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Thanks for the updates. The more you work with him outside, the more your confidence grows and of course, his. There are always setbacks too.

 

We live in a rural area but travel with the dogs sometimes to busier places. A couple weekends ago we were in Pittsburgh and took the dogs for a walk at 6:40am. That early hour when the sun is just starting to rise is a great time to walk and not see anyone. We walked until 7:15am, and saw no people with dogs. One person at a gas station farther away and one cat out for a stroll. Of course just a bit later, everyone is out with their dogs for a morning walk.

 

I used to walk my young dog who needed leash work in big parking lots too. It is a great place to be able to move around, turn back, and get more space when you see people. I used to (probably in a creepy way to some) latch on to people in parking lots. If my dog was doing well, we would follow people and get closer, then turn back. It is easier than starting out on sidewalks where you sometimes get stuck with no where to get away to create space from the person/dog that they are reacting too.

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I was going to suggest industrial parks/office complexes on the weekends, even on weekdays if they are lightly populated. I take Gibbs to such a place at least once a week. There are other dog walkers there, but sight lines are clear for a long, long way.

 

Great progress!

 

Ruth and Gibbs

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It's really wonderful to see how you and Tuxedo are coming along. Your post about what you had planned to do with him and how that's been impacted by his reactivity was heart-breaking. I'm sorry I suggested you throw in the towel. Clearly that was a mistake, because you are doing phenomenally with him. Bless you both.

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  • 6 months later...

Back for an update:

 

TuxeDog and I are doing much better. The second trainer was one of the only two behaviorists that live and work in my metro area. Makes sense, now, why she was so much more calm and helpful.

 

Solliquin (a calming supplement by nutramax) made a *huge* difference for TuxeDog. After we ran out of the first month of medicine, I let some time lapse because I thought maybe I was imagining things and there was a placebo affect. No way. TuxeDog was back to climbing the walls and a whimpering mess within a week. I quickly remembered why I nearly became the next in a line of owners to pass him on. The supplement was quite expensive. However, we figured out that we could get the next size up, break the tablets in half, and that way the meds cost $10/month instead of $10/week.

 

After setting Solliquin in place, TuxeDog still had a really hard time with sound sensitivity. I tried leaving the radio on various stations or just static. No dice. Eventually, I downloaded an app, Relaxio, that plays white noise and once downloaded doesn't require any data. That did the trick. The first day that I left my phone at home playing the Relaxio app all day while I was at work was the first day I came home to a calm dog. I've since learned that a loud fan (like the exhaust fan in the bathroom or a window unit air conditioner) also do a pretty good job of making the sounds, although not as good as Relaxio.

 

We have since moved into a 4-plex in the same neighborhood. We purposefully chose the back unit (a front unit was also available) so there would be less stimulus for TuxeDog. A single level unit, we are on the ground level. While still near the train, the sound just doesn't reach us the way it did in the high rise.

 

I feed him exclusively through puzzle toys. He does best with the Buster Cubes (both sizes, we haven't tried the newer soft ones yet) and the "Michaelangelo" Kong. The traditional Kong toys it doesn't matter how I stuff or freeze, he's through them in fifteen minutes max.

 

Both behaviorists strongly encouraged me to keep him primarily indoors and slowly work with him as he habituates to the outdoors. Their thought process is along similar lines to the Girshin "BAT" model linked up thread. The various attempts to "exercise it off" proved counterproductive, for my particular dog. He aligned more with the "cortisol will never have time to wear off because every time you leave the house he's expressed to stimulus" and, "then you just get a neurotic athlete," side of things.

 

A freedom harness latched to a martingale collar made life much easier. The martingale collar stopped him from slipping off lead. The freedom harness switched the angles so that on the occasions that he does lunge, I'm not pulled to the ground.

 

Those are the things that come to mind most readily. Beyond behavior management, I really enjoy TuxeDog's companionship. He's a great cuddle buddy and really fun to romp around with. He thoroughly enjoys trick training and any mental challenge I can offer.

 

It's still difficult for me that we can't go running in the mountains or even around the neighborhood. I got him with the intention of adopting an active outdoor companion, and he is unable to fill that role. Due to money concerns, training has taken a back seat the past several months. Money should loosen up in the next month or so though.

 

I'm excited to see what surprises TuxeDog and I have for eachother!

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Great news! Shoshone was a badly treated, overly-bonded to her brother dog I adopted many years ago. She didn't have the sound sensitivity TuxeDog has, but in every other way, she was difficult. A year or so in to her coming to live with us, we were still seeing positive changes. More time between the changes, and more subtle changes, but still.

