Sunday, 11 November 2007

Bad case of Separation Anxiety for Sky

Sky, my Airedale Terrier used to suffer badly from separation anxiety and we would often come home to see things destroyed, toys, cushions, anything she could reach, bags gone through and contents strewn everywhere. For quite a few months we had to resort to putting her in her dog crate / bed while we went out.

Over time and trying various methods to prevent separation anxiety she improved no end with the odd blip along the way. Well it feels like a years, since she last had a bad case of separation anxiety.

It was actually odd that she had it this evening because before we left she made sure she was calm in her bed, which didn't take more than a few seconds as she was fairly tired from her 2 good walks. She had been fed, so was full in stomach and fully exercised. Ideal for relaxing sleep.

We were out for approximately 4 hours and when we came back there were sweets and sweet wrappers everywhere. Within her reach was a basket of sweets and chocolate bars. In fact it is quite low down and has been there for a good couple of years and no problems.
She had literally picked out every sweet and tried to eat most of them, not being successful with the individually wrapped ones. Chocolate bars had gone to, fortunately there's wasn't many in the basket and they were only small mini biscuit type bars. Chocolate can be poisonous to dogs if too much is eaten.

She also looked huge I could see her stomach was bloated. We then noticed she had got in her sack of dried dog food. This is also floor level and has been so for over 4 years. Admittedly she has got in there on a couple of previous occasions in the past, so we block the entrance to the opening of the food.

Its not pleasant to come home after a good time out, tired and then being faced with the situation. It was a right mess and obviously we were concerned about her eating sweets and chocolate, especially for a dog that's on a prescription only diet.

Apart from looking fat she seems fine. I gave her plenty of water to drink.

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Friday, 2 November 2007

Fireworks and Dogs

We went to a fireworks display tonight at the local Rugby ground. It was a great evening. There was also a number of fireworks going off as we were coming home. I was glad to be coming home to Sky with no worries, as she is perfectly fine with fireworks and they don't bother her in the slightest.

She was born in the November, and I think we got her in the February, so I can't remember for what occasion fireworks were going off, but whenever it was, it was while she was a puppy. Anyway, the fireworks started around our house, so I immediately got up, and took her outside for a game with a ball and squeaky toy. She hasn't been bothered by fireworks since. Luckily I had been informed orread to do this, and it worked a treat.

Its a stark comparison to my previous Airedale Terrier, Storm, who was terrified of them and would run upstairs and hide. If I was there I, or members of my family, we would comfort her, its not nice to see your dog, genuinely scared. It also not nice when your out and you know fireworks might be going off and your dogs terrified. Plus another time is when your walking your dog and a firework goes off and you get pulled home, or worse your dog bolts without you.

Well, let me highlight, its a mistake to comfort and give sympathy to your dog when its scared. you are rewarding that state of mind and confirming to them the sound of fireworks is something to be scared of.

Curing the problem is more difficult, but if you have a young puppy, make the sound of fireworks a fun time, with games and maybe treats if they are totally uneffected by the sound. It can make a whole lot of difference. Fireworks seem to be used on a whole lot more occassions these days.

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Tuesday, 16 October 2007

Another Dog Borstal - Dog Advised to be Put Down

Watched the latest episode of Dog Borstal tonight. I can't help but watch it, even though I don't learn much from it and potentially could learn wrong information. For me it just highlights general problems and why as a society (including most dog trainers, workers) why we need a much better alround understanding of dogs, like Cesar Milan has. I've come to the realisation that the dog trainers on the programme are just that, trainers, they are not dog behaviour experts.

Robert did another excellent job with a greyhound. Mic did his usual swearing. Lynne had a tough case with a dog which had aggressive issues. In the end she came up with 3 options and one of them was to have the American Bulldog put down, which is the option the owner took. The other options were muzzle the dog when outside the house, and while in the house keep separate from the kids, or opt to find dog a new owner. The owner had 2 children, so I fully understand how they cannot be put at any risk, especially with an 8 stone dog. Apparently they couldn't find anyone to take the dog on and were told they were just passing on a problem.

The owner told herself everyday she shouldn't feel guilty. Well, she chose the wrong breed. She let the dog rule the house. She couldn't even put a check chain on correctly. She should at least feel a little responsible.

Thing is, I know full well that putting the dog down is not an option the Dog Whisperer, Cesar Milan would have taken.
Don't get me wrong, I'm still on an early learning curve and do not have lots of knowledge and experience myself, but the trainer Lynne did not do one single thing that Cesar might have tried. She was actually praising the dog and offering treats while it was in a stressed out misbehaving state. Other trainers were doing the similar thing. However, I accept Cesars Way isnt the only way. Lynne is known to be a very good good alround trainer.

