Archive for the ‘training’ Tag

Sigh   4 comments

What a rotten weekend we had! Well, Rocky & Selena might not think so, but Mommy was very stressed. See, it all started when Rocky bit the neighbor.

Yep, BIT the Neighbor! Who was doing nothing but minding his own business in his own yard, when Rocky went nuts. So to calm him down, the neighbor held his hand up to the fence for Rocky to sniff. Unfortunately, Rocky decided to taste instead. Luckily, the neighbor has dogs of his own and understood the context of the situation and said it was okay. Of course, Mommy thinks it is not okay and has already talked to Trainer about stepping up the lessons to take care of this bad behavior now. After all, what if we’re out walking and a child decides she wants to “pet the doggie”? We could land in serious trouble.

THEN…

Mommy was out walking with Selena, training to “heel” and enjoying a pleasant Sunday afternoon when we encountered a laid-back golden retriever and his owners. Mommy could see this encounter was stressful to Selena, so we tried to move off the sidewalk, create some distance between us and them, until the danger passed. But Selena, thinking this was not enough and the dog must be warned off her sidewalk, decided to slip out of her collar and give chase!

Poor retriever had no idea what was going on! Why is this tiny animal attacking me? It was like a fly or a bee was buzzing around him. It might have been amusing, if not for the sheer terror of possibilities, like Selena running into the street or actually catching the bigger dog. Who knows what she might have done? She certainly had murder in her eyes.

Anyway… the humans were finally able to catch Selena. Mommy promptly tightened her collar and practically dragged her home. This encounter has also been mentioned to Trainer as another example of why learning to “heel” and “come” and “stay” are all well and good, but perhaps we can learn to “not bite” and “not give chase” and “play nice” at the same time. Please.

Needless to say, both Rocky and Selena are grounded. No more walks. We’re continuing our lessons on “heel” indoors. Outside time is limited to going in the backyard, on leash. They don’t even get freedom there to run the fence and bark at the neighbor dogs. Nope. Mommy’s right there with them, holding those leashes, forcing them to stay within a certain radius of her; which radius does not include the mud pit nor the fence.

On the bright side, neither dog reacted when the doorbell rang unexpectedly (twice!) this evening. Mommy has been working on desensitizing them to

  1. the door opening,
  2. the screen door opening,
  3. the doorbell ringing, and
  4. knocking.

At least this aspect of their training is going well! The next step in this desensitization is Mommy exiting through the door and standing right outside, talking to the visitor. AND the biggest step of all, allowing a visitor to enter through the door without attacking. Right now, the dogs take Mommy exiting as their cue to panic and arooo! and run to the door and bark their little heads off. Oh, and Rocky attacks the pants and ankles of any visitor within his reach. Obviously unacceptable.

Still… I think back to Miss D’s first year. Mommy’s long list of “encounters” where Miss D would initially go into bat-$h!t crazy attack mode but she eventually learned how to cope with most of them. Rocky & Selena are further along in their lessons than Miss D was when she first came home. … Or Ever.

I hope that one day I’ll feel confident enough to send these two to doggie day camp. Checkers used to love doggie day camp and would go every week. Miss D never had the opportunity. Mommy simply could not figure out if Miss D even wanted the company of other dogs. Based on the other dogs’ behavior around Miss D, Mommy figured they certainly didn’t want to be in the company of Miss D. It was a lonely existence and one Mommy will always regret.

So I’m drawing up another list of “encounters” for Rocky & Selena.

  1. dogs on leashes
  2. humans encroaching on their personal space
  3. dogs encroaching on their personal space
  4. humans approaching the house
  5. humans entering the house
  6. dogs in play

We’ll see where the year takes us!

Pet Doors   4 comments

Today’s WTF moment brought to you by… Pet doors.

As many of you know, Mommy spent quite a lot of money this past summer to install a pet door for Miss D. Here’s the thing: Miss D won’t use it to go outside, only inside.

That is, she’s quite willing (finally) to come in from the cold with no prompting from me, but refuses to go outside without my first “opening the door”. Instead she takes her usual position, sitting by the (open) door waiting for me.

See, first she was too afraid to go near it. Frankly it was simply too high. Luckily, I have a doggy ramp for just such a situation. And it fits perfectly.
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But as you know, Miss D is afraid of New Things. And this ramp is definitely a New Thing. Plus I think the nonskid surface freaks her out. Anyway… Fail.

Then Miss D’s granpawents suggested we overlay a kitchen mat on top of the ramp, to negate the nonskid surface.

