I pulled into where our first reactive class would be held. It wasn’t a normal reactive class, in the matter that we don’t all bring our dogs out at the same time. Everyone strategically parks their cars around the property (near the lake, behind the barn, near the house) so that the dog can’t see other dogs or people (or whatever upsets them). I pulled into 3 different areas until I found a good place and covered the back of the windshield with towels to cover her view from other dogs and people.
Most people who were there have been taking the classes for months, and some for almost a year or more. People come whenever they can, and for as long as they want. There are 6 sessions and then it just continues to another round of 6 after that if you want to continue.
Of course I was nervous, but we did fine. We decided on having her get out of the car and focus on me, do tricks, then return. She did it the first time. Next, we had a dog at a very great distance (50 feet away), and she would have to do the same. She got out, looked at me when I said her name, but would not treat. She sat & whinned, and begged to go see the trainer who was 50 feet away. We did a few sessions with Oreo, all about the same getting out of the car and focusing, she did an okay job, but had trouble focusing. We need to work on her impulse control. It was awesome she was whinning and wanted to go see people and a dog, but also not awesome because she couldn’t focus on me. Impulse control is part of the goal.
Reactive dog have a hard time controlling themselves. Especially her. She can’t focus on me for long with a distraction around or something better (sounds like a kid right?). When she sees people she loves she just goes out of control, there is no median, just either wild, or sleeping. We have seen a lot more relaxing lately. It has been 2 months since she started her anxiety medication.
Can I tell it’s helping? A little, but I can’t be sure it’s the medicine and not training, or both. I see little things, like she is still afraid of the fan (I catch her looking at it with those eyes), but she doesn’t go into full blown panic attack barking at it. She also is much more relaxed outside. When she sees people and dogs going to the mailbox about 30 feet away she doesn’t bark at all (she used to go wild).
She has had very bad allergies and itches her eyes nonstop and has lost the hair around her eyes. I believe these are seasonal allergies, but we will see. She is on benadryl prescribed by the doctor, but with her anxiety medication it makes her very sleepy. I am once again looking into the raw diet or perhaps a home cooked diet to help her. She was sick yesterday throwing up and not eating anything, not even treats or pills. This use to happen all the time, almost 5 out of 7 days months ago. But, we have eliminated all wheat and gluten from her diet and she has been doing better and she only gets sick usually once a month. However, she still isn’t excited about eating food. She was at first when I started raw, but lost interest so I went back to kibble. I try mixing chicken and different things with the food, but now she’s really not too interested.
The trainer again recommended raw because of allergies, and I mentioned the cost and lack of freezer space. She said I could get the premade chubs which is true, but they are expensive. I know it would be less expensive to get raw food that is not premade but I just can’t change her diet with the school year coming up this week (I’m a teacher). Oreo has seemed more clingy since I’ve been back from work.
We did calming curves at class. This means there is a dog at a distance, and Oreo is with me. The dog and handler are 50 feet away and the trainer shouts out how many steps (5 steps, 9, 11, and so on). You walk with the dog for the set amount of steps and turn your body and call the dogs name so they turn around with you. The other person does the same. This is to teach the dog that they can walk away from things that are scary. Oreo did not want to turn around. She whinned, sat , and so on. She wanted to see the trainer?? Or the other dog?! Not sure, but that’s my homework for the next week-practice calming curves without distractions.