The story of my life....First Keegan, then Daizy and now here's George's vs CAT video... we were JUST about to do door work after coming back from a hike, and standing under our tree on the front lawn, I JUST put my iphone on video mode, to capture George race to the front door and down when I say "Go home!" and down from the tree we were standing below, jumped a cat!!!.... TOTALLY took me by surprise and I tried to make the best of it....by saying 'ohh...hello..cat" in a sugar voice but George didn't fall for it..... TO ALL YOU CATS OUT THERE...this was NOT nice.
Edited to split clips to explain what was going through my brain, but otherwise, you'll see me doing the best I could to make a crazy situation into a learning curve for George. It's definitely not perfect, but ..well...nothing in life really is. It's a night at the symphony...you need a little bit of everything to make it into a robust, body tingling experience.
I love the fact that I can review to see what I could have done differently and what worked, like;
*don't repeat "George"...when he's over threshold. He normally does a great whiplash head turn when I say his name...so in my mind at the time, being flustered myself, as this totally caught me off guard...it took a couple minutes for me to get into 'THINKING' mode ...hey...he's not responding to his name...so try something different because you're only making him more tense by repeating it!!!!
*I had better luck saying words that had a reward or were informative like...."sniff", "take it", "good boy", "show me"...for not lunging and keeping his distance, it took a lot of will power for George, and even if it wasn't what I would have liked to see happen...he did show restraint...and that's a great place to start with Control Unleashed exercises! Like...LEAVE IT :P
*I tried to create distance and keep his leash loose at the same time.
*Tone of voice is so important! I think the turning point was praising him for sniffing and playing the show me game. That's when I notices his body becoming more relaxed.
*re: biofeedback, any and all instances where George's body looked like he switched from ALERT to a more semi-calm state I "yes'd" him and when he looked over to me, I was doing my "I'm so proud of you squinty eyes, slow blink and smile" when he looked at me after I praised him for 'sniffing" and "showing me" the cat. BEING CURIOUS is not a CRIME in my books...so if they show interest, even if it's with a stressed body posture...giving them the go ahead to "SNIFF" OR investigate...REALLY helps to calm them....you'll notice George's body and whole mindset change when I let him know "SNIFFING" at a distance IS allowed and encouraged!
*I also tried to take deep slow breaths and move slowly and fluidly, no quick jerky motions. It went against what I was feeling but in the end made ME CALM DOWN faster, and get back into doing what it takes to diffuse the tension.
*the fact that he did NOT LUNGE, MACHINE GUN BARK or go in to attack the cat....I 'YES'D" HIM for that as well....it took a whole bunch of emotional self control to keep his distance when I'm certain his body was loaded and firing adrenaline & host of "take action!" chemicals.
I followed through only because;
1 - George is a scardy cat, he does not attack cats, but this was by far the most intense cat experience we've ever had. Normally his tail is raised but he's easily distracted to keep moving alone. I think because the cat came down from the tree on our property, and WE did't expect it...it totally set off a trigger for George.
2- This cat loves to tease dogs, I don't know how else to describe his behaviour...w this is the second time in one week that he's come out of no where and done this. First time with Daizy, now George and it was on our property. He seems to tease but has never tried to attack my dogs anyways. His movements are slow...but really I wish cats were a bit less taunting....
Finally....this is YET ANOTHER reason to pack treats with you!!!! I had kibble and cheeze in my pockets from our hike and chips in my walking bag (they were for me)...so that's what I used!