Plus I'm tired of seeing the owners walking there dogs on tense leashes with the dog pulling them. Come on, get the owners leading the pack from the off. The dogs lives are literally at stake if they don't get put in there place as a follower.

Like I say, it highlights to me the right way of how Cesar works and gives me a better understanding of why his methods work. If I can get a fuller understanding of a dogs mind, psychology and behaviour etc I will certainly do my best to get the message across on the website so help any dog owner that needs it.

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Wednesday, 10 October 2007

Sky does 1 Hour on Dog Treadmill

Yes, just 4th day in, and Sky has completed an hour on the treadmill.

Yesterday I gave her just 2, 10 minute sessions as for the rest of the day there was too much going on, i.e my daughters 3rd birthday party.

One thing I did learn yesterday, was be aware of whether you dog needs the toilet. Not that there was any accidents or anything, just that after Sky's 10 minutes she did go straight to the door for access to the garden for the loo. I don't know how she would have conveyed that message if I had wanted her to stay on longer, but I guess she would have one way or the other.

However today, back to some sort of normality and she did a whole hour. She did get off couple of times when things were going on, e.g someone knocking on the front door but for the main part she was fine, doing longs stints at mostly 5.0 km/hr.

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Monday, 8 October 2007

Sky On the Walk

Sky, my Airedale Terrier, has one main problem I'm finding extremely difficult to solve.
When she sees other dogs while she's on a lead she sometimes (most of the time) pulls like mad, sometimes even barks at them. Off lead she is fine with other dogs.

She is definately worse if the other dog also has a similar problem, which quite often seems to be the case. It is a problem I really want to solve, because sometime last year when she was being looked after by my Mum, while I was on holiday she pulled my mum over in the street. Now, even though my Mum is happy to have her again, its not something I want to risk happening again.

Over the last couple of months and especially the last few weeks since I've been watching and learning from Cesar Milan's Dog Whisperer programme she has come on leaps and bounds and when there is no dog, or cat for that matter in view she walks like a dream. Really excellent.

A few months ago I was really not enjoying the walks at all, which creates a vicious circle as I didn't want to walk her and when I did "the chore" I didn't do it for a long as should.

I think the problem arose because of dominance issues, which Ive worked greatly on. Also, up until early this year I walked her on an extendy lead, which obviously gave her the "leader of the pack" role as she is walking way ahead of me and also could pull in any direction whenever she wanted, i.e saw a cat.

I scrapped the extendy lead and Ive tried walking her by just attaching lead to her normal collar which proved quite difficult as she was constantly trying to edge in front on the walk.
Recently I used a check chain for a few weeks, which may have helped a bit in correcting her edging out in front occassional pulling but did nothing in the heat of the moment of pulling at other dogs.

Within the last 2 weeks I bought a new collar and lead, nylon I think, which I felt was betterthan my previous chain lead. However, this time I fully implentend some of what Id seen on Dog Whisperer:
1)Don't put the lead on the dog until she is calm submissive
2)Don't leave the house until dog is calm submissive.
3)When you leave the house make sure you lead the way physically.
4)Leave the house like your a pack leader, calm assertive, head high and relaxed. Envisage yourself the leader, kind of like you own the streets.

These steps work great. Until I come up against other dogs.

I don't know if the problem still relies with myself. Here's some examples from the last 2 days,

Yesterday, Sky was walking great, I could see a German Shepherd coming my way. It looked fine but did have a what looked like a head collar. I felt I was ready, standing tall, chest out, no tension on the leash, ready to just keep on walking past the other dog.

However, looking back maybe I was kind of avoidng the situation, because in the middle of the street was another man looking in a shop window and I deliberately went the left side of him as the other dog and owner were going the right side.

As I looked at the German Shepherd I noticed it ears prick up as it looked at Sky and within a split second she out out of control, pulling and barking, which I stopped immediately by pulling her back and up. I hadn't noticed the german Shepherd pulling or going out of control. We then moved on. It's actually quite rare for her to bark at a non barking dog.

Then today, I was walking down the street and again Sky was fine. Two small dogs were coming our way and again I was consiously relaxed. Sky started to beome a little fixated so I tried to correct her out of it. The other 2 dogs were both out in front and pulling there owner. In seconds, from being slightly fixated Sky had pulled out in front of me and I was pulling her back.

The lady and her dogs walked into a drive way. I turned to walk the other way to lead Sky in another direction and gainthe leader position and intending to turn back with her under control. However as Im walking away she was pulling back to the dogs, so I said to the women, "Ill cross over, so I crossed over the road, and when I got over Sky was still pulling a bit to face the direction of the dogs and I sat her down and confronted her then moved on.

Should I have crossed over? By doing that I feel I just avoided the problem. Although, I don't know purpose it would have served me pulling Sky past 2 excited dogs, there's no way it would gone smoothly.

