Training

So, we are still working on ear drops for a few more days, almost there-yay! I’ve used lots of different strategies including great treats, training, putting drops on a popsicle stick, tons of stuff. Hopefully her ears are getting better. The color looks better everything seems to be clearing up. However, she is shaking her head a lot in the last few days, so that’s not a good sign. Also, she has cuts on her ear, but I would guess they are from scratching. We go to the vet Friday to see if she is better.

I went to my first training session. The trainer believes she is not eating as much because of her anxiety and said perhaps I should think about putting her on a long term anxiety medicine. Perhaps…perhaps not. We will see in the next week or two after her ears are better (hopefully) how she is acting.

During the session she snapped at the trainer when she tried to take her leash off-she did warn her which was good. She has handling issues and I believe they are because of being at the vet so much (unpleasant experiences). I am going to work on ttouch with her. Also working on “trading” things, getting off the couch and other chairs/beds with positive training. Also we got an extra tall gate for the kitchen so she can stay in there.

I also ordered extra virgin organic coconut oil for her. This helps with allergies and many other things. Some people said it is very fatty, which it is fatty, but only a tiny bit (1/4 of a teaspoon) is not much. Also I am looking into getting probiotics to help her immune system. A little can be put on her ears also to help. I also got a recommendation instead of squirting the vet recommended ear cleaner in her ears (because it can sting and she is traumatized) to use a cottonball and witch hazel to wipe on her ears.

Training Tomorrow, Triggers, Ear Update, Leashes

So, I’ve been successful getting Oreo’s drops in the last few days-she doesn’t like it, but with some treats and xanax it is possible. I took the liberty to trim her face, and did an awful job, but at least the hair is out of her face. I didn’t want to bring her to the groomer like usual, because now she is reactive to dogs. I will have to find a groomer who will be gentle, understanding, and not have other dogs there. I think it would be wise to pick her up right after grooming, instead of letting her be in a cage. However, I will try my hand at grooming next week when she is on xanex. I have a dog trimmer, however, I have never used it. I’ve been watching a lot of videos on how to groom. I’ll give it a shot and it will save me $45.

Tomorrow is Oreo’s first day at training. She is going to be training with someone very well known with a book published. I was lucky to find that I live close to the author. She seems so nice (just talking with her on e-mails). I am a bit nervous, although I don’t know why.

On a side note, the xanax is not something I would put the dog on all the tme-that is why it’s a short term anxiety medicine I guess. Although it helps with novel objects near her face, she does seem more anxious of things far away and cannot relax. I think it makes her more hyper. This can happen, it was in the side effects. Oreo’s ears look more red today. I have to try to make sure she isn’t rolling around in the grass. She doesn’t like the feel of the ear drops so will rub her head and ears against the carpet or grass, causing red irritation bumps. UGH! 

I read an article saying that reactive dogs can never be “fixed”. I would have to agree, but hopefully I can get Oreo to the point of not being so scared all the time. It’s a fine line with triggers. You do not want to expose your dog to the triggers past their threshold, where they have intense stress, but you also don’t want to shelter them. I feel like I should be exposing her to everything since she is still 16 months old, but at the same time I know I shouldn’t because that would be flooding and I shouldn’t do that. I have to keep reminding myself she is not “normal”.

