Talking Their Language

Whether you have a reactive, hyper, calm, people-friendly, dog-friendly dog, it’s always important to talk their language. They don’t always understand what we say, in fact they only understand a few words we teach them. It’s important to understand what they are telling us.

 

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Eyes up, looking at you, bottom sitting: please give me that treat, toy, food, or attention! If you train a lot it could be a sign for, “I’m ready for training!”

 

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A very obvious sign of discomfort is licking the lips or nose. Dogs can do this for many reasons, including yummy food left on their nose. However, if they didn’t just enjoy a meal or treat they are sending a clear message-please back away/leave me alone/I’m uncomfortable. Oreo uses this language a lot. She does that when I’m taking pictures, when seeing a stranger, dog, or anything that makes her uncomfortable. If this doesn’t work, she will usually try to turn away, or move away. It’s important to pay attention to the smaller signals such as licking the lips-otherwise dogs can escalate to showing their teeth, growling, snapping, or even biting. They have  many ways to tell us they are uncomfortable/scared/or want to be left alone, we just need to listen.

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A dog who is staring or at attention is alert and sees something interesting/scary/etc. You may see your dog’s tail go rigid and up in the air frozen. You may also see your dog lift one paw in the air. This mean your dog senses something. In my case, this usually means something scary or super exciting is near. This could end up being a squirrel to chase, or a person/dog nearby. In the first picture Oreo is looking for a chipmunk in the woods-she hears the pitter patter of leaves. In the second picture, Oreo is ready to attack something super scary for her-the vacuum! She is saying I’m scared and I’m going to attack if you don’t move away! The signal of freezing, paw up, still tail up in the air, or staring helps me be ready for stimuli. I make sure I have my treats out and on alert for any loose dogs or brace myself for a squirrel chase!

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These are my sister’s dogs. The play bow, or running side by side is usually a sign of-let’s play!! If you look, the dog on the right seems to be shifting his weight to move away, and his tail is a little stiffer in the air. This is because he’s saying-leave me alone-I’m old and tired little puppy! However, the pup on the left is saying come on-play with me!

 

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Whale eye-notice her eye is very large-it’s not the cute puppy eyes that want food. Whale eye is when you can see the whites of your dog’s eyes. Usually this happens when your dog keeps their head in the same position but follows you with their eyes. Whale eye=stress. If your dog is showing the whites of his or her eyes it means they are stressed or uncomfortable. Oreo uses this many times too. I’m very thankful she communicates well now, and I can read her signals. In this picture she is uncomfortable because I am getting close with a scary camera. She is trying to tell me she is stressed. Oreo uses this many times when she is super tired/grouchy or feeling sick. If I want to play/pet her and she’s feel lousy we know she will watch us this way. If you have a food/space/toy/bone possessive dog, many times they will continue eating/playing/etc but watch you as you walk around or near them. Definitely back off & if you don’t have a positive trainer for that situation, make sure you get one!

Other ways our dogs communicate:

Yawning-if it’s in the morning-they are probably tired/waking up, however, yawning is usually a way for your dog to calm down. If she is stressed when we are walking, this will help calm her down. However, if your dog is doing this while you are doing something new, or are too close-this is a signal they are stressed.

Sniffing-maybe there is something interesting to smell, but if you are in a street or somewhere where your dog is sniffing incessantly it means I am ignoring what is stressing me out (usually a dog for Oreo).

Ears flat laying on head- This is a sign your dog is very stressed or scared. Oreo tends to only do this at the vet.

Shaking- I am sick or very scared.

Head turns or looks away– I want peace-I’m moving away from what is scary or stressful, please leave me alone. Oreo will do this sometimes with other dogs, but many times does it when she is very tired at night. Her thyroid is a continuing medical condition we are monitoring, but her levels cause her to be grouchy & very tired sometimes. When going to pet her in the evening, if she wants to be left alone, she turns her head away. It’s very smart of her & since she knows we listen to her it’s an easy way for her to tell us she’s uncomfortable.

Shaking whole body as if shaking off water after swimming (but not wet & didn’t go swimming)– I’m releasing stress! Oreo does this during our walks when she is stressed-I definitely reward this motion as she is trying to calm herself.

Panting- If it’s not very hot-then your dog is stressed. This happens on the way to the vet-Oreo pants very loudly.

