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About philospher77

  • Birthday June 25

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    North of Los Angeles

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Sr Grey Lover

Sr Grey Lover (6/9)

  1. You put more effort into trying with her than most people would have. As they say on the fearful dog list: It's ok to realize you want a pet, not a project. I spent 7 years dealing with a very fearful dog, and five of those years dealing with a "slightly timid" dog. And I now have have a happy outgoing puppy, and am realizing how different it is to deal with a truly happy dog! Don't beat yourself up, and look for a more balanced dog. You will make a good owner for the right dog.
  2. I will gently point out that rules need to be followed! Can we get a picture of your girl, and a name? Although it has gotten to be a lot harder to add pictures since photo bucket changed their policy! (any advice on that is appreciated!)
  3. At one point, I did a cost analysis of the insurance I have. I'd point you to it, but can't find it right now. However, what I realized was that there are two kinds of vet costs: really high, unusual things, and then low-cost, easy to overlook things. Examples of the first type: surgery for slipping patellas (app. 3k per patella), emergency treatment when your dog has eaten an unknown substance (1k, after-hours emergency vet), dealing with cancer (that was somewhere in the 13-19K range, I believe, and what got me to get insurance on my other dogs). Then there are the little costs that add up over time: maintenance medicines for on-going issues (Pixie's are running me around $150/month, for the rest of her life, and she is a 10-pound dog), physical therapy ($600 for 10 sessions), that sort of thing. Those are very easy to overlook, because they are small amounts. I was shocked to realize how much I'd spent on vet bills for my dogs!
  4. First off, my Katie was also one of those "worst case" dogs. I had to get rid of her crate, or else she would just plaster herself to the back wall of it and refuse to move. Then, my early work with trainers was on "how do you get a dog to leave a safe spot", without it being extremely traumatic to the dog? And yes, the person giving that advice spent her first several sessions unable to touch Katie, but just observing her and giving me advice on things to do. So I feel for you, but also want you to know that they can get better, and that this does sound like a dog that is going to benefit from the drugs. I had Katie on them all her life, because whenever I thought about trying to wean her off them, I thought about how much better she was on them, and that I wouldn't ask someone who had trouble making insulin to stop taking insulin shots. I think that she was a dog who just didn't make enough serotonin, and anything I could do to keep those levels higher helped her immensely in life. Spring for the house call. You will want to have blood work done, just to be sure that the drugs don't do bad things long term to the kidneys and liver. Also, at least here in the US, those drugs are on the highly-controlled list and the provider can get into legal trouble if they don't do everything properly when dispensing them. Don't know about in the UK. Also, you will really want to start some kind of journal to see how the drug is acting. As I'm sure you were told, anti-anxiety drugs can take 6-8 weeks to get to full effect, and it's easy to miss what they are doing as the changes are subtle day to day. It's only when you look back and say "oh, she never used to do that" that you can really see the impact that they are having. I've got a link down in my footer to one I did for Katie, covering switching drugs. Which is the second thing I'm sure that they told you: different drugs (SSRI vs tricyclic, etc) can have different impacts, so if you don't see anything with the first one, don't give up. Just try with the others. Also, I hope that the behaviorist gave you some advice for things to do or not do while waiting for the drugs to take affect, and discussed the potential use of some of the short-acting (generally around 8 hour) anti-anxiety drugs during that time frame. Those are ones that you generally use when you know a certain situation is going to be stressful, not to deal with general anxiety.
  5. Trainable, yes. My Katie never really was much of a player, but would occasionally play with a toy or do zoomies. But that may be more of a greyhound thing, than a spook thing. Also, while they can be trained, it takes time and patience, and an understanding that they are not as resilient to change as other dogs. Basically, you train in stages: in a familiar place with no distractions, a familiar place with distractions, an unfamiliar place with no distractions, and an unfamiliar place with distractions. With a spook, there are lot more "unfamiliar" places, and a heck of a lot more "distractions", so you have to be prepared to reward much more frequently and generously than with a braver, bolder dog. To give you some hope, here's a video of Katie earning her breakfast. This was after doing a lot of "101 things to do with a box", which is an excellent way of getting a spook to learn. That's where you place a novel object (generally a box, but really, it can be anything unusual) in front of your dog and click and treat her for doing anything with it: look at it, nose it, lay down by it, paw it, etc. The idea is to teach your dog that they can influence YOUR behavior. In other words, they can make you give them treats. You can almost see the lightbulb moment. For Katie, it was when we had been doing this for a while and she was like "Wait... if I put my foot in this box, she makes a click sound and gives me a treat?" Followed by her very slowly repeating putting her foot on the box while watching me intently the whole time. From that point on, training went much faster. Before that, she seemed to have a belief system that the universe just happened to her. Training gave her a way of controlling what happened in her world. At this point in the video, I'd had her about a year, and hand-fed her most of her meals.