When she was younger we brought her to a party at my family’s house. She was probably around 6-8 months of age. There were 2 other dogs there and one way shy, and the other is old and didn’t enjoy being jumped on by Oreo, a rambunctious youngin’ trying to play. I was told not to yell at a puppy who wants to play, because hey, they just want to play and will get a bad association with other dogs if yelled at when being with them. So I had to keep her on the leash all day. This was a mistake. She was very stressed, trying to get to the other dogs. The other people at the party threw the ball for the other dogs and they were playing and having fun, while oreo was leashed up. I took her for walks, ran around the yard, and tried playing with her, but she only wanted to play with the other doggies. At the end of the night she was laying down and my dad reaching down near her head. It was dark and we were outside. She made a growling noise and snapped at him. I then brought her over to me and she was shaking. She had enough. You cannot keep a dog, esp. a reactive dog (didn’t know at the time) on a leash that long, have so much stress, and not expect her to snap. I don’t think my dad was the trigger, I just think he became it since she had so much stress over and over. Similar to if you have had a bad day at work. Everything in your day has gone wrong. Then you go home and the dishes aren’t done. You might flip out on your husband or whomever said they would do them. You aren’t super mad about the dishes, but had a bad day with lots of stress. Ugh, looking back I wish I did things differently. But I truly believe from the moment we picked her up she was reactive, shy, and scared. I’m not sure what happened to her in her first 10 weeks, but even though she is a lot of work, she is family & I am happy she is in our lives.

What is wrong with people?

A pocono man today shot his dog in the neck. I just read this article from the morning call and I couldn’t believe it. The dog went to the bathroom in the house, so the man put the dog on a leash “to control it” and shot it in the neck, then put her in her crate to die. Someone called the police, saying they heard a gun shot and a crying dog. The police came to find him sitting there watching tv. They took the dog to the vet, but the dog had to be put down. How sad is that 😦 Poor dog must have lived a miserable life.

 

Success! For now..

Success! I finally got the ear drops in last night, probalby spilled the whole bottle in and may end up needing to buy another $45 bottle of the stuff. But..I got them in. How did I do it you ask? Well, I called the vet and she recommended we try xanex to help with anxiety. I was half expecting her to be drowsy and thought perfect, then I will just get the ear drops in. But to my surprise, she seems more excited and eager. She searched through bags, wasn’t afraid of the laptops like usual-went right up to them and sniffed. She also passed right next to the neighbor (a big fella-men which she usually runs away or barks/lunges at). He pet her and she didn’t even seem to notice or care.

She was apprehensive about the ear drops, but with some cheese in hand and trying the same clicker type training one step at a time she did not run away in fear.  We went outside and she was sniffing everything. A day ago she would be barking wildly at the trash can the neighbor placed outside their door (not always there). Instead, she went right up to it and was sniffing. She also was looking right in the neighbors door (the one without a dog)-so unlike her not to be afraid and apprehensive-but nice to see the old oreo before she was attacked. She would come up to us and greet us and rest her head on our lap as if just to say “hi”, although I’m sure she probably wanted food, to go out, or a toy.

I did notice her stumbling a little in the beginning, must mean the dose it too high. I was waiting for her to crash because we took her to the park. I got a 50 foot leash so I could throw frisbee with her. She eventually crashed late in the night. It was a glimpse of what used to be, and what could be.

I look on my cell phone to see the picture of oreo nervously looking up at me while taking a picture, and look back at oreo with medicine and mouth is open, tongue hanging out with a smile. Amazing!

There are some downfalls too, of course this is only temporary, but I could talk to the trainer and vet and see what they think. She was a little wobbly so I suspect the dosage may be a little high. Also, she paid much attention to me with food, but was also highly distractable when I didn’t have food. Calling her to me would take multiple recalls.

She always had issues with eating (obsessive compulsive issues) and 30 minutes after taking the medicine she seemed super hungry. She was more mischevious (also like her old self) putting her paws on the counter looking for the steak we just made. I’m not sure if the medicine made her less afraid and more comfortable, therefore she was able to explore and play more. Or…if the side effect made her more excitable. It’s only day 1 but I rested much better knowing this could work and I wouldn’t have to imagine her being trapped in a corner with a towel to be muzzled. Ugh! Well, hopefully the training success continues and when she is off of the medicine she will be fine with getting ear drops (hopeful thinking I know).

* Side note-my family thinks I am obsessive about the dog-yea, I know I am.

Ear Drop Woes

The vet prescribed ear drops for Oreo’s yeast infection on Thursday. It is now Monday and this is still stressing me out! We managed to get ear drops in one ear on Friday, and both ears on Saturday. The first was through positive training-but as soon as the drops went in she was already traumatized. The second times were through sneak attacks-which won’t help training or her fear, but at this point I’m getting desperate.

