Training Session #3

I had our 3rd training session. Oreo is not yet ready to exit the car with other dogs around, so next session we will try setting up some scenarios with another dog and the trainer. The sessions will consist of getting the dog out of the car and looking at me and performing tricks. There are a gambit of different things we can do after we accomplish the focus from the dog.

We are going to be practicing 2 different variations of “come”. One is more traditional, while the other involves going through my legs and should increase trust between us. I feel that so far the training has increased her trust in me and decreased anxiety inside the house.

We will continue “stuffing the dog” (feeding her while saying her name), and continue associating her name with looking at me through different methods. Additionally, we will practice more tricks. I will try to get her to spin the other way (where her injury from the attack was), and hopefully this will help her be less sensitive there. I will also continue TTouch and the trainer may put me in contact with someone going through the TTouch program who can help. She is only a little over a year and a half, so it’s important to get her over these things now.

We practiced a “high five” with the dog. Every few weeks I should teach her a new trick to keep her mind going, and to use for focus so she doesn’t get bored. The key is to realize when she is about to go over threshold for triggers, then make her perform a trick. Many times dogs bark because they are like guard dogs, and that’s why we work so well with dogs and they work well with us. They just want us to acknowledge “ok” we see what you are telling us is there, and it’s ok.

Oreo will be okay when she can see things, but when she doesn’t see them, she gets nuts. For example, when I was walking with the dog into the training barn, her husband was there and Oreo looked and didn’t go crazy. She saw him, continued walking (we didn’t get too close), and she was okay. When we got into the training room, he started up the mower. She couldn’t see it, and started barking and getting upset. At that point, she is using the back of her brain and in the fight or flight mode. She should be using the front of her brain and thinking logically, but when dogs get over their threshold, it’s too late. Sooo the moral of the story is to get their attention and for them to do something before they start using the back of their brain.

We also discussed the RAW diet. She does not want to push it on me, just suggests to look into and see if it is right. The reason she suggested this is because Oreo has lots of digestive issues, and hardly eats the expensive kibble we get her (although she is treated a lot!). I will look into it. I’m mostly concerned about all the time it will take and the cost. I can’t afford to pay more for food, I already pay tons, but some people say it costs less so we shall see.

I have 2 weeks until my next session, but will be away a few weeks at the shore. I’m not sure what will happen after this session (it will be the last one). I do want to continue, but it is super expensive. We shall see…

Thundershirts

I’ve undertaken something new…a thundershirt. At our training lesson last Wednesday, the trainer suggested a thundershirt and asked if I knew what it was. She was very surprised to know that I have been doing all this research. I promptly searched local stores looking for a thundershirt in hope that this will help Oreo. Thundershirts are like wraps that velcro around the dog to create a feeling of safety, security, and lessen anxiety. There are many great reviews for this product, and some not so great. Many people use thundershirts to lessen the fear of thunder (hense the name).

It was suggested that I put this on her a few times a day leaving it on for different amounts.  So…I put it on her and she stood looking at me, wide eyes, and didn’t move. It was like she was in shock. Then she looked around and wobbled a little like she was off balance. I actually believe she may be getting her balance. Some dogs do not really notice their body. They don’t know their body extends and aren’t aware of it, so that makes it scary when people touch them. I am hoping the thundershirt and ttouch will help with this.

So…she followed me around like a lost puppy dog. She stood on me, followed me to the chair and jumped up to stand on me. It was like she was in shock. To me, she seemed super anxious, although she wasn’t whining or anything, she was just looking, and not moving, very odd. So I took it off after 5 minutes so she can get used to it. Next time I tried to put it on…what do you think happened? She RAN!!! I e-mailed the trainer telling her what happened, and the trainer said that she thinks this will help so I should try to get her used to it. REALLY. That hit me. Wow, yes I am a worry wart. But considering the way she acts when I tried putting something she is scared of near her (she tried to bite, snaps, growls, shows teeth). So I confronted her. Usually not the best thing to do..but I followed my gut. She hid, but I put it on top of her and she did not resist, she did not bite, or growl, or snap.

I’ve putten it on her a few more times and she’s been sleeping on the floor with it on, I think it may be working, relaxing her a bit. She is taking treats now with it on which is good. She still will run at the sight of it. Hopefully she likes it and I’m not forcing her into something scary. I think she has a love/hate relationship with it. She loves it because its calming to her, but she hates seeing it. I think each time I put it on she is a little less scared and a little more relaxed. Hopefully the trainer is right. Not sure yet…I’ll keep you updated.

Do Fidos Need Furry Friends?

I didn’t take much interest in the subject, until I learned today that Oreo’s best friend and neighbor will be moving soon. She is reactive, and only gets along with dogs she knew before the attack. She would do anything for this dog. We go outside and she lays hypnotized at the door, hoping for Boomer to come out.

I love seeing her play with Boomer. She is careless and anxiety free. They romp around the yards, diving on top of each other. Oreo is a smaller dog, while Boomer is the size of a golden retriever. Boomer will lay down and let Oreo jump and pin him down. They play tug with toys and I feel this is a time when Oreo can really be herself. It is truly a joy to watch.

I am saddened to know they are leaving, to know Oreo’s one true playmate will be gone. Walking outside, Oreo heard Boomer barking and whining inside because he is crated when his parents are gone. She layed down outside and refused to move. I enouraged, pulled, and instead of moving with me, she flopped down on her side. She did not want to move. She wanted to stay by Boomer, even though he was inside, she wouldn’t miss a chance to see him.

After learning of their moving, I did some searching about Pet Pals. In fact, I found that most dogs do not enjoy the company of other dogs, but are just tolerating it. I can see that especially when we force dogs to meet on leashes, facing each other. I also realize that many dogs form a very special bond. I think Oreo has that special bond with Boomer.

With my research, I have found that dogs can be just as happy if not happier spending time with family (humans), and it can sometimes be much betters, especially for anxious dogs. I am not saying that dogs do not need socialization, of course they do. Here is a great article about socializing dogs and if they should have friends http://shibashake.com/dog/dog-socialization-good-bad .

Play dates and socializing depend on every dog. I thought bringing my dog up to meet every dog when she was a puppy was a fabulous idea. While trying to socialize her, I think she thought she could go up to every dog then, and that every dog wanted to play. She also probably got anxiety from greeting many dogs. Now I would hate it if someone came up to me and my dog walking wishing to greet us. You live and learn I guess.

On a different, yet interesting topic. I have noticed every time Oreo encounters a fellow neighbor dog who is a small hot dog, she lays down and turns her head right away as soon as she sees him from a distance. YAY! Good Oreo for using calming signals. She is scared of every other dog, but uses appropriate calming signals with this dog. She doesn’t love to play with him, actually he is too frightened, he may come sniff but then runs away. She must know he is scared to send off calming signals. It is very interesting. I hope to utilze this somehow in the future.