'Not only is punishment risky, but it also fails to teach the dog an acceptable alternate behaviour. The dog does not learn what to do the next time he is in the same situation. He only learns to fear the situation.' Emma Parsons, Click to Calm p73

Sunday, 31 July 2011

Bunny Ears and Motorbikes.

Yesterday: Lola and Rocky, who still adore playing with each other!

Today, we made two trips up town, one at about 10-11am and one about 8-8:40pm.

In the morning trip, the town centre was really quite quiet. I took advantage of that to work on some of Lola's other niggling fears.

For the last couple of weeks, whenever we've gone past this 'odd grey blobby thing' near a bus stop (I have no idea what the thing is), Lola has shot to the end of the leash to get away from it. But there's always been people around, so I've not been able to do anything about it, until today. Since it was so quiet, I was able to shape her to being near it, moving toward it, touching it, standing on it, and then walking over it in the space of about five minutes.

We also, this morning and this evening together, shaped (again taking only five minutes or so per thing) her to be calm around a stationery motorbike, a traffic cone, and a loud/rustling crisp packet (thanks to the wind, it was harder to work with this). By the end of the first session we'd done all but the crisp packet, and in the second visit to town I took her to the traffic cone and grey thing, and she was perfectly happy to walk around and lie down on the cone's edge, and to walk over the grey thing.

In the morning, she barked three times at two different dogs. Once was at a westie in a car; she was fine going past it into town (before we started work on her other nervous/fearful things, so possibly she was stressed from that later), but on the way back she barked at it. I immediately stopped, cued her to down/stay, and rewarded her with a minute or two of food, cuddles and praise as she ignored the dog, which was going crazy in the car.

The second and third barks, both at a golden retriever, happened simply because I wasn't far enough away from the dog. I'd seen it, moved Lola into a side-road, but hadn't taken enough steps away, so Lola shot to the end of her leash and barked twice at it as it passed. Lesson learned: for now, more space is always better.

With people, she was generally really good! She had no problems (no hackles raised, no vocalisations, no hard stares) in the morning, though in the evening it wasn't so good--but still no barking. We had three issues.

Firstly, a teenage girl went past wearing a rabbit ears-headband, and walked across the road quite quickly toward us. Lola freaked out at that: she cowered against the wall I'd moved her nearer to, and I've never seen her hackles so raised before. Not good.*

Secondly, a man decided to click his tongue at and coo at Lola, and then followed us as we moved fast away from him. Lola raised her hackles for the first 10-15 seconds or so, but after we got some more space between us (since he followed us for about a full minute) she was happy and relaxed once again.

Thirdly and finally, as we were walking off the main road onto an adjacent road, a man carrying a bag full of noisy things followed us. I didn't notice him until after Lola did--when she shot to the end of the leash, away from him, and cringed as I tried to move her away. She was visibly startled by that, as well as by the girl, so tomorrow I don't think we'll go to town - going to give her a day to de-stress, instead of pushing it.

* Since we got home, I dug my own rabbit ears out of my drawers, and wore them for a while. Lola gave me the look of, "something's not quite right here" but didn't seem too bothered - they certainly didn't stop her from snoozing on my lap. I took them off and had Mum put them on before she came in the room with the dogs, and Lola grabbed them and pulled them off of her head when she crouched down to say hello, and then promptly ignored the headband.

So for tomorrow, I'm going to be spending several hours wearing bunny ears (for five minutes every half an hour or so, I think - they hurt!) and raining treats down from the sky whenever I have them on.


An English Shepherd said...

Socialisation never ends :-)

Diana said...

Dogs are a lot of work huh? We are always working on things to improve them or just make things better. Good job!!

Sara said...

You never know what you'll see. I remember bringing Oreo to the vet one day, and there was a kid wearing a gorilla costume.

Ricky the Sheltie said...

Never thought about having to condition a dog to people wearing bunny ears - LOL!!

Winnie said...

You all work very hard and I'm sure it must be rewarding when things fall into place.

Keep up the great work.

Love and licks, Winnie

Bailey Be Good! said...

You go, Lola! Sounds like there were lots of things to look at and react to. Perfection takes time. :)

Woofs & hugs <3,

~Bailey (Yep, I'm a girl!)

Jen said...

Keep up the hard work!! You are doing great work with Lola- she is one lucky poochy to have found you, who is willing to work with her through her issues. Spikey was my dog like that- took a long, LONG time, but he's getting there! :) Well, I guess Sophie has her issues too, but they are mild compared to what Spike's were. Time, patience, love, stubbornness, you'll get there!!

Happy Wednesday to you, and we're back to the bloggy world! I missed it!!

Jen and the Black Dog Crew