bad day

I had a pretty bad day. Becky and Mr. Becky were out having a life, so I brought their dogs over to my apartment to hang out with me and Rex. After a few hours of laying around and holding down my carpet I figured they probably had to pee, so I let them all out. They were about to run to the east lawn when I remembered that the water delivery dude was supposed to come today and they always stupidly leave our gate open, so I called out, “Stop!” Amazingly, the dogs all stopped and waited for me to check the gate. As I assumed, it was wide open and there were four huge water bottles on the porch. Stupid water dude. I closed the gate and all three dogs peed.

I was feeling in tune with my universe, which of course meant that I wasn’t. Everything was bound to go to hell, and it did. Minutes later the electric meter reader dude walked up and the dogs went ballistic. In my most authoritative tone of voice I yelled at the dogs to follow me and go into my apartment. They did as they were told, the electric meter reader dude read our meter and then left to read the meter next door. I let the dogs out again and that’s where I made my mistake. They shot down the drive and started barking at the electric meter reader dude who was dawdling next door where the dogs could see him. Rex looked like he wanted nothing more than to jump the fence and either play or maul the electric meter reader dude, so I stepped between him and the fence and told him to go home.

That’s when Rex bit me. He flinched, as if I’d struck him, snarled, and then bit me right above my knee. That’s when I did strike him. Right after he bit me I yelled NO and decked him in the head. Barking like a mad dog, I pointed at my apartment and drove the dogs home. They ran inside, up the stairs and all three of them crowded into Rex’s crate. Normally, this would’ve been really funny, something like clowns in a clown car (Sorry, David.), but at the time I wasn’t amused. I dragged Guinness and Margot out and put Rex in lock down. Normally, I never use his crate as punishment, and I don’t believe I was in this case, but I needed him to be somewhere safe where I couldn’t beat the hell out of him while I got my wits together.

I checked my knee. He didn’t break the skin and there was hardly a mark, but it still hurt, as if I’d been pinched really hard. What hurt more was that he did it at all. I went through every scenario in my head of why he bit me. Was he trying to protect me, the property, and the other dogs from the electric meter reader dude, and when I stepped in the way was he trying to tell me, Get back! I’ve got you covered! I doubt that, because I put him inside the apartment and left the screen door open so he could see me let the electric meter reader dude into the yard and see that he wasn’t there to harm anyone. But, maybe he didn’t understand that. Or, was he barking at the electric meter reader dude because he was saying, Hey you! Come back. I want to play! And when I stepped in front of him, did Rex bite me because he thought I was trying to stop him from having a good time? Which, of course, in a way I was. But it still wasn’t cause for him to bite me. Again.

That’s the worst part; this has happened before. The last time he bit me was also a moment where he didn’t want to do what I was asking him to do. Which is why I think this is a problem of him not understanding that I’m the alpha dog in this household. Which is why I’ve spent a lot of today upset and researching dog trainers in the greater Houston area. I’ve also spent the day treating Rex like a dog. Quaker’s meeting has begun at The Compound and, until I find the right person to train us, Rex is working hard for his money. It’s as though we’re starting over. He has to work for praise. There’ll be no more, Hey, look at me, aren’t I cute? Don’t you think you should pet me? getting attention for no reason. If I tell him to sit and he sits without moving, then I’ll praise him and give him attention. Same with any other command. He can’t leave the house or come back in unless he sits on whatever side of the door and I tell him it’s okay to go in or out. I’m also going to walk him more. Unfortunately, the dog park is out of the question now, because what happens if I try to reign him in and he doesn’t want me to? Or, what if another dog own tries and Rex bites him? I also worry about our friends who come over to the house. Rex always misbehaves when there are visitors, and I’m always trying to reign him in. What if he decides to bite me, or our house guests? In any of these worst case scenarios the worst case outcome would be a one way trip to the Vet’s office, and I wouldn’t want that for anyone involved.

Arrrrrrrrrrrrgh.

About timothyjlambert

Timothy J. Lambert is allegedly a writer.
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88 Responses to bad day

  1. marikanola says:

    I’m sorry ot hear about Rex having an “issue” However you really seem dedicated to finding out what the problem is — and that speaks colume. I honestly believe everything will be resolved in a most pleasing manner.

