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Trucker's Training Jouney

7600 Views 59 Replies 5 Participants Last post by  TruckersMom
Decided to start a training journal to track Trucker's journey from the completely petrified dog he was when I adopted him to the dog I know he will be one day :).

Here is my reminder of where it all began:
I was looking for a "friend" for my 4 year old cat, Galileo and I knew I wanted a single coat dog (because of my pretty severe asthma and allergies). I did a lot of research of breeds that fell into that category and which breeds where good for asthma and allergy suffers. This led me to compile a list of breeds that I though I might be interested in, I started searching around for animals who I though fit my bill for "friend of Gali" and new furry family member. About 5 months into my search and still not completely sure I wanted a dog (people were trying to talk me out of it) I came across Trucker.

He was listed as a 4/5 year old Redbone Coonhoud but this was all there was as information on him, and I immediately fell in love with him and emailed the rescue wanting to know more. I was told he was told he was at a High Kill shelter in NC still but had been paid for so would not be euthanized in the 48 hour window but they had no time line as to when he would come to the area and that they would cat test him when he came, if I was still interested to fill out an application and become per-approved for Trucker. I was per-approved from Trucker pending a home visit since I was outside of their immediate area and they were an all volunteer organization, it was 6 months from the day I saw Trucker to the day I met him and again it was love at first sight. This it truely the only way to explain what happened between Trucker and I, when I met Trucker he was shaking curled in a ball in the corner of a crowded street at an adoption event. I just slowly approached the people around him and then slowly sat down, almost immediately he put his head on my leg and that's just how we sat for almost 2 and a half hours of the 3 hour event only then did he decide he wanted to let me walk him around. I knew he was our dog, the one for our family from that moment.

A week later I brought Trucker home and we have been on our journey ever since. So the rest of this journal will will detail Trucker, Galileo, and my journey from that moment on :)
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What Are We Working On

This is the list of training things we are working on, this includes tasks and socialization and desensitization items.

We are really proud of the list we compiled, based off of other lists and added some of our own things, feel free to use it or comment on things you think we should add to the Google doc. :thumbsup:
Where We Are Up Till Today

On the day I brought Trucker home, October 16th, he seemed to be excited to be "home" and just wanted to lay on the couch next to me all the time. He wouldn't even go outside to the backyard to use the bathroom without me walking the whole way right next to him. When he would go in his crate at night he would bark for about 5 minutes then settle down. If a stranger came over or even knocked on the door he would run into the furthest bedroom and be so scared he would have an accident (submissive urination). This behavior seemed to go on for about a week or a week and a half.

After that time Trucker still needed me to go with him to the backyard but I could stand on the back deck most of the time, unless it was raining or there were loud noises. But he had changed his habit of laying on the couch next to me for one of laying under the guest bedroom bed, where he had collected all his toys (a new things since before he did not want toys). He no longer had accidents when strangers appeared but instead started to hide under the bed and low growl if they got to close. At this time I had taught him to "Sit", to "Down", " to "Come", and to "Crawl" but knew that we were going to need some professional help so I began out trainer search.

At this point Trucker, Galileo, and I have moved out of the honeymoon phase of our new family. We still all love each other and we are putting in the work to make it better each and everyday. Trucker has developed some very bad habits with I will list below because I want to keep track as we defeat them. He has also learned some very good habits and tricks which I will also list below for the the reason that of I want to celebrate his every small accomplishment because for him they are HUGE.
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The Bad Habits

Bad Habits:
Chasing The Cat
Eating The Cats Food
Opening The Back Door
Barking At The Cat
Barking At Me (If I Am Not Paying Attention To Him)
Puppy Play With Humans
Pulling At The Bottom Of Pants Legs
Getting Overexcited And Jumping For Treats
Putting Feet On The Counter Tops/Dinning Room Table
Stealing Things That Are Not His
Stealing And Chewing Up Shoes
Stealing Things From The Recycling Bin
Opening Closed Doors
Not Being Able To Settle Down After Long Play Times

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Good Habits & Tricks

Good Habits:
"Sit" then "Wait" till told to "Go Eat"
Crate without whining or barking
Going out the front door on a leash
Going out the back gate on a leash
Going out the side gate on a leash
Getting into the car without fighting
Riding in the car

Four Paws (Sit On Bosu Ball)
Crate (Go In Crate)
Go (Go To Where I Point)

