Thursday, June 17, 2010

Reality check- some things will never change

As much as things have been progressing having time to work on issues with my crew as they come up...I've come to realize that some issues are going to be hardwired for George.   Especially after listening to (Karen Overall's seminar) and reading up about how if the "fear" center of your brain is firing like the 4 of July... when you or an animal has to deal with a the end...whether or not you can ever fully recover is individual.

Daisy has come through all her fear issues and recouped after being attacked by other dogs and bulldozed, and she's fine with them now. Is happy to say hello and is a great first neutral dog to meet and greet fosters. She totally takes them under her wing.

George on the other hand will always need time to make sure another dog is 'safe" and will not bulldoze him or attack him. Tonight I realized that his anxiety is so much bigger a dragon that I can ever slay for him and make everything as it used to be.

He started out a very optimistic pup, but through out the years, we've been on a roller coaster where just as we think it's safe....and he starts to trust interactions...another attack happens and we're back to square one.

It sucks that sometimes life keeps knocking you down, rather than lightening up a bit.

I have no control over other off leash dogs. Even if I pick him up...they still try to get at him. I feel like I live in a war zone.

It really really really sucks that people don't give a hoot, when another dog goes after yours.

Tonight George started barking at another dog from a distance again...obviously generalizing the behaviour once again....I'll always be known as the crazy lady with the barking dog. It sucks. Did I mention how much it sucks? Well it does.

We'll still work on up to "Car crash" scenarios while George's job is to "ignore" the background noise...or other dogs...and focus on playing the game...but the progress will be slower because as much as I try to manage his environment...I can't when an off leash dog comes barrelling from a football field away to charge my guys. 

We've even run the other way as a game and still because the off leash dog has NO RECALL ...have ended up with an extra dog, trying to manage the situation until the owner retrieves him.


mb said...

I feel for you ... hope tomorrow is a sunnier day ... I'll share my frustrations too ... wuff xo. mb

mb said...

I feel for you ... hope tomorrow is a sunnier day ... I'll share my frustrations too ... wuff xo. mb

em said...

I have been reading this blog for a while (through Patricia McConnell's blog I was linked) and really like it:)
My aussie shep x girl and I have the same issue. I have been dilligently working on her dog-dog reactivity for over a year and at least a few times a week she gets charged by another dog (she is always on leash). This happens walking down city sidewalks, parks, and the woods..I can't escape it. I started off doing basic classical conditioning (gave her treats whenever a dog was near no matter what her reaction) and she will now 'find' dogs to look quickly at and then turn away and look at me...I am so so so proud of her but these charges from offleash dogs always put us back in our training.In fact I often get yelled at to 'muzzle my aggressive dog' when a dog full on charges her or jumps on her and she snarks.

Daizy, George, Taiki n Keegan said...

Wow, thank you EM for sharing! It feels so much better not feeling alone.

I know I can't change other people or train their dogs to become more compassionate or appropriate with their meet and greets, and it feels like an endless battle sometimes.

Thankfully learning more about behaviour, how the brain works and having trainers like Dr. Mc, Leslie McD (I am working up to the car crash games with George) and I also now have a cue to do drive by's and return to me so that atleast I can pick him up while I shew the other dog away. Dr. Karen Overall with all their helpful the end they all say the same or honour the furry pal that is in your life, and all we can do is our best.

If you haven't seen Dr. Karen Overall's dvd From Leashes to Neurons, I highly recommend it. I LOVE the way she talks about dog where other people use words like Dominant, Aggressive....she talks about Impulse Control...Seeking information (by use of their voice and body language)...and knowing that once the fear center of our brains override makes me feel like although people may think of me as the crazy dog lady, I know in my heart the truth behind George's anxiety or straight out preference to just be left alone. Maybe because I can relate to that feeling of being overwhelmed in a crowd...anyways, it's so nice to hear others who can relate.

em said...

I am glad to not feel as alone as well!

I do lots of self-control exercises with my girl like "drop it" and "leave it" and lots of tug games that's why I get her to look at other dogs then look at me she does have a bit of a herding mentality and a strong eyed look so this took a lot of work but she will now give a quick glance and turn away which has the added benefit of being a calming signal for the other dog.

I do have one of those dogs who has very poor greetings on leash or off..which is why my girl is ALWAYS on leash and I make a point of going over to the side or saying "my dog is not friendly". This has been one of my biggest issues..being assertive and rather than whispering "she's not always nice" stating very clearly "my dog is VERY aggresive" so people get the message and keep there dogs away.

This is something I am still working on....I have a real problem with making her seem dangerous but also want to really get the message through that I don't want unknown dogs rushing her.

I also have had to work to find my own personal zen when I see another dog coming to make sure my dog isn't feeding off my anxiety. I will often hum a toon or say a little 'what a beautiful, well behaved, perfect girl you are' sing song to relax the both of us.It's tough to remain upbeat when people yell at you or tell you your dog is aggresive....for a while I believed them and started reprimanding her if she reacted..mostly because it seemed to put the other ppl at ease "oh good that mean dog is being reprimanded". I fully knew that this didn't work but felt pressured into doing it.Now I stick to my plan of jackpotting excellent behaviour (looking away, sitting behind me, doing an emergency u-turn to escape the situation) and ignore bad behaviour while getting out of the situation as quickly as possible.