Wagging tail-this can be complete opposites. Your dog could be very anxious, or very happy. Researchers now say that the direction of the tail wagging will tell you which one. They are saying that if the tail is wagging to the left the dog is anxious, to the right it means they are happy. I haven’t seen this, but I do read other signals with tail wagging. There have been times my parents thought Oreo was happy to see some neighbor or stranger because her tail was wagging, only to find if they brought her close she started jumping and trying to nip their shirt and barking. I personally think it’s hard to see the direction of the wag, so I look for panting, ears down, crouching, and other signals to show she is stressed. I fortunately know her so well I usually know when she is wagging her tail when she’s scared and take her out of the situation or give her more space. If you have any doubt-back out! Better safe than sorry.

Growling- this is a signal you need to take seriously, if you ignore this signal which means I’m really stressed-leave me alone, then it can escalate to snaps and bites. Oreo actually started growling at 8 months and we knew she was genetically reactive & pursued an excellent trainer.

Snaps-You aren’t listening-next step I’m biting. If you have a dog that snaps I recommend finding a positive trainer. Oreo did this when she was younger before we enlisted the help of a reactive trainer. We didn’t know when she was stressed and what was bothering her until we learned her language.

Biting-You didn’t listen, I was really scared/uncomfortable and asked you to leave me alone, but you didn’t.

Many times dog owners state that their dog was always so friendly and loving, but out of nowhere it bit their child/neighbor/friend, etc. Even friendly dogs who never show any snapping/biting/or growling can be pushed over the edge when they are being teased/tortured/or put in a very scary or uncomfortable situation. It is important for people to pay attention and listen to their language. We don’t speak the same language, but like meeting a person who speaks another language, their are signals or signs we can read to find out what the other person or canine is trying to tell us. Listen to what your dog is telling you.

 

 

 

As reactive dog parents, we need to ask ourselves questions constantly that many other people don’t even take a second to think about.

  • Should I take my dog to the party?
  • How can I avoid that dog/person/bike/etc as I’m walking so that my dog doesn’t get over threshold?
  • How can I bring my dog to the vet without causing too much stress?
  • What will I do with my dog when I have people over?
  • Should I consider anxiety medicine for my canine?
  • Do I need window film so my dog doesn’t bark out the window all day?
  • What do I have to cover the car windows so my dog doesn’t lose it?
  • Did I remember dog treats on my walk?

The questions could go on forever and we are always asking them. It isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as any dog owner will ask and remind themselves of various things from time to time. However, we are often on high alert for things that stress out our dog, especially when there is change or they are outside their normal environment. I wanted to take a minute to thank all of the pet parents out there dealing with reactive dogs. It definitely isn’t easy and we are very stressed at times, but remember you are saving a dog’s life, your dog. You are taking the time to train your dog or manage the surroundings so your dog can have a happy life, even if your dog doesn’t get to go with you everywhere.

Sometimes we forget to appreciate all of the work we do until someone points it out. Recently I was at the vet and got an amazing compliment. My vet told me how amazing of a job we (my husband and I) have done with Oreo. She said it’s made such a difference and Oreo doesn’t need to be muzzled or anything during her vet exam. Furthermore, she told me without us, she knows Oreo would’ve been dead in another family and we have saved her life.

Life is crazy and there’s always things to worry & stress about, but little reminders of why we do what we do (help reactive dogs) make it all worth it. Okay, the dog kisses, happy wagging tails, and smiles also help! 10371611_10202676837374547_1549858418175138866_n

Medication Mania

dog-medicine-bottleA recent post by a friend on a social media site left me wondering…what do people think about dog medications? And why do many of them think they are more harmful than helpful?

Some people still seem to be stuck in the past, thinking dogs are just entertainment to have around. Medication? No way!! People frequently laugh, giggle, or give me weird looks if I tell them my dog is on medications for anxiety/fearfulness. I always get the saying, “Oh she’ll grow out of it” or “She’ll be fine, don’t worry about it.” Well, I do worry about it…or rather I did, before we had a breakthrough with medication.

If you feel like your dog is fearful or has anxiety and you’ve tried training but hit a brick wall, there are other options. Medication is another option, but should be given after extensive training has been tried. It’s not something to be taken lightly, but it’s also not something to fear. It’s also not a magic pill.

