Sunday, April 3, 2011

Ziggy's Rehab Worked - Or Did It?

Ziggy has now been back with me for over 36 hours.  In that time, he's been to an adoption event, been re-introduced to my dogs and met my newest foster dog Missy.  Everyone at the adoption event quickly saw that Ziggy came back a different dog.  He wasn't as mouthy or as pushy with others.  He still sometimes forgot his manners, but then with a quick reminder, he was back to behaving himself.  He was more relaxed and calm during the event.  Unfortunately, it appears that rehab did not work for Ziggy's biggest problem.  This is Ziggy before rehab:
Ziggy laying on couch chewing on a Rolling Rock beer bottle

And this picture was taken of Ziggy on a walk earlier today (after the completion of his six week rehab stay):
Ziggy sniffing a can of Milwaukee's Best Light beer

He may have changed brands, but it's obvious that Ziggy's rehab did not completely cure his alcohol problem.  That's okay though, because I'm not giving up on him.

The rehab facility where Ziggy stayed came very highly recommended, and although they obviously got results, I wasn't comfortable with continuing their style of training with Ziggy (similar to Cesar Milan's methods).  I have always thought that different dogs respond best to different training styles, but now I realize that different owners or foster parents also respond best to different training styles as well, and I am just not comfortable with the level of corrections that Ziggy requires to follow the training that he's been getting in rehab.  I can't deny it worked for him, but I needed to find something that would also work for me, since all attempts to pawn him off on other foster homes or rescues have continued to fail (although I'm not giving up!)  Ziggy's rehab trainers have graciously offered to take Ziggy if he gets worse and gets to the point where I feel he has no other options except to be euthanized, and I am very appreciative of that.  But I am hoping that I can modify my own behavior and continue to build on his progress while following a more positive approach to training.  

During the adoption event Saturday, one of the PetSmart trainers spent several hours with me and Ziggy, and it was encouraging to see how he responded to her and to learn a few tips that I could use to control his behavior during future adoption events.  You will see in many of his pictures taken when he is on leash, that he is wearing a Halti.  This is not a muzzle, it's a head collar and it allows Ziggy to open his mouth fully, bark, eat, whatever, unless the leash tightens up, in which case the Halti tightens and forces his mouth closed.  This means I have more control over his nipping and am able to refocus him easily when needed.  I have used a Gentle Leader before with Remi, and the Halti is very similar.  So far it is working very well with Ziggy.

I also am going to be working with another trainer in my area who uses all positive training methods.  She spent a few hours with me and Ziggy and taught me some tips for teaching him that I am the one in charge, not him.  I still have a lot to learn, but Ziggy and I will start weekly classes with her soon so I can build on what I've learned so far.

All in all, I think his rehab was a very good thing, and I am very grateful for everyone who made it possible.  Now if I can just find someone who can help me with this:


JackDaddy said...

Good for both you and Ziggy! I hope he continues to get better and better!

Mollie Jo and Bobo said...

We got some pretty bad photos of Uncle Puppy having a similar addiction incident (posting it later this week). We too use the halti. Works great on Uncle Puppy who is, how should we say, a bit crazy to walk. Hope all continues to go well with his training.

Mollie and Bobo

Lola and also Franklin, too said...

It is so wonderful that it's worked as well as it has and also that, if all else fails Ziggy has an option. You are really so special to keep working so hard with him so that he can have a good life. As to the alcohol problem - well - one day at a time, I guess. Or in Ziggy's case, one beer at a time.

Lorenza said...

The rehab did not work for all his issues, right? Haaa!
I hope everything is going to be ok!
I am happy to see him back!
Take care
Kisses and hugs

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry to hear they used such harsh methods with him, though the fact they used a Halti instead of a collar is reassuring.

I really hope you're able to continue with his training in a more positive light and that you're able to help him.

I'd be more than happy to help any way I can, though I know that's not much over the internet.

Kolchak Puggle said...

♫They said I had to go to rehab, and I said no! no! no! ♪ BOL, just kidding! Welcome (foster) home Ziggy! We are glad that it went well for you and maybe a little nudge in the right direction was all he needed.

Kari in WeHo said...

Glad to hear that come things never change :)


Frankie Furter said...

I have always been INTERESTED in Ceasar's method, butt never really CARED for it. I like the Positive stuff. It works fur me.

A Couple of Misfits said...

I'm happy to hear they got Ziggy over a few hurdles, but I agree that his training should be positive-based for the long haul. Caesar's methods rely on intimidation and stress to get results, and dogs can't learn things long-term that way. I've had a lot of success with the Halti, in addition to rewards based training. Based on Ziggy's addiction, maybe a cold one can be his ultimate treat! Lol. Best of luck!

