Luna has been something of an enigma since her arrival. On the one hand, she has been single-minded in her attempts to escape. She came here because NAC had no place they could humanely confine her. Once she got here she set about dismantling her kennel. I finally had to armor plate the inside of her “room” to prevent her getting purchase on the safety mesh or chain-link with her claws and shredding the former and distorting the latter. Before I got that done, she actually bent the panel clamps and pulled the door panel into her kennel!
While all this was going on, i was taking her out for leash walks four times a day. The other dogs are released to run and play in our fenced yard, but Luna’s determination to escape causes me to worry that she will just go over a wall as soon as I’m not watching. A theory that was verified the first time I put her on a tether so I could clean her kennel. She wriggled out of her harness and I caught her trying to hop over the wall by our back porch. Luna is a big girl and Animal Control learned that she could climb out of their 6′ high kennels. I have a steel net over the top of mine to discourage that.
I thought this behavior was motivated by extreme wander-lust, but over the days I decided it might be something else. Though I walked her regularly, she rarely relieved herself in the yard. Twice in her first week she urinated while on a walk. I praised her, but she seemed perturbed. She defecated only after she got back to her kennel, and then almost always on her bed. Marking it as hers? Rebellion over not being allowed to wander? Or something else?
Then I remembered the first Tennessee dog we had. Dolly Dawg was an English Hound who was living here before we moved in. She adopted us. But she insisted on roaming freely around the mountain. One of her habits was to insist that good dogs do not defile their own yard, but go up into the woods to “do their business” where no one will step in it. Maybe that’s what was going on in Luna’s head. I had no idea what her history is except she was picked up as a starving stray in Newport.
So I began taking her outside the play yard to a spot off the kennel driveway where a dilapidated old road takes off into the woods. Cochise and I used to walk up there all the time. But that stopped when bears moved into the neighborhood.
The over-grown road was not up to her standards, she really wanted to run off into the woods. That was not happening, but we compromised by my allowing her to wander just off the roadway into the brushy parts with saplings. I did not want her getting the leash tangled around trees, so she could not go far. But it was enough, and she took care of her need.
We have been going up to Luna’s Potty Spot on each walk and a pattern has developed: she urinates after breakfast, defecates after lunch, enjoys the view the other times. With this hurdle passed we are ready to begin housebreaking.
In the House
Luna has shown a fascination with our back door once she discovered that this is where The House Dogs disappear to after their yard times. Before working out the woodsy wander rest station, she would circle the yard with me once or twice and end up standing on the walkway to the back door, adamant that we were going that way. I was adamant that we were not. I’d tug on the leash, she’d dig in. This loggerhead was resolved only by my picking her up and CARRYING her back to her kennel. Fortunately this was not far and it was down-hill.
After a while she came to the realization that I *was* going to win this argument every time, and she began, reluctantly, walking back to her kennel. My aching shoulders are quite grateful! Between this process and the fact that I alone bring her food, she is starting to accept my authority over the pack. With that acknowledgement, I was willing to let her come into the house for a short visit.
I crated Callie and Buddy because they become indignant when a new dog invades THEIR home. I kept Luna on a leash and allowed her to explore most of the house.
She sniffed all the dog beds and explored every room I let her into. In the kitchen she sniffed at the counters, but did not rear up to go explore them. She did at the dining table. There was nothing on it, but she needed to see for herself. I scolded her and she got right down.
The one area I forbade her entrance was the master bedroom, with it’s plethora of expensive dog beds and carpeted floor. Of course it was the area she most wanted to go into. I think it’s because that’s where our window AC is and is thus is the coolest room. With her plush fur I didn’t blame her for seeking out the coolest air available. But at this point, the trust level is minimal. Privileges are earned through good behavior. So she settled for hanging out in the den with me. It too has carpeting. Luna LOVES carpeting!
Marie released Callie and Buddy so they could come get acquainted. Everyone said their “how-ja-do”s and got along just fine. After a while, Luna got bored and went back to insisting on access to the master bedroom, so we went back outside to her kennel.
I did not have to carry her.
This girl knows what she wants, but seems willing to work with me on earning the right to have what she wants. I think she will be just fine.
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