 

I put Shonie on clomicalm when she was about 10, and it made a noticeable difference in her reactivity & fear. I say this because there might be more positive developments in TuxeDog's future!

 

So happy he landed with you, and he's doing better.

 

Ruth & Gibbs

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@GentleLake . Thank you! I appreciate your kind words.

 

@urge to herd, Ruth & Gibbs . Thank you for sharing your experiences with Shonie. It's reassuring to hear other's stories of similar dogs. And certainly reassuring to hear of further improvement as the years waxed on

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My parents were in town from a thousand miles away. My father is a country boy, grew up on a farm. Animals belong outdoors, not very partial to pets. The only interactions I recall observing growing up between him and other folks' dogs involve him explaining, "if you ignore then, they'll leave you alone.".

 

Given that background, it was particularly sweet to see him smiling and playing "soccer" with TuxeDog, as TuxeDog worked his Kong Genius Leo food puzzle. Dad didn't realize it was a food puzzle, and was just enjoying footsying around with the toy that TuxeDog was nosing around.

 

Maybe Dad is softening as he ages. Or... Maybe TuxeDog is just a very special dog!

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^^^ This. I've learned from each dog I've had, and they keep teaching me. The easy ones are great, the challenging ones ~ well, I met most of the challenges. And will do better next time.

 

Thanks for the updates ~ so sweet to read about your dad playing with your dog :wub:

 

Ruth & Gibbs

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  • 9 months later...

Hello, again, everyone!  I was trying to think of a place where I might be able to keep a digital training log of my daily (*cough*WhenI'mOnTopOfThings*cough) training with TuxeDog.  Our training continues to be behavior focused, for now.  I've teamed up with a wonderful trainer and my partner and I (we married, a week ago today!) have been able to find ways to squeak the finances of training into our budget on a semi-regular basis.  As I started to search for a forum where I could log daily training sessions, I remembered about this thread here, and thought this would be a great place both maintain continuity and because y'all've got a pretty neat community working here.  :)

@GentleLake.  I think that you're right and it's both/and.  Thanks for the reminder to not get stuck in that black and white thinking!

@MeMeow.  Thank you!  It sure is a long road, and now that we've been in the right direction for a bit it feels so so much more doable.  Things have, indeed, continued to get better and better.  

---

So, for that training log!

Context: We are working on integrating TortieCat back into our home.  TortieCat and TuxeDog had some trouble coresiding before and so TortieCat moved in with MrLoverMan.  Since MrLoverMan and I married, the animal home needs to reintegrate.  We have one more month before MrLoverMan's lease runs out at his place.  MrLoverMan's been working on introducing TortieCat to TuxeDog's scent and helping her adapt to her travel cage.  I've been introducing TuxeDog to TortieCat's scent (although, I've fallen behind on that, which is why it's not mentioned today) and working on an adapted form of nosework and freeshaping with TuxeDog as ways to help keep his mind busy and his stress down.  

28 July 2018

Today TuxeDog and I worked on freeshaping with a wicker basket. He caught on pretty quickly with the first 'bite the basket anywhere' and then we raised criteria to 'bite and lift the basket.' After that, we raised criteria to 'bite the handle' which he seemed to be having a hard time with and so lowered criteria to 'make contact with the handle.' We then raised back to 'bite the handle.'

For the first time today, I experimented with giving him both 'oops' (nope, that's not the correct behavior, try again!) and a double tongue cluck (yes! That's the correct behavior!) followed by a quick treat. Typically I only mark the correct behaviour and make no comment on the incorrect behavior.

TuxeDog appeared slighlty stressed (commisure pulled back, occasionally 'giving up' and defaulting to the 'down' position) but never appeared to go over threshold. After I cheerfully proclaimed 'Game over!' and dropped a handful of celebratory kibble, he laid down and took a nap. Huzzah! Tuckered out doggo for the win! We played the freeshaping game for about 15 minutes.

 

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Training Log.

29 July 2018.

 

Relaxation Protocol.

We completed Day 1 of Karen Overall's Relaxation Protocol, first in the bedroom with the door closed and second in the kitchen. He performed much better than I expected when we were in the kitchen, which is a more difficult environment for him! I offered the “free” command in between each step of the protocol. (Question for trainer: Is that “okay”?) so that each step went “TuxeDog Down. TuxeDog Stay. [Protocol Step]. [Mark & Reward]. TuxeDog Free.” Almost every time he just stayed in the down position, waiting for the next command. There was one time, when we were working through the protocol in the kitchen (the more challenging environment), that he took the “free” to walk around the kitchen and sniff a bit. When he came back for the next step in the protocol he appeared much happier and relaxed to continue. Partially, I felt bad for not having caught on to his body language that he needed a short break. Partially, I was proud of him for self-assesing and taking the break at an appropriate time when he needed it! [~20 minutes]

Sleep.

