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JAZZ: Diary of Rehabing a Dog

December 4th, 2012

I meant to begin this on Friday when she arrived, but I’ve been a tad busy with other dogs, life, etc.

I first worked with Jazz about 2 or 3 weeks ago in a private consultation. She was a mess, let me tell you. Jazz is a smallish pug, I’m certain I was told her age, but it didn’t stick. She’s not very old, a couple of years, I’d think.

Her life in overview, which is of no importance really, was that she was basically isolated in a family as a pup. Spent a fairly large amount of time in a crate (I think), wasn’t taught any social skills (but then most dogs aren’t), and ended up in a foster/rescue home that has 4 or 5 other pugs in it.

Jazz stayed in the FH (foster home) for a short time and was placed in a home with two young children. She was returned because she was peeing and defecating in the house, barking, and had out-of-control behavior, she had, and continues this same behavior in the FH.

It was upon her return to the FH that I was called in for a consultation. The group of dogs was over-the-top and Jass was on Pluto. Just putting a leash on her and beginning the process resulted in her spinning, defecating, fish-tailing, eyes bugged out and the whites blood shot (a sure sign of high blood pressure), and finally, in an eerie reenactment from my book (Saturday Dogs…and the owners they trained), she fell over in a stiff, catatonic state.

The FH person had been to my clinic and had a good idea of what the process was in rehabing a dog. She dropped the ball. She let Jazz enter her house, failed to set rules, failed to maintain a calm, controlled atmosphere amongst the other dogs, let Jazz have the run of the house and loved on her. I was told Jazz inhaled food and was, in fact, obsessed by it. I told the FH to let her have free access to it in order to attempt to mitigate the obsession. She jumped up on people, was to be found on every item of furniture in the place and ran and circled incessantly.

In short, Jazz was close to a full-blown mental breakdown.

The FH asked if I could take her for a couple of weeks as there didn’t seem to be any hope of finding an adopting home if her behavior issues continued. I agreed.

I now begin the dairy of rehabing Jazz.

DAY 1/Friday: Jazz was dropped off in the evening. The FH person had called and asked if her blanket and toys should be brought along with her food. I said no. The FHP had a hard time releasing her and felt guilty and was very emotional. I sent her home. Jazz had already been fed and walked. I put her in her large crate for the night with a towel to sleep on, without saying a word or petting her, and we began.

DAY 2/Saturday: Jazz demonstrated extreme excitement in the crate this morning. The more excited she became, the more hyper, until she was circling, breathing heavily and out-of-control. I began to open the crate door and she wanted to push her way out. The door was popped in her face and she was given a quiet, but firm, Aahhtt. She had peed on the towel and that told me that she’d been taught to use those stupid, stupid pads. I put a slip-leash on her, let her out of the crate, and the process began again. I said sit and then all she heard was an Aahhtt, with a small amount of leash pressure, until she ceased circling and sat. She was NOT on the planet. Her mind was so far gone she couldn’t get a drink of water. We had to repeat the process at the door in order to go out. My dogs waited patiently and quietly. After a walk and bathroom time we repeated the sit and calm-down process to re-enter the house. It took some time. Even with my two dogs getting a drink of water, Jazz couldn’t accomplish settling enough to drink. We went to the living room, still on-leash, and I made her sit while I did my morning work of answering emails, etc. She sat, breathed heavily, and never once relaxed and laid down during the 2 hrs we worked. I crated her and all dogs were loaded in the truck and we headed to Havre for a Clinic. Jazz was taken into the Clinic, was walked a couple of times during the day, but basically allowed to observe only. She normally was fed morning and evening, I did not feed her that morning. She was too stressed. She was still not drinking. I did not speak to her, nor did I pet her on day 1. We returned home, went for a walk, she spent time on-leash in the living room with “the group” and was able to settle in less than 30 minutes. At feeding time, she pushed her way into every bowl and was severely reprimanded. She backed up and gave way. I put her in a large crate for the night with NO towel, gave her a bowl of water and her food. She fell on the food and inhaled it, but it took her 10 minutes to settle enough to drink.