I am going home on my lunch hour to try to tire her out and get these drops in. I plan of running with her, then having her hang outside, she’ll be tired so she’ll lay down on the side-perfect for putting drops in. I will go over and massage her and her ears, then put them in. Then give her a wonderful treat or a favorite toy. Oh hopefully this works. I have other creative measures too.

Other Ideas:

-Try taking her to the park she loves and trying it there after a long walk, she always seems happier and calmer there.

-Try giving her her favorite toy and doing it.

-Keep the positive treats up and trying it

-Use a cotton ball with the drops on it

-Use a popsicle stick the the drops on it

-Use a dropper

The vet tech I spoke with wants to muzzle her or tranquilize her. If that sounds scary to me, it will undoubtably be traumatizing for her, and to do it over and over for 14 days seems crazy. She would definitely hate the vet then, and undoubtly her fear aggression would grow. Ahh geez.

Condos are not the place for dogs

Condos are not the place for dogs. Some might think so because there are so many dogs to play with!! Not so…I read that reactive dogs have the slowest progress in condos. Well, of course that is true. Think of all the noises.

I hear it all the time. Banging next door, dogs barking, doors slamming, cars, etc. Not to mention my dog sleeps gated in the kitchen with a sliding glass door in the back. We often will see her or hear her moving the blinds to look outside. She may see the neighbors dog, a neighbor, a light, grass blowing, a paper bag flying by, a bird, or anything moving and will bark. Ugh we have to get out of there!

So to continue the ear saga, Oreo has a bad yeast infection in her ear. She was muzzled at the vet since she is so afraid of any novel object near her ear. I did the training with treating and finally she was okay with me putting the ear drops near her ear…of course when I put them in that was another story. She looked shocked! She probably felt betrayed and that is why she ran away from me after that. I promptly treated her and gave her a new stuffed toy she loves. When I get home from work we will have to start over again at square one, which goes something like this:

1. Have her touch the bottle with her nose and treat her

2. After about 10 reps of that, move it to her face to touch, treat

3. Continue to up her ear and treat her anywhere from 10-20 times or until she is comfortable.

4. Have the bottle adjusted straight for pouring ear drops and treat

5. Have the bottle straight then touch ear with it and treat

6. Finally drop the drops in and hope all 8 get in there, treat and give toy.

I have to do this for 14 days… UGH just the thought of it.

Some people say just to muzzle her. Well, extremely shy/fearful dogs will only develop a fear for the muzzle (which she has already from the vet), so when you go near her she will try to bite you (Fear aggression). I tried some calming agents hoping to have her calmed and relaxed, but she is deathly afraid of cleaner or ear drops. By the way, don’t clean a dog’s ears with the cleaner until they are not irritated-they will just burn.

After I put the drops in the dogs ear, she will run away and not go near me for hours, this is because she does not trust me. I realize this will not help our relationship, but hopefully the training will help or counter-act the bad affects of ear drops. This might all seem silly to you, but lets pretend you have a fear of snakes. I actually have a husband who is deathly afraid of snakes. He saw one in the Poconos and ran screaming, and wouldn’t go down near the dock again for almost a year. Sounds silly, but phobias do that.

Same thing with the dog, she is deathly afraid of the ear drops. If I would muzzle her it would get worse. That would be like tying my husband to a tree and putting snakes around him to slither on him, while he was defenseless.

I thank god I don’t have to clean them yet-because that will be even worse than the ear drops because she recognizes the bottle and smell (it’s very strong). Hopefully I make it through 14 days with ear drops without a mental breakdown. Then I’ll have to work on ear cleaning…

Sad to see her scared

My husband just called and reported that Oreo doesn’t walk anymore outside. I have seen this also. Around our block she is super slow, and will stop and not want to continue even if there are no dogs around. It saddens me that once she was an exhuberant, friendly puppy whose favorite thing was a walk. Now she will hardly walk.