Working On Currently:
Paw (Give Me Paw)
Clean Up (Put All Toys In Basket)

Drop It

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Training Journal Reset

So I am restarting My Training Journal for Trucker and this time I am keeping up :)

I adopted Trucker, a 2 year old Redbone Coonhound, not that long ago and knew going into it that there was going to be the need for a professional trainer/behaviorist. He had been found wandering the woods in North Carolina, was basically scared of everything that he encountered, and trusted virtually no one. From day one I seemed to be the exception to that “trusted no one”, I am not sure why Trucker chose me as his safety net but he did. Even before I officially adopted him I began looking for the “right” fit of a trainer/behaviorist for not only my dog but me. I ended up interviewing upwards of 25 people before finding Zedrea.
Many of the of those interviewed would give me a set timetable that my dog would be completely “fixed” in 3 or 4 weeks or would say he can’t be worse than dogs I have worked with before all before they had even laid eyes on him. These people all were thrown out immediately, the next bunch pushed too hard. They weren’t willing to let me finish me research and decided where we best landed. Zedrea did none of these things, when we spoke for the first time she said without evaluating Trucker she could not even guess how bad his problems where nor could she ever put a timetable on his training /recovery. I was immediately comfortable with her and felt she had the best interest of my dog and our “furry family’s relationship” at heart so we went in for a consultation that day.
Trucker being as afraid of strangers as he is spent that initial consultation curled up under a stool at the Petsmart. He was unable to drink or eat the freeze dried liver treats that surrounded him. The only thing he was able to do was watch as Zedrea and I talked about how we would progress, at one point we were rolling a tennis ball back and forth and we “accidently” let it roll towards him (he loves tennis balls) and it bounced off his nose and he didn’t even move. He exhibited ever classic nervous/anxious dog sign on the list from the “moon eyes” to the “lip licking”. When it was time to go I had to physically pick him up to get him to a standing position then lift him up under his belly as I “convinced him” using soft encouraging words to walk and helped him walk forward until he went from his “catatonic state” to moving again.
She gave me homework to start using some basic rules like that he had to “Sit” and “Wait” while I fill his food bowl. Then once I set it on the floor he must wait for me to release him (“Go”) to go eat. Also since getting Trucker out of any of the doors in the house and into the car had been a traumatic/disastrous experience for both of us, I was supposed to work on walking him in and out of the entrances/exits and giving him treats when he did it and just asking him to get in and out of the car and treating that behavior. I was told that we have a “LOT” of work and a “LONG” road ahead and that my boy was one of the worse dogs she had seen since her own rescue but that if I followed the program we would get there. I didn’t adopt Trucker thinking he was the “perfect” dog already with no baggage but I did adopt him knowing that he trusted me enough to be able to work through the baggage with me by his side.
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Where We Are Now

The improvements I see in Trucker so far are huge but that may be because I see him every day. No longer does he need me as his constant companion (less than a foot away) as he goes to the bathroom in the back yard, now on a nice day you can find him standing on the back deck “surveying” the other neighbors yards or running “race tracks” around the yard. Some days he regresses and needs me as his safety net standing on the pathway watching out for that big bad rain drop as he does his business but it is no longer normal.
He now gets excited to see his harness or leash because that means he is getting to go on a walk or a car ride, what a difference from the dog I had to carry out the front door less than a month ago. He enjoys lying in the hallways and chewing on a rawhide, toy, or a rubber bone instead of secluding himself away in the guest bedroom under the bed. Resource guarding his toys under that same bed is a thing of the past, if I put them in the toy basket he leaves them there unless he is playing with them. When someone visits the backyard does he hide under the back deck stairs, not anymore, he explores and approaches to a distance he is comfortable with, normally within 1 to 3 feet. As of yesterday he can perform his “tricks” even while feeling insecure because of the presence of a stranger as long as I remind him regularly to “Look at Me”.
This is not the same Trucker that I owned a month ago, he is progressing faster than I ever expected. Are there things that I wish we have concurred, of course, but for him not me. I want him to feel safe and secure, to feel whole and know I would never let someone hurt him. We will get there in time, I mean look how far we have come already.
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Where We Are Now In Training