TuxeDog had a very difficult time tonight. He paced, whimpered, and barked softly throughout the night. MrLoverMan took him for a run-and-sniff around the block. When he came back, he slept for two hours and then was up again.  After about 90 minutes of me fading in and out of sleep to his pacing etc, I prepared a chew for him. That only calmed him until he'd cleaned the chew, at which point he went back to pacing. Eventually, he curled up in a ball next to me, I curled around him and petted him until he fell asleep. He slept through the rest of the night. This one was challenging because it wasn't clear to me whether to just ignore him or to try and do different things to help him calm down. Additionally, there's the new element of MrLoverMan living here and how that changes our routines and figuring out how things with TuxeDog work into the routine. Talk with Trainer about what is "stress that is okay to ignore" vs what is "over-threshold" and needs to be comforted/responded to.

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24 minutes ago, Caesg said:

There was one time, when we were working through the protocol in the kitchen (the more challenging environment), that he took the “free” to walk around the kitchen and sniff a bit.

Isn't the point of giving the "free" cue that the dog is indeed released at least for a moment to just relax and not be in training mode? Otherwise you'd just give another prompt for a different behavior that you wanted. That's the way I learned it at least.

In your sleep entry, I think you run the very real risk of reinforcing his antsy behaviors by doing something with or for him every time he starts it rather than helping him learn to settle down and relax. Definitely something to discuss with the trainer unless you want him waking you up every few hours because he wants some attention.

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@GentleLake.  Yep, the point of the "free" cue was to allow him to take a break if he wanted it.  It was an observation (I found it interesting that he only took advantage of the "free" offer to break the down/stay once) not a judgement of his choice.  Regarding sleep, I agree.  TuxeDog has gone through periods of more whimpering and pacing vs less whimpering and pacing before.  I normally circumvent it by giving him a food puzzle at bedtime and that is typically sufficient.  Because I go to bed earlier than MrLoverMan, things are getting thrown off.  I had suggested just ignoring the behavior, but MrLoverMan wanted to try the walk and I didn't want to be pushy and figured I'd allow MLM some trial and error of his own.  While familiar with TuxeDog since first adoption, MLM has only lived day in and day out with TuxeDog for a little over a week now.  MLM and I talked tonight and agreed that each night when I go to bed,  MLM will take TuxeDog for a walk. After that walk, if TuxeDog is whimpery, we will both ignore it.   If TuxeDog wakes us up in the middle of the night, one of us will get up to let him out for a quick opportunity to use the restroom, and then back in offer a frozen kong, and back to bed.  Any further whimpering beyond the quick potty break will be ignored.  My guess is this will all fade within a week.  If I'm wrong, then direct line to the trainer.  :)

---

Training Log

30 July 2018.

Zero day.  The time I was going to train him was turned over to picking up a free radiator and then the time got away from us.  :(

I moistened his food and filled the various chew toys.  Would like to time how long that takes me and work it into  my normal daily/Brili routines.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Training Log

21 Aug 2018.

Completed day 4 of Protocol for Relaxation and reviewed the instructions.  Tuxedog worked well through the protocol.  However, I think he might benefit from interspersing a few more "easy" tricks (touch, sit, stand, etc) throughout.  He seems looser after a quick "touch" (body tension decrease, commisure & jaw loosen).  I was already thinking these might help and was re-encouraged to try after reading the following excerpt from the instructions:

Quote

Finally, remember that the dog will give you lots of cues about how it feels. We are rewarding the physical changes associated with relaxation and happiness and so will also reward the underlying physiological states associated with this (parasympathetic part of the autonomic nervous system). This means that if the dog is relaxed, its body is not stiff, the jaws hang relaxed and are not tense, the ears are alert or cocked but not rigid, its head is held gently at an angle, and the eyes are calm and adoring, you will be rewarding the nervous system responses that help your dog learn. If you mistakenly reward fear, tension, aggression, or avoidance, you will not make as much progress. If it is easier for you and the dog to be relaxed if the dog is lying down, do that.


`

I would like to do some nosework with TuxeDog, today.  I also need to get some meal prep done for the human members of the family.  If I'm able to fit in some nosework, then I'll come back here and edit the post.

`

Tomorrow: Complete day 5 of Protocol for Relaxation, with easy tricks interpersed throughout.

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