  2. markgharris says:

    I’m really sorry, Timothy. You’re his best bet. : )

  3. Sorry about the difficult incident with Rex.
    :-(

    • Thanks. It’s almost comical how good he’s being since then. He knows he’s on my shit list. But so is the water delivery dude, and I doubt he’ll stop leaving the gate open.

  4. dukecityjim says:

    Man that really is not fun. I’m sure you’ll work it out.

    I’m not a dog owner but once heard a really bizarre conversation during lunch at the last job that if you want to convince your dog that you’re the alpha dog all you have to do is pee on your dog.

    One of my former co-workers swore it was true. I just could get past the idea of water sports with your dog.

    • I don’t think that’s going to happen any time soon. That sounds like something that someone with control issues made up to make himself (Because I doubt it was said by a Herself.) feel better.

  5. A quesion, when you stepped in front of Rex and shouted for him to go home, did you have your arms upraised? I think you might have triggered a reaction to someting that occured in Rex’s earlier life.

    • No. The most that I did was to point at the house, which was away from Rex. It’s a movement he’s seen me do many times before without any reaction other than his doing what I told him to do.

  6. geb1966ky says:

    Sorry to hear abut Rex. Hope it resolves itself quickly.

  7. ebandit says:

    Poor Tim, ……poor Rex too. I hope everything gets sorted out. I know you love him and want him to be a good boy.

    Have a better day today.

    • One of us should be a good boy. In this case, it should probably be me. There’s obviously something I need to learn here. Hopefully, I’ll pick it up quickly so I can pass on the knowledge to Rex.

  8. Knowing you, you’ll figure it out.

    I am sorry you were bitten, though. Maybe he just had a flash back to something else.

    If you need any more research, let me know.

    • I really think he was annoyed at me for ruining his alleged good time. That’s what happened at his last house: people would come over, which made him happy, and then he would be relegated to the back yard, which didn’t make him happy. What I need to figure out now is if my assumption is true and what to do about it. It’ll take some work. =)

      • So he gets pissy when he doesn’t get his way.

        Hum, well, then, maybe you can negate him to the back yard more often when people are over, and then let him in to see the people more as a treat. But that might perpetuate the actions on his part, which we don’t want. Hum..

        I am going to research this a bit, through some behavior sites I have.

        • “Hum, well, then, maybe you can negate him to the back yard more often when people are over, and then let him in to see the people more as a treat.”

          That’s what started this mess. That’s what his last owners did. He needs to relearn how behave properly around people all the time, not part time.

          • true. I posted a whole other thingy at the bottom of this. I researched it for ya. It may not mount to a hill of beans, but at least it something to think about…

  9. _jandy_ says:

    oh man.

    well, that sucks.

    i agree with everyone else, you’re the perfect person to be dealing with this issue since you *will* get to the bottom of it.

    every time i can’t get bean to ‘come’, i think, ‘tim could get her to learn this…’

    • I wish I were closer so we could use Bean to test your theory about my dog calling abilities. =)

      But here are two things I’ve learned about getting dogs to come to you:

      1) Don’t say your dog’s name unless they’ve done something correctly and you’re praising the dog. This way, your dog will always associate her name with love and praise. If you reprimand your dog and say her name in that What have you done/I’m so annoyed tone of voice, she’ll associate her name with punishment and won’t want to come near you. If you mix the two, she’ll be really confused and will probably climb the tower with a high-powered rifle.

      2) Dogs like things to be on their level. If you crouch close to the ground and make yourself seem smaller, you’ll seem less threatening and she’ll come running if you crouch and call to her.

      Also, try “come here.” I don’t know why, but the word “here” always seems to work for here. Maybe the long E sound is less threatening.

      • _jandy_ says:

        it’s possible that i have used her name with a negative tone before, but i usually say it in a very happy manner since i’d read something like that before.

        i usually crouch down as well so as not to appear to be a giant, but i will be sure to every time.

        ‘come here’…alright, i got it.

        she’s only 4 months old – am i expecting too much of her? she’s still SUPER playful with all her puppy energy, so even the sit command (that she does know) doesn’t last too long.

        • No, I don’t think you’re expecting too much at all. This is the perfect time for her to learn. Dogs learn a lot about life and behavior from their mothers in the first year of their life. It’s a shame that puppies get removed from their mothers and litter mates so early, because they learn so much about socialization during the first couple of months. You’re the mama now. =)

          Now I’m flashing on that television show Dinosaurs and the baby dinosaur saying, “Not the mama!” and hitting his father over the head.