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Ok, that works. Then of course, with the new hardwood floor, we added a runway on the inside, so she doesn’t land flat on her face when she climbs through.

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Success! Sort of. I’ve tried to explain to Miss D on numerous occasions that the “door” is, in fact, a “flap” that can be pushed with the nose from either side, but to no avail. I’ve thrown favorite treats through the flap which she eagerly follows outside (then spends the next few minutes searching ALL OVER for said treat, while I stand by the window willing her to LOOK DOWN as the treat is inevitably between her legs). Yet, Miss D refuses to go through the flap otherwise. I must hold the flap open while she climbs through.

WTF.

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Water water everywhere   7 comments

Today’s WTF moment provided by… water.

Miss D has a new water bowl. I believe I mentioned this in the last post. Between the Cushing’s diagnosis and the oncoming of summer, Miss D’s water consumption has increased. I’d fill her bowl to the brim before I left for work and when I came home I would find it bone dry.

Now, I had previously thought I had this issue solved. A few years ago, I bought her one of those bottled water bowls. You know, like the proverbial water cooler at work, but with a bowl. The problem… Miss D is afraid of it. Of course she is!

Won’t go near it. Every time she drinks from the bowl, the water in the bottle would gurgle. Weird unexpected noise. Miss D freaked. WTF!

This time, I have high hopes. For the first couple of days, I left both her regular water bowl and the new one next to each other while I was out but left only the new bowl when I was home. Took two days to convince her the new bowl also contains water and is meant to be used. sighMiss D!

But finally she decided this New Thing was not out to get her and she freely drinks from the dish. So now it’s time to plug it in.

Wait. What? Plug it in? WTF?

It’s a water fountain. I noticed how Miss D loves to drink from the tub faucet at bath time. And she loves to drink the water flowing from the pitcher when I refill her dish. et voila … fountain! Like the bottled water, the fountain holds a reserve of water, so Mommy won’t obsess over whether Miss D has enough water. Unlike the bottled water, the fountain won’t gurgle unexpectedly, because it is a constant flow of water.

photo

So I’m once again desensitizing Miss D slowly. The fountain remains unplugged, or a simple water bowl, most of the day. I’m turning it on for about an hour a day, right around breakfast and dinner times. Hopefully Miss D will decide the flowing water is still just water and is safe to drink. Eventually, the fountain will remain on 24/7.

That’s the plan anyway.

P.S. Day One and Miss D drank from the fountain while it was plugged in. Her stance was one of anxiety, but she drank anyway. …

And she just took another drink! TWO! This time her stance was more confident, but something startled her because she jumped away quickly. BUT she’s still standing near it and eating her food. So I’ll let this play out and see what happens.

 

P.P.S. three days in and Miss D has a new approach. First, she lies down under the dining room table, near the water fountain and watches it. Then she sneaks up on the water and surreptitiously drinks from the side of the fountain.  

 

Poster Child   5 comments

Mommy here… we had a follow-up visit with Vet today, after 4 weeks on antibiotics. Miss D got to get cuddles from her favorite vet tech, Angela.

Angela swears that Miss D loves to be carried like a baby with her paws in the air and her pot-belly pointing toward the sky. Seeing Angela carrying Miss D, I would have to agree that Miss D was enjoying herself. Miss D’s favorite sleeping position is on her back with her paws in the air, so Mommy postulates these positions may be easier on her spine. However, we have been unable to replicate the “carried like a baby” phenomenon away from Vet. Perhaps it is an “Auntie Angela” thing with Miss D.

Soooo comfy. Efurryone should sleep this way!

Soooo comfy. Efurryone should sleep this way!

Vet is pleased with Miss D’s progress. Miss D is looking more alert and active and is tolerating the new low-fat diet well. Vet even says Miss D’s spleen feels smaller, so perhaps it was more a reaction to the UTI than to Cushing’s. Even so, we decided to continue the antibiotics for another 14 days and follow-up again in 3 weeks to be sure we killed all the buggers.

Meanwhile… we have decided to delay treatment for the Cushing’s until at least after the Easter holiday. Mommy is worried that the stress of the upcoming holiday would obscure Miss D’s baseline reactions to the treatment. The baseline is important as we need to monitor Miss D’s eating and drinking and energy for adverse reactions to the medication. Plus we still haven’t fully transitioned to the new low-fat food. Another week ought to do the trick. So… we’ll wait another 10 days before starting Miss D on Vetoryl capsules.

