Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Slinky's Separating Sojourn: Day 19 with Misha May

Generalizing, The Home Visit, Holiday Schedules, Lifting the Leg, It's a Journey

had a restful night and morning with me. There was no more gagging or vomiting.
Putting in her eye drops is pretty challenging but I’m sure I made some contactJ Does anyone
know any really good approaches for that?

is the day we did Slinky’s home training session.
for this session include:
Slinky generalize what she learned at my home to her home. Dogs don’t
generalize easily. They need to practice the same thing in many locations
before they can offer it reliably everywhere. Try this test. Choose a command
that your dog will follow almost 100% at home, like sit. Now ask your dog to ‘sit’ in 3 other
places like the park, a friend’s house, and a brand new hiking trail. If your
dog doesn’t sit in every place it means you haven’t fully taught the command
yet. He only understands sit in certain situations so far.
Generalization Exercises: In each new
place where he can’t do it, begin basic training of sit assuming he doesn’t know
the word or the context. Each time he sits, say ‘sit’ and reward him. Don’t
keep asking him to sit and setting him up for failure. Catch him doing it and
precisely at that moment say sit and reward him.
of her environment. For training protocols to be successful, they must be
congruent with the home and family situation. I wanted to see Slinky’s crate
and its placement and the set –up of the house.
exercises. The family will be continuing with these exercises until they reach
their goals for Slinky. I wanted to be certain that they were executing them
optimally and to see if they had any questions or concerns.
of new exercises. It’s time to introduce some new exercises in the home. These
take two people and help the dog positively re-associate to the impending departure
of the mom.

for this session include:
and execute previous and new exercises in the home environment.
Slinky’s progress in transferring what she knows.
Slinky and offer immediate feedback.
Slinky’s response to my departure.
tips to help the couple work as a team with separate and shared roles.

One: Gina Departs
goal is for Slinky to have a positive association with Gina’s departures. In a
broader sense, she will be accepting of all departures, minimally tolerating
them and ideally looking forward to them.
procedure is for Gina to begin to walk away as Gene feeds Slinky canned food
(any treat that is special will work). When Gina returns, the special food
stops. Gina starts by only walking a short distance but as Slinky becomes more
and more comfortable she can extend the area.
result of this first attempt was that Slinky truly became engrossed in the
canned food and began to ignore Gina.
outcome from the first trial was outstanding. Gina, Gene and Slinky carried out
their roles very well.

Two: Irrelevant Cues
goal is for Slinky to habituate to departure cues so that she does not become
anxious in anticipation of being along.
procedure is for Gina to randomly jingle her keys, put on her coat or shoes, or
pick up her purse throughout a day while Gene again delivers treats. Not only
do the cues become meaningless, but they are now predicting treats rather than
result of the first attempt with the keys was very successful. But when Gina
opened the closet where her coat was, Slinky reacted. It is important to
observe which triggers are stronger and to break those down into smaller steps.
So instead of opening the closet, it might be more successful to simply stand
by the closet and then the next day try putting one’s hand on the doorknob.
outcome if this first trial was very successful. We learned that we could
continue easily with the keys, but needed to go more slowly with the closet.

Three: Dining in the Crate
goal of this exercise is to make the crate a desirable destination for Slinky
whether she chooses to go there herself or is to be placed in there in the
owners’ absence to prevent home destruction. Many dogs will continue to use
their crates for life as a refuge. Others might desert them once they no longer
are placed in their by their owners. We want to give the owners this option now
and to offer it to Slinky for a lifetime. Slinky will be traveling with her
people and being able to crate can be a handy and safe way to accomplish this.
procedure is to place the meals, the treats and any special bedding or toys in
the crate to help the dog make this positive association. We had bedding that
smelled like the dogs from my house as well as a toy.
result of this exercise was that Slinky walked into the crate to eat, but since
this crate is somewhat smaller than the ones at my home, her back legs were
still outside. Many dogs will keep as much of themselves outside as is possible
as an insurance policy against being ‘locked up’. It’s important to let them do
that. It builds trust if they have time to acclimate and adjust and realize
that nothing bad will happen.
peanut butter option consists of placing peanut butter or something they really
like on the back wall of the crate. The dog has to enter all the way to access
it. It is also possible to place yourself around the back of the crate and entice them
inside with your voice and treats.