          • _jandy_ says:

            ha! not the mama, indeed!

            she must be one of those rebellious kids then.

            i figured since romeo & jewel behave so well, they’d teach her a lot just by her watching. which i do try to enforce that method by making them do whatever first and hoping she will want to be just like them (since she loves romeo esp.).

            does repetition work if she’s not doing the action i want? if i say ;come here’ and crouch down several times a day, will it start to sink in?

            i like how this post was how you got bit and i’ve turned it into helping me. ;)

          • Re: ha! not the mama, indeed!

            Yeah, I like that, too. =P

            Training dogs is all about repetition and consistency. Hopefully, with lots of repetition and praise, the correct behavior will sink in. Humans are the same way. I know I respond positively when I’m praised, rather than the times I’m hit with a rolled up newspaper.

            You’re right about her taking cues from Romeo and Jewel. Becky’s dogs have learned a lot from each other, from what I understand. It’s just a matter of you making sure they’re learning the good behaviors from each other.

          • _jandy_ says:

            Re: ha! not the mama, indeed!

            haha – a smack with the newspaper is sure to ruin a perfectly good day.

            ok, dog whisperer, i’ll take these tips and see what i can do. thank you kindly. :)

          • Re: ha! not the mama, indeed!

            I’m no expert. Whatever Bean responds to best, keep doing it. Unless it’s regular beatings. In which case I recommend using boxing gloves. But don’t forget to tape up your hands, so you won’t bruise them.

          • _jandy_ says:

            heh heh

            sound advice. ;)

  10. davidpnyc says:

    You’re a good guy for sticking with him. A lot of people would have shipped him off after the first incident. Here’s hoping Rex sees the error of his ways very soon.

    • I can’t afford shipping charges right now. And what with the price of gas, driving him to get a “pink shot” as well as the disposal fees would be too much as well. It’s far more cost effective for my wallet and my heart to see if someone outside of our situation can change our behavior. ;-)

  11. dogrl says:

    Ugh. I hate behavioural problems. Sorry you’re having them, Tim.
    If my old trainer hadn’t gotten out of the business to concentrate on training his own dogs, I would ask him for advice, because he did work with people who had behavouraly challenged dogs.

    • I love a good challenge, but I also have a short fuse and love instant gratification. Not a combination in this case. I found an excellent place run by a guy who trains dogs for field trials–sort of like boarding school for challenging dogs–but it would cost about a thousand dollars for Rex’s issues. As much as I love Rex, I can think of better ways to spend that kind of money. Especially when I don’t have it. I’m sure there’s someone else who’s just as good who can help us at a better price; it’s a matter of doing the research to find the right person for us.

      • dogrl says:

        Training dogs is kinda like training kids: everybody has their own opinion, none of them totally right or totally wrong.
        I guess since in the time you’ve had him, the fact that this has happened only twice (yeah, I know, twice is two too many times) is to his good. At least he isn’t consistently aggressive and trying to bite anytime you try to correct/direct him. (If that were so, I guess a thousand bucks might be worth it, but for your case, definitely not.) My personal opinion also, is that if he didn’t break the skin, that’s a mark to his favor, because if they really want to, they can do some big damage in no time with their teeth. Neither of my dogs has ever bitten me, but every once in a rare while Sophie has shown her teeth at me when I’m doing something she doesn’t want, and I’ll take her to her back on the ground, put my hand on her neck (kind of grab the scruff at the front) and growl in her face to tell her I’m top bitch in this family, and she better remember it. But again, every dog/person/circumstance is different, there’s nothing to say that this would work/be appropriate with Rex.
        Good Luck!

        • Yeah. I know he could’ve done a hell of a lot more damage to me if he really wanted, which is why I know he was trying to tell me something. Most likely that he was trying to protect me, or that he didn’t want to be told what to do. Both interpretations aren’t right, because both would assume that he’s the alpha dog, and he needs to know that he’s not. I’ve been working on that for the past 24 hours and ever since the bite he’s been acting like the perfect dog, doing everything I ask and looking to me for guidance. Could all be an act, though. We’ll see.