  6. One thing that may help your girl indoors is to set up a comfy bed in your living room, in an out of the way area, bring your dog into that room, close off the exits, and then just ignore her while you do whatever you normally do in that room (watch TV?). As my trainer told me when I first got my spook, just being looked at can be a lot of pressure on the dog. If the dog does something that seems to be soliciting your attention, you can respond in a low-key way... say her name, good girl, give a small treat, that sort of thing. The idea is to gently force the dog to observe you in the new room and realize that nothing dramatic is going to happen to her while she is there. I did this for probably two weeks before she got comfortable to start coming out of her safe space on her own. Keep in mind, the ONLY thing that the dog has to do is be in the room. It's frustrating to have a new dog and limit your interactions with them, so you will want to do SOMETHING (most likely, to pet and cuddle with the dog). Resist that urge unless the dog is actually coming up to you and soliciting it. Also, you may want to think about teaching your dog an "initiator signal". This is generally a really simple trick, such as a nose touch, that can be used by the dog to let you know if they are feeling too much stress to do what you are asking, or not. Here's a video of me and my girl, so you get an idea of how it is used. I know that you are in the UK, and they don't seem to do as much medicating of dogs over there, but I second the suggestion of anti-anxiety drugs, at least for this initial stage. It will make learning new things easier for her if she can feel less anxious.
  7. I second the fearfuldogs website recommendation. I had a dog a lot like your Mollie, and it did get better, but it takes time. And it is difficult for some people to handle that, because you don't get a lot back from the dog during the early stages. Most people want dogs who are bouncy and happy and eager to see them, and when you are dealing with a shut down dog, you don't get any of that. Personally, and I don't say this lightly, given how extreme your situation is, I would talk to your vet about possibly getting some anti-anxiety drugs for your dog. Anything you can do to reduce the anxiety level will help with the dog learning new ways of thinking, feeling, and acting. I finally put my girl on Xanax, and it made a world of difference. I felt guilty doing it, at the beginning, like I should be able to just make her better with more effort, but I gradually came around to the opinion that her brain just did not make enough dopamine (the "happy" chemical"), and if I would give a dog who wasn't making enough of a hormone replacement hormones, then there was nothing wrong with doing the same thing to adjust brain chemistry.
  8. Count me in as another happy Healthy Paws customer. The only time I have had issues with them covering something is when I combine things with dentals. Once was x-rays, and the other was removing some growths, since I would prefer not to put my dogs under twice. And that was resolved by sending them very detailed notes about the procedures, and math to exclude the strictly dental parts. And here is my ever-handy link to my post on insurance and cost/benefit discussion, for anyone interested. http://forum.greytalk.com/index.php/topic/319159-pet-insurance-discussion-costbenefit-analysis/?p=5967995
  9. My Katie-girl was definitely a challenging, special-needs dog. Generalized anxiety, and very non-resilient. I'm going to tell you one thing I did that helped me through the difficult early days: every night, before bed time, I would sit by her, pet her (once she got a little braver), and tell her one thing that she did that day that made me proud. And yes, in those early days, it was often something like "I liked it when you lifted your head and looked at me when I walked into the room" or "You were such a brave girl when you took the cookie from my hand". Because they do try hard, but it can be easy to overlook the steps that they make when you are used to "normal" dog behavior. This kept me looking for the good things that my dog was doing, and not just focusing on the cleaning up after a dog that was too scared to go potty outside, or on the fact that she never came out of her "safe spot" and was terrified of everything, or the hundred other things that made life with her challenging. And with time, she did get a lot better, although she was never a dog that bounced back from things easily. And you are going to be working with a behaviorist, who can give you more detailed help, so that's a good thing, and I commend you for it!
  10. Could you make a little elevator? I'm thinking a box, attached to a pulley, that could be used to hoist the dog up and down. I'm also assuming this is a loft, given how steep those stairs are.