With dogs that are seriously fearful and haven’t progressed with the help of a positive trainer, medication is something to talk about with your vet. There are many options for whom to talk to about this. The best person to consult is a veterinary behaviorist. They specialize in dog behavior issues (aggression, anxiety, etc) and medical issues. Many times an underlying medical issue contributes to a dog’s behavior. It is important to get your dog checked for medical issues before considering anxiety medication. Many times simple things such as hypothyroidism could be a cause of many different behaviors including aggression.

There are a variety of medications to treat fearfulness/anxiety. It is important you talk to someone knowledgable about them, as they are recommended for different things. For example, some are used to treat separation anxiety, while others are recommended for general anxiety, and other for aggression. Blood tests will also be taken to make sure your dog will be able to take medications and check ups for blood work may be needed later.

I am going to repeat this again-because it’s not a quick fix–first you must make sure you have tried everything you can with a positive trainer, make sure your dog has adequate exercise, and rule out any other medical problems before even considering medication. I don’t want you to think it’s a bad thing either-because it can help immensely.

For example, Oreo was getting exercise and training for a long time with a positive trainer, but her anxiety issues were getting worse. She had trouble with training activities and seemed like she “hit a brick wall” in training. We could only take her so far. We also found out she did have some medical issues, but those were being treated and she still wasn’t progressing. So we worked with the vet. We started her on a low dose of an anxiety medicine. We increased the dosage but saw no improvement (the medication does usually take weeks or a month to kick in). We decided to wean her off of it and try another. This medication helped her immensely. She was able to progress nicely in training and take walks again. It allowed her to get over that hurdle that was stopping her, the debilitating fear that everyone and everything was out to get her.

If you had anxiety and it was so bad you couldn’t live your daily life, I’m sure you would try seeing a therapist and seeking out medication if that didn’t work. The medicine would allow you to combat your fears, and one day you may be able to get off of the medication. However, not all people or dogs do well off of the medication either. Oreo is still on medicine and we aren’t sure if one day she will be able to handle life without it. Do I like that she is on medicine? No, I don’t like giving her pills, but now I’ve learned that she needs the medicine, just like a diabetes patient needs them. Without them, she couldn’t live her daily life and function. Medication is not something to be feared, but not taken lightly either. Do you homework and read up-but also don’t rule medication out. It helped Oreo’s quailty of life immensely.

Medication can be a lifeline for dogs that would otherwise be euthanized.

For people with dogs that aren’t seriously anxious in only certain situations-there are many natural medicines or remedies for you. Look in chinese herb medicines, thundershirts, chamomile, and essential oils.

Be Your Dog’s Advocate

Stand up for your scared pooch!

Yesterday my husband and I took a lovely, long walk. Even though the air was cold and crisp, we enjoyed a walk around the neighborhood. We encountered a few dogs in yards. Luckily enough they stayed in their yards. We decided to keep our distance and I grasped my treats to give to Oreo as we walked by. I was also holding onto those treats tightly incase I needed to launch them into an approaching dogs face.

We must stand up for our dogs. If your dog is scared of another dog, don’t let the dog come up to it. We had a close call on the way home when someone was greeting relatives. The man opened his door and started walking across the roach when his little poodle came running out after him. I’m sure the dog was nice, as everyone reassured us. However, I place myself in between my dog and the white poodle looking to say hello. Luckily I was with my husband, who picked up Oreo (she is not light anymore, around 45 lbs.). I yelled for the people to get their dog. I told them my dog will attack their dog (seemed like a good thing to say to get them moving, they were moving sloooww). “Oh, she’s nice, don’t worry about it,” they replied. I don’t think so….I called back to them telling them she WILL bite their dog, they need to call it back.

You know that awkward moment when someone tries to walk by you, you move out of the way, but you actually move in their way. Then they move to the right, and you move to the right, and you both are gridlocked like you are playing a blocking game. Well, that’s what we were doing. The poodle moved to the right I moved in front of it and said “No!” The people might have taken offense, but too bad…MOVE YOUR DOG, it’s like 2 feet away from being attacked or who knows! They called their poodle, yet it didn’t listen. Luckily I kept blocking the dog long enough for the owner to scoop it up when if finally swerved to the side and started peeing. Unbelievable.

