Miss Nosy Rosy

One of the exercises that I was given to do with Luna involved sit/stay while I answer the door.  It starts out with first knocking on the door and returning to click/treat. It then progresses to going to the door and saying “Hi” to an imaginary person, return click/treat.  Lu has done very well with this. It becomes a challenge when I go and say “Hi” and then have to have a conversation with this invisible person.  This she can’t handle.

 At first Luna could not contain herself.  As soon as I started talking she would run to the door to see who it was. Now when I return to the place where she is doing her sit/stay she is never sitting although she is staying (kinda)….while she is peeking around the corner. It is actually very funny.

Because I live in the country Luna knows that usually the people that come to the house are people she knows.  These people love to say hi to her and pet her and she gets to wiggle her little butt.  She thinks she is missing out on this when I am talking to myself at the front door while she is not  sitting and staying.  When I do finally release her from the exercise the first thing she does is run to the door to see who she has missed seeing.

I believe  this exercise is to help her have more self control self.  This will hopefully help with her reaction to when she sees another dog. Personally I would rather Luna be able to see who is at the door and at the same time, hold her sit/stay.  But I also know that there are steps that need to be accomplished before you get an end result.  

So tonight my imaginary friend will come over again and we will have a conversation while Miss Nosy Rosy tries to hold her sit/stay. 

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I hope…

Luna and I had a great weekend. We went to see a behaviorist and then went to visit my parents at their cottage. When it was time to drive home this is what Luna did all the way home:

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Luna is leash reactive. Two years ago she was attacked (while she was on leash) by three dogs. They were off leash. One was a pug, the other a medium/ small cross breed and the other dog was a bit taller than Lu. And here is the worst part. They belonged to the trainer that I went to see to work on Luna’s distraction issues. The end result … I now have a leash reactive dog. Lesson learned : choose your trainer carefully.

Needless to say I am a little jaded when it comes to trainers now. I’ve worked with Luna everyday since ‘the incident’ and even though we have made progress, I felt I was missing something. Some step that would get her over this. I decided to find a behaviorist and maybe find the answer.

I decided to go see the behaviorist at the Edmonton SPCA for a private session.

I knew the SPCA was big on clicker training which I wasn’t a big fan of. The truth was that I didn’t really know the concept behind the clicker. I had spoken to people who went to classes that used clickers and they said it was silly among other things. But I was open to options as I really want to help Luna with her anxiety with other dogs.

The behaviorist was really nice and said that Luna didn’t really seem all that bad as she laid down in the room we were in after about 10 minutes. I told her that Luna had already gone for a 45 minute walk prior to us coming here so perhaps that was why. She said that usually reactive dogs that come in this room take a long time to settle as they are surrounded by the sounds and scent of other dogs. ( the room we were in was in the corner of the adoption wing). This gave me hope.

After discussing history, things that I’ve tried and commands that Luna knew she started to tell me about the clicker.

So my understanding of this device is that you are able to ‘mark’ the behavior you want quicker with the clicker. It made sense. Lu is usually a fast learner. It takes her maybe 5 goes to learn something and sometimes more if it is a little more complex. This clicker would, in theory, take her less time to learn a particular cue or behavior I wanted. Sounds good… We shall see.

After a few demos and me trying and some more discussion I was given homework and a clicker. When we return in two weeks we would do some practical work with another behaviorist who would be handling a dog from the shelter and our behaviorist would be coaching me with Lu. All of this sounds good to me…we shall see.

Once we got home and I woke Luna up. I figured I would start our homework as I was told that her meals were now to be hand fed for the two weeks. She would be hand fed while working on the exercises laid out in our homework.

The exercises are basically sit/stays that increase in complexity as the days goes on. I looked at it and thought ” Lu can do most of this already. This won’t take too long.” Wrong! I knew I was missing things in her training and boy was I right. Luna is impatient and will bark or whine at you if she is waiting to long for something to happen. That was the first thing to fix… Click, click. Done. Next was for her to hold that sit while I walked 1/4 way around her. (She would get up and turn with me)… Click. Done.

