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!

Regression Happens…

It’s been a busy week. We are finally getting ready to sell our home (yay!!!). This should be great for Oreo in the long run because reactive dogs in condos make the least progress (yes, I know I’ve said this a million times)! Oreo has been feeling better, no vomiting. I think her sickness was caused by the antibiotics, but I’m happy to say she is done and her stomach has cleared up…no more brown spots or red bumps. However, she still is sucking/biting on fabric which is very unusual for her, so her stomach must still be bothering her a bit. She’s definitely licking her paws and biting them TOO much.

Tomorrow is training. Last week we did VERY easy things, just basically treat & retreat. This allowed each person to approach her, which I had her on leash. She went up to greet the person, and before she reached them the person threw treats behind her to the side. This allowed her to know people are good, and she got that time to calm down while turning around. When she turned to get the treats, the person would “retreat” a few steps, giving an additional “space” reward to her. She did wonderful and loved everyone. She was so happy! Once again everyone at training didn’t see what the big deal was, and she looked “normal” haha. It’s an ongoing joke with everyone because every time I said she had a horrible week, she goes to training and does a great job. Last time this happened she made amazing progress after her regression. Hopefully that happens again…

I actually broke down at the last training crying. Oreo had the worst week she’d had in a long time 2 weeks ago. We went to the vet and that caused extreme stress. The stress rolled over into everything during the week. She snapped when I tried to clean her ears (after a few days she was okay with it again), she was growling when I touched her legs, and actually made contact on my wrist with her teeth when I asked her to get off of the bed. It was like ALL of the problems we had tackled…tackled together had rushed back with one vet visit.

We worked on classic counter-conditioning for her legs & paws. Touching them then clicking and treating…over and over, working it on longer periods with high value treats. We worked on “off” with rewards, and FINALLY she let me clean her ears without even putting up a fuss. She would even lift her head and turn so I could get to her ears. Yesterday, I almost had another meltdown. My husband bent down over her when she snatched a cardboard box and was chewing it. She growled at him and showed her teeth. I have worked on “trade” with her for a long time. I started with something simple and low value to her, like a spoon. I put it in front of her, said, “Trade,” then threw treats to the side of her, preferably so she turned back a little.

Next, I picked up the spoon, then replaced it. This way she got treats and realized I would give it back. I followed this pattern, then tried it with something of higher value, like a toy that was “okay.” I moved along to high value toys, then finally practiced with socks and things she LOVES to have. This way, if I ever need to take something away from her, she will believe I will give it back. Instead of giving it back, I would give her TONS of high value treats. You must practice giving it back, and having a positive outcome so the dog will actually perform in an emergency.

This is also true with asking a dog to come to you. You NEVER call a dog to you if they are coming to something “bad.” For example, when I wanted to go inside and I was just hanging outside in the sun with the dog, I would call her in. She wouldn’t come…I didn’t understand why. Well DUH! She didn’t want to. So, in order to practice come, I could call her, when she would come I would give her praise, but then release her to go back. Sometimes the real life rewards such as being able to go lay in the sun again are better than anything else.

Anyways, I got off on a tangent. She’s had a rough week, and I haven’t been up to snuff with training. I need to continue walking her longer, practicing tricks, and continuing to teach more tricks. I would like to do “bow” and click her when she does it to “catch” the trick. I taught her “leave it” too well, so food luring doesn’t work (booo!) haha good and bad. My husband has agreed to practice “trade” with Oreo so hopefully that will help. She has calmed down this week, and tomorrow is training, so we’ll see how it goes…remember…regression happens…but so does progress.