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Onward to more adventures

Our Saturday Growly Dog 2 class at Ahimsa Dog Training in Seattle has come to an end. Gypsy did really well and on the final class greeted one of the other reactive dogs in class. I have to admit that the other dog wasn’t over the top by any means. For the most part throughout class, the two of them couldn’t care less about each other. But still, they greeted and that was great.

The class wasn’t really what I had hoped. There were only 3 students of 6 spots. The one lower-reactive dog was the one we worked with the most.  The other dog was reactive in a different way and barked a lot and kept his distance — a distance that was way below Gypsy’s threshold.  When we started the class I told the instructor Gypsy is noise and motion reactive and we really didn’t work any of that. It was pretty much 6 weeks of BAT setups, which I modified to fit more into Dr. Yin’s protocol.  We still went every week but I don’t think we got much out of it. As Dr. Yin told me, Gypsy is not the type of dog that turning and walking away is going to reduce her anxiety. Yes, it may help some other dogs but not Gypsy.  So the class is ended. I think it did help lower her threshold in some arenas, like when the dog in class barked when he got over threshold, she didn’t seem to care. Perhaps a few months ago she would have. I think we’re going to spend some time over the next month working on CU games at home, at the park and even agility practice.

At home it’s a different story. She’s still reactive to my landlords upstairs and through windows. My Growly Dog instructor recommended a Calming Cap.  I looked it up online –I am not sure that’s right for us. I don’t know. Perhaps it could work but it doesn’t solve the underlying problem and doesn’t really form a situation to work through — it’s just what I see as positive punishment — adding something to change a behavior.  I tried to think of it like a Thundershirt, but I think it’s a little more intrusive than that. At least the Thundershirt gives a calming feeling with the wrap. The Calming Cap just makes it so they can’t see as much because it’s like looking through mesh.  If any of you have tried it, please let me know what your experience is with it.

For my birthday I got a little money from my Grandma. I went on Amazon.com and bought Gypsy a cheap, but full size skateboard!! I don’t see her skating down the street or anything but I do think it will be fun to train to at least have her stand on it and me pull her. I think it could build her confidence and trust in me. We’ll see — we’re so far just clicking and treating for putting one or two paws on it!

Today I am thankful for my background check going through at work for an awesome promotion that will allow me more financial resources to spend on my dogs!

 

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Posted by on June 5, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Reactive barking, good progress and my birthday

First, I’ll start out with this week– we’ve done a lot of the Look at That game with objects, not dogs. I know Dr. Yin said to be careful with this game because if the dog is looking at it, they are thinking about it. But using toys or leashes or something completely neutral, I am able to start using this game to teach her she can take a quick glance but the reward comes from me. So that’s what we have been working on this week and it’s going great so far.

Yesterday was my birthday. We went to one of the local islands to a beach and there were 4 dogs total, my 2, one Gypsy knows well and another she just met. Dasher is a 2 year old lab and very active. Gypsy did great with her for just meeting her.  I was really impressed and happy.  We did a lot of walking and playing on the beach.  There were other dogs who walked by on the beach that she had no reaction to either. The distance was way below her threshold but it was great to see. I think a lot of the training we’ve been doing has allowed her to work under threshold a lot longer. This is awesome.

So back to what I don’t like — she’s still noise reactive at home. Every single sound makes her bark. I am having a hard time counter conditioning it because I literally have to click and treat all day long. It is just not possible. The melatonin helps a little — it really just depends on how noisy my neighbors are and what’s going on outside. I am not having a lot of success in fixing it. It’s all noise-related so at least I’ve been able to narrow that down.  Now I have to see how I can work on it with success.

Today I am thankful for another trip around the sun.

Family photo on my 35th birthday.

 
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Posted by on May 27, 2012 in Week 10

 

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Week 10 underway and doing ok

Gypsy and I are plugging along as we’re in week 10. I need to work more on our heeling and leash exercises as we haven’t done much of that lately.  I also need to be more vigilant about her sitting to say please.

Overall though we’ve had ups and downs as usual. She’s still barking at home when even no one is upstairs and all the blinds are closed, as it has become a habit, but we’ve also done some CC in the yard and really working on the Look at That game with windows and lights and non-dog objects. We are also working mat work more and I ordered her a special Mutt Mat which we’ll get in a few days so we can work our mat work outside, at parks, at class, etc.  She doesn’t really have a designated mat in the house so it will be nice to have one she knows is her ‘safe place’ or ‘home base’ as you will.