We live in a condo area, so it’s the law to keep your dog on a leash at all times. There are many condos tightly packed together, with many people around. The man let his dog follow him and run around right in the middle of the street. It horrified me even more that the dog seemed to have no recall skills. If I didn’t stick up for Oreo I don’t know what would have happened. Maybe she would have been nice to the dog, but more likely she would have been scared and lashed out. I didn’t want her training to regress, but I also didn’t want her to have to experience that fear of being attacked or having to attack herself to protect herself. I had to show her that I would protect her. She could trust me, and I wouldn’t let her be attacked again.

It’s important to protect your dog from major triggers and fears. For example, if your dog is afraid of small children, don’t let children pet your dog. Tell them your dog is scared, sick, or training, or the truth-that it would bite them. Do what you need to do to protect your dog. They can’t talk the same way we can, so talk for them. Be your dog’s advocate.

Snoozin’

I love my bone!

This was definitely after a long walk…ahhh so peaceful. She loves her bone! It is a good extra source of calcium since she is fed mostly homemade food. We let her chew on it in the evening and when she is done we put it away. This is a good managment idea for resource guarders…don’t leave toys or things around your dog guards (if you can help it), and keep practicing “trade”.

Smith Ridge Veterinary 3 Hour Trip!

As you all know Oreo was having BIG problems with allergies. She started acting weird too! She had a panic attack at reactive class when my husband disappeared. She also screamed and pulled me all the way to my sister’s car when she came to visit. I usually know she’s very sick when she is laying on me or near me all the time, which has been going on. So, I decided to try something different.

Marty Goldstein is famous for doing holistic medicine with lots of supplements. He has a book entitled, “The Nature of Animal Healing.” This book was recommended by Oreo’s trainer. She told me to read it and if I was interested, seeing him might be worth a try. Goldstein believes that dogs and cats can heal themselves. They discuss how vaccines are very hurtful, especially to dogs that have bad immune systems or are fighting allergies. Many times dogs are prescribed antihistamines (Benadryl etc) or given steroid shots to treat the symptoms. Unfortunately, it doesn’t treat the problem and get to the root of the problem.

Oreo has had behavior problems, repeated bacterial ear and stomach infections, skin infections, and yeast infections. She was so miserable she would itch around her eyes all day and rub them against the couch, floor, or anything she could find. She was miserable. She was sleeping all day and seemed depressed and irritable. Her behavior was more anxious and upset.

So I decided to take off a day and drive her all the way up to the Smith Ridge Veterinary Center. My mom volunteered to take the trip with me. The drive was almost 3 hours and was surprisingly nice. We went all the way to the edge of Connecticut and New York. Trees were copious on our ride and gigantic mansions surrounded the town of South Salem New York. We stopped and had sandwiches at a park.

We arrived to find the vet center off to the side of a shopping center. I arrived to find homey waiting room and a wonderful receptionist. I was VERY concerned about getting her in and out of the center without seeing other dogs. I also did NOT want her to be in the room with me when I was discussing issues with the vet. If she waits in that room she will usually hide and shake under the chairs and snap if the vets come near her because she is so afraid.

However, they insisted. The room had a nice bed for the dog and a bench for us to sit on. Oreo went in and laid under the bench while I gave her a kong full of treats. I think I was more nervous than her, which I am sure rubbed off on her.  Anyways, when someone would come in the SMALL room she would get up alert, bark, and even growl. The vet was very nice and gave her lots of treats. Then Oreo would return under the bench. She would STARE at the vet and then start growling or come out a little. She was torn I think-couldn’t decided if the vet would prick her with needles or give her treats. It wasn’t like her to growl like that, but the place was strange, so were all the people.

We discussed how vaccines are bad, her behavior and allergies. The vet did a round of blood tests and an allergy test. Yay!! We will FINALLY learn exactly what she is allergic to! This will take 2-3 weeks to get results, but I have been staying away from chicken since that is the number one allergy for dogs. I have found that since I took her off the chicken her itching has decreased 60% which leads me to believe I was making her sick by giving her chicken! That is also what I fed her at training-yikes!

The vet had us leave the room so they could do all the tests in the room. In the back they have too many dogs back there so she would be too anxious. They said she was very good and a vet tech even came back to give her a treat! Excepttttt she came in and scared Oreo then came close and bent over. Oreo didn’t like that, but later happily accepted a treat from her.

