Growling & Barking

We found a baseball in the park yesterday which he was extremely possessive over. Lots of mean growling, and lately he has been doing a lot more barking, particularly in the backyard with his (favourite orange) ball. He barks if you don’t come get it and throw it, but he barks if you approach it, and darts in and barks if you reach for it, as if to nip. It is rather alarming, not to mention the barking just feels insulting as I can’t do anything right. So yesterday and today I have just been approaching him with it and offering treats, giving him treats for putting it down, etc. Normally if he put it down, I would grab it and throw it, but now I am feeding and then backing away and encouraging him to get the ball back himself. I suspect he might be frustrated because it is more difficult to take possession of the ball while wearing the cone, and since he can’t pick it up, he vocalizes.

Other reasons he may be vocalizing more in general:

– excess energy because he can’t/won’t do anything with the cone on

– more opportunities here (backyard) to practice this behaviour with no bad consequences

– rewarded with attention, food, or being let in to the house

I am trying to prevent him from getting upset enough (i.e. when left alone) to whine or bark, but sometimes I fail and he begins. I can (miserably, all the while beating myself up) wait him out, but the other occupants of the house cannot, and they either call him away for attention (thus rewarding it) or shoo him (also rewarding it because dogs do not understand words, only attention).

Problems dog. God forbid, however, that I express any of my misgivings or grievances regarding this dog, lest I be punished with “told you so”s until I am plastered in them, unable to move or think.

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Short and Sweet

…were today’s walks. I am amazed at how common fearful dogs are (totally unrelated to our walks).

We saw a dog from a distance, and some people here and there, and a bike passed us by at close quarters. A lady was coming towards us on the narrow pathway, so pnut sat and I stuffed him with treats until she was gone. It was a bit much for him, he was visibly anxious about it and slightly reluctant to take the treat as she was directly beside us, but he did continue eating. He had a hard mouth a couple of times today. I feel that though the walks were short in time, they were not short in content. I have increased the size of the morsels that I provide for counter-conditioning, because chintziness is no way to change bad feelings.

In other news, I wish I had a friend my age who was equally obsessed with science-based cruelty-free behaviour modification and lived nearby and had a dog they were working with. Not sure where to look for said dream amigo.

Sorry, we are in training

Walk 1: Went back to the mall because it was nice and early, I figured there wouldn’t be too many people around. It was good, but a bit overwhelming towards the end. I don’t think I should have stopped to break up treats. We need to keep moving! Moral of the story: take big treats on neighbourhood walks where triggers are likely to be far apart, but portion ahead of time for cc in busy areas. The Vitality Jerky Bar treats are incredibly stinky – I wash my hands with a big ol’ glob of grapefruit soap which d’habitude leaves my hands sweet and fresh smelling, but not after handling these stink bombs! But he likes them and they’re nice and big, so stay they will.

Triggers: several people in motorized scooters, a toddler and mom, a few people here and there, and someone who commented on his cuteness, to which I awkwardly responded ‘Heh heh, sorry, we are in training,”. This apology and explanation were entirely unwarranted, as she evidently did not intend on approaching us, but was instead simply walking past. Next time, just say thanks.

Walk 2: A rushed trot around the neighbourhood in between the second and third periods of the 4th game in the NHL final round LA vs NY (spoiler: NY won this elimination game, thus evading elimination!). We walked out of the house as a man slooowly walked by, singing in the wavering style of (what I know as) traditional-ish Chinese music. Pnut was not impressed. He is currently trying to dig a hole to China starting through my bed. We also passed several delicious (read: disgusting) morsels, one of which was outside a house with a cat in the doorway and someone inside commenting “Oh, he must smell the chicken!”. Lady, if all he wanted was the food inside your house, and he was being that insistent about it, do you think we would ever get anywhere? Nuh-uh. Then we passed two ladies chatting. Shortly afterwards, we passed an elderly Asian couple shuffle-jogging. Again, pnut is significantly more nervous around Asian people. Last was a yard containing three guys playing basketball. Then home! Where mis padres me preguntaron whether the dogbean barked at anyone. Why, no, I replied. Funny how treats will do that. My Mother scorns my doling-out of treats at the appearances of triggers. It takes an internal deep breath to not shoot off about why this or that or how she is so something or how I feel that nobody values or respects my passion or knowledge. But, they don’t value or respect my passion or knowledge, so best to just zip it.

