Friday, August 17, 2012

He's Ba-a-ck!

While we've had some good times poking fun at the Hurley Badger over the summer, it has and continues to be my goal to get him back into shop dog shape.

Classic Hurley in the shop montage starts now!
Quite frankly, he was probably ready a month or two ago...right at the time the Hubster was starting his 6 weeks off during the summer (he's in education, anyone who's married to an educator knows the vacation jealousy that's suffered by spouses all over...sigh).  Anywho, the choice was to start Hurley back in the shop and relegate him to his kennel for most of the day to control his introductions and interactions with each entering dog; or I could, and did, leave him home for the summer to continue their male bonding and so that he could enjoy kennel-free days with the Hubster around the house. 

The boys had a great summer but it's back to work time...for both of them.

Big head on a little body!

Hurley started back at the shop today!

The plan is to go slow and have lots of patience.  I can't expect him to magically not react to every dog who comes in.  But what I can do is set him up for success.

Sweet puppy Hurley

It starts with spending the day in the kennel at the shop.  He's still kenneled when at home alone so this is not a huge change for him in terms of how he spends his day.  I've got the kennel just at the edge of my storage room so that I'll be able to click & treat calm behavior every time a dog enters the store.  We'll stay at this level until I feel that he's demonstrated not getting bothered over hearing/smelling a dog in his territory.

Can I haz treat?

Then we'll graduate to public kenneling, ie his kennel being out on the shop floor and not back in the storage room.  I anticipate this being a really hard step for him and plan on requiring customers to keep their dogs in the front half of the shop while his kennel is set up at the back so as to give him tons of space.  As he gets more comfortable and less excited by the dogs in the shop, we'll move him forward or allow them closer.  During this time, I will allow him to interact with the dogs he already knows and loves.  Slowly and surely, I'll let him out of his kennel to say hello as he demonstrates he's ready for that next step.

Fluffer nutter - also, can you believe Hurley was ever small enough to fit in a basket???

After that, he'll progress to being tethered to me or an area of the store floor where he's less likely to react. Hanging out with me behind the counter, performing any training not related to his acceptance of dogs and free rein of the shop are big no-no's for now.  I'll only use the clicker and treats in relation to the use of the crate and to reward calm behavior around other dogs.  No more training fun tricks during the day for us.  Maybe I'll be able to lift that rule in the future but for now, I want Hurley to be crystal clear that in the store, him accepting other dogs in his territory is the only way he can earn food.

Christmas decorating is boring business

Over the summer, Hurley's had multiple trips to the dog park, attended dog walks & street fairs and spent 4 days at our favorite boarding facility, which is more doggie camp than kennel.  He spent those days romping in fields with other dogs and got an A from the folks there when he left.  He still is influenced by his sisters' reactivity but is getting better.  I've noticed since we boarded him that there is much less joining in the barking at the window.  We've started using the Leave It command at home when the dogs get all riled up about a dog or person who walks by our house and this seems to especially hit home with Hurley.  I would call him a rock star Leave It'er at this point.  He listens to me 95% of the time when I tell him Leave It (his current obstacle is the hundreds of crab apples falling on the sidewalk from a neighbor's tree).  All in all, his canine interactions outside of the shop continue to be stellar.  The issues he had are steadily improving - while he will react to another dog who started reacting first, he and I are both getting better at seeing those dogs coming and ignoring them. All in all, he's demonstrated that he's ready to be given a second chance at shop dog.

My personal favorite: Dog in a box

I've missed that dog in a box.  I'm so glad he's back!!


  1. Sounds like a good plan at getting Hurley back in the shop!

  2. It sounds to me like you're going about this in just the right way. Most Definitely, patience is the key and it's gonna pay off BIG TIME down the road, for sure.

    Wiggles & Wags,

    PeeS. Do you sell those Dog-in-a-Boxes in your shop? Heehee!

    1. We can even personalize those Dog-in-a-Boxes! :)

  3. While it seems like a long, drawn-out process, I think you are totally going about this the right way to set up Hurley for current and future success! I think the Hurley Badger is up for the challenge!

    1. My hope is that he flies through each stage but it's really up to him. So far, we've only had 1 out of 5 in terms of having any reactions so I think he's doing spectacular for his first week back.

  4. I think you are approaching this very wisely. Just keeping working on it, he'll get there. :-)

  5. Your plan sounds good. I hope things go smoothly for you and Hurley. He's come so far in such a long way and is such a smart dog I don't think it will take long for you two to enjoy working together again. :)

  6. Such a smart plan. Thanks for spelling it all out. It's a good reminder of just what it means to set your dog up for success.

    I look forward to updates all along the way.