around them, but they all play and lounge like it’s non-existent.  He and Reese love to torment Ginger by running circles around her.  Ginger just barks and barks until Tiny and Reese collapse on the living room floor in a heap of fur and drool. I walk him around 5:45am every morning for at least 30 minutes.  Instead of going around the neighborhood where everyone is walking their little dogs before they go to work, we walk down Rt 291 or behind Baldwin Towers.  He seems happier on the walks AND he’s been muzzle-free for over a week now when we go out. 

Tiny has “Sit” and “Down” mastered.  We continue to work on “Watch me” and have now added in “Stay”.  In our house, all dogs eat in different rooms.  Before they are allowed to eat, they have to “sit”, then “stay” and can only eat after I say “Take it!”.  Tiny learned this VERY quickly!  He's doing pretty well with his Sit/Stay for about 5 seconds.  Then he just runs up to you with that big ol' mush head that just begs to be pet.

                My youngest son, Zac, has taken an interest in training Tiny.  He works with him almost every day and Tiny really does listen  to him.  I love watching the two of them interact with each other.  I’m still not comfortable enough to let Zac walk Tiny during the day.  Those darn squirrels are like crack to him.  When he sees one, he shakes all over and then he starts barking and whining like a 3- year old whose ice cream cone has just fallen on the ground.  It’s definitely a spectacle.   Tiny acts like this around little dogs, too.  Something about little furry animals drives him crazy.  Any suggestions on how to help Tiny overcome his fervor for little critters?  Please feel free comment J  Until then, we keep working on his exposure to the "tree rats" and his patience. 

Monday, June 13, 2011

Road Trip!

Tiny took his first Road Trip over the weekend.  We visited my parents’ farm in the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia.  He was a perfect gentleman.  My mother, who is deathly afraid of dogs ever since she was bitten by a neighbor’s black lab several years ago, found him charming after all was said and done.  Though he wasn’t allowed in the house, he was allowed in the basement where it was nice and cool.  I think his favorite spot was under the big oak tree in the back yard.  He acted very appropriately when meeting all the new parents and my roommates from college.  (I was there for a college reunion) Tiny didn’t quite know what to make of the cows and he struggled a bit with crossing over the cattle guard in the drive way, but he seemed very comfortable in the country.  We continue to work on the command “watch me” and his focus, but this weekend was all about fun and relaxation.  Now that I know he travels really well, I’m looking forward to taking him more places.  Below are some pictures of Tiny’s trip to the country.

Watching the sunrise

Goofing off for Grandma

Happy dog!

Tiny's first look at cows

Sleeping on the porch
Tiny can't take his eyes off my friend Eve :)

Monday, June 6, 2011

Life Happens....

WHEW!!!!!   Last week was a true challenge as far as making sure Tiny had ample time to be walked, exercised, and socialized with the girls.  Not only did we have the normal day-to-day stuff, but we also had my stepson’s graduation followed by the graduation party the next day.  We also have a close relative in the hospital and have been making daily trips to visit.  Thank goodness we started reintroducing the pack to each other over the long Memorial Day weekend.  It definitely made things easier.  Other than being off schedule, it’s been business as usual.  We continue to work on Tiny’s high prey drive.  (damn squirrels!)  The next command to be learned is “Watch me” in order to get him to focus more.  I think I’m having more problems with this one than he is.  The idea is to have him “sit” and as soon as he makes eye contact with me, I mark it by saying “yes” and then give him a treat.  The problem is that his expressions KILL me!  J  I end up cracking up laughing, then he thinks I’m playing and the whole training session goes completely downhill.  This is why I’m not a professional trainer.  Good thing we’re not on a deadline.    
Dave and Tiny’s relationship is getting stronger though we’ve established that Dave just doesn’t have it in him to be a pack leader.  He’s much too lenient with his commands.  They sound more like a drawn out question.  “Sit?, Sit?, Sit?”  At this point, Tiny usually looks at Dave sideways then they wrestle like pups!  Haha! 
I thought walking Tiny this morning would be a nightmare because of our crazy few days.  He’s been exercised every day but hasn’t been out of the yard since Friday.  Again, he amazed me at well he’s  doing.  He now walks extremely well on the leash.  When there are no distractions, he is directly beside my left leg with a loose leash.  The Easy Walker harness has helped with this, but eventually I would like to wean him off of it.  That’s down the line though…for now we’ll continue to work on his commands and his focus.  By this time next year, I am hoping that Tiny will have aced his Canine Good Citizen test and we’ll be working on having him certified as service dog for PTSD.