  11. Lots of concentration, and it's something that the dog needs to figure out on their own. The first class (at least the way I was taught) consists of the handler standing still, dog on leash to start, and marking and rewarding the dog for coming in front of us. Then doing that with the dog off-leash. No commands, although we are allowed to say the dog's name. Then adding in movement... step to the side, pivot left, pivot right, move fast, move slow, big steps, small steps, so that the dog learns to move with us. Only after all that do you actually bring in a ball. Now, I have the problem that when Pixie sees a bunch of balls, she looks at me, looks at the balls, and happily trots out to stand behind whichever one she thinks is the right one! Terriers definitely have minds of their own! But we have fun, and watching her little nub of a tail going a mile a minute makes me happy.
  12. I agree with everything listed above, and will also throw in that behavior inside and outside the house aren't always the same. I have a rat terrier, 9.5 pounds, not cat-safe, who ignored my cats inside, and has apparently come to a truce about the neighbor's cat when she is in the yard. But if we see a cat when we are out on walks, she will try to chase it, and if she caught it, it wouldn't be good. So just be aware that, even if your grey is good with the littles inside, that may not transfer over to outside.
  13. Hello! If you are interested in learning about a new sport to do with your dog, there is going to be a Treibball clinic at Action Dog Sports on Dec. 19th. Here's the flyer: Work with PUSH Treibball founder, Michael McManus, on all of the skills you will need to compete and learn the game rules. Then get a chance at a mock competition. Clinic from 9am-Noon ($40), Practice Match ($5 per run). In order to get the most out of this event, your dog should already be able to push the ball at least 10 feet to you. ​It's $20 to audit the clinic, and free to watch the practice matches. Treibball is based (loosely!) off of herding, and involves teaching the dog to go out to a group of exercise balls (weighted, in many cases, because of the wind), pick the right one, and push it to the handler. It sounds easy, but it's got a lot of finesse to it. It takes a lot of brain power on the dog's part, since they have to correct the ball's path when they have it moving, and on the handler's, in order to get the dog to the right ball and the best line of travel. I currently do this with my 9.5 lb rat terrier, and I swear that there are times when I can actually see her thinking and problem-solving when we do it! So it's a great chance to build a relationship with your dog. It's also a bit easier on them physically than agility is, but has many of the same teamwork aspects. And the equipment for training is a lot easier to come by! So, if you are interested in seeing what it's like, stop by and cheer us on at the practice match! Here's some video to pique your interest: Pixie and I really early in our training. She's learning here to "balance" on the ball.... in other words, to keep a line between me, her, and the ball. It's the most important of the skills, since that is the line she needs to push the ball on: https://youtu.be/d-sPNQHUqTc Note the concentration she is putting into this!
  14. I just wanted to follow up on this, since there is an important distinction to be made. YES, backing off shows the dog that she can "get what she wants", which is distance between her and whatever it is that is causing her distress. NO, you really don't want her to learn that growling gets people to do that. So, this is where your part of the equation comes in. For now, keep track of when she has growled (because that same situation is likely to cause her to growl in the future, and you will need to know what her "triggers" are), and figure out how to manage that situation. For example, if she growled when you tried to take a bully stick away from her, don't give her bully sticks, but give her "fast-eating" treats instead. If she growled when you were leaning over her bed, don't do that. Call her to you instead to interact with her. In essence, don't give her opportunities to practice growling, because dogs get better at what they practice. Then, once she has had some time to settle in and become more comfortable with you, and trusts that you have her best interest in mind, you can start teaching her alternative behavior. For guarding issues, look into "trading up". (In essence, if the dog gives you what they have, you will give them something even better. This makes dogs much more willing to give up prize possessions.) For being loomed over or "trapped", you would start a counter-conditioning protocol. That may go away on its own as she gets more used to being around you. Or it may be a simple matter of slightly altering where her bed is, so that she has more than one "escape route" that she can use. So, yes, growling is communication, and you want a dog that will growl before biting. On the other hand, it is your responsibility to take the information and act on it to make life easier for your dog. Hope this helps!
  15. You need something like Nature's Miracle for cleaning up the spots where she's had accidents. It has enzymes that "eat" the urine, and thus eliminate the residual odor. If you see that she is about to pee inside, interrupt her and take her outside to finish. (I know, easier said than done!)
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