Our first official training session doesn’t start till 06 December 2015, but up till now we have been going to our regularly scheduled “training session” hour to for Trucker to get to know his trainer. When you look at it as a bystander you may not see progress but as his mom I see progress. The first consultation/session I was forced to carry him out the front door of the house and pick him up to put him in the car (he is a great car rider) and pick him up to get him out of the car. He spent the whole hour curled up smaller than a Jack Russell (keep in mind he is a 60lb dog) under a stool in the corner. He was unable to eat the treats the surrounded him or drink any water provided to him.
In between our first and second meet and greet session Trucker and I paid a visit to the Petsmart and spent about 45 minutes just walking about the store while I fed him treats (yummy chicken). While the leaving the house (from the backyard side gate) and getting in the car for this in between excursion went better the exiting the car at the store did not. Our second meet and greet session went much better I believe, Trucker was able to leave the house via the backyard side gate and enter the car on his own ( excitedly) but still had to be persuaded with treats and helped out of the car at the store. He went straight back to the “training ring” and went in and lay down in the middle of the ring (though it was only him and I). When his trainer came in he moved without “low growling” (this is an improvement) to the corner wall, but he was not all the way in the corner nor was he under the stool this time though one was available just next to him. Though out this second session hour he was able to eat many of the treats tossed at him (chicken and string cheese) but still rarely looked away from Zedrea unless it was to look at me with the “is it safe look”.
Today is our last meet and great session before our “official training sessions” start, I am going to attempt a round of sessions without putting Trucker on any sort of prescription anti-anxiety medication (he currently is trying to herbal anti-anxiety medications recommended by the Veterinarian). I may end up reneging on this sometime during this group of sessions if I am not seeing any improvement, but right now I am okay with non-medicated slow and steady.
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Why The Restart

I decided to re-start the journal about our training journey to recovery and rehabilitation now because these last couple days I have felt at the end of my rope. I love Trucker and I am so glad that I brought him into our home but he has been an absolute terror the last couple days. I knew that it wouldn’t be an easy journey but I never imaged it would be like this either. I was my shy, terrified of everything boy and knew we would have to work through getting him out of his shell, socializing him, and just helping him understand that not everyone and everything was out to get him. What I have right now is a dog that has “multi-personality disorder”.
He has finally reached the point where he isn’t afraid that if he does something wrong I will beat him, while this is amazing for his confidence level it leads to trouble and extreme frustration on my part. He wants to steal socks and shoes (sometimes right off your feet), grab onto clothes and tug, chase and bark at the cat, put his feet on the dining room table, and steal from the recycling bin. Trucker’s second big issue is his lack of understanding on how a dog plays with a human differs from how a dog plays with a dog. He is fabulous with other dogs; you really get to see him shine when he is running around the dog park playing with the other dogs (until he realizes there are strangers in the vicinity). When it comes to human and dog play he has a misconception it works the same way, he will “play bow” then stay tugging on whatever clothes, arm, hand, shoe, or foot he can get ahold of. While he has “bite inhibition” so he never bites hard enough to really hurt you or break the skin, I am not a dog and I do bruise. I have tried the exchange for a correct toy method and Trucker wants nothing to do with it (he is not much of a toy dog unless it is individual play). I am currently trying the 5 minute “time-outs” in his crate every time he engages in inappropriate play (this upsets me I think more than him).
I am trying to praise him and tell him what a “Good Boy” he is when he is playing nicely by himself instead of destroying the house. I take him on a walk every day for as long as he is comfortable with, each day we get slightly farther from home. Every day we play fetch and run around the yard and he is working on knowing that he can dig as much as he wants inside his “Dig Box”. I run through his training tricks multiple times a day with and without treats to try to make him use his brain but this does nothing to curb his energy or his want to chew socks, shoes, and items from the recycle bin. The frustrating part as his parent is that the moment there is a “strange” anything involved Trucker shuts down. He goes back to the dog from the beginning , maybe not to the same level always be he is defiantly not the crazy dog he is when it is just him, his cat brother (Galileo), and I. It makes it incredibly had to train a dog that goes “catatonic” the way he does, our trainer gives me suggestions and management techniques for how to handle the situations but without him acting the same way it is hard to really “modify” the behavior. So yesterday when I was in tears from the frustration of wanting to be able to “train” my baby but not having him perform any of his behaviors in public I decide it was time to share our story.
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I was reading the Training Journal,, started by @PoppyKenna and loved how if allowed for the other DF member's to provide feedback and encouragement along the way, so I asked one of the Moderators if it was okay if I did the same for Trucker's journal.

