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This week, we drove down to Texas to visit my 88 year old father and his wife. After we left Pennsylvania, we were told that 1) we couldn't stay with them 2) yes, we could stay with them, but Ben couldn't - we should find a kennel, and then finally, 3) yes, we could all stay, as long as Ben wasn't allowed to damage the guest room. He's not a destructive dog, so I figured there'd be no problem. We considered staying at a motel anyway, but then what would we do with Ben? Can't leave him alone at the motel all day. Can't leave him in the car - it's still in the mid eighties. So, we decided to stay at the house, but keep an eye on Ben, and keep the visit short.

On the way, we camped and did some short hikes. Result was that when we arrived at the house, Ben was infested with fleas, though it took a day or two to figure it out. He was due for a Frontline treatment in a few days, so we tried that - but still he scratched and scratched and scratched. The problem was pretty obvious. So we arrive to visit, and bring hordes of unwelcome visitors with us.

For the most part, Ben has been good and both my dad and his wife were getting quite fond of him. They both had dogs in the past, so were happy to have someone to pet for a couple of days. And he is such a handsome dog, people want to like him. Trouble spots were that he lies right in the middle of the action, always, and neither of them are very steady on their feet. We were constantly trying to get him to move out of the way, and then he'd flop back in the way again as soon as he did. He's never learned to be aware of what people are doing around him, and my husband and I just step over him. Not so easy for two 88 year olds.

Ben escaped a couple of times when doors were opened, but always came back right away. Still, it got to be a problem, because we ended up fighting to get him to stay inside whenever we were going out, and then fighting to get him back inside when he decided to roam the neighborhood. At home, it isn't a problem, but he wasn't completely comfortable in the strange environment.

Tonight was the final straw. A new person came to the house, and Ben being Ben, he wanted to go greet him. When the door was opened, he raced out, knocking my stepmother to the ground, injuring her hip and hand. So she's hurt and upset, I'm horribly embarassed and upset, and aside from apologizing profusely, can't think what to do but leave in the morning. This may be the last time we get to visit my Dad - such an awful way to have the visit end.

I can't blame Ben - he was just his usual energetic self. The problem is us. After two years, we still don't really have all that much control over him. He comes when he wants to. Pushes his way wherever he wants. He is usually pretty well behaved - but when he wants something, he finds a way to get it. At 75 pounds, he is very hard to handle when he gets willful - and he can be a very willful dog. I feel like we need to start over with him - but don't really know how.
 

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Sorry to hear you had such a difficult trip. You do not say what kind of training Ben has had so far. Possibly try attending obedience classes, or take a refresher course if he has been to obedience training previously.
 

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HMMM...Well next time if you go visiting I would bring a crate and perhaps Ben could use a "tune-up" with some training classes. It would be nice if you could take him places with you but it sounds like he would benefit from some training first.
One other method, if a crate doesn't suit you, is to teach your dog to lie on a mat. I call it "go to place". It comes in very handy when I want my pup to relax out of the way. Once I send him to his mat he has learned to stay there until he is released. I can take his swatch of rug anywhere for him to lie on. He loves it because he has been given lots of rewards for going to his mat.
Just some thoughts for future travels.
 

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It sounds like it was stressful for all of you. It's never too late to do more training. Even if you've already done some formal training with Ben it might be a good idea to do more. It's a way to work on better communication with him and get him to be more responsive. It takes time but it's worth it to have a dog you don't need to step over (we trained Zeke to move out of the way when he heard "I need to get there"),who will come when called, who won't run out the door when it's opened, or jump up and knock people over. A basic obedience, good manners or Canine Good Citizen (CGC) class might be good.
 

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Sorry to hear your trip ended on such a bad note, and I do hope your stepmother is ok.

As Max's dad suggests, try enrolling him in an obedience class. It'll calm him down and you'll feel much more in control. There will be more respect between you and Ben, and I'm sure you'll be happier with each other as a result.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
We adopted Ben when he was3. He was totally untrained at that time, as his owner just kept him tied up outside and seems to have had very little interaction with him. Since then, Ben has settled down enormously - but he still has problems relating to us. Before we got him, people were simply the ones who fed him. Since then, he has learned we're also good for walks and belly scratches. He'll even play with us occasionally. At times he can be very clingy, needing to keep us under his watchful eye. But sometimes the connection just isn't there.

We have taken Ben to classes. He got his CGC and does well in class. He passed Basic and intermediate obedience without a problem. However, we had to drop Agility because he was too rambunctious - once he was off leash, he was off and running and we couldn't get him back under control. We can't train him off leash except in the house - so his recall is not at all reliable. He obeys when he wants to, but when he doesn't - forget it. In obedience class he was fine, but that was a different setting from real freedom.

We probably should have just kept him on leash all the time. I just hate to be the controlling for more than a short time. Which may be why we all seem to have forgotten all the training we worked so hard to acquire.
 

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Training never stops for my dogs. One is 11 and the other is 3 and we continue to have fun training sessions together. Not only does it help bonding but it helps them remember their skills. Dogs like structure so teacihing simple skills that will help you in the long run is a positive for them.
If you want to try teaching recalls outside you can put your dog on a "long line". It is a simple line made of a soft but strong light rope such as is used for a clothing line where you hang clothes. To start on a recall you might begin with only about 6 feet of line and gradually work up so that your dog becomes consistent with the recall.
Training really can be fun and doesn't end when the beginner classes are done. Both you and your dog will be happier in the long run.
 