It bothers me when people see there dogs as 'dominant' and yank them around and scream at them if they react to other dogs (or anything). Many of them are very scared or as you said would prefer to be left alone. My girl just needs a minute she will react defensively to protect herself (not because she is 'dominant') but settles down when the situation is handled correctly...once she knows a dog well she is a ball of fun...just wants to play.

Great suggestions for books. I am currently reading 'Click to calm.'I love all the games you play with your guys as well...having a high energy leash-only dog and only a few doggy friends to rip around with (as well as harsh Canadian winters) means that we play a lot of games indoors like 'find the kibble'.

Daizy, George, Taiki n Keegan said...

I was going to start a blog post on what I've said at those time where I know...the dog is b-lining towards us to the owner, and keep a running tab on which ones seem to work better than others!

Really, it's been so stressful just that part, I'm good with how to deal with George's just owners and other dogs....

My favourites these days are:

I don't even say mine are aggressive, don't like other dogs, are not friendly, sort of things anymore...because majority of the time when I do I either get dirty looks that my dog is even alive...or tell me to get a muzzle, or say "THEY"LL WORK IT OUT" or my FAVE is they'll say...IT DOESN"T MATTER< MY DOG IS FRIENDLY!

What I was going to try...and this was because of Leslie McDevitt's teachings and also...I LOVE redirecting my guys as I don't give them verbal corrections, is that I am teaching my guys herding use on other dogs! I though I'd tap into their instincts and teach them WHAT to do with another dog other than give it a piece of their mind :)

I have a vid of "Way to me" and "Around" to go around another dog and also my "say hello" which is go close to the dog then circle back to it will be interesting if this helps.

I sometimes think it'd be nice not to have to do all this stuff..but then when I watch people at the dog parks or on walks...I feel sorry for the dogs who are ignored while people talk to people, or on their cells...and here my guys have so much life and zest and eagerness to communicate with me..It warms my heart!

Keep up the awesome work! give your pup a big hug for me!

Daizy, George, Taiki n Keegan said...

I forgot to mention re: other methods used that I see when out walking my guys...there was one "pet" expo day" in my area and it was like watching that 'bop the gopher" game at the fair...all around me.

the method where people pin their dogs was used and it was very odd to see so many people doing it in the same area... it felt like I was in a cartoon...surreal. I just fed my guys treats..hoping to plant healthy seeds in their subconscious.

Em said...

Thanks for the suggestions on what to tell people! I tend to freeze up when I see other dogs coming so it's always imperative for me to plan exactly what I am going to say.

I have a 'switch' in switch which side of my body she is walking on.. if I see a dog approaching on the same side she's walking.

She's not ready for one-on-one greeting cue's yet but I've been firming up her 'touch' cue where she puts her nose to my hand and am trying to globalize it to other objects and things. My main goal is to teach her to touch her nose to another dog's side and then come back to me for treats and progress from there (such as touching the dogs nose and then getting a treat).

It's been hard to come up with super stable test dogs to be able to practice with. I am working with a trainer but she needs more practice time.

When I am feeling particularly discouraged (like last night when she unexpectedly lunged at a dog and people looked at me like I had the worse dog in the world) I remind myself or even write a list of the great things about my her love of games and toys and how keen she is to learn new things and her excitement over meeting any new people.

Em said...

In terms of other methods; I volunteer at a shelter and while some volunteers truly are there for the dogs and to walk them or simply don't know any better...we have a few who think they are the second-coming of Milan and walk around with there chests thrust out and jerking the dogs around and trying to alpha roll them. It's sad because these are shelter dogs...many of whom get very little attention and walks and who didn't come from the greatest places. I don't even expect basic obedience from them until they've been able to get out and do there business and burned off the zoomies. Some people just feel the need to feel powerful over something...even a dog.

Daizy, George, Taiki n Keegan said...

thank you for volunteering at least they see that not all people are the same.
One of the groups I foster difficult to place dogs from uses those methods and it breaks my heart too. But thankfully the work I do with the dogs I have been successful in turning around their behavior (something they were not able to do using their methods) and I send them videos and notes to new owners on what's worked for us (so far they've all been adopted out once having worked with me) . All you can do is plant healthy seeds and lead by exple. Video and post it to the world! Let people see your progress as I think it gives others hope. I know it does for me!

Touch is a tough one with dogs who need time to make sure the other dog is safe (even for people reactive dogs...) it takes a lot of trust in the other unpredictable dog/person. It's great that you are takings your time .

I don't know if you have tried this, but I have found that putting sniff on cue is really helpful intermediate step as you can say that from a distance then in time you can get closer to the other dog and say sniff... It helps George tremdously cut the pressure of the interaction. I have a video of George and I being surprised by a cat when we were going to video door work...and I just out of shock I think kept video'n the whole experience...not sure if that may explain more what I mean about sniff. look at that is awesome! Happy Friday!!!!!

Em said...

The reason I am working on touch is because Jers LOVES having a job to do and is very focused (good and bad...either focused on me or focused on the dog) so assigning a task for her to do involving going towards the dog and then retreating seems to make sense (we'll see how it goes).She already loves touching things with her nose.

'Sniffing' on cue is definitly a good one...I will have to try it. In a few 'emergency' situations I have thrown kibble/treats to get her to turn..she does know the cues 'turn' and we practice emergency u-turns but I will throw food if the dog is quickly approaching (dangerous though if the other dog becomes attracted by the food so it depends on the situation).

Have a good weekend :)