Yesterday Riggins almost killed the postman. The poor man had delivered my mail so I assumed it was safe to keep my door open. I was wrong. Apparently he had forgotten to deliver a package so returned an hour or so later. Riggins FLEW from my bedroom, down the hall, and ran full force, barking and clawing into the screen door. By the time I got there he had ripped down the baby gate, that is supposed to stop these kind of events, and had almost bent back the screen far enough to squeeze through. At the same time this was happening the postman threw the package onto my doorstep and RAN. I screamed “I’m sorry.” and he waved back at me so I think we are all good.
Today, on Runyon, Riggins and I had gotten to the gate near the bottom of one path, that is still up above the lowest point of the trail. As I turned around to go back up Riggins went on full alert with his pointer body poised at the top of a cement berm looking down. “Leave it,” I yelled and continued up. When I turned around again he was gone; replaced by a couple looking in awe down the hill. I knew what that meant. Riggins had made a dash down the cliff. I stood there clapping and yelling “up up up,” but got no response. When I doubled back to where the couple was I looked down and Riggins had managed to scale down a cemented side of the cliff, past some old ruins and was now at the very bottom of the hill frantically sniffing at one particular area. This has happened once before and Riggins eventually came back up. This time I figured he was preoccupied and I could cut him off at the bottom. So I turned around and RAN down to find him (I went the safe way on the path … not down a cliff). By the time I got there he was nowhere to be found. After yelling for him I gambled that he had gone back up and was making his way back up the hill. So, once again, I turned and ran. This time up the hill. About the time I was going to collapse from physical exertion I felt my butt vibrating. I quickly grabbed my phone out of my fanny pack. A nice family who we had seen earlier, had managed to grab Riggins just long enough to get my number off his collar. He was indeed going back up the hill on the path I gambled on, but was freaking out because he couldn’t find me. I walked up and meant him as he came barreling down the hill straight at me. I asked where he had been and rubbed his neck only to realize this was a HUGE mistake. On Riggins adventure he had obviously found something dead and rolled around in it. We both now smelled like dead animal ass. It was about this time that I saw my friend Zach running down and stopped to give him a hug. I then realized that Zach, the nice family who stopped Riggins, Riggins and I all smelled like decaying creature. Blah! Luckily I had a scarf on and was able to put it over my face while I was driving home. Dead animal smell sitting in a hot car is NOT pleasant. Riggins has had a bath now. He is bummed he went to all that trouble to get smelly and I undid it all as soon as we got home!
Now that you can see what a wonderful dog trainer I am and how well behaved my angel of a dog is, I wanted to pass on a couple of tips!
1. Get a good walking/training harness. I’ve mentioned this before but now I’m going to be more specific. Get a Sporn halter or non-pull harness. When Riggins was a baby and went to dog training school his trainer suggested the Sporn halter to help train him to walk pretty (next to me and sit before crossing the street). I’ve used it ever since. Now that I’ve been doggie sitting I have to tell you my faith in the Sporn halter has grown. I used it for Bud (young boxer) and Snowbell (lab puppy). It made walking both of them a zillion times easier. I gave Morgan (Riggin’s poodle friend) a Sporn non-pull harness and it made a believer of his mom and dad. Personally I like the halter better. I think Riggins responds to it better and I find it easier to get on and off (although neither are hard). Riggins prefers the non-pull harness … I don’t know why. They can be found at some pet stores. You will probably have more luck at the non-chain ones. Or just order one online. I purchased Riggins mesh harness from Amazon.
2. A dog that jumps on people is annoying no matter what his/her size. I know this because Riggins jumps on people and I’m mortified at his behavior. Another tip from Riggins trainer was to arm everyone with breath spray, then instruct people to use it when the dog starts to jump. Specifically demand, “down” and spray at his mouth/nose (not eyes). The spray doesn’t hurt the dog but will stop him/her in his/her tracks! Sometimes it causes Riggins to sneeze. I find this much easier to remember then putting your knee up in front of the dog or turning your back to him/her. Like any other training method consistency is key. That is the biggest issue with this method. Riggins doesn’t jump on me as much as friends/family. That means I need to get them spray before they come in the house then convince them to actually use it. Despite my assurances that it is fine to spray him and is actually for his own good, people are hesitant.
3. Get a dog that matches the color of you house carpet. I figured this out after Snowbell left and my house, and all my black work out pants, were covered in white hair. I am assuming there is just as much, if not more, black hair around but it is harder to see since I have dark carpeting. Just a tip from me to save you a little bit of sanity!
There you go. I’m sure you will take all my great dog training advice since it is obvious that Riggins is so well-behaved! (Oh please. Like the Dog Whisperer is perfect.)