Thursday, October 14, 2010

Saving What's Left of My Sanity

I have a reactive dog, a reactive dog that still needs exercise.

Since we've moved Eclipse's walks have been non-existent. I'm working on a new (to us) leash walking training program, so when we do go on "walks" it's just in front of our house and the dog-less neighbor next to us. The first time we did it he did so great that I took up to the road (we live on a gravel alley) but he froze as his feet hit the concrete. I see a lot of desensitizing to the concrete in our future. The hard part is that 20 yards from the beginning of the concrete live two big mixed-breed dogs. I have no issue with the dogs, they're actually very pretty dogs, but they are barrier aggressive, meaning they charge the fence with their big barks and scare the poo out of Eclipse. So at the very beginning of our walk he's on edge and extremely stressed. Which means every fence after that has a big scary monster behind it. I can not justify forcing him to experience that stress to wear him out every day, so I don't. The good news is we're going to start working with a trainer on Eclipse's reactivity thanks to her bomb-proof dog. We'll even be able to simulate a barking dog behind a fence (Eclipse's biggest stress inducer) with one of her other (harmless) dogs.

In the meantime, though, how do we survive? Eclipse is a smart dog, so we do a lot of training. Currently we're working on a nose touch (nudge is the command) but we're starting from scratch since if you offer your hand he licks it, if you offer a target he bites it, so we're re-training this one. We're also desensitizing the head collar thanks to natural peanut butter in a food tube, it's slow going since he's had almost 2 years of hating the head collar but I have faith we'll get there. He almost always gets his dinner out of the Kong Wobbler for that small amount of stimulation and I plan on getting him a Tug-A-Jug and a buster cube as well to challenge him a bit more. He gets part of his breakfast in the morning (before 5 a.m.) when I get up and the other part I freeze in a Kong with peanut butter (when I remember to!) and he gets that when I get back with the kids between 9 and 10 a.m. The frozen Kong takes him 45 minutes to 2 hours to finish with depending on how hard I freeze it. Thankfully after that much work he's ready for a nap.

Just yesterday we added another tool to our arsenal. My mom has been wanting to get rid of her treadmill so we got it. Eclipse wasn't trained initially to walk on the treadmill with positive reinforcement but since he has been rewarded for walking on it and does so willingly. Yesterday when we got it moved into our bedroom (although it probably won't stay there, we're just waiting until we have all the furniture for the guest room so we can get everything arranged at once) and all set up Eclipse went and stood on it and just looked at me. So I turned it on for him and he walked for a few minutes, his tail just wagging as fast as it could! Even Teddy and Kira are getting the hang of it. For now I'm waking up 10 minutes early, feeding and pottying the dogs then letting Eclipse walk on the treadmill while I get dressed and ready for the day. He will eventually be walking 15 minutes in the morning but I cut him off at 7 minutes today since he hasn't walked that much regularly in quite awhile.

1 comment:

  1. Good to see Eclipse making progress. 2 of my Goldens learned to walk on the treadmill and loved it (nasty winters in north Idaho). Nothing replaces a walk-about for pack bonding, but the treadmill is lots of fun, especially when treats are involved. I think Lady would change the spark plugs in my car if I had enough cookies.....BOL