Thursday, July 10, 2008

Well, today was much better.

He needed quite a bit of time to adjust last night... And I wasn't at all sure what to do in the situation. So mom and I made a plan and hoped it worked. For the most part my goal was to stay out of the situation, to go upstairs and just come down occasionally... that way Toby didn't feel pressured to guard me and he would hopefully relax more when I was in the room with him and Shelby. It worked fairly well and I was able to pet them - with both dogs calmer if they were on opposite sides of me (and Toby in a cued behavior). If Shelby however got excited and started to do her happy jig (shuffling front feet and she crowds up against your leg) and Toby got too rough, I'd neutrally tell him "That's enough," and give him a different cue to do - mostly his hand touch one and then a sit or down.

I don't consider 'that's enough' a punishment in this situation. I can't remember using it before, so I'm not sure it's a learned behavior for him yet - but saying his name tended to jazz him up and he just giving him a cue didn't seem to connect with his brain. But normally by the time I rattled on a few words and then cued he was fully capable of listening. And cueing him to come touch my hand got him away from her and calmed him down, even if she followed. It worked well enough for us and I spent most of the night making sure Toby knew he had a job to do any time I walked in the room. That faded after awhile and he got to the point where he would be snoozing on the floor, hear me coming and watch Shelby come say hi before falling back asleep. He did get a little nervous when he saw me getting ready for bed and Shelby acted like she was going to follow me upstairs, but I had mom call her away and then called Toby up for bed. Shelby didn't sleep with us... I didn't want him to think he had to share 'his' sleeping spot too. I figured that was pushing it too far, especially for a dog that's not staying long.

Today, he was tense in the morning but relaxed. I can officially say I don't think I'll ever be able to live with a dog that doesn't have a solid leave it. It'll always be a behavior I train right from the beginning. Toby has never generalized it to live animals, but there is no question in his ability to leave any food, no matter what. Shelby dropped her treat and both our dogs started to go for it. Not good. I've had so many incidents where Toby's leave it has saved him from eating something he wasn't supposed to (half the time he doesn't bother even looking towards whatever fell...) but it always makes me proud. I was able to cue him to leave it and stop Reba mid-go for it so Shelby could resume in peace. I'm not sure how she'd have reacted to having it taken, but it's not worth it. (Although, if anyone has tips on how to teach a dog that's going blind a good leave it... I'd like to hear them. I've tried with Reba, but she can only see it some of the time... it makes the criteria VERY hard to define for her... and since it normally takes her ages to find something I've lived without it. It'd be helpful though).

Outside of course, is a little different. Inside, Shelby can be dancing in front of me and Toby's calm about this. Outside... he tried to entice her to play. They've played before, but he was a bit over the top enthused about his asking today so she told him no. He flopped into a second play bow, hitting her as he did it (he was very loose body wise, just not respectful of her personal space), she lifted her lip. That was enough for him until after he'd chased a squirrel came flying back, tried to ask for play and she refused him again. He'd ignored my hand touch so I was moving in closer to cue him away but I didn't need to. He went to put a paw on her back and she turned and snapped at him that time. That was enough for him. As long as she wasn't crazy running around the yard he ignored her. Or I should say, as long as she wasn't doing that or chasing me up the deck. But overall giving him something else to do and the fact that she wasn't willing to tolerate being tackled calmed him back down again. He's a loose happy boy right now, snoozing up next to her. At dinner time tonight Shelby didn't eat until I started hand-feeding her... our two finished before she was done so I cued them both to my other side and asked for downs. I hand-fed them all together. Both my dogs love hand-feeding, it's a chance to get food from me and do tricks. Shelby just got to much comfortably. And it kept everyone out of her dish while I made sure she ate something today (she's used to being free-fed, which we don't do at our house).

Here's a picture of the pretty girl:

For a 13 year old lady, she's looking grand. Still has the most incredible heart too, but camera shy. This is the only one out of a good twenty shots that I was able to get and I'm zoomed in from a distance. She's a timid dog. I know some dogs are naturally that way, but I also know a great deal of hers it due to her raising. The problem I always find myself in when I get to spend some time with her... is how happy do I make her? Her 'mom' has an unpredictable temper. One day Shelby is allowed on the couch, the next she gets screamed at for it. One day I can play with her, the next day Shelby gets screamed at for even bringing me a toy - even if I've asked for it. Our house is much more laid back (thank Dog!). She's allowed on the furniture and she's allowed to be a wacky girl. We don't care if she dances and runs around in the house when she's happy. And yet, I hate to think that when she gets home she could get in trouble. We're following their instructions as said, but her mom has never been consistent with her. Which is so sad, because I'd have taken this dog a thousand times over... my entire family would have. She's a complete joy to have here, especially now that my boy has calmed down. And I know that her family loves her (especially the kids and their dad), but there's a reason I don't take Toby to that house unless I have to. So as much fun as it's been to see her come back out of her shell, I'm worried about just how far I happy talk her into. She's such a sweetheart.

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