DAY 3/Sunday: Morning 3 began much as morning 2 except she’d not peed in the crate (thus supporting my belief that it was the pee-pad training), though I was able to get Jazz to sit in the crate and wait for a release command to come out. It wasn’t very pretty, but it was a step forward. Circling began again, but it stopped more quickly. Still not talking to Jazz and no physical contact. After she was settled down, she slept at my feet and I took off the leash. She was extremely calm. She remained in place and was relaxed with where she was. I took her to the back room and made her behave while I got her food. She was excited for breakfast, but not out of control. She ate in her crate and when released drank from the community water bowl. I began to set up the Christmas tree and she was interested. She didn’t want to hold a sit, so the leash went back on and was anchored under a chair leg. The other dogs simply vegged and while Jazz remained upright and curious, she calmed down and watched with interest, not psychosis. Still no talking or petting. Mid-day I had a visitor and Jazz spazzed out. She barked, her stress went through the roof, she was nervous and completely opposite in her reactions. She attempted to jump up onto the sofa and was unceremoniously returned to a sit. She was stressed, panting, and wanted to break the sit. She was ignored. Within 30 minutes Jazz had calmed down and the visitor could sit in the living room. I released the leash and Jazz remained seated next to me. She broke a sit once and all I had to say was, “Jaaaazzzzz (in a warning tone), uh-uh.” She returned to her place and sat voluntarily. STILL no petting, praise, or talk, other than specific commands/corrections. By late afternoon Jazz was off-leash and allowed to do some controlled investigation of the living room ONLY. Each time she began to leave the room, she was corrected. She returned to investigating the living room. She finally ignored a correction and left the room and I went and brought her back and made her sit. No further issues. She relaxed and went to sleep within about 3 minutes. I petted her. She woke, remained extremely calm. We headed for the back door, still fairly calm, she sat without major issue, we put on the leash and went for a walk. Feeding time was much improved, she kept her distance while I prepped all the dogs’ bowls, though she began to circle and I had to put a stop to it, entered the crate when told, and ate with less ferocity. She was let out to rejoin the group and drank from the main water bowl and followed me to the living room with a single reminder and sat when told. She relaxed almost immediately and slept within a couple of minutes. She received a quiet petting, which was more like a hale-fellow-well-met thump on the side, which she enjoyed, and then returned to sleep. Unlike her previous two houses, she’s not had a single accident, nor deliberately gone to the bathroom in the house. But then, neither is she living in a nut-house, nor allowed to behave psychotically. The rule here is calm and in control of self. She is doing well. I have begun to talk to her, though not much.

DAY 4/Monday: Jazz and my two dogs went with me to babysit a grandson for the day. She was taken in the crate. There were people at my daughter’s house and Jazz became extremely nervous and barked. I put the leash on her, indicated her place next to Teige and told her to sit. She broke the sit twice and was aahhtted. She held the sit, despite the people across the room. They were good about ignoring her for me. Jazz relaxed within about 20 minutes and managed to handle my daughter’s dog, who is also fairly calm, the cat, and the grandson, who also followed the rules and ignored the new dog. No mean feat for a 3 yr old. People left and after about an hour I put Jazz back in her crate as I could tell she’d about taken all she could. She slept for a couple of hours. Then was allowed out, on-leash, and we repeated much of what had taken place in my house. She wasn’t touched or spoken to during her time out. She was walked with all the other dogs, returned to the living room and settled very quickly, about 5 minutes, had no problems with my grandson or I moving about. We are making good progress. At home she’s begun to put her feet up on the chair and been corrected, fairly sternly, for it. She is accepting the correction with no qualms, though still does not self-correct and remove her feet voluntarily. It shall come. Evening was good.

Here is Jazz this morning. I shall let you know how the day goes.

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  1. From MaryAnn, December 4, 2012:

    It sounds like Jazz is coming around well! She’s lucky to have been taken in by you and I know she’ll be a wonderful pet for someone when you’re done with her.

    Thanks for sharing her story!

  2. From Sandy, December 6, 2012:

    You are a great writer and THE rock star dog handler. So many “trainers” would have petted and petted and petted, and Jazz would be worse and worse. You know dogs, so Jazz is on her way to a normal life.

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