Awesome as the DF Moderators are they moved it right over without a problem :thumbsup:. I am so excited to have Trucker's Journal here, where I can ask questions of my fellow members (who defiantly have more dog experience than I). :D

Posting the most recent update soon :)
Trucker’s Last “Meet & Greet” Session

I promised myself I would keep up, so here goes it. We went to our last “meet & greet” session was 2 days ago, Trucker struggled more than I think he ever has when it came to getting out of the car when we got to the store. He was in a state of panic (it defiantly felt like regression) when I tried to get him to walk from the car to the store. The only change that had been made from the last visit to this one was that I parked in a different parking spot; I am probably not going to try that one again. There were points on our journey in (only 200 yards maybe?) that I actually thought I was going to have to carry him.
As bad as walking from car to store was the moment he got to the sliding doors (something he is generally not a fan of) he went right through and started straight back to the training ring, like “I know where to go”. I am pretty sure that he uses the training ring as a safety net to protect from all the people in the store but the first visit there just getting him back there was a struggle. This week I decided I was not going to let him go to the corner or under a stool. He could lie against a wall that was fine but no real hiding from the world, so I gently led him over to the middle of the wall and moved all the stools away from him. I sat on the floor next to him, and at first he was not a huge fan of the no hiding (trying to hide his face behind my back or under my knee), but after about 10 minutes he just lay down next to me and watched the people walk by.
About 45 minutes after our “meet & greet” session was supposed to start I ended up checking my phone to make sure nothing had happened to our trainer, but it turns out we just must have had a miscommunication and training was canceled. Our trainer was learning how the dolphins are trained and learn which is kind of cool. I wish I had known because I felt bad for force Trucker out of what was clearly a really difficult day for him. He struggled a little to leave but not as much as the last time, I had to help him stand up as he always seems to lock up once he is lying down in a “strange” place but he got moving pretty easily. He struggled more than normal once outside which is when I realized the struggle with the exiting the car was my fault due to a different parking spot since he kept trying to go to our normal spot to leave.
Overall I would say that even without seeing our trainer the trip which some parts we struggled on was an improvement on the last one.
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What you described with the cat chasing, jumping, barking, getting into things, and biting clothing all sounds like puppy behavior. I would treat him as such.

As far as getting into the trash, socks, and shoes the easiest thing is to manage. I have a lock on my trash, I never leave ANYTHING out that I do not want getting torn up, counter are completely clear of anything 'good' that the dogs would want. Once he realizes that there is nothing on the tables/counters he should stop eventually. When my dogs get too worked up and start biting I stop playtime.

You can give him treats for leaving the cat alone. Maybe have a gate between them and reward him for staying calm. My hound that has lived with the cat since he was a baby still chases it sometimes.
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In my opinion, if this were my dog I would not being doing to sessions with the trainer in a petstore. It seems this is too much for him and too overwhelming. I would start with TINY steps. Meeting a new person outside somewhere where he is comfortable, watching people go by in a parking lot, walking around a small quiet parking lot, or having a quiet training session at home with a private trainer, etc. Once he was okay with that, then I would feel okay brining him into a pet store for training.

That's just the way I would approach it. I don't think you are doing anything wrong with the way you are training him and it sounds like you are doing a great job with him.
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I highly recommend Nicole Wilde's Help for Your Fearful Dog. Good book with lots of information about a wide range of aspects of loving, living with, and helping a fearful dog grow into confidence.

It does sound like the sessions in the pet store are very overwhelming, and I too would be looking to find an easier environment to work in. Debbie Jacobs, who wrote a book about fearful dogs and also the website, has a yahoo group for owners of fearful dogs. Lots of support, knowledge, first-hand experience, stories (some comparable, some very different), and more to be found there, if you're interested.
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@DobisHoundis That's defiantly what I feel like is it is puppy behavior. I am trying to make sure I put everything away but it's when I forget that he get's stuff. I am okay with cat chasing, he did that the first couple weeks and they both enjoyed it. What the cat is terrified of is the howling at him like he is prey, that is what I want to try to stop. I agree that I am thinking the pet store might be to much for him right now. Especially since he does so well at the dog park, that the fact that he shuts down at the pet store probably isn't good.
@SnackRat I will lock at getting that bock and joining the group. I want to do whatever is best for Trucker and help him through his journey. I also want to make sure he know the house rules though too because for some reason people keep trying to tell me to heal I need to let him get away with things.

The last couple days he has been able to let the cat walk by as long as I constantly encourage him to continue chewing on his bone. Proud Momma.

