Wednesday, March 24, 2010

What a day...I think George is going through a fear period.. at 5yrs old?

 George ...

today twice...once on our morning walk...he started barking at two black large dogs coming at us while owner was on a bike, we crossed the road but he couldn't stop barking..


this morning being the impressionable adolescent.... acted like a loon as well. 

Then tonight on our evening walk George again...

we walked past a sign and he lunged all cowered and almost rushed on to the street to avoid the sign.  He was so frightened.  So terrified and even trembling... He's never trembled or reacted to signs, especially one's he's walked by so many times.

 I spoke to Rita and I'm going to take him to Dogsmart for a "train and play" class on Saturday before Keegan's class to see if maybe he is starting to globalize his fear.

The class is for dogs under 40 lbs so I'm hoping he will feel more comfortable and I inturn will be able to figure out how I can help him through this.

Last year it took a few months of classes (come when called & out and about)to slowly build up his confidence again to be around other dogs, who were friendly and pretty much ignored him until he showed playful body language.  Then we got to play with them.  After that he was awesome until now. 

It really helps if you know a handful of dogs who are solid when they go through a tough time.  Also if you can go to classes where they are around other dogs, but don't have to interact with them.

Also important to know dogs who dole out calming signals to your dog no matter what your dog is emoting, and you will see almost a big sigh of relieve come over your dog when he realizes he doesn't have to act tough, or be noisy.

Both George and Daizy were used in the occasional class as the Fun Police dogs. Not physically smashing adolescent bullies but just with their body language and hairy eyeballs and then initiating calmer play style.  Really good with adolescent dogs...but.... Life ... has a way of throwing you curve balls...and after a couple attacks in Squamish where other dogs were off leash and no owner in tow...they trampled George and another wouldn't stop trying to hump him (pitbull mix) it really wasnt fun trying to get these dogs away.  Some people just don't get it.  It's not fair especially for a smaller dog to have to defend him self all the time, if he is not interested in being bullied.

So was done with meeting new dogs for a while.  He went from friendly to reactive...keep away.

We'll see.  I'd be happy with quick meet and greets again and being on our way.

It's tough when all I can do is guess.  It sure does help that there are so many positive ways to bridge the gap in communication available to us these days.

I spoke to Alice and she also mentioned to up his veggies...I feed raw and there's research that in order for brain chemistry to regulate Serotonin, diet needs to be more Alkaline....

I don't know what I'd do without Rita and Alice.


Cynthia said...

Oh, poor George. I can totally empathize. Don't you wish you could just tell them that the sign is okay? (or tarp, or Christmas decoration in my case). I always struggle with what I see as a trust issue: I'm essentially communicating to Dottie through training and so on that dogs are nothing to be afraid of. But, in both George and Dottie's case, they really are sometimes. I always feel like I'm lying to her a little bit. Like, 'don't worry, I'll protect you' when sometimes I couldn't. I can't really blame her for snapping at an off leash dog that came out of nowhere when it makes the dog go away a vast majority of the time. All we can try to do is manage it the best we can and find dogs who will be respectful. I can't really blame other dogs for being sassy to Dottie, either, she sends an "I'm crazy and vulnerable" vibe loud and clear. Although it would be nice if they just ignored her, like most dogs, rather than bite her, like a few. So hard to watch a creature you love and care for go through that hysterical freak out, you just want to help!
Sorry to hear about Daizy's seizures, too. You're a really committed dog mom, good luck!

Daizy, George, Taiki n Keegan said...

I wish I could read their thought bubbles. I just want to make everything okay...but I can't. I let them have their meltdown and in yesterday's case I stopped and created that distance that George needed, and I actually told him ...I have this word that I use "noisy" and somehow when something freaks them out,is loud or annoying. It's this private thing that we've come up with. I'll put distance between me and the freaky thing and then stand there and agree with them. I'll normally work on something similar at a different time. After reading Temple Grandin's book about the biology behind their senses great eyesight, only see a couple colours the rest is contrast of gray...I felt that it wasn't fair of me to try to convince them that it's not scary. I'd totally freak out if my world was gray-contrasts and all of a sudden a bright yellow thing appeared to be hovering in the sky! Sometimes I'll crook my head to see if I can figure out what's so scary. There's always going to be time to work on it but at the time they're freaking out. It's just so heartbreaking. If anything I prefer they freak out and trust that it's okay to express themselves to me...warn me ...that to me shows that they trust me and care to warn me of something they find frightening. Rather than surpress it. It reminds me of the life lesson that sometimes you can't make everything okay. And having a friend say ...yeah things are shitty, not fun, and just empathize with you feels better than trying to cheer you up at that moment. I don't know if that even makes sense..

I've been able to keep Daizy off meds for 5 yrs, so I consider myself super lucky through diet and figuring out what triggers her (stress does, too much excitement). I'm so relieved that when she does seizure it is when I'm around and thankfully it's still months apart. When she was eating kibble as a meal and getting shots it was 3wks or less apart. Thank you for saying that. It feels so much better when you don't feel alone.

Daizy, George, Taiki n Keegan said...

with Dottie I think it's totally fair for her to give them a piece of her mind if the other dog doesn't respect her space...I'd do the same to be honest. I don't like people invading my space unless I feel like it. I don't know why we expect dogs to have to endure that.

What I am trying to work on is a last ditch plan if I can't get us out of the situation when I can see the other dog ignoring my ...go away..or pointing in the other direction when I can tell my guys do not want to meet this one... is trying to find a way to retreat without my guys veing vocal...right now though even if I yell ahead "put your dogs on leash" or "my dog isn't friendly" the owners just don't care. The owner of the pitbull that was humping George was laughing and

George was terrified.. I just about burst into tears being so angry and frustrated with this owner and her out of control totally inappropriate dog.

In those cases I'll let Daizy and George give them a piece of their mind, but it's always a crap shoot like you mentioned..some dogs don't have the bite inhibition and they'll attack.

The thing that irks me though is that the OTHER dog normally ends up looking like an angel and mine act like the tasmanian devil...

It would be nice if the other dog didn't push my dogs to the point that they need to be overt but that's just the way it is.

Cynthia said...

The plus side of Dottie's low threshold for taking rude behavior from dogs is that Gustav has learned a laughably gentle play style with her. They hardly ever play, because she's too leery of him, but once in a while they'll do this funny slow-motion kind of mouths in the air play. After about thirty seconds Dottie decides she's had enough, and we try to intervene before that. But Gustav has learned amazing emotional control from that.

It's interesting to imagine how they might see the environment. I once had a dream from Dottie's perspective and all these big scary dogs were above me snarling and looking terrifying. I woke up feeling more empathetic towards her.

The owners of the dog that bit Dottie, like an actual tooth-sized puncture wound, agreed to pay the vet bill but declined to agree that maybe their dog wasn't a good candidate for the dog park (dogs will be dogs, right?). I agonized over it for a long time, but finally decided to let animal control know. I was torn, because my dogs are no angels and animal control is not always the most reasonable place, but on the other hand I would feel so bad if their dog killed some little dog and I had known about the aggressiveness and not done anything about it. They got a letter in the mail and their dog is on file.

We should lend out our dogs to socialize little lab puppies who are sassy and pushy, George and Dottie would put them in their place! The nice thing about Dottie is that she always stops after she's gotten what she wanted: the dog to go away. On the other hand that snapping is unnecessary about half the time, the dog is really just giving her a gentle sniff.