Nothing really better or worse today.  I guess that’s not too bad.

Today I am thankful for a pending promotion at work so I can afford to play more and train more with my dogs.

 
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Posted by on May 23, 2012 in Week 10

 

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It’s been a rough evening

I’ll start with yesterday since we didn’t post. It wasn’t too exciting, though. We went to our Growly Dog 2 class and it was ok. There were only 2 of us in class and it wasn’t very effective to what Gypsy needs. We were able to help the other dog though, so that was good. But for Gypsy, it wasn’t much help. It was still good. We mainly did BAT setups in the classroom and I worked with Gypsy off leash in our little boxed in area.  Then I had to run some errands and in the evening she was pretty quiet for a weekend.

Today was a different story. We got up early and went to a TDAA trial about 90 minutes away. It was her first TDAA trial in 2 months and I wanted to see if anything got better. In a nutshell— yes and no.  Yes, she was much better with the dogs around her. She saw dogs while she pottied and we walked around, as well as going up to the entry of the ring. I didn’t carry her in this time.  She was much better with that. But once in the ring, she was not thrilled for the most part. She didn’t even want to get out of her crate, which is very odd and disturbing for her.  I don’t know why that was. She even had a bully stick she didn’t finish. She ate a whole one in class the other day but today didn’t want to chew on it much.

I did have her Thundershirt on, and sometimes she thinks the world is coming to an end when that happens. It could be a factor.  The runs didn’t go great, but I did experiment with a few things, she was better with her startline stay, she nailed in contacts (running too!!) and had fun. The most fun she had was when we ran FEO in a beginner’s run instead of intermediate. She’s technically an intermediate level but the courses weren’t too fun for her and so I dropped her down for FEO and she did fantastic!!

On that beginner FEO run, a person at the trial had a border collie about 5 feet off the gates. Gypsy spotted him and started freaking out. She was totally fixated. She would not sit for me at the startline or connect with me. So I had her ribbon, just ran in circles with me, back and forth and got her ramped up, and then I just said “GO!” And she didn’t look back at that BC again!!! It’s interesting because when I did the startline stay I wasn’t as ramped up as I was with the BC incident and she wasn’t feelin’ it much. I guess I was too concerned about the stay so I didn’t look fun.  I think that was our revelation of the day.

Back home, it got worse. We fell asleep on the couch and I thought all was good. But then she started fixating on noises outside. I took her outside and my landlord was in the front yard gardening. We did do a lot of click/reward and some recalls but she was still very hypervigilant and stressed out.  She looked really stressed out.  We came inside and she still looked really stressed out. I tried to calm her but it wasn’t working. I tried to click and reward and it didn’t work. So I put her in her crate, with the door open, and just pet her. She stayed in there about 20 minutes and that did calm her down. Then I took her near the couch on leash and sat with her on the floor. She found a squeaky penguin toy and just went to town on it like she was releasing all of her stress. She was squeaking it like crazy and then proceeded to try to remove all the stuffing. She didn’t pull out much. We even played a little tug with it. Whether the intention for her was stress relief or not, I tend to believe it was since she doesn’t usually get toys out of the blue on her own, let alone this penguin one.  She just went crazy with squeaking it like she was beating the hell out of it like a punching bag.

After she calmed down I gave her a rawhide to chew while I did a few things around the house. I don’t know if it was the anxiety or the bone or both, but Apollo came up to the x-pen barrier and she stared and then lunged at him. He ran away. She couldn’t have gotten to her because of the barrier but I wasn’t happy with that behavior at all since I think that’s what happened the other night because there was a rawhide on the floor in the bedroom when we had that incident the other night.

So after that, I don’t know what to do. I’ve been thinking today of trying some melatonin this week to see if it helps take the edge off. Apollo goes the the vet tomorrow for his eyes and I may talk to the vet about some anti-anxiety meds. I don’t know her stance on them, but after she was so overthreshold in her own backyard just by seeing someone through the gate (she also reacted when my mom and dad were standing outside the gate last week and I went to let them in, so it’s not just people she doesn’t recognize right away), plus the anxiety in the house and hypervigilance, I just so badly wanted to help her feel better. She was panting, moving every which way, and just very very anxious. I really don’t want drugs, but I would like her to be able to feel “normal” while we work through the fear and so some CC and OC because it’s not really working on it’s own. She treats it as a game or a training session and when the session is over, so is the work. She hasn’t yet transferred it to real life and I honestly don’t know how to make that happen.  I can’t just click and treat all day. She just can’t eat that much.