And life goes on… we haven’t had a training update in awhile. Mostly because training has continued on the plateau. We’ve had a small setback in recent weeks, due to Miss D’s back pain and subsequent irritability. I’d be irritable too if my back hurt! Now that Spring has sprung and the days are grower longer, our nightly patrol has become more of a pre-dusk patrol. We’re encountering more joggers and more dog walkers now which provides more opportunity for training.

Miss D will never be the poster child for rescued animals and she’ll never win Family Dog of the Year. But she’s learned a few calming techniques that have made our patrols more pleasant for everyone. Unless the passing dog is that rowdy Newfoundland puppy (puppy! it’s almost as tall as Mommy!). Or our friends, the Scottie trio. Or Gus, the Westie. Or the standard schnauzer down the street… Well, I did say training has plateaued. What did you expect? 🙂

Baby Steps   4 comments

Miss D has made some great strides in the past few weeks. We no longer cross the street when other dogs cross our path. Mostly. We still cross when the man with his four pit bulls comes, but that’s mostly because Mommy is terrified of them.

For those who have been with us since the beginning, you know what a struggle we’ve had with our leash training. Staying on the same side of the street is a milestone I never thought we’d see. Maybe Miss D has finally started to mellow at the ripe ol’ age of 11.

She’s still crazy. If you crossed our path in the hopes of starting up a conversation with Mommy or striking an instant friendship with D, you’d be sorely disappointed. But she’s not wild-ass crazy and if both parties continue on our different ways, Miss D quickly calms down and finds something else about which to obsess.

So we’re not there yet. But we’re getting there. Baby steps.

Full of Wonder   Leave a comment

Today’s WTF moment…

Miss D proves to be a wonder to me. We did not meet up with any dogs this evening, thank Dawg! However, on our nightly patrol we were passed by several cyclists, both in the proper bike lane and on our sidewalk. No problem. A little excited panting, but no “Alert!” or “Suspicious!” stance. (Yes! Treat.) We were also passed by walkers and this is where it gets interesting.

A single person passing, either from behind or coming toward us, was watched with suspicion, but from a seated position, well out of their path. (Yes! Treat.)  Couples walking together silently were also watched with suspicion, a little more intently and with a definite unfriendly stance. Still, no “Alert!” or threatening behavior, so I’d say it was a soft B-/C+. But couples walking and talking, or groups of three or more, were found to be very threatening. We had to cross the street before they got too close.

Large groups of strangers coming toward us, OK. I kind of understand why she would feel threatened. But why the couple talking? Is it simply the noise of talking that made them different than the silent couple? It’s not as if they were arguing or talking excitedly. It was simple chit-chat. Two gals catching up on the week’s events. What is so threatening about that? WTF?

Gratuitous display of cuteness

Gratuitous display of cuteness

Fighting for control   1 comment

Today’s WTF moment provided by… Well a picture’s worth a thousand words.

Remote

Fine, Miss D, we’ll watch “Bad Dogs”. But I get to pick the next show!

Had to share this one. Too cute. Hand to Dog, I found her sleeping like this, remote control and all. My little couch potato.

It’s been a week full of ups and downs.

The Ups: Tonight’s neighborhood patrol went very well. A nice, lovely, calm walk, sitting down to greet walkers and cyclists passing by, crossing the street and sitting down to watch the other dogs passing by (barking, but not going super crazy). Well done. Mom is pleased!

Yesterday, we ran into our neighbor, Heather, with all three scotties in tow. There was some mutual posturing on both sides, but she calmed down quickly and on several occasions, did actually sit down to calm herself… or maybe just to catch her breath before lunging forward again. Still, the humans mark this meeting as a success. After all, all four dogs were meeting and they all were face to face on the sidewalk, not across the street or behind fences.

The Downs: Miss D nearly bit the ankle of one jogger who caught us off-guard. Luckily I was able to get a tighter grip on her leash and hold her back. I apologized, saying “We’re in training.”

He laughed it off, saying he has two yorkies at home then wished me luck. Took awhile to calm her down from that one. She also scared at least two toddlers this week.

It’s unfortunate. Parents like to point things out on their walks, “Look, there’s a birdie. And a squirrel. And a doggie. Do you see the doggie?”

Then the kid perks up, “Doggie??”

Then Miss D puts on her ugliest “Be Afraid!” face. Then the kid starts to cry and the parent gives me the stank eye. Hey, I’m not the one pointing out the “doggie”. I’m just trying to calmly let you pass unnoticed (wishful thinking). I’d say it’s the strollers that freak out Miss D, but she does this with older children too. That’s why we’re training, right?

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