I have a few supplements for Oreo and also a natural steroid just for 2 weeks to calm her eye irritation down. We are working on building her immune system so eventually we can start taking some supplements away.  However, the vet didn’t want to recommend too many supplements until we find out what she is allergic to (so that means maybe more?).  Right now she gets a calming supplement, and immune system/cleansing supplement, and probiotics. I have been cooking turkey meatloaf for her with brocoli and ordered a calcium supplement.

Her behavior hasn’t been as strange, although she still seems more anxious than normal. At the park a bug startled her and birds flying out of trees scared her badly. The other day I moved a blanket on the bed and she got up looking around in a panic and started growling. Perhaps she was sleeping, but still-that’s not normal for her. However, she has been much more active lately and wants to play. Additionally, I have been taking her to the park instead of walking around the dog filled neighborhood. She has been happy as can be at the park and pulling (which is much better than her geriatric walking she was doing lately-and she’s only 2!).  Her itching has improved and the area around her eyes are starting to get better. I’m not sure if it’s the supplements, walking in the park, home cooked meals, or not eating chicken, but everything seems to be helping!

I am sad to have her stop reactive training, but right now we need to work on her health. I do think she was almost done with reactive training and we would move on to something else. I couldn’t think of activities to improve on with other dogs or people since she loved everyone there. However, in the future when this is all sorted out I am sure I will go back whether for reactive class or another class with her since she enjoys it so much. The reactive class was my support group which makes me sad to have to leave but Oreo’s health was impacting her behavior and she regressed immensely when her health was down. I have met some great people who also have reactive dogs with the blog which is great! I will continue to work on relaxation protocol and activities at home, however I am taking a much-needed break. Her health issues have had me constantly stressed and a mess lately and there is some relief knowing that I can take a break for a little.

A Little Hair…

Oreo has done so well in the trainings the last few weeks, it was actually boring for her. However,we had her walk around the lake following another dog, and she definitely needs work on that. The whole time she is pulling,crying, wanting to get to the dog. She is play bowing, so I believe it is because she wants to play, but one can never be sure. That is her pattern…so excited to see dogs,then when she does get up close, she changes her mind and becomes afraid and wants to snap at them!

We had our first private lesson to try to rehabilitate Oreo to relax around other dogs. The ultimate goal is for her to do just that…be able to relax with other dogs around and perhaps one day play with them (she is torn about this,wants to play, but is scared). The lesson didn’t go anything like the trainer or I expected, unfortunately it was much worse. We started by discussing what we were going to do, then the trainer brought her dog in (also trianing her dog at the same time). She sat on the other side of the room and I entered with Oreo and did our focus/door work activities. Then I sat in a chair and rewarded her for looking at the other dog calmly. The goal was to have her sit on her own or lay down and just relax and be like, “Who cares that there is another dog over there”.

However, this was not the case. She barked, play bowed, lunged and cried the entire time. We tried re-entering the door and she did better the second time. We followed each other in a circle but Oreo did so much lip licking to calm herself down, she was extremely uncomfortable. I should have known better, but we continued and did some calming curves, but instead of calling Oreo back to me, we let her just stop and check out the other dog. She was nervous, but did a good job being so close to the other dog. The trainer suggested having her sniff the other dogs butt, to teach good manners when approaching other dogs.

She turned her dog around, Oreo went to sniff, and the trainers dogs’ head turned…so we retreated. We went back and tried again. This time Oreo looked at me for a long time, and didn’t seem interested at all, or nervous. All of a sudden she went to bite the dog in the butt! She got a mouthful of hair, and that’s it–luckily no skin was touched and no pain.

Next class we are working in the pole barn, a much bigger area with longer leads. Hopefully the space will allow her to calm down. It was hard for her for many reasons. She is fine with all the dogs in class, but has never met this dog before. Also this dog was a BIG, HAIRY, BLACK dog! The trainer also pointed it out, but we can’t work with another dog that is also in training until she can calm down. We don’t want reactive dog training with another reactive dog. She does have an idea for a brown dog as a playmate one day. The training makes me extremely nervous, but we will take it slower, and I have to trust my instincts on what is okay for Oreo and what’s not. She doesn’t seemed stressed by the incident at all, so that is good. Well, that’s all for now!

