Thursday, May 30, 2013

This Is A Problem

It happened again.

I took Olga to a nearby neighborhood park yesterday during her walk and let her off the leash in the unfenced dog area. No sooner was she free than she tore across the lawn to where two toddlers and a woman were playing with a soccer ball. Olga grabbed that ball and it was hers.

For about ten minutes I futilely chased her around the yard yelling "Olga! No!" But she did not drop the ball. She thought it was a game. She was playing keep-away.

I apologized to the woman, who said it was no big deal. And indeed, for the most part, the four kids with her were amused or indifferent to Olga's destruction. (By now, Olga was gnawing the cover off the ball.)

One little boy, though, kept whining that he wanted the ball back -- quite justifiably, I must admit, even though he'd been on the swingset. "It's taking a long time!" he complained while I tried unsuccessfully to catch the dog. Once Olga got tired enough to slow down, I was finally able to wrest the ball away, but by then it was so tattered that even the boy rejected it.

I offered money for a new ball, but the woman declined. She seemed utterly unfazed, even laughing at the boy's whining, but I was mortified.

Olga walked home triumphantly holding her prize.

What I have deduced from this embarrassing episode is:

-- Olga can't be off-leash in a small park, where distractions are many and close at hand. She's better in Hyde Park, which is huge and spacious, or along the canal, where there are no balls.

-- Somehow we have to teach her to obey the command "NO!" even when her own instincts are in high gear. I am not a dog training expert so I'm a little stumped about this one. She knows the word and knows when she's in trouble, so it's not like she doesn't understand.

-- I need to carry a toy with me, so I can distract her when she wants to play with someone else's. I think if I had a Kong to throw her she would have dropped the ball. I think.


  1. Well I have no advice. Except that yeah, you probably need to train her to respond to No or Stop or something like that.
    She sure is a beautiful dog. She IS smiley. She's a charmer.

  2. I understand Olga's temptation. I saw an old fella walking across the parking lot to his '57 Corvette convertible, and I wanted to push him down, snatch the keys, and drive away, looking back only to yell, "It's mine now!"

  3. Book title: "The Ugly American and His Pit Bull go to the Park."

  4. can you put a shock collar on her to teach her to stop when she won't listen. i know it sounds cruel but a couple times of getting shocked she will learn by the reaction. my daughter tried this and just putting the collar on changed her dog to obey. just a thought.

  5. Oh that Olga - I just think it's hilarious (although yes, a concern). My husband would say "she's just a puppy!" (he says this about ALL dogs, no matter their age)

  6. This looks like a job for The Dog Whisperer ( !!

  7. Ms Moon: She IS a beautiful dog, and she's so happy and enthusiastic. Part of my reluctance to train her is that I really want her to just be her doggy self. But chewing up other people's property cannot be tolerated, because it's going to get my butt kicked.

    Nancy: Ha! Basically the same thing, indeed!

    Utah: LOL! I never thought I would own a pit bull. Good lord.

    Vivian: If we get desperate we could try something like that, though I don't love the idea. The weird thing is, she usually DOES stop. She was just too excited and determined this time!

    Bug: She is very puppyish, still, though I'm wondering how long we can legitimately get away with that excuse. :)

    Helene: Yeah, I wonder what Cesar would make of Olga. I think a dog whisperer might be too subtle for her!

  8. I do hope you have managed to train Olga with playing and having fun to stop doing things you do not want her to do - not by punishing or using a shock collar. Training (or teaching) by fear is not the right option, ever. I am sure there are dog training courses in London and definitely you will find advice in the internet.

    I am reading your blog from the beginning, still have two years and a bit to go ...
    Great photographs !

  9. Ilona: Thanks so much for catching up with my blog! Reading it from the beginning is quite an undertaking. I hope it holds your interest! Olga's behavior has become better now that we know to let her carry her Kong toy on walks. If she has something in her mouth she is very unlikely to go after someone else's ball. We're not big on punishing and we would definitely not use anything as harsh as a shock collar.