To hopefully get her walking better I walk her around the back yard and take her to parks without many dogs, she seems to enjoy herself there are there is no problem. Geez! I almost wish we could move now that she is traumatized. I remember taking the dog on walks and she would pull and whine to meet other dogs, then play with every dog she met. I remember her letting children pet her and her tail would wag with joy. Now she is scared…of almost everything. I feel as if I have failed her, as her protector and family.

It’s an unbelievable feeling of sadness and grief that sweeps over me often, to think how she use to be, and what she is now. I know I need to let it go and move on. I can’t keep thinking “What if we didn’t go for that walk?” She would still be the same lovable, dog loving, cheerful pup.

I think people need to be more aware of what’s around them. I don’t think this could’ve been prevented if I had my eyes focused more. The dog ran out of a door behind us so by the time I realized what was going on…it was too late. I advise if you live in a highly populated area, and even if you think you are safe-bring pepper spray. Pepper spray is sold at sporting stores, but there is dog pepper spray at pet stores too. I went over the top after the attack and got myself a stun baton. I have to admit I haven’t even charged it yet-it’s a bit intimidating. But I read that sometimes pitbulls will not back off with pepper spray, so I ordered the baton.

I watch the dogs closely around our block. And once in a while I see a dog I didn’t even know was around. You never know if someone has a dog or not, and whether they are dangerous.

 

Slow Progress

The theme I keep seeing when I am reading and learning about reactivity and rehabilitating your dog is PATIENCE. You cannot push your dog too much.

Recently I read online a woman who was upset she couldn’t pick up her dog she just adopted from a shelter. Someone offered advice that her dog is probably scared & does not yet trust her. We do not know the dog’s history. The person gave her advice to touch the dog and treat, stroke the dog and treat. After days of this continue to lift a little on the side, treat. Continue this process step by step until you can finally pick her up and treat her.

The owner of the dog replied that the dog was still growling and snapping at her. She tried to pick it up and treat it but it didn’t work. The person giving her advice repeated the advice, though I am not sure the woman was listening. BABY STEPS seems to be the best advice for scared dogs.

I’m going to relate this to a child afraid of going on the diving board. You cannot just throw a child off the diving board if they are afriad. You probably would work on getting the child to walk up the ladder, look around, and come back down. This child would work on this for a while, then when comfortable go higher. Eventually, the child would work up the guts to go on the diving board. They may not jump, but go up there with encouragement and seeing a smile from mom. Eventually they may learn to jump off and be okay with it. But we cannot expect a child afraid of heights or the diving board to go do it suddenly. If we drag them up there and throw them in, most likely they will be scared and swallow water and not go on again.

One of the things I’m working on is cleaning my dogs ears. I remember when she was younger she would let me clean it once in a while, but each time she seemed more uncomfortable, especially with the vet cleaner, it was very strong and smelly, probably cold too. I kept cleaning her ears until one day she started trying to bite the tissue. The next time she would try to bite the tissue. The next time she would run away and snap at me. Needless to say I stopped trying to clean them. This is a problem though because she has flappy ears. So next I would put my fingers near her ears and treat her. Then I would get a cotton ball and put it near her face and treat her. Move it closer. The next day or week I would put some water on it. I finally cleaned it with some water! What a success! Unfortuantely, she didn’t enjoy it so much so the next time she didn’t like it. Looks like I have to start over…

Thresholds

I’ve been reading a lot of training books lately, and by the way, I am not a trainer, just a person who loves their dog and wants to help. Triggers are things that set your dog off, things that scare him or her. For example, my dog is scared of other dogs since being attacked. When she sees a dog she will most likely stop, freeze, and stare at it. If she does not respond to me, she has reached her threshold. A threshold is when or where your dog cannot handle the trigger.

