Let's play tug!!
|Barked: Fri Nov 9, '12 1:48pm PST |
|Do keep updating, even if to say 'this was a disaster,' people might be able to help you figure out why. Talking to people is crucial for me- almost every day I find some kind of management tool I can use, some way I am being inconsistent, something I can do to make our lives easier, that I am stubbornly putting him in a situation just because it's "normal" and I'm used to doing it, etc, and it's usually by conversations in person or online that I figure it out. Like, for awhile I was running the air conditioner 24-7 because it was loud enough to cover outside noise, which was really expensive, and then it broke. I felt like I was going to lose it if I listened to any more "Classical Music for Dogs," so sometimes I did nothing and just let him bark at noises, then felt guilty about letting him practice bad behavior and stress himself out. A lot of times it meant that doing any exposure that day was a bust, because he would immediately go over threshold at an intensity level I thought he could handle. I wasn't taking into account that barking at the window for half an hour that morning while the maintenance guys mowed the grass changed his threshold. I ended up buying some "cyclone fans" that I found on Amazon, and they are a godsend. If it's hot, I open the front door and put the fan in the doorway, and lock us in the bedroom while it cools off, then move us to the living room and open the window in the bedroom. It's it's cool, I just face them toward the wall. Sometimes books or trainers will tell you to do things that seem impossible, and coming here and interacting with people can be the difference between coming up with a solution that fits your life or getting overwhelmed, feeling guilty, and giving up. Being persistent with my vet led her to prescribe meds and recommend an obedience class at the Humane society. The teacher recommended taking him to visit to get him comfortable with the grounds. Genius!! It took two visits before he would take treats, but when we went for our real class, he did fantastically, even with people constantly invading our personal space. Even if I knew how to teach basic commands, the opportunity to socialize, build confidence, and work on focusing with distractions is wonderful. This experience made me aware of how very important it is to let Smokey walk around and sniff new places before expecting him to pay attention to me or interact with strangers, like at the vet for example. And this is doubly true if there is an onslaught of dozens or hundreds of dog smells. Talking to one of the substitute teachers after class, we talked about desensitization for leaving cues, and I said I think he's desensitized to most of them, but there's a quantum leap when I open the door, even if he seems totally calm. She reminded me that opening the door is not one action- it's a bunch of little actions, from touching the doorknob, turning the doorknob, etc. Duh!! I've given similar advice to other people; why didn't I think of that? I get so focused on how I feel and what I'm trying to accomplish that I lose awareness of what I'm doing and how he's responding. In the car, it's taking out the key, grabbing my purse, turning my body, etc. Her tuning me in to leaving cues also makes me aware that the point he starts to get upset is different based on where we are. When I did a trial at In N Out, he didn't even stand up until I was all the way out of the car. He's used to me parking and eating after going through the drivethru, and I've never gotten out of the car there. At home, he starts to freak out as soon as I park the car. He knows we're getting out, and that there will be cats, other dogs, people carrying stuff, all of which he feels the need to protect our home turf from. Being more aware makes me better at desensitizing him to leaving cues. And generally just not feeling like I am alone makes me emotionally able to keep going and try different things and sometimes figure stuff out on my own- ok, trying to make him pee at the bush right outside the apartment door isn't working because he's trying to protect the house from everyone that walks by. The back side of the complex isn't good because there are barking dogs and stray cats everywhere. But the front lawn seems to be working pretty well right now, so I'll try that. I'm very grateful for the reactive dog community here, at the BAT group on Facebook, and the people I've met through meetup and class.|
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