Good Training Update

Oreo was very shaky the last few weeks. We have had more stress at home, and since I have gone back to work she hasn’t been herself. It was so bad that when a car door would slam outside, she would get up barking like a nut! However, she did very well at training yesterday. We did calming curves, and she turned around nicely when she got near another dog and I called her name.

Also, I made sure I had a great reward for her when she got back into the car–STEAK! So now she enjoys going in the car more. Last session it was hard to get her to go back into the car. We also did a new exercise, called treat and retreat. I got her out of the car, and someone would stand about 10-15 feet away. Oreo barked at first, but the trainer who oreo adores, stood next to the new person. Oreo was better with the person then. We would take a few steps towards the person & they would throw a treat behind Oreo so she would turn. Then they people throwing the treats would back away a few steps, giving her room. Oreo kept going towards them and they kept throwing treats. This shows her people are good, and we can take breaks to calm ourselves by turning and retreating. We don’t ALWAYS have to run up to people, especially if we can’t control ourselves. This was a good activity for her, and we will continue to use it at training.

Her allergies seemed to be getting much better since we started her on raw. We also got honey locally, and have added it to her food. However, when it rains her eyes get more inflammed. So we are trying a homeopathic remedy-sulfur. We shall see how that goes…

First Reactive Class

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.

It’s JUST a dog.

I have started Oreo on a mixed diet. I’m not brave enough to go full RAW…yet, and my freezer is not big enough either (darn condo). I went looking for stella and chewy raw frozen dog food at chaar, but found they only had dehydrated. While dehydrated is convienent, I find it weird and unnatural (although it can be but I just think it’s weird). I ended up seeing two freezers. One full of Nature’s Variety (she’s on that kibble) and BRAVO.

I didn’t know much about BRAVO, but took a leap of faith, and couldn’t find bad reviews online (although I am sure there are, no one will like everything). I got a sample pack (different varieties) and a large pack of 12 patties of turkey. Chicken or turkey are what you should start your dog on if you are going RAW, due to the tummy upsets. However, make sure you try variety. I made that mistake and my dog would seem fine on kibble a little while, then get sick. So perhaps she became allergic (which is what I’m told happens if you don’t switch).

This is all a new world for me. I mean some people will say, “It’s JUST a dog.” To that, I think the person maybe never had a dog? Or a real connection or relationship with the dog, making them part of the family. It actually fathoms me that people can say that. I think our society has distanced itself greatly from the world of animals. They are disposable, much like a purse from the store. It’s in when you buy it, then out in a few months when the seasons change. Some people feel this way about dogs, and many don’t have the right tools or knowledge to have a dog. Unfortuantely, many people seem so busy or miserable they don’t stop and enjoy life and everything around it. Some people are just miserable. But I digress…

Yes, I know I am a RAW diet wimp as some people may believe. Yes, RAW from a company is more expensive, and yes, you don’t know exactly what you are getting. But I think that RAW will hopefully be better than just kibble.

As for training, I find myself being lazy. I can’t be lazy though, I paid a lot of money and I’ve seen some progress and I can’t give up. After each lesson it seems like I take a few days to chill a little. But I tell myself this is okay. We started the dog on her new meds and I’ve noticed she is sleeping A LOT during the day. This can be a side effect, but usually changes eventually.

Some success in the past few days: Getting out of the car and looking at me when dogs are within 20 feet (on the 2nd try), and having a GIGANTIC lawnmower passing us (this thing was the size of a dumptruck) within 10 feet of us at the park and her not reacting. Of course I was holding a nice treat and encouraging her telling her what a good dog she is!!