One Happy Hound

Yay!!! Oreo had a FANTASTIC day at training! We woke up early this morning and Oreo was NOT feeling well. We were outside at 6:30am, and she was eating grass. Everyone in the neighborhood must know what my pajamas look like by now (lol)! She did take treats though, which meant we were okay. I should have figured she wouldn’t be feeling well since she didn’t eat her food last night. She needs to eat in the evening, otherwise the bile builds up and she’s sick in the morning.

Anywhoooo….onto the good news. We went to training and first we did calming curves. I was a little nervous because Oreo was doing this with a new dog. I had her sit next to me, the trainer called out “5 steps.” I proceeded 5 steps and Oreo was looking in my eyes the entire time! I felt like we understood each other and we were working together like a team. I took my five steps, saw the other dog and owner take their five steps, and called out Oreo’s name. She IMMEDIATELY turned and walked happily with me back to where we started as I clicked, praised, and treated her. We got up to 19 steps (about 10 feet away from the other dog), and Oreo did wonderful each time! She didn’t hesitate when turning around. She didn’t get nervous or stare down at the other dog…nothing! We might have even greeted the dog, except that the other dog is new to the class and is highly reactive.

I threw a “party” when we got in the car. This means that I praised her, pet her, and gave her treats while telling her what a good dog she was. This is a great reward when you get the dog back in the car after training. I also put some high value treats in her kong so that she LIKES being in the car and doesn’t get seperation anxiety.

After a break, we did the “vet office” exercise. I would bring Oreo into a door in the barn, call her name, and she needed to turn and respond to me (click, treat). She did wonderful! I do some focusing exercises (tricks such as touch, here, and high five) to get her ready to greet other people and focused on me and working together to conquer her fear. We then continued and greeted a woman sitting who asked her for tricks. Oreo was OVERLY excited, her tail was wagging a million miles a minute…she was SO HAPPY!

Next we greeted a stranger (a woman) she never met. She went right up to her, tail wagging, smiling and performed tricks for treats! Yay! At this point I was on the other side of the barn and another dog would come through the door on the opposite side and follow the pattern I just did. I would stay in the corner and do tricks to have Oreo once again focus on me. She didn’t even care another dog was there! She didn’t hesitate when I called her to come with me either, which is a great improvement. The previous classes I was having difficulty getting her to leave with me. Over the next week the trainer is going to discuss what I would like to do. I could continue with reactive classes and add on a new class (re-socialization) or switch classes altogether. The trainer is trying a new private class to re-socialize dogs who WANT to play. Oreo definitely wants to play with other dogs, but is still a bit unsure and fearful, as am I. When we were working on exercises she was whining and play bowing…she really wants some doggy friends but is unsure! Great job today! We are a happy bunch. Seems like she needs to have regression every once in a while to make a great leap!

Barking Bonanza

Training in the snow today! It was snowing and we had training anyway and I am still feeling cold!! I used Oreo’s coat today for the first time at training. She doesn’t love it, but doesn’t seem to mind it too much either. Today we only had 3 people at training due to the snow so we had lots of training time! We worked by going through the barn today. Inside the barn was another dog at the opposite side being worked by an owner (doing tricks & paying attention to the owner…or supposed to be paying attention). Also, there were 2 people in the barn sitting far apart. Oreo loves them all, but especially the trainer!

So I got her out of the car, brought her to the door, and it was time to learn to pay attention to mom! I opened the door, called her name and she had 10 seconds to respond. Why 10 seconds you might say? Well dogs like to see what’s around them, especially reactive dogs-they need to check things out. When Oreo didn’t turn around when I called her name (or look at me), we went back outside the door. We did this until she finally learned she needed to pay attention. When she did, she got a click and the great reward of seeing the person! She performed for everyone, hand targeting and doing tricks. She then came with me and paid attention to me most of the time-even when another dog was in the barn!

We did this a few times & even gave her a break, but after the 3rd time she stopped paying attention to mom, and just wanted to play with another dog. The trainer mentioned she is learned more about reintroducing dogs to play again with other dogs after being attacked or reactive. So I am hoping I will learn more too. I really would like to reintroduce her again to other dogs, and not be so nervous about it. I don’t think I’ll ever fully trust her, just because she was attacked. What if she is playing and the dog play bites her on her back in the same spot she was attacked before? I think I would react!!