  12. rhondarubin says:

    Sorry to hear about this. My shelter friend gave me this info when we were having issues with Sugar pulling on walks. http://www.paws-for-a-moment.com/ She’s apparently very good, and she’s not far from us.

  13. smoness says:

    You know how, when you’re joking around with someone? And you’re all, “I’m gonna have to kick your ass.” And they’re all, “You can’t kick my ass.” So, just to be a goof, you pull some fake kung-fu stuff in their face. Except your eye hand coordination isn’t as good as you think. And you accidentally hit them? And then you spend all day apologizing like a crazy person because, OMG you DID NOT mean to hit them? You know?

    I bet that’s what Rex did.

  14. Okay this is what I found

    I called my Vet friends in Florida, one being a behavior specialist with animals, Dr. D. Turner. I worked for her for a bit, and we became good friends. So, I called her about what happened, and about what happened before, also giving her a description of Rex to her. She said, that he was more than likely wanting you to stay away from the electric meter dude, and the only way he knew to prevent you from getting any closer to the fence, or his fear was that you would get closer to the fence, was to bite you. It got your attention. It seems that his past negates that he like attention. He wants to be the ONE in the limelight. She said to correct this, you may have to crate him, in a nice manner, with a treat once he’s in, while people visit, or if other dogs visit. He needs to know that you KNOW what you are doing. A command she mentioned was, Shsst. She said whenever he starts to act like a maniac, Shsst him and make him sit. She said you can even use a clicker if that’s easier. They are 99 cents at PetSmart. I use it at the dog park for Rut; it gets his attention.

    Then, I called Kevin Bracket, he is an emergency Vet in Melbourne, Florida. I worked for him and Russ, his assistant for a long time. They call me Bussy. Long story there. Anyway, Kevin said almost the same thing, with the exception of the Shsst and clicker to using a can, coke can, filled with pennies. Tape the opening, and when he gets crazy around guests or doing something he’s not supposed to do, shake it loud and hard. Then make him sit.

    I don’t know if this will work for you, but if you wish to talk to them in person, email me, and I will send you their numbers.

    I hope it works.

    • Re: Okay this is what I found

      To be honest, I don’t believe in clickers, penny filled coke cans, shock collars, marching bands, and other accoutrement to command a dog’s attention. It has to be me that he responds to, or any other human on the property for that matter, if he’s going to stick around. He knows what “NO” means and what to do when it’s said. Unfortunately, he doesn’t understand that it applies in every situation, and there are a lot of circumstances in his past that contributed to this behavior, not all of which I’ve mentioned on here. We’ll work it out. It will take a lot of time and work. I appreciate your research and concern, though, but I need to hear it come from someone who has evaluated Rex and me in person and knows every detail firsthand. =)

      • Re: Okay this is what I found

        Rescued dogs are such a blessing, because you know you give them not only A life, but life itself, since so many of them are headed for the big sleep before being rescued.

        However, rescued dogs and older dogs come with baggage, which is why I agree that in Rex’s case, he needs an evaluation by someone who not only understands behavior modification but understands REX.

        Clickers work always with Guinness, who was taught by Margot, but not always with Margot, ironic since she was the teacher. But in their case, the clicker is associated with an intermittent food reward, and food is THEIR GOD. However, I rarely use the clicker with them because I don’t want them to always want a food reward. I want them to want and be satisfied with a praise reward. We STILL work on this, and I can’t say that I have succeeded. That is my fault.

        I think the right trainer who meets with you and Rex together can identify the problems that trigger his bad behavior and help you learn to modify what both of you do.

        I don’t know, however, if you’ll ever be able to completely train me. A certain stubbornness sets in at 35…

        • Re: Okay this is what I found

          I only use the clicker in the dog park. Instead of having to yell across the park, and can click it, and he knows to come see me. Rut is a very well trained dog. He has behavior things, like his eating habits, and sometimes, he squeaks for no reason, it seems. I use my voice for everything else.

          I hope it all works out. You know me, if I can try to help, I try. :) It’s not always the best information, but it’s researched and not just thrown out. But absolutely, Rex and Timothy with a behavior specialist would be awesome.

          *I never use the clicker with food rewards.*

          Who knew this dog stuff could be so difficult? Rescuing a dog was the best thing I have done. And it’s worth the patience and time, to get Rutlie adjusted. He’s a great dog. I feel lucky to have him.

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