I just dropped Loki off at a 14 day boarding training program. I'm going to miss her, and I feel a little badly about letting her be away from us, but I think it's for the best. She just has a lot of behavior problems that I don't feel equipped to handle. It's nothing aggressive or dangerous - at least, not to other dogs. The biggest thing is that she eats poop, and that's the big thing that I don't know how I could get her to stop on my own. She will actually go up to other dogs at the dog park as they're doing their "business" and eat the poop before it even its the ground. Completely embarrassing. Plus I'm worried about her ingesting a parasite or other microbe from another dog that would make her really sick. The program is a little expensive, and they will also work on other more typical behaviors and obedience training (barking, play nipping, leash pulling, the occasional accident), but I figure it's cheaper and less heartbreaking than some huge vet bill later, or worse... her getting really sick and dying.

It will be a bit of an adjustment here for 2 weeks. We've only had Loki since September, but I'll admit the place is already much more quiet without her. I can't assess yet whether or not Lilu will miss her playmate, or likes being the "only child" again and getting all of the attention. I only hope Loki will forgive us for leaving her (temporarily) and that her behaviors will be improved. She's a great dog, and I love her to pieces, but she's definitely been a challenge thus far. But I guess that's where this decision to do the boarding school came from.

We miss you Loki, but we'll see you again soon! The good news is that they send an email progress report and said that we can call any time to see how she's doing.

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Comment by Jackie (Lilu & Loki) on February 10, 2012 at 12:38am

I know that a big part of training a dog is training the human, and I'll be the first to admit I have little experience with dogs. In fact, Lilu (the beagle/corgi mix - not currently in training) was my first dog ever. We took her to a few group classes, and she knows "sit", "down" and "sit pretty." She is by no means perfectly trained, but I have had none of the same issues with her as I've had with Loki.

Anyway, one of the great things bout the program Loki is in is that it only starts with the boarding training. That's the first two weeks, and then there's an hour orientation for us when we pick her up followed by private lessons and then unlimited lifetime group classes. They mentioned teaching us as much as the dog. I know that I will have to continue working with her after the initial training, but I guess I chose this program because of my lack of experience and feeling of helplessness related to her behaviors.

As far as the health effect, it is possible that corophagia is more embarrassing than dangerous. Truth be told Lilu used to do it when we first got her (at 10 weeks) but grew out of it or learned not to do it after a few weeks. I know that for the first few months we had Loki we had a lot of problems with diarrhea and soft stool, which got a lot better after a course of antibiotics from the vet. I don't know if it was from eating poop or some other nasty thing that she got into, but certainly having her listen to me when it comes to not going after nasty s*** will be very helpful. :)

PS - Thank you! We like our corgi mixes. I think Loki got the most corgi traits - people will often think she's full corgi at the park, and just happens to have half-flopped ears. I think Lilu's mix is a little more unique or rare. At least, I have yet to meet another beagle/corgi mix or hear of one that looks quite like her.

Comment by John Wolff on February 9, 2012 at 11:21pm

There's been much discussion here about coprophagy ("sh!t-eating", in English), which is normal behavior and probably harmless, howsoever revolting.  That stuff is candy, loaded with nutrients.  

There is a certain etiquette to be observed (before kissing your human on the lips, make sure there are no cat litter crumbs on your whiskers).  Lots of pathogens travel the oral-fecal route, but if this was a vital health issue for dogs, half of them would be dead already. 

A fascinating book about the first South Pole expeditions (Farthest South?), contrasting the characters of Scott and Amundsen, observed that upon observing the sled dogs snacking out of the latrines, the practical Norwegian Amundsen dug access tunnels for the dogs (voila! sanitation problem solved), while the squeamish Englishman Scott shot the valuable dogs in disgust.

Professional trainers may be able to make some desirable behavior modifications, but you will have to be completely on-board with these as soon as Loki is back.  Most of dog-training is training the owners to train the dogs.  So when she returns, make sure you understand what they've done and how you must change your behavior to maintain what they've done. 

For example, I made this huge mistake of not paying attention.  I'd put the dog on a stay, then forget to release the dog, so the dog learned it had to obey until my attention wandered.  

So, don't think you can pay somebody to turn your dog into the animal you want.  You are more than half of this relationship.  You will have to learn what the trainers did, and continue it.  If you can't take over where they left off, I expect the dog to quickly revert to former habits.  

I guess "Drop it!" and "Leave it!" are two main commands you'll have to master.  Myself, I've only got the dogs to master "Leave it!" when I'm looking (easy to teach a kid to keep fingers out of the cookie jar when Mom is watching).

This is a fascinating experience and relationship.  Make it rewarding for yourself, or it'll be impossible.  Make sure you have fun, make sure Loki has fun, and together you'll be able to accomplish anything.    

Just make sure you understand whatever the trainers have taught, or it'll be for naught.  You'll have to take up, and continue, where they left off.  I'd get a logbook, make a calendar, list all the commands you want them to master, keep records, work on something every day, make sure everybody in the family is with the program and understands the vocabulary.

Stunning-looking dogs, BTW.  Look like Pems with slightly longer legs, my fantasy dog physique.  Hybrid vigor and all that.

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