We are only on day 2 of clicker training but I am finding that Luna is quicker to figure out what I want from her and the fact we are using her daily meals to do this training is a bonus. When we start doing the dog-dog exercises or there are high distractions, we will use high value treats as this is where it will be needed. But for now, I think this clicker may be a good tool. It gives me hope.

I know there are things I need to work on too in order to help Luna. I didn’t realize that the ‘incident’ was still something I needed to get over until the behaviorist suggested that we attend a leash reactive class after 2 private sessions. When I quizzed her about the class and the other dogs that would attend I found myself crying and telling her that I don’t think I could handle Luna getting hurt again, I loved her too much for that to happen again. (psychologically she was hurt but not physically) She assured me that this would not happen but that she understood and just to keep it in mind.

I know I need to get over this. I know to help Luna I need to. And I think that maybe as Luna gets better I will be able to put my guilt away for allowing this to happen in the first place. And maybe if I write about the ‘incident’ and the guilt I feel over it. I can get better too. But I do have hope that one day Luna will be able to walk beside me and not lose it when she sees another dog.

Big Dog, Little Boy

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Lu was only 2 years old when my grandson was born. And still very puppy like. I wasn’t worried that she would harm my grandson at any age because my daughter and I agreed that the number one rule would be ‘Luna and my grandson would never be left alone together’.

The introduction to my grandson in the early days of his life, built mutual respect between boy and dog. I have no doubt that my grandson and Luna will be best of friends as he grows up. But we laid a really good foundation for this to happen.

My daughter and I read many articles about the best way to introduce Lu to the baby and we decided that having Lu respect his space was the best way to go. This meant that Lu could not go too close to him unless invited to do so. This of course was difficult at first as Lu loves to lick anyone that will let her. But she learned to respect his space as an infant and now that he is two years old, she still does. (Although there are incidents of walk by lickings which she just can’t help. )

My daughter, who is a wonderful mother, also taught my grandson respect for animals. He doesn’t take Luna’s toys from her. He feeds her and gives her treats. He ‘pets nice’. And he respects her space as well. He is careful not to step on her if he needs to get around her. And he very concerned if she is ‘sad’. ( when she is whiny he always says “Wuna sad”with a concerned look on his face) He once fell on her when he first started to walk. She ,of course, did nothing and he burst out crying until we told him it was ok he didn’t hurt Lu.

I think that when people have children they forget that the child/ dog relationship is two sided. It’s not just up to the dog to learn to respect the child but it is also about parents teaching their children to respect the dog.( I once had a young boy of about 7 years old come up to Luna in Pet Smart and pinch her. She was just laying down waiting for me to finish picking out a toy, and I observed him approaching her from the corner of my eye. I thought he was gonna pet her.)

I know dogs are suppose to be having fun with the kids playing but children also need to learn when to tone down or stop playing with a dog when the dog is too excited. And it is up to the parents of younger children to educate them on this.

One of my nephews was a good example of a child who had not learned respect for animals. He was 8 when Lu was 2. My sister could not figure out why I would not let Luna go play with her son alone in the basement. I had already observed how he interacted with Lu. He would take her toys then tease her with it. And had no respect for her space. When my sister asked me ” what? Your dog isn’t allowed to play with my son?” I told her ” I don’t leave Luna alone with children without supervision. I love her too much to allow an ‘accident’ to happen.”
(If I go somewhere and their are children, I will tether Luna to me until I observe how she is with the children and how they are with her.)

Teach dogs AND children respect for one another.

It’s All About Lu

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Deciding if she wants to get out of the truck.

Most people tell me that my dog is spoiled. And everytime they say this to me I go through a mental checklist of what I think spoiling a dog means and check to see if that is me. My response if usually “I don’t think she’s spoiled but rather well looked after.” Maybe I’m in denial? But just to make sure I’ll share what Lu’s life is like living with me.

Lu sleeps at night with me on my king size bed. She does have a bed of her own in the living room which she doesn’t use that often as she likes to relax on the couch. She is however very respectful of both these areas and if I or a guest is sitting/laying here she waits to be invited.

