Sunday, May 9, 2010

Training, Dog Walk, Car Anxiety, Headcollars, Fun Times!

Things are going well here, we've making improvement in all things dog and they all seem to be enjoying themselves.
I've ordered a couple food tubes for Eclipse and should be receiving them this week sometime. In the meantime I needed something that would work for a short time since there was a local dog walk yesterday and I wanted to take Eclipse and work with him a bit. I'd read of trainers using cheese wiz but didn't want to go that route as I didn't want to cause Eclipse to get gassy or even worse, get diarrhea. After some thinking I went and got a can of Kong Stuff'n and it worked like a charm! We got the liver recipe and Eclipse did great at the walk! Only a couple reactions to some dogs that had less than desirable body language and he wasn't horribly stressed, which was more than I could ask for! He also enjoyed some good play time with his sister at the dog park, but we neglected to get any pictures as their play was lax and the dog walk was quite disappointing.
The above photo is from after the dog walk though, he slept for most of the day after it as it was both mentally and physically tiring for the boy.
^Not happy that I keep taking photos of him!^
I'm using a few different training methods with Eclipse currently, rather than doing strictly B.A.T we're also doing some classical counter conditioning to outside in general. After paying closer attention to the signals he was giving me it became apparent that his reactions to other dogs seem to be in direct correlation not only with the other dogs but with the noise/activity level around him as well. So, we're spending time practicing loose leash walking around the driveway (there are three other dogs in other duplexes, so there's still plenty for him to react to, although he's doing good), and our walks are amounting to a very short ways down the road with yummy rewards for being relaxed which we'll be able to expand on when our food tubes arrive. He's no longer walking with me to Mom's to check the mail as there's one place that proves to be way over his threshold at this point that we have to walk by to get where we're going, so until his threshold is much higher his walks have for the most part been put on hold. 
Don't worry though, that doesn't mean he's got tons of energy to spare. In fact we've come up with a new routine in our house. Each dog gets four sessions of alone-time each day. One is for grooming (general brushing as well as personalized care, Kira's eyes get cleaned, Teddy's pads get some toughening agent put on them to try and toughen them up and Eclipse's trouble ear gets a good cleaning [he's developed a bit of yeast build up in one ear due to being on Garlic and Brewer's Yeast tablets so he's no longer getting those]), two are for training times and one is for playing with Alex and/or me one-on-one.
Training-wise I'm currently teaching Teddy and Kira how to learn and think through things and Eclipse is getting some work on that as well. Kira and Eclipse are learning to "touch" my hand with their nose, Teddy is learning to deliver a toy to my hand and how to bow, Eclipse is learning "silky leash" and all three are learning doggy "zen". Silky leash is where the dog learns to respond to the tiniest amount of pressure on their collar, one of the coolest ways to teach loose leash walking I've ever come across. Doggy "zen" teaches them that they must leave what they wish to have alone in order to get it. They're both very cool and I'm enjoying working with the kids on them! 
We're also working on Eclipse's car anxiety although not as I'd originally planned. Turns out we don't need to completely re-introduce the car, all we need is something good enough for Eclipse to accept through his anxiety, i.e. peanut butter! To begin with he needed constant licks of peanut butter to even sit in the car but now after only a lick or two he'll sit and even lay down in the car, stay out of our faces and only needs a lick every 30-60 seconds to stay calm and relaxed. Seems like a lot but if you had seem him before you'd be impressed as that's after only four car rides! (One trip, three stops) We had been tethering him to the seat belt for safety but that's no longer needed. We're making leaps and bounds!
Beyond that, not much is going on, other than we got the Halti back from Coreena so if Eclipse needs a walk he'll wear that or the Gentle Leader until his leash behaviour and reactivity are much much improved.
I have to say, I'm enjoying all three "kids" more and more as my bond with them grows. It's amazing how quickly and drastically your bond with your dogs changes as you do low-stress and positive training and learning together!
I love them all so much and am looking forward to learning more about the dogs that grace my life!
Okay, I admit, I have puppy fever. Coreena's new puppy Zeke has very cute siblings and one I absolutely fell in love with! He's a very light brindle and was so chill. Good thing the next dog I want I want to be very stable and a potential competition dog (rally-o, agility) and an accidental litter of mutts wouldn't do that for me.

Speaking of puppies, I'm not sure at this point if I'll be raising again. Right now my anxiety is so bad I have a hard time going in public by myself for necessary things, adding a puppy to the mix with all the attention and frustration that comes along with that is enough to potentially put me in full-fledged panic attack. I guess we'll see how things go in the next couple years, but if my anxiety doesn't improve any then no more puppy raising for me. It's a sad realization to come to, but we'll see how I manage having a pet puppy, since I haven't had a pet puppy in the house since Teddy was a puppy 6 years ago! Maybe it's time for change soon... only time will tell I suppose. I would certainly miss raising and helping others, but maybe there's other ways I can help (fostering dogs for the shelter maybe?) and I certainly would not miss the heartache every 6-18 months of puppies leaving!

Ally & Alex w/Eclipse, Teddy & Kira

1 comment:

  1. Loved the pictures and the stories. What a cute bunch a dogs!