So, I’ve been taking Zena out quite a bit, and trying to get her used to different situations, for the past few days. And so far, I’m incredibly impressed with her behavior! To spare taking up all kinds of text space on other people’s Friends LJ pages, I’ve cut all three days into separate segments, so you can read it as you like. :)
On Friday I took her for a long walk along the main road and plaza, to get her used to walking among other people and distractions. Our first stop was the pet store, to get a couple new dog toys, as the ones I had seem to be disappearing. O.o I bought a cool little tire toy, a Gumma-Bone, and a new hard rubber ball for Barkley, since Sweetie very rapidly destroyed the big huge tennis ball I had got for Barkley just a few weeks before. I figure, at least this being hard rubber should last a little while longer.
Zena was a bit nervous at first, but fairly good for the most part. Although she barked her head off at the friend of mine who works at the pet store, and received odd looks from passing customers. I had to explain that she wasn’t vicious, and that she was just nervous of strangers, and so her first reaction is to bark, and then run away. She calmed down after my friend gave her a treat. Seems to be what works best with her. But then as I was at the cash register paying for my items, and elderly man walked into the store, and upon seeing Zena sitting there with me, he immediately moved towards her to try and pet her. Which of course freaked Zena out, and got her to barking again. >.<
Now… maybe it’s just me, but when you see a dog wearing a thick leather studded collar, what is generally your first thought? *smirks* Usually it’s a symbol of “Do Not Approach,” because you never know if the dog could be mean or not. Obviously though I wouldn’t bring Zena into a public place if she were aggressive, but still, this man doesn’t know that for sure! O.o So I couldn’t help but be rather angry at the fact that this guy just CAME UP to pet a dog he didn’t know, and WITHOUT asking me if it was alright first! Instead, he just looks at me like _I’m_ the one who made the mistake. >:/ Whatever. Barkley used to be the exact same way when he was younger. Always barked at people he didn’t know, because he was nervous of strangers. But at least people used to ASK me if it was okay to pet him.
But for the most part, Zena was fairly good for the rest of the day. She met a little boy, and she was good. She met an elderly lady, and she was good. She was subjected to the sounds of police and fire truck sirens, and she barely flinched. All in all, it was a good day, and she was very well behaved.
Saturday I got together with my friend Rachelle and her girlfriend, Rachel. :-P We were going to go to Super Pet so that I could buy a few more items for Zena. I wanted to get a prong collar, (although I don’t like them very much, I’ve been told that any Pit-looking dog is required to wear one in public) a muzzle, for when I start taking her on the bus, (more just to keep her quiet than anything else) and a tag with her name and our address on it.
Rachelle brought her own one-year-old Pitty along, a HUGE brindle-colored bugger, aptly named Crunch. :-P Now, to look at this dog, anyone would freak out. He’s quite big, with that very huge head, and wide gaping jaws. Even I was a little intimidated at first, although I was more just really hoping that Crunch and Zena would get along. Zena’s TEENY compared to this dog. O.o But it turned out that Crunch was a BIG suck puppy, and in minutes, he and Zena were romping around, and then into the back of Rachelle’s truck, and off to Super Pet we went.
I tell you, I have NEVER seen such a well-trained dog in my entire life. O.o Every command Rachelle gave her dog, he didn’t even hesitate. Crunch, sit. Crunch, lay down. Crunch, heel. We were trying some collars on Zena, while Crunch lay calmly in the store. People went by, the dog didn’t care. Other dogs went by, and he didn’t even glance up. I was really impressed! Even Zena, though a bit nervous of my friend at first, never made a peep, and didn’t seem to mind the crowded, noisy pet store. So we were in and out, with everything we needed. Rachelle got her dog a new toy that he could rip the squeaker out of. :}
Back at my house, Crunch got to meet our other four dogs, and he played! They were all bouncing around happily; it was so great to watch. :) Even the cats, Crunch didn’t even seem to notice they were there. At one point though, he started getting a bit too excitable. Not aggressive, just really, REALLY playful, and Rachelle simply called him over, saying, “Okay, time to calm down,” and she counted backwards from five, and her dog immediately came to her, and lay down by her feet. Even rolled over and showed her his belly. It was cute. :)
His training is just amazing! But then again Rachelle used to work for a place that did professional Shutzund training, and training for protection, and police work. So those dogs HAVE to be well trained. But Rachelle understands the responsibilities and consequences of owning the breed, and she’s said that if Crunch were to EVER bite another living creature, as much as she loves him, he would be put down immediately. I have quite a bit of respect for the way she handles dogs. I’m going to see if maybe she can help me with training Zena further, as she really does need some basic obedience training.
Sunday was spent with my friend, Ken. :) He picked me up around 1pm, with Zena in toe, (and of course, she barked at him as well, until he gave her a treat) and we drove to his house, to pick up his Australian Shepherd/Husky cross, Buddy. We drove to this park, went hiking through the woods’ trails with the dogs. I haven’t been on a good hike in AGES, so it was a lot of fun! ^^ And again, it let Zena get used to some new situations. :) I had originally wanted to go to the woods so that I could see how Zena would be off-leash. She was doing very well for a while, and came back when she was called, (and figured out that when she did, she’d get treats that I kept in my pocket).
But today seemed to be a very active day for other owners and their dogs, and soon we actually ran into quite a few people walking their dogs along the trails as well. So, Zena got to meet quite a few new dogs, always freezing in her tracks at first, and then creeping over carefully, sniffing noses, and then bounding off quickly and NOT coming back when I called her, (and other owners with their own dogs off-leash also not coming back to them when they called, because they were too busy playing). X.x So, lesson learned. Zena listens when there are no other distractions around, but get another dog around, and forget it. So, she was banished to her extendable leash for the rest of the day. But she didn’t seem to mind so much.
We met up with some more people, stopped to chat for a little while with a nice woman and her hound dog, before continuing on. For how many other adults, and kids, and dogs we kept running into, Zena was VERY well behaved. And even after the hike, when we went back to Ken’s house for dinner, she got along well in the house. No accidents on their carpet, (thank goodness!) and she didn’t beg TOO badly at the dinner table. Though simply getting her to pay attention when I tell her to sit, or lie down, or even come when called is a bit tricky. I don’t know if Taj ever taught her any basic obedience training, but it looks like I’m going to have to work on that. But otherwise, even Ken’s mom was very impressed with how well behaved she was in the house.
She really is a sweetie. :) At this point, I’m seriously thinking, if I still have her by July, I may just keep her permanently. I have to get my boys’ licenses renewed around that time anyway, so I figure when I do, I’ll just license Zena as well. She really is just too sweet for me to want to give up!
I’m really glad that Zena seems to be growing a bit more confident, and barking a bit less at people. She’ll still get that nervous, unsure look at times, but I just keep reminding people to go slowly with her, and let her come to them on her own terms. I think I may try taking her on the bus at some point, soon, and see how she fares with that. For the fact that Taj never really used to take her places, (in fact, he kept her away from ALL other animals and people) and both she and Skippy spent their days either locked up in the guy’s van, or a small room in his apartment, Zena’s beginning to grow quite comfortable with experiencing all of these sudden new situations. I think that in a few more months, she could even be better trained than my own boys are. ;) She’s certainly a smart dog! Right now she’s all tuckered out, asleep on my carpet. So cute. ^^ I love this dog to bits. :) *wags*