Wednesday, April 17, 2013

How Is This For You? Part 2

Today I began my observations of Kort while out walking.

I wanted to really observe him & remember exactly what he was doing in certain situations, the ones that cause him extreme arousal & over stimulation.  I already knew some of his hot spots, but today was about observing exactly when he was reacting to them so I could be proactive in helping him out, instead of reactive when it was too late & the situation had already escalated.

Just down the street from us is his arch nemesis, Rex.  Rex is a golden retriever that actually comes to the daycare where I work.  He is an awesome dog, except when he is in his own yard, with a fence separating him from the people & dogs walking by.  Then he becomes a crazy lunatic of barking, lunging , charging madness !
Kort , always a good sport, is more then happy to reciprocate the behaviour, scream, bark, charge, for scream , bark charge :)   ya, I'm sure you can picture it.

Today I watched as he walked out at the end of his flexi. Rex was not outside, however, Rex's cousins live next door. 2 mixed breed dogs that I have never seen leave their yard, & they react pretty much the same way as Rex.  We were 3 house lengths away when I noticed Kort start to react, wow! I had not seen that before.  His ears were up, he was focused forward instead of just casually walking, & he started to slightly pull.  Before I could react to the situation the cousins started to bark in their house, Kort started to whine, I calmly called him to me & pulled out the treats.  I continued to treat him until the dogs stopped barking & Kort stopped twitching his ears in their direction. I had to repeat this a few times as the cousins would start up barking as soon as we moved, & I was 3 houses away! 

Suzanne calls this a Red Zone, the dog is over stimulated, his breathing quickens, he may bounce or lunge, pulling hard toward whatever is exciting & he may begin to bark.  The dog will often have difficulty responding to the handler.  His tail will be up & may be wagging fast.  He may refuse treats or take them very hard.  I have had all of the these at one time with Kort.
She suggests we increase the distance between the stimulus & the dog. Go to where the dog can be responsive.  Wait patiently in a good place until the dogs breathing, head, eye, & overall state returns to normal. She also adds, THIS IS SERIOUS: Contact breeder or trainer for help.  Wow, I have been dealing with this for 5 years, poor Kort.

We were able to continue on in the same direction & watch for other hot spots.
We passed by a fence that has a labradoodle behind it, I have been working with Kort at this spot as well, even before the seminar.  The difference here is the dog has never run toward the fence, she barks a couple of times & stops.  Today, Kort had no reaction to her!  He just kept on walking up the sidewalk, hurray for small successes.

The rest of the walk was without incident until about 10 minutes from home.  Kort all of a sudden started to whine & his tail went up.  I had heard or seen nothing.  Then about a beat later I heard a scuffling & a dog 3 houses away was charging up to his fence.  Kort has had run ins with this dog as well.  So I did the call to me, feed feed feed until Kort had his brain back,  The entire time this dog was barking, once I saw Kort's eyes change, they softened, I knew he would be able to continue on without reacting to the dog.

Tomorrow my plan is to start getting Kort's attention at least a house "before" the ones he reacted at this morning.  I need to get Kort into the "think and learn" zone, so first we need to get out of the Red Zone.

I have already gotten the basics down, Amanda has been working with me for years to learn skills to handle these situations.
It will always be a work in progress but Kort is worth the effort.


Dog Scope said...

Great and very minute observation. Keep it up.

Squishy said...

I have one or two of those.....or three.....not my favorite behaviors to deal with as I've had several generations of collies who just don't react badly. They are always a work in progress.


Sherman has one house is like that. Doing a very similar thing.

Essex, she could care less.

Go figure.