Anywho, we had a barking bonanza today at training. We did triple parallel walking (all walking about 5 feet or a little more away from each other in the same direction). Oreo was okay, but kept pulling and lunging to play with the other dogs. Eventually this worked her up. In hindsight, I don’t think I’ll do the triple walk again. She gets too excited to play with other dogs and works herself up. That wasn’t the real issue though. The dog in the middle started barking like crazy at Oreo. I could see the signs-the lip licking, the frozen stare, then the hopping as we are walking. She didn’t have a meltdown or anything, but she did STOP taking treats, which she hasn’t done for a while-so she was over threshold. We then took a walk around the lake to calm down, she did take treats and also ate some goosepoop (ewwww!). She saw some geese and wanted to jump in the water after them-and she almost pulled me in with her! She’s about 35 pounds, but she is strong!!!

So overall, we had an okay day, a little more stressful for her than I would’ve wanted and Oreo would’ve wanted I am sure. She’s having lots of allergy issues again. She’s been itching so bad she’s missing a lot of hair from her legs. I believe it is food allergies. She doesn’t like raw even though I saw great improvements with it in the few weeks she would eat it (I had to mix it with lots of other things). So I’m starting her on some all gluten-free foods. Trying Sojo and Nature’s Logic so we’ll see. She is actually itching now as we are talking. I believe a vet visit is going to be in order soon 😦  I hope not but the itching is becoming horrible. Her eyes did clear up and all of her hair around her eyes was back, but now shes missing lots of hair. Also, she has some brown spots on her stomach, which I’m hoping aren’t yeast. I’ve started putting water and probiotics on them. I just cleaned her ears & have been cleaning them once a week, but they are starting to smell yeasty!! Oh no please not the ear drama again!

So we’ll see how things go…I just want her to be healthy!

Flower Design

Yesterday, we had another lesson. This time we did calming curves again with a larger dog. She did very well walking towards the other dog. She did okay with turning around and going the other day when I called her name. She did much better than last week, but she still will freeze sometimes when looking at the other dog or person. I don’t think this is necessarily because of fear freezing. It is because she WANTS so badly to see the other dog or person. You many wonder how I know this.

I know this because she whines and wags her tail, sometimes she even play bows. Still haven’t gotten her a playmate. A little apprehensive like her I guess. I know someone from her puppy class, and she got along very well with this dalmation, but I’m not quite ready. I will have to work my way up to it. I’m still afraid that if the dog bites her in the back or jumps on her that she will react to it, because that is where she was attacked before. I have seen her before get snappy and defensive if a dog tangles in her leash (they shouldn’t really be playing with the leash on for this reason-they get scared).

Anyways, she did well with the flower design. The other parents of fellow doggies formed a circle and everyone looked in toward each other, talking. I approached with Oreo walking on my side. She would have to walk towards the people, and before reaching them I would call her name. When she turned, I would click and throw treats a few feet in front of us. She got the reward of distance and treats-DOUBLE! But really, she doesn’t need distance too much from these people-she used to be afraid of them, but now she LOVES them! So really, we were working on her and I working as a team. If she wants treats or to greet someone, she needs to perform the desired behavior. After the first few rounds of this we did so much better! Next time we will be doing the flower design, but people from the circle will be greeting her, asking for a sit, treating, then sending off to me where I will click and treat her for returning to me.

By the way, the only thing to do when something bad happens is LAUGH. These 2 women came to observe the class. Of COURSE they parked right in front of my car where Oreo was getting all nervous. I went to feed her treats so she wouldn’t get over the threshold. These 2 women were old, slow moving women. They started getting out of their car, meanwhile I’m in the back with the dog feeding her treats making her target my hand to keep her attention. Otherwise, she would be barking, lunging and losing it completely. So these ladies take their time, put their jackets on, then FINALLY they look like they are going to get walking. OOPS! Forgot the coffee, so they go back. Then they start walking RIGHT BY THE CAR (come on ladies, this is a REACTIVE class, dogs are going to REACT to you, think about it-I’m not in the car feeding the dog for fun!). Then of course again they turn back to the car to get something else. What seemed like forever was probably 5 minutes, but finally they realized they should walk AROUND the car in a large arc after the trainer told them to. DUH!!! All I could do was laugh at how people do not think!