Thanks for the advice it is very much appreciated.
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I don't think you should let him get away with things. Setting the boundaries now will prevent future confusion. When he jumps on the counters you can give a strong "off" and physically remove him from the counter top. Then when all 4 are on the floor you can reward him with a treat "Good off", rinse repeat. With jumping up on me I give a sharp "Off" and turn my back to the dog. Consistency is very important. I do not give any attention when the dog is barking at me or jumping on me, not even eye contact! Be super boring.

Also practice training a "Give" for when he has things in his mouth and you need to take it away.
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"leave it" is one of the most important things to teach IMO. It can be used for trash sniffers, counter surfers, cat chasers, etc.
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Reading through, Trucker reminds me a bit of my current girl when we got her. Her foster mom also described her as having "multiple personality disorder," because her behavior at home (total terror) was so different from her behavior out in the world (shut down and/or very timid). Which is actually a pretty common pattern with dogs who have some fear issues. They feel comfortable at home first, because it's the safest place, and they start to blossom. But a dog who is overwhelmed by fear cannot learn. A dog who has spent the previous month-or-three "being polite" because fear has inhibited her behavior has not actually learned a single they blossom into awfully naughty flowers!

I don't think you have to choose between "helping your dog heal" and "letting him get away with things." If we did, none of us would ever be able to live with dogs!! I personally train without punishment or corrections, and I would hardly describe myself as a permissive dog owner. My dog was also a biting, stealing, impulsive monster when we brought her home (I could see why her foster mom was so frustrated!), but has made great strides...I'm sure Trucker will too.

But I do think it helps to learn very gentle ways to help a fearful dog learn manners. They're often starting at square one in the "knowing how to live politely in a human household" department, but are also still dealing with a considerable amount of stress, so adding more stress is usually really unhelpful. There are two threads in the training & behavior stickies thread that might help, one on impulse control and one on biting. Impulse control exercises are invaluable...I cannot recommend them enough. Done right, they can also provide enough mental challenge to actually (temporarily!) help take the edge off all that doggy energy too. Many times, I have measured my dog's breakfast into a cup, and then used every single piece of kibble as part of an impulse control game, so that she had to use her brain to earn her entire meal. Good for my dog, but great for me, since that meant hundreds and hundreds of lessons in polite behavior ;)
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So a little update, I am both proud and very disappointed in him. I have an unavoidable 2 day/1 night business trip coming up for work and my mom has offered to watch Trucker that I don't have to board him and have him feel like he is abandoned and start over again. Problem being he still is unsure of EVERYONE but me, so last night my mom came over let him out of his crate to go to the bathroom. Which turned into a slight disaster, he went and hid under a bed but eventually did come out once he was leashed by me. After his potty break we all came in and start down in the living room, while Trucker remained leashed and at his comfortable distance away (about 3ft) from my mom.

He was able to do all his commands, ("Sit", "Down", "Stand", "Paw", "Look At Me") even while my mom was sitting there which is normally impossible for him. And he didn't growl once but he did bark a couple time (his tail was never fully tucked and his ears were not back) and he did a lot of head tilting. He seemed very interested in her just very unsure. So I feel like we are making progress with his and my mom's relationship but I hope it is enough in time.

So that was the reason I was proud of him, now for the very disappointed reason. I was walking from the Kitchen through the Dining Room to the Living Room and Trucker was following per usually when in the Dining Room he decides to take a detour. Not any detour but a detour where he hops straight up on to the Dining Room Table walks across the length of it and hops down like nothing had happened and joins back up following me. I was stunned and very disappointed.

There was something else I was going to update but not it has slipped my mind, when it comes to me i will do a mini update :)
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With dogs it does seem like one step forward, two steps back, doesn't it?

I wonder if backing off with the training might be an idea to consider? By that I mean, don't do any formal training sessions with him, and work on building attraction to you, which in turn should help him start to build his confidence around other people. Play tug with him, get him all worked up and bitting hard on the tug toy, but always, and I mean always let him win. The other thing I would do is the pushing exercise. I know I recommend this a lot, and no one else does, but it honestly works, and it works for many different issues. Feed him this way, and I am certain you will see results quickly.

How to play tug of war with your dog – and have the happiest dog on the block. - Natural Dog Blog – Training and More

Natural Dog Training Fundamentals: How to relax and attract your dog using pushing - Natural Dog Blog – Training and More

Why we push
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