So when I am walking my dog and she notices another dog then I will start feeding her treats. Yay! Another dog! (That’s what I need to think to stay calm, dogs are experts at reading body language so act happy I tell myself). I am hoping that one day she will see a dog and look directly at me. This will tell me she has learned dogs=treats (hey they aren’t that bad are they?). And hopefully this will become a routine. Eventually (and very slowly), I would move her closer, and the hope is that one day she will be able to be next to a dog without snarling and lunging. This may not happen, but the hope is that it will. I don’t like to give up and I refuse to give up especially on a family member who needs help and is scared.

Hoping I am training her correctly, I have enlisted the help of a professional who hopefully will agree to work with me. She has experience with reactive dogs, which comforts me immensly and hopefully will teach me all the skills I need in order to help my fearful dog.

**Note: I have added 2 links, one is a fearful dog website where I have learned so much about helping my reactive dog. There is lots of information on how to help your dog. You can also order “A Guide to Helping and Training a Fearful Dog.”  I have also added Debbie Jacob’s blog, which is very useful.

I do not personally know Debbie, and I am not affiliated with her, although I love her site! My blog is my own personally, and my training with my dog is from many books I have read, but I have no certification. This site is purely used by me as a stress reliever, and should not be followed as a prescription for training. I have already stated I do need more help and will hopefully find a trainer soon.

Dog Attacks

Has your dog ever been attacked by another dog? I never thought it would happen to us. We live in a small town in a nice townhome community. We’ve walked the dog a million times around the block.

It was a normal Saturday morning. My husband and I wanted to go shopping, so we decided to take the dog for a walk before we left so she would be nice and tired and sleep at home. We turned right out of our door and headed down the block, passing townhome after townhome. A man was working on his car and we joked and talked with him for a minute before continuing our walk. All of a sudden a dog came running out circling around our dog. Oreo growled and I was thinking “Don’t growl why are you growling?”

Well, I soon found out. Within seconds the dog bit her back, and wouldn’t let go. It was a pitbull terrier. My husband and I were screaming, hitting, punching, and kicking the dog as hard as we could. Our little Oreo was screaming, crying, but couldn’t turn around. The dog had a firm bite on her back/bottom and wouldn’t let go. We tried pulling and Oreo’s skin stretched. I remember thinking, “Oh god I hope this is not it, this can’t be happening, this is a nightmare.” It went on for what felt like forever, but was probably about 4 minutes.

The man working on his car came over and unlatched the dog somehow. I ran all the way home, got the car and we drove to the vet. I will spare posting the pictures. She had to get shaved and had cuts and buises all over her body. She was put on antibiotics and pain pills. She seemed okay with people and dogs, licking the guy whose dog attacked ours. Everything would change after this. I wish the day never happened and we never went for a walk before the mall. To this day we will not walk down that block and we still see the owner walking the dog…usually with a muzzle. That dog may not have been affected, but now our dog is extremely fearful of unfamiliar dogs.

HOW IT CHANGES THINGS

Our dog was a socialite. She went to puppy and advanced training classes. She would love to play with all the dogs. We actually had issues where we couldn’t get her to STOP trying to play with every dog she saw. We did practice with recall (come) in class  where she would run down between 2 lines of dogs to me. She almost made it to me, but would turn and play with a dog in the class.

How things changed in 4 minutes.

Now, she freezes when she sees or hears dogs. She will not move and stare. She knows where the dogs live in our neighborhood so will slow down near houses she knows dogs are, then when we get close she will speed up and if we get too close she will growl, bark, lunge, and snap. The goal now is to not get that close that she is so fearful she feels she needs to do that.

Part of the reason I made this blog is to let other people know they are not alone. I thought she might be aggressive at first, she might try to be dominant. People told me you have to be a leader, force her on the ground or get her a prong collar. No no, this would only make her worse. She is a fearful dog. Putting a prong collar on would only make it worse. Every time she sees a dog she we get a pinch-then what? This will only reinforce that dogs are bad. Each time she sees one she will get a pinch. Not very smart.

More on training later.