Thursday, December 29, 2011

Sally - Week Four

Sally the dog is learning her way around her new life.
I am not sure I can call any of this “progress” by my human measure.

First, it has become clear that Sally has ADD.
When she gets wound up, which seems to happen three times a day – early morning around seven to eight, late morning around 10-12, and mid afternoon around two to four, she scampers from one toy to another in frantic succession.
She seldom spends more than about 10 seconds on any single item.
Lately, our morning walk takes place about seven AM so that takes the place of the early session.
After her walk she takes a nap.
In spite of her morning walks that I am giving her to burn off some of her excess energy, she still goes nuts several times a day.

Yesterday, I observed her chewing on my rubber garden hose that hangs on the side of the house.
That did not last long since she moved on to something else after about 20 seconds.
In the house she has taken to chewing on one of my small rugs by the back door.
I have discouraged her from this practice but she has done it two days in a row.

Some might say that she needs more toys.
To this, I respond, she has many toys.
Some of them she has procured herself, so there is no doubt about whether they are appropriate for her.
And she plays with all of them at various times.
Yesterday I found that she had chewed the large rawhide bone I bought for her in half and undid the knot on one end.
She has an official chew shoe both in the house and in the yard (total=2).
She has large plastic lids inside and out.
She has smaller milk jug lids – which she loves to chew on – inside and out.
She has a plastic milk jug – inside and outside. (which she likes to play a game similar to soccer and rugby with).
She has some cloth bedding both inside and outside.
Various sticks – which she loves to gnaw on – inside and outside.
A ball inside and outside
Several small tree branches, which she keeps in a pile near her favorite spot in the yard next to the utility building.
So she is not without appliances to chew on/play with.

Which brings me to the next issue – biting.
Sally Brown the Dog LOVES to play bite.
She is not a licking dog, she loves to bite.
Mind you, she is not nipping in anger or fear, but trying to bite in play.
When she bites my hands, I can feel her trying to restrain her jaw pressure.
It is clear that she is not trying to hurt me.

But her teeth are like hypodermic needles.
And when she bites while jumping around, a quick nip turns into a raking cut.
I have plenty of bleeding cuts to validate this.

I have tried everything to dissuade her from this practice but nothing works.
When I give her a toy in place of my hand, she ignores the toy and goes for the hand that is holding the toy.
She is not dumb.
She knows what animates the toy.

She even gets what I am trying to get her to do (or not do).
When I tell her no, she stops momentarily but gets so frustrated she lays her chin on the floor and growls and whines. (she still does not bark)
Basically she is telling me that she does not know how to play without biting.
It this point I usually send her outside (if we are not already outside) and let her gnaw on one of her toys.
Otherwise, I leave her alone.
She also tries to bite my shoes and pants cuffs.
This has the feel of canine domination, which I will not tolerate.

Another option is to buy some leather gloves and allow her to play with my hands.
The reasoning for this is that the play biting is typical of puppies and will disappear over time on its own.
However, allowing her to bite/chew my protected hands does not teach her to not bite/chew the hands of visitors (mainly my grandchildren).
And there is the outside possibility that she will interpret my allowance of her biting/chewing play as acceptable forever, which will require me to un-train from the habit later.

We are still working on this problem.

Her leash walks have changed from a fearful event (her first reaction to being on a leash the first couple of weeks here), to a happy event.
When Sally gets excited, she jumps – not on me – straight up.
And this mornings walk preparations were typical.
She got excited when she saw/smelled her leash.
So much so that she would not stand still while I hooked her leash onto her collar.

Once attached, we were ready to rock – or walk.
My plan today was to walk a mile.
We almost made it.
Near the point of my planned turn-around, a yard dog came out of nowhere and scared the (beep) out of Sally the Dog.
Barking loudly and menacingly, the little dog was not much larger than Sally, and only about 12 inches from Sally, restrained by a chain-link fence.
Sally did not know what to make of the dog for a few seconds.
She just stood there and looked and sniffed at the wild defender of his plot of dirt.
Then she wanted to run away.

I tried to calm Sally by talking calmly to her, I pet her a bit and encouraged her to walk away with me.
She went with me for a few feet then stopped and turned to look/sniff the still-barking maniac.
She repeated this go-stop-look/sniff routine two more times.
Then another fenced-in dog joined in from a greater distance.

At this point Sally began hunting a place to crawl under and hide.
I encouraged her to stay with me and to retreat further away from the noise.
But she was clearly upset and so we ended the walk at that point.
We turned around and crossed the street to put some more distance between Sally and the yammering nabob on the west side of the street.
I encouraged Sally to stay next to me and keep moving – which she did quite well, considering the distress she was experiencing.

And then she wanted to run.
So we ran most of the way home.
When we got to our yard, I let her sniff around and when she was ready, she walked to the gate and into the back yard we went.
Safe and sound.

And finally, the house training.
A total failure so far.
This morning was a draw.
I let her out twice and she wet both times.
But while I was doing the dishes, she disappeared for a few seconds and when I went to investigate, there she was squatting on the carpet in the back room.
I told her no, and she immediately walked to the back door and waited for me to let her out.
Which I did.

From this, I see that she associates the transgression with going outside.
She just has them backwards.
We will keep working on this.

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