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I agree, training should continue. I'm sorry to hear about your step-mom, I hope she's ok.
I have some unbreakable rules in my house and even Bentley at 12 weeks follows them.
1: they can not look at me when I eat
2: Never allowed in the kitchen
3: They must move out of my way, I never step over any dog for any reason.
We are both retired and I don not want to break a hip but this has been a rule in our house every since our first dog a very long time ago.
Ky has a bad back but still she must move out of our way no matter how comfy she is. It's for safety.
Good luck :)
 

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Kate
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You know.... One thing I remember dreading with my Danny and even our Sammy - they would get VERY EXCITED AND OVERWHELMING when in new places. It took many years for both guys to calm down and learn that being calm is cool. :)

With Jacks, we did a few things very differently right from the beginning when he was a puppy. I started training a lot of stuff right there at 7.5 weeks, and he was trained in public 3 times a week. He was still like a bull in a china shop sometimes when we went to class or other places, but even that went away around 2 or 3 years.

You did not have that early advantage when you adopted Ben... the best I can say is you have to keep training these dogs every week. But it can take years.

Probably the "ahha!" moment with Danny happened when he was 8 or 9 years old and we were visiting my sister's apartment, and I dropped th leash and let him drag it. He was predictably a golden cyclone in her apartment, but not as destructive and chaotic as he might have been years earlier. This was the dog who was 5 before he could be offleash in our yard without somebody manning the border and ready to lunge after him. <- In my signature pic, he was about 4 years old. You don't see the leash, but there was one. I was the one taking the picture and somebody else was standing out in the road and ready to go running after him.

The next time you visit your parents, maybe stay at a hotel. Bring a crate for him to sleep in. When you visit your parents, it should be understood that Ben's coming with, but you will keep him on leash the entire time.

ETA - Any trip that involves leaving my dog at a kennel better be an emergancy... otherwise, I won't go.
 

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Nancy
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I'm probably in the minority here, but I would have boarded my dog at home and not have taken him at all. If Ben is anything like my Hank, a big goof always wanting to be in the middle of things, would spell disaster while visiting, especially the elderly. When my MIL (she's 91) visits, Hank stay in his room. One unsuspecting jump from Hank or MIL not seeing him in her path could result in a fall, a risk we are unwilling to take. It's their home where they have the right to make the rules and feel safe. Dogs leave behind hair and in this instance, possibly fleas. My mom would complain if she found A hair on her slacks after visiting here. Non-dog owners can't see past the dog hair like we do.

When DH was active duty military, we'd come home for a visit usually every year or so. Only once did our dog stay with us in the home of our hosts (sometimes my parents, sometimes my SIL/BIL). We were moving overseas straight from that visit. We always boarded them, sometimes at home, sometimes locally depending on the situation.
 

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In the situation you described I'd probably also board the dog. I'm sorry this happened and your MIL was injured as a result. I hope she's going to be OK. Thank you for sharing this because your experience may cause someone else facing a similar situation to re-evaluate their options.

If you haven't already done so, I'd offer to have their house treated for fleas since Ben was the unfortunate carrier of them into their home. The last thing you want is for them to suffer a flea infestation, or worse yet, be bitten and come down with some horrible disease as a result of the flea bite.
 

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I agree with Bay who said training never ends for her dogs .... training never ends for mine ... and they go EVERYWHERE with me... they go to the farmers market... walk downtown... to the park for training... we have our treat bag, high motivation treats and we are working all the time... my dogs learn to work and to have basic behavior wherever we go... now my in laws are in their eighties and a couple of my girls just can't contain themselves in the house so we bring their crates with us... when my in laws are home the girls get the opportunity to come out when we are all sitting and relaxing at night but during the day when everyone is active the dogs are either outside running the fields (its a 600 acre farm with lots of safe fields for us to take them to run.. or they are in their crates... I never want my dogs to be a menace...

as for fleas... well that happens and I to would pay to have their house treated and buy them a nice lunch somewhere while that is happening or a room at a hotel and cleaning service to clean up afterward...
 

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I would also have to say that I would be inclined to board my dog or have a friend come in to house/pet sit. Ripley is 1 and gets way to excited when new people are added into the equation. She's gone through puppy kindergarten, obedience 1 and 2, and still, the excitement hasen't stopped. I have elderly grandparents that come over quite a lot and we have learned that Caesar Milan and his "no touch, no talk, no eye contact" is the best way to deal with the excitement of new people. When it comes to bringing my dog into other peoples houses, i'm generally not comfortable, because I would rather have a quality visit with my family than have to keep a constant eye on my dog, and worry about their behaviour constantly. I have never had to kennel my dogs, because i am fortunate enough to have so many friends willing to help me out and stay at the house with the dog, but I have herd that there are many kennels that are great, you just have to do your research. If I didn't have anyone to house sit, a kennel would defiantly be an option, but I wouldn't just leave my dog with anyone. Another idea is to use a tether leash to prevent your dog from darting. We also use a facial halti for walking, and as soon as she has it on (on or off leash), she knows to be calm. Maybe a method like this would work for you?
 
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