Anonymous said...

Just wanted you to know I replied to your comment on my post:

Amanda said...

Okay, I just have to add...though I know a lot of folks believe solely in positive training methods, so I may be the outsider here on this...but I believe in BALANCE. Meaning a dog knows when they did right and boy do they get an awesome treat, fun toy, or a little "party" from their human; but they also know when they did wrong via some form of correction (maybe not every time, or for every little thing, but for big stuff, yes). And no, it doesn't need to be overly harsh and it is not to cause fear or intimidation.

Simply put, dogs are not humans. If you look at the way they interact, they most certainly will correct each other. They can't have a sit down talk about it, like we can with children or each other (can you really imagine only ever letting a kid know what they do right or what you approve of??? I don't think that would work either).

Just my .02 cents Laurie, for what it's worth. Correction can be useful and effective, and doesn't have to be abusive or harsh. All in all, yes YUMMY treats (hot dogs, string cheese, or as my son calls it "dog stick cheese", summer sausage, etc.), and loving praise should be in the driver's seat...but a little well timed correction in the back will probably be useful in guiding him as well. ;)

Amanda said...

Sorry and I want to add, having trained a gazillion fosters over the past few years (hehe)...corrections often fade, or the need for them does. You know? My girl, for instance, rarely if ever does she need correcting, especially when we're at home. Out and about,she might need a reminder here or there, but not much. New fosters? I build up using positive methods (good treats, fun interactions, toys) making me more valuable--the gateway through which all good flows--which gives me a leg to stand on if/when the time comes that a correction is needed. Relationship first! Same goes for a foster who I already have some relationship with, but we're starting fresh or having what I like to call a "reset." Positive first, relationship first. Correcting a dog who doesn't know me or trust me would be undoubtedly cruel, at least in my book.

Just wanted to clarify! I'm glad Ziggy is back with you and I hope you continue to progress together!!! As you can see, training and life with dogs *might* just be a passion of mine. =) Hehe! All the best Laurie!!!

ForPetsSake said...

Wow - great post. I've been thinking alot about training myself. There are as many schools of thought out there as there are dogs and parents, but I do believe wholeheartedly in the idea of balance. Dogs, kids, adults all follow balance - the quiet confidence of a positive leader. THIS is the struggle I have daily. I let all the little stupid aggravations of life confound me to the point of becoming an anxious, frustrated mess.
The key is to combine the methods that work for you as a person. But fundamentally, if balance isn't there, there will be issues. At least this is what I've found in my own experience and life (all aspects).
I really hope things come together for you and the Zigster. Even with his drinking problem (which Arwen has, too) he seems like a pretty cool pup :)

havetailwillwag said...

HAHAHA!! I loveeee that last photo. He's even got his paw on the can! That's priceless :) This dog continues to be awesome!

brooke said...

The Zigeter's back!!! Looks like he's getting the party started! :)
Don't worry Zig, Darwin will drink a beer with you!

So glad he's back and that rehab worked for the most part!

giantspeckledchihuahua said...

YAY! Ziggy's home! I'm not a fan of CM, by any stretch. I hope that Ziggy's head is in a place where he can move forward in training to realize his potential!

Pauley, Middy, the Mr. or the Mrs. said...

YAY!! We are so happy that Ziggy is improving. He is very lucky to have someone like yourself on his side :)

Erika and Blair,xoxo said...

I'm glad that Ziggy has worked through some of his issues. I hope that he is showing you how happy he is to be back now. I think that it is great that you are using the halti. When I first heard about it I thought how cruel, but honestly horses wear them all the time. I actually model my corrections when training both dogs, and horses after how they correct one another. If you watch a herd of horses you will notice that the lead horse is actually quite nasty some times but in the end status and rules are respected. Timing is key and essential as well as rewards. I hope you and Ziggy figure things out soon!

Tucker The Crestie said...

We're so happy to be seeing Ziggy's sweet face again, and we will be following his progress and his story, wishing only good things for him, and you.

Stefanie said...

Not sure if you've heard of the book "The Loved Dog" by Tamar Geller. Has some great training tips that don't involve force or aggression on the part of the human. I can't say I'm an expert - but I do not believe in violent, forceful methods in training dogs. I am on my first foster dog and she is a big gal with a sometimes strong personality - but the Loved Dog method really works well with her. Check it out - maybe it can help with some of Ziggy's issues, as well as future and current animals you have in your care.

Richard said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Dog Foster Mom said...

Hi Richard, thanks for your concern about Ziggy. I'd be glad to discuss with you further but didn't have a way to contact you. Feel free to e-mail me at if you'd like.