If anyone is reading this, please let me know if you have any experience with anti-anxiety drugs for your dogs, like Prozac or Xanex.  I found this blog today — it’s a little outdated, but interesting nevertheless and something to talk to my vet about.

Today I am thankful I worked hard to get through to my dog and try to show her that she can lead a calm life.  Someday I’d like to be thankful it actually happened, and not just a wish.

 
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Posted by on May 6, 2012 in 7th week

 

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Classical Conditioning neighbor noises

Here we are… week 6…

Today we got a lot of sessions in classically conditioning/operant conditioning neighbor noises. I was able to click and  treat noises and then she looked in the direction of the noise. I clicked and treated that when she didn’t bark. Soon she was doing a head whip waiting for the click. I think I need to use the clicker more than I have been with this game. So far so good. And the SHHH is going well too. No naughty behavior chains yet.

We also worked on our contact training tonight. She did really really good!! She had fun, was focused back to the table and didn’t jump more than just a handful of times of more than 20 reps. It was really nice. Tomorrow I may move the Manner Minder to the side a little and see if she can still run off the contact.

Today I am thankful for a beautiful sunset, when Gypsy and I were in the front yard working on our rapid sits and taking photos.

Sunset - 4/23/12

 
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Posted by on April 23, 2012 in 6th week

 

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Training challenge: Hay fever!

Ugh, so today isn’t a great day. I feel like I’ve been run over by a truck. My seasonal allergies are in full force, despite the allergy meds I take. Even so, I worked the best I could with Gypsy with the little energy I have. When we go outside for potty she is doing well looking at me. It may be because she’s hungry but I’ll take it. It is still rewarding her for behavior I want.

This evening I didn’t have a lot of energy. We worked in the yard on some relationship building games with me (attempting) to run and have her chase me, things like that. She loves those games. I just wish I had more energy to keep running.  We came inside and worked some leave its, some calming rewards (the landlords were noisy tonight) and some early shaping exercises I’m working to build on.

I’m doing some research on relationship-building too since I know that’s something I really need to work on and that will help a lot of our problems. L2E is all about building relationships too, so I know we’re off to a great start.

Short blog tonight as we start week 5.  Tomorrow is the corgi club walk on the same trail we did yesterday. It will be a great training op.

Today I am thankful for Allegra, Flonase and kleenex.

 
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Posted by on April 16, 2012 in 5th week

 

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Rally Novice A title!!!

Gypsy got her Rally Novice A title today!!! Not only that, her score was a 93. And not only that, she got 4th place!!! I am so proud of her.

Our first trial was in November of 2011 and she got a 73. Our second was in February 2012 and she got a 73. She wasn’t focused on me at all. She wasn’t connected to me at all.

Today she got a 93!!!! I am still beaming with pride. I know it has everything to do with our Learn to Earn program!!!  She wasn’t 100% on me because she still likes to sniff and it is still a little stressful, but huge huge huge improvements.

Honestly I think yesterday’s run was better than today. She was a little more connected. But I have no complaints about today!! All of our work today on L2E was done at the trial today.  I didn’t work with her much this morning so she went to the trial hungry. However we did have fun game of tug this morning.

I am proud of our hard work and progress!!

Oh, and another note, during the ribbon ceremony, we were in a circle around the judge as she handed them out. One lady next to us had a little doxie who was good, but the other lady on the other side had 2 dogs that weren’t very controllable. The judge even said something to her about it. Anyway, Gypsy was looking at them but didn’t react at all! I couldn’t have any treats with me either! We were about 2-3 feet separated. 🙂

And one other great thing to note: This evening I had Gypsy in the living room with an ex-pen blocking her from the rest of the house. The food container was just inside the ex-pen. I scooped out food for Apollo and spilled about 10 pieces of kibble on the floor. I told her to leave-it. I was on the other side of the ex-pen so I couldn’t block her at all. This was the moment of truth. Was she going to leave it or ignore me. She left them!! She looked at them, then back at me and stepped back. Then she sat! I released her and told her to get them! At first she was hesitant and slowly approached the first and ate it like she was being sneaky. But as soon as she realized it really was ok, she went to town on the rest. Ahhhh so much improvement!!!!!!!!!!!!

Today, I am grateful for Learn to Earn and the changes, even small so far, have made in our lives.

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Posted by on April 1, 2012 in 2nd week

 

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