I have no Katie news to share because our little social event got postponed last Sunday due to weather. It snowed. Not snowpocalypse or snowmaggedon kind of snow, but enough snow to keep Katie’s new family from coming up the canyon. BUT, I did manage to take Lilly to class last week. It wasn’t ideal, but here is our report.
It took me many minutes of Relaxation Protocol work to make our way across the big park to the other dogs. Lilly kept going flat and shutting down.
I believe it had more to do with all the ambient stress in our house in recent weeks and months, rather than day-of stimuli.
So, we took 1-3 steps, sat, ate. Repeat.
It was pretty sad, but she made it over to the group. She wasn’t much interested in working at first, so we mostly hung out and played LOOK PUPPY and other anti-reactive dog work.
I forgot my camera, so no photos to show the transition from shutdown to relative calm that we eventually achieved. Her faced relaxed. Her tail came out. She no longer scooted across the ground.
Possible New Friend
It was a class full of many young dogs we do not know, so we kept our distance. One new classmate — 9-month-old Irish Wolfhound — piqued Lilly’s interest, but the one time I tried walking somewhat close to this sweet puppy (about 5 feet), Lilly began some displacement sniffing and then snarked at Molly (that’s her name) when she showed interest in what Lilly was sniffing.
Gigi and I still think that they could be pals, if Lilly wasn’t over threshold. So, I mentioned to Molly’s mom that some day, when Lilly is having a better day I would like to let them meet. (I promise, Dog Geek, to ask for “help,” rather than frame it as an “invitation.”)
As we know from her friendship with Katie, Lilly does well with large, skinny, mellow dogs. I think Molly is a good candidate. We hope to see more of her.
Pass the Pup
Toward the end of class, we played Pass the Pup, where your dog works with someone else. It isn’t really about bossing someone else’s dog around. It’s more an exercise in rewarding default behaviors (like sitting or walking nicely on a leash). It’s good practice for dogs to learn that other “good” people reward them for things they know how to do.
Gigi offered to be Lilly’s person, but another longtime classmate who has 1 shy dog and 1 reactive dog in the family was willing. So, I took her shy girl. She took mine. It’s so sad that I know her dogs’ names, but I’m drawing a blank on hers. (Help, KB? It’s Kite and Daisy’s mom.)
Lilly did quite well, including everything she was asked to do, but kept her eye on me the entire time.
And, when we switched back, Lilly had a full-on, jumping, screaming, kissing fit. Everyone cracked up because she SO clearly was glad to see me. She even wrapped her arms around my leg and dove face first into my bait bag and jackpotted herself.
I shouldn’t have allowed that, I suppose, but I figured she was trying to eat her way calm or happy or whatever. She had had a rough day.
Gigi pointed out, however, that while funny, Lilly was showing a rather dysfunctional behavior that would not serve her well.
I don’t mind being the cautionary tale.
We hope to see Katie this Sunday, but it might snow again.
We had dear sweet Belle and Angus over yesterday, after I snagged them from their solo adventure in the valley, but I didn’t have the time and energy to supervise a visit with Lilly.
Word problem for the day: If a Great Dane and a Labrador Retriever are traveling west at a 1/2 mile per hour, what is the mathematical likelihood that you can get them home successfully using your new fuel-efficient car?
Answer: I walked them home.
Now I’m blanking on her name too. Her husband’s name is Frank, not that you asked his name – oh, and is her name Shelly? I’m not sure.
Oh how I wish we lived closer together. As K has gotten older, I’ve felt more and more optimistic that she and Lilly could do well together. K has lost any tendency whatsoever to rush toward new dogs as she’s matured and had a few scary experiences. She would approach Lilly with caution but be open to playing. That just might be perfect (but then again, I could be completely wrong).
It sounds like the start of class was rough – but you pulled Lilly out of her initial serious funk. That’s a really good thing! I can’t wait to be out there again with you at class!
Wishing you a Valentine’s Day filled with sunshine and love and the tender sound of a voice that gives you comfort.
If I remember correctly, you haven’t been to class in a while.. so, the fact that she recovered after getting so nervous says a lot, at least to me.
Molly sounds promising. I’m trying to figure out ways to ask people from my dog club to socialize their dogs with Marge. I’m hoping our training time with the Westie goes well on Sunday – Marge has met her before, many times, and they seem interested in each other, but sort of indifferent. And, what big skinny dogs are to Lilly, small dogs are to Marge.. so, that is a plus.
That is great that Lilly was able to relax after starting from a shut down. Is that a result of the relaxation protocol work you’ve done? That’s one area where I would love to help my dog. I don’t have any sort of system to help bring her stress level down after she’s been pushed too far. At this point, all I can do is remove her from the scary situation, but when that’s not a possibility, it would be great to have a tool to help her settle. (I don’t how physiologically possible that is if she has too many stress hormones moving through her….hhmm.)
I hope a meeting with Molly is able to happen!
Sounds promising! I have definitely found with B that I shouldn’t try to introduce her to a new dog when there are other strange dogs in the immediate vicinity. Her state of arousal is already high, and she goes over threshold much more easily. When I take her to agility trials, we keep to ourselves when we are in the building or right around the ring where all the activity is. If there is a dog that I think would be good for her to meet, I see if we can find a time to walk them somewhere away from the ring to meet.
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