I don’t think dogbean barked at the door at all today! If at all, only one quiet little bark I think it was. More dedicated practice is still needed. I fantasize about him being able to “Do as I do”, but there are bigger fish to fry at the moment.

Tomorrow I pick up my friend. And then my friend and I pick up her dog. Woo! Dogs all around. Then I will watch the first World Cup game at 1pm, and Friday morning I will return to the shelter to walk dogs. Dogs and sports!

Treat Trio for Counter Conditioning on Walkies

“Let’s get to it”

-Michael Bolton

 

Three walks today, two with me and one with Pa. Reportedly on the first walk he barked at a lady gardening who greeted him, as well as the neighbour who greeted him from the window of his truck. Not bad, but also no good for him. Or his reputation – I am going for “dream dog”.

I chose to keep both walks in the neighbourhood after he was so tense walking around the mall yesterday. On the second walk, after dinner, we saw a lady jogging, some toddlers playing loudly and their moms yelling intermittently, a pair of beautiful quiet yellow dogs walking with their man, and some average sketchy Asian people (somebody ahem pnut has a problem with Asian people…they are always walking slowly and backwards and with umbrellas and visors and other suspicious items). I felt that this was an extremely successful walk, until we were back on our street and a man on a bike with a big white dog was following us and catching up quickity split! 😦 Pnut noticed and kept turning around to stare as I tried to hurry him along, stuffing treats in his piehole the whole while; we were only a couple of houses away when the other dog began whining. It seemed to me (though it’s not like I have a degree in animal behaviour or anything, hardy-har-har) that the dog wanted simply to greet Pnut. Or maybe it was “jealous” that Pnut was getting treats. Whatever. Either way, Pnut was rather alarmed at this development and I ended up intermittently pulling to get him home – not a good thing to do, as it simply adds stress and discomfort to the situation, but it is preferable to standing there and letting the other dog come by while Pnut (presumable) stares on in paralyzing horror.

On our earlier walk, we passed by a guy cutting tree branches who offered us one to throw, and an elderly couple pushing a stroller. As we passed the elderly couple, we were going past a guy playing basketball in his front yard, and just up the street was another person approaching as well as a man using power gardening tools (?). Before that, there were a couple of very little kids riding bikes and yelling, which just happened to be very near two people walking and talking who then parted ways as an SUV pulled up. Jeepers, on that walk all of the triggers managed to group themselves! But he did wonderfully.

In fact, I can’t believe how well he did today! The two golden dogs appeared only a few metres away from behind some bushes, and while Pnut was visibly alarmed, he did not bark or even growl, and was able to stay with me and respond when I called him. This is incredible! Not to mention him not reacting at the man with the branches who spoke to us – we managed to have an entire exchange without being interrupted by barking, which my conversations on walks generally are. On a related but totally insignificant note, the branches were huge, longer than my room (I know you don’t know how big that is but measuring things is for wussies), and the dog is 12 lbs, and the man said “If you need a stick to throw, I’ve got plenty.”. Thanks bro, always looking out for a dog in need.

Anywho, super pooper! Heh. Super proud of pnutterbutter. I also walked 3 dogs today at the shelter and took my friend’s dog to be boarded. Dog day!

And I have decided that there is an ideal combination of treats for counter conditioning on walks. It is the beautiful trio of freeze dried crunchy liver (Crouch? Grouch?), Zuke’s minis, and Orijen treats. I am currently using vitality bars (don’t recall the brand) as a substitute for Orijen because I ran out when I dropped my treat bag somewhere during the first walk. Hmph. They are pretty good too. Recently, I have been considering whether perhaps straight up hooman meat – I mean, meat designated for consumption by hoomans – is cheaper than dog treats. Thoughts?