Thursday, July 8, 2010

What we're working on

I have been SUCH a bad dog trainer since we stopped doing obedience classes! With three dogs, sometimes I just get so overwhelmed and we end up doing nothing even when I DO have time to train. If I don't feel like training all of them, I don't train any of them, and I need to realize that training doesn't have to be a marathon. It can just be a few minutes here and there and working with one is better than working with none. I've been a bit better lately, but it's hard when I don't have any specific goals. So here's my plan for the next bit:

Not really doing anything, just trying to get more one-on-one time with him and hoping his Prozac kicks in soon. He's been on it for about 6 days now and so far it hasn't seemed to do anything, but I guess it takes a few weeks to kick in. I'm hoping to see improvements in the following behaviors: storm phobia, anxiety in his crate (barking, digging, chewing, drooling, paw licking), anxiety in strange places, obsessiveness over Elo, obsessiveness over toys and being outside, not responding to commands and pretending I don't exist most of the time, barking, digging, and chewing for stress and frustration relief. All of this stuff happened so gradually I didn't really notice it until one day I looked at this black and white dog living with me and started to wonder who he was and what happened to my Lok? He is so sad and frustrated. I just want him to get better.

I decided to take Elo out in public last night. Bad idea. We went to the lake, and I brought Lok with too. He was obviously very stimulated from the start, but other than pulling on the leash, seemed to be doing fine, leaving people alone. I had him on a long line and he was recalling ok, and checking in with me. Then these ladies walked into the lake and Elo apparently decided that was NOT ok. They were way out in the lake and he was standing knee-deep just barking and growling at them. Then he started barking and growling at EVERYONE and EVERYTHING. I decided to leave and the whole way back to the car he is barking, growling, lunging, practically twisting out of his collar to the point where he was scaring people.

Elo was never supposed to stay. He was supposed to be a foster. Here for a good time, not a long time, and then on to a new home after a couple months. But of course, none of my fosters are ever good, normal dogs. It's been almost a year and he doesn't seem to be going anywhere. So I guess I need a plan to work on this. But where do you start when you have a dog that is reactive to EVERYTHING?!

Jun, my good girl, my princess, my easy dog. . . . . . . never in a million years did I think I'd be saying THAT!! Jun (and all the dogs, but mostly Jun) has been working long stays and doing WONDERFULLY! Its crazy how starting an evening with a 20-minute down-stay has a calming effect on the rest of the night. I started working on a handstand with Jun last night. She is the world's clutziest dog, so we'll see if she has the coordination to do it, but she was having fun getting to use her brain for something new for once. And I realized last night that she has completely forgotten how to SIT. So we did a refresher on that. Still working on our new "back-up" method. We were stalled out for awhile, since Jun in seemingly incapable of backing up in a straight line, so she was missing the target a lot, thus not getting rewarded and getting frustrated. But I realized that if I turn my body 90 degrees to the left, she backs up straight. So, that was working for us better last night. The only behavior issue I need to work on with Jun right now is barking in the yard. That will be easy to fix. I just have to commit to inconveniencing myself to taking her out on leash long enough to break the habit. One of these days . . .

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