She eats high quality dog food. She also enjoys cheese and real cooked bacon occasionally for treats. But usually only for training purposes. Her food is measured and she “works” for both meals. She has a tricky treat ball which I now call “the breakfast ball” and she gets half her food in the morning in this ball before I go to work. The other half she gets after her walk/training session in the evening.

I walk her 45-60 minutes on weekdays and more on weekends.

Ok this one might be borderline spoiled but I don’t see it that way. Lu has a treadmill. It is hers. Bought especially for her. I don’t use it. Winter here can be bad. -25 C to -35C. She doesn’t like the cold so she gets on the treadmill (which she loves) and does 60 minutes at a speed of 3.0. She does have a coat and boots for when we can go out but she doesn’t care much for the cold.

She does have more than two collars, and an assortment of toys.

So that is her “stuff”. But maybe the spoiling is about me and what I do.

If I could take her everywhere with me I would. It is very rare (aside from going to work) that she is not with me. I plan activities that will include her coming with me. If i am invited to supper at someone’s place it is usually an outside event or I ask if Lu can come. If she can’t, I may go but not for too long.

There is only two people I trust to dog sit her. One is my daughter and more recently her husband. If I can’t get them to dog sit for me, I don’t go.

I make sure I get home after work as soon as possible. I was asked to go for supper after work with my colleagues and my new supervisor. I said I couldn’t because my dog was waiting for me. My supervisor didn’t even give me a strange look when I said this. He just said “I understand I have dogs too. We will do lunch instead. ”

So you get the idea anyways. I am sure as my blog goes on you may see that I am in denial and Lu is in fact spoiled. But to me she is not spoiled…. She is loved.

Farm Dog

I live in the country. The closest town has 2 gas stations, a school, a general store, fire hall and a burger/pizza place. Oh and three places you can buy liquor. Population 100.
Most people I know around here are farmers and have farm dogs. I am a bit of an anomaly to them. They see me walking my dog, on a leash, down a gravel road and they can’t figure it out.
They would often stop and offer their advice:

“Hey!” They’d say.

“Hey!” I’d reply.

“You should just let that dog go. ”

“No that’s not something I’m gonna do”.

” Well, how come? If yah did you wouldn’t have to walk it all the time. ”

This is the part they couldn’t understand. I like walking with my dog. I enjoy that 45-60 minute walk we take everyday. I laugh, I talk with her, we do some training and I know she enjoys our time together. She’s not a “farm” dog she is my companion.

I tried to explain this a few times. When that didn’t work I also explained that she could not be off leash as her nose gets the better of her and she takes off. That made no sense to them cause a dog that takes off is no good to them. I finally settled with telling them:

“She’s not a lab yah no. ”

For some reason, this statement seemed to make sense to them.

People of course stop to chat still but they no longer tell me “to let her go”. And I am sure that when they refer to me they say ” you know? That girl that walks her dog everyday down the road”.

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Nanny Cat

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“Smart ones hate being alone all the time. And sometimes another animal, it just–just soothes them a bit.”

-from the movie Seabiscuit

When I first got Lu I was told that she may have some separation anxiety. She was a 1 year old stray and was only in care for a short while before I adopted her so not a whole lot of information was known at this point. I did my research so I knew the possibility was there.
Well a week into being with me it had reached its peek when she ate the couch arm. My first clue should of been when she started to take the couch cushions off and progressed to chewing a hole in one.
Anyways I got her a wire crate… A nice little “den” for her to feel safe in. I tried everything to make her enjoy her time in it. She hated it! 9 months later it got to the point that when it was time to go in it she would shake.
At this time the cat (Miss kitty) was left to roam the house when Lu was in her”den”. Miss kitty and her were pretty good friends by now and it broke my heart to put this poor shaking dog into this place she obviously did not like. Up to this point I had tried leaving her out a few times and the cat was always separated from her in another room. The results were the same. So one day I decided I would chance Luna staying out with the cat.
Somehow that cat kept her calm. No more destruction.
As I watch them interact now you can see that there is a respect between them. Ok that’s not exactly true. There is an understanding between them….. The cat is in charge!