Maybe the problem is I'm not correcting her enough when she goes into even slight fixated mode. Thats what I'm going to make sure I'm fully aware of next time.

I've been having similar problems for a while. The thing is its all happens and is then over in a matter of seconds.

Anyway, this is certainly one goal I have to achieve and I'll be so happy when I have!

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Sky's Treadmill Update

Sky had her second main treadmill exercise session today. I did try her on it yesterday for a couple of minutes just to show my sister how easy Sky went on and was happy to walk on it.

Today. I walked her on to the treadmill and didn't actually straddle her. She started walking fine, she did get off a couple of times when I first moved away or if someone came into the room.

After a short while I could leave her side and go and sit down, of course I was not far away.

She seemed more at easy today and I soon had the speed setting up to 4.0km/hr which is a walking pace. After about 15 minutes she was looking alot more comfortable and instead of concentrating with head facing down she started to look up a bit and glance around, so I felt it was okay to increase the speed a little. By the end of the exercise session she was doing fine at 5.o km/hr which is a nice decent walking pace and she looked really at ease and more comfortable at that speed once she got used to it than she did at the slower speed.

When the session is over I just slow the treadmill down and then tell her to come off. If ever she does get off of her own accord I put her straight back on. I think it important she learns to stay on it until told otherwise and maybe in the future she will go on there without a lead.

For now her progress is amazing. I have taken some video footage. At some point in the future I intend to work out how to upload it.

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Saturday, 6 October 2007

Dog Walking Successfully on The Treadmill

Today I had a go at walking my Airedale Terrier, Sky on the treadmill today.
Now this is something I’ve seen Cesar Milan do many times on his Dog Whisperer programme.
Today wasn’t the first time I had tried it. I had an attempt a few weeks ago and failed miserably.

Today though was very different and a success . I think one of they keys this time was that I didn’t go and get the lead so Sky, didn’t go into excitable "Walkies" mode.

During my previous attempt I had Sky on her lead and actually on the treadmill but when I turned it on she panicked and jumped off. When I straddled her she just dug her claws in and pulled backwards with me pulling her forward, which was just creating more tension that made her pull back even harder. After that she wasn't to keen to go on it so in effect I had taken a step back.

This time, because the her previous experience had not gone to well I started off by leading her onto the treadmill with some treats. She was very relaxed and happily went onto the treadmill. I tried using the treat as a guide to get her to actually have all 4 paws on it with head facing forward but this wasn’t to be.
In the end I had to pick up the back to feet and told her to sit, which she did and then got the reward.
I then had her standing facing forward. I was standing over her with my feet on the side of the treadmill and my legs either side of her body. I had her on a fairly short lead to keep control of her. The lead was nice and relaxed.
I started up the treadmill at a nice and steady walking pace and she was walking fine. I had a treat ready in front her head ready to reward her but she didn’t seem to interested.

Mission accomplished, she was walking fine. I did try tying the leash to the treadmill and then getting off but she would then also jump off. So I put her back on for a few more minutes and then tried getting on myself, but again she followed.

Thinking about it, maybe I should have finished the session we me getting off and then telling her to as well, rather than her just doing it of her own accord.

Anyway, I can’t wait to show my other half later, (its her treadmill), and I hope to capture some film of the moment, and then Ill work out how to upload it on Youtube for all to see.

Sky has just completed another 15 minute stint on the treadmill. I was on it as well straddling her with my legs either side. I upped the pace a bit, but its still slightly lower than my normal fast walking pace. She seemed to enjoy it, although her tail's not up like normal and she does need to concentrate or she goes a bit wonky. She seemed extra content when she had got off.

All in all she is doing excellent. I used to work in a fitness club many years ago and the treadmill was difficult for a quite a few first timers who needed while to get there balance.

My aim is to get her walking on it on her own without me having to be standing over her. Ideally I'd like my feet up watching a bit of TV. I wouldn't leave her alone in the room, no matter how good she gets.

My Tips to Success
1)Make sure dog is "calm submissive" before you start.
2)Make sure you yourself are calm and focused. I remember Cesar saying one time he thought and envisioned going on the the treadmill with the dog before actually doing it.
3)Have a treat ready if needed. (May be a distraction so try without).
4)Try to get dog on the treadmill of own accord.
5)Keep leash relaxed. Correct dog if needed to pull forward or to center, but don't have pro-longed tension.

In Cesar's book, "Cesar's Way" he states it can take 2 weeks for a dog to get used to a treadmill and then they can even get addicted to it and will be asking to go on it.

This will hopefully be a great help in burning off some of Sky's excess energy and help with her dominance issues.

(Try and at your own risk and also checkout every aspect of safety first).

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