Monday, March 22, 2010

Mathilda Update

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I've been informed that I haven't been posting sufficient Mathilda updates...

Mattie is doing fine - I'm amazed at how big she has become, especially since she was only about 7 pounds when my in-laws adopted her in December (I believe she rounds out at about 35 pounds now). She is a boisterous dog, and I am amazed at how agile and acrobatic she is. If you are sitting down, she dives up into your lap or behind you on the seat as if she were a much smaller dog. We still have an in-roads with her and Willow - Mattie is determined to prove she is dominant to Willow, and Willow - unfortunately - is letting her. If anyone has any ideas on how to help a 7 year old stand up to a pushy dog, please let us know!

9 comments:

Batty said...

Oh, she's utterly adorable! Give her lots of snuggles, please!

kemtee said...

I wish I did. Getting HSH to stand up to Freckles is not going well.

Suna said...

Wow, that is a pretty dog, prettier than when she was a pretty puppy! We had similar issues with our youngest when we got our corgi. We had to teach him to put on that "I am in charge" vibe like how Ceasar Milan does it.

Bezzie said...

Yeah I only have advice on declaring your alpha-femaleness to cats, not dogs. Is she still hair-munching?

turtlegirl76 said...

All I can think of is for her to stand up straight, hands on hips, and say "No, Mattie!" with authority. But hey, that's just a guess.

Shan said...

Before I got Piper I read "How to be Your Dog's Best Friend" by the Monks of New Skete (also the puppy one but I can't recall the name of it). So when Piper started trying to dominate my youngest, we put him down (hand on neck, push him to the floor, roll onto his back, and hold him down) and placed my daughter's hand on his neck. She eventually learned to do it herself, without our help.

Generally speaking, a dog should be shown that she is not a human, but the absolute bottom of the ladder. You should probably revoke her furniture privileges - a dog on the couch may be cute, but it's also (in the dog's mind) a matter of status. Especially if she's wiggling in behind Willow - it's only a matter of time before she straightens her legs on your back and tries to push you off.

Another key thing you can do is you can have her feed the dog. On an instinctive level, an alpha is the one who is in charge of who eats what, when. In a pack situation, the lowest ranked animal eats last, and has to get the o.k. from everyone else before he eats.

So Mattie has to learn that the only way she is getting food is if Willow gives it to her - and only if Willow verbally gives her a command to go ahead.

The dog should always have to work for her food - even if it's just a minimum behaviour such as sitting and staying.

For example, this is the feeding routine for Piper:
Youngest calls Piper into the kitchen with a distinctive food call (she repeats "puppuppuppuppup" at a high pitch). He comes running. She goes into the laundry room and takes a cup of kibble. She crosses the kitchen, takes his bowl off the counter, and pours in the food. She turns to him and says (only once, loudly and firmly) "SIT" (emphasizing the T). He sits. She says "Stay" and places the bowl on the floor. She takes the measuring cup back to the laundry room and puts it into the kibble bag, closes the laundry room door. (Dog is sitting watching the bowl.) She crosses over to the food bowl. Turns and looks at dog (silently). Waits until he looks up at her, then she says in a warm, happy tone, "Good boy! Go get it!"

The routine never, ever varies, so if he has been dominant to her, she can give him a shock by refusing to let him have the food, or making him lie down first, or whatnot.

I set the routine first (i.e., during the first few weeks we had him) so he knows he's not allowed to eat without permission. Once that routine was set and he knew what to expect, my daughter could swap in and do it, working within the same framework, and he would comply.

He did try to rebel at first - he wouldn't sit for her, or he would get up from his sit without being given permission - but the simple consequence is, he doesn't get his food until he complies.

You'd have to be present the first few times (but not interfering, as she's supposed to obey HER), until she can manage the dog on her own.

Good luck...and sorry for the long comment!

Anonymous said...

Dear Jo and Willow,
Jaime, age 18 months or so, used to stand up and just tell Q.T. no. It worked! Shan is right, too. Love Auntie.

freshisle said...

So cute.
No advice, I'm a pushover, too!

Zonda said...

Too cute!