recommended that the first group of exercises be continued.
only responds to Slinky’s approaches half of the time.
walks by Slinky when she is calmly at a distance and pets her half of the time
but continues on, and the other half she pets her and joins her.
uses the ‘wait’ command when she is leaving Slinky, sometimes throwing a treat past
watches for opportunities to reward Slinky for being calm and at a distance.

ideas we discussed were having Gene feed and walk Slinky more often so that she
would see him as an equal source of her needs. Hand feeding is another route to

I was there, I saw photos of some of the destruction that Slinky imposed on
their home in the first day when she was left alone and not crated. There were
stacks of boxes of books whose ends had been gnawed away in a short amount of
time. Puppies, of course, chew and they can certainly wreak havoc but combined
with her other symptoms of howling and rocking the crate, separation anxiety
was the diagnosis.

update following my departure:
wanted you to know that Slinky didn't whine at all after you left. She watched out the window as you pulled
away, but showed no signs of anxiety.
Gene had to go pick up a pizza and called Slinky to go with him. She followed him to the door and then
returned to the living room to look at me, then followed Gene out the door
without me following behind. She didn't
whine at all on the way there and only whined a little on the way home. She was fine when they returned :)

while they were gone, I moved her crate into the bedroom. She's been lying in her crate sleeping next
to me. Just thought I would share the
good news.”

is important to celebrate all the tiny steps forward in dog training as well as
the big ones. It can take some time to get from here to there and the journey
should be as fun and pleasant as possible. Gina is adept at seeing the progress
of her Slinky no matter what size the progress is. Most importantly when
working with a fear or phobia, the slower and more methodically that you work
in the beginning, the more solid the foundation and the more expansive the eventual
successes. Focusing on the goal instead of being present with the journey can
be unnecessarily stressful and even counterproductive.

that the holiday season is approaching, many people might be adding a new dog
to their household or spending much more time than usual with the resident dog.
Expectations should not be drastically altered so that the dog now thinks he
will not be alone, or that the fun and safety are only with you. Schedule times
during the holidays when your dog will be alone, either for brief trials if he
is new, or for longer periods similar to what he has been used to.

don’t realize that we can contribute to the development of separation anxiety
by giving our pet too much uninterrupted attention. We are responsible for
teaching them to be independent if they are not. One reason to always set your
pet up for success and learning is because it builds their confidence and helps
them enjoy their lives. So be sure you give your dog the message that while you
may be more available during the holidays, there will still be separations that
will be safe, restful and even fun (think bully stick).

Soiling versus Marking:
dogs mark in a house it may be because certain new smells stimulate them, or
the lack of a satisfying smell invites them to make this their own. This is not
the same action as mistakenly urinating in the house instead of appropriately outside.
No matter what the reason, though, marking creates a distasteful environment which
can then attract other dogs to mark if the area is not sanitized carefully with
an enzymatic cleaner.

is almost a given with an intact male who hasn’t been trained to act differently.
His hormones as he matures demand that he place his scent everywhere. And, as
is the case with so many hard-wired satisfying behaviors, once accomplished,
often repeated. Unfortunately, marking does not resolve by itself. Dogs are
often relinquished to shelters because they mark. The owners don’t neuter them which
would prevent the problem. Nor do they resolve the problem through re-training.
They blame and abandon them simply for doing what dogs do naturally without human

taking your dog, especially a male, to your friend’s house or to a foster or
adoptive home, keep him on leash initially as you explore. Because this is a
fresh environment, we don’t want to allow for an old behavior to surface and
mar the opportunity for a successful beginning. It is always easier to teach
something brand new than it is to retrace your steps and try to correct a

carefully to see any indication that your dog might be going to lift his leg.
Excessive smelling in one area is often a predictive behavior. A simple ‘hey!’ to
interrupt his intention, followed by running him outside communicates that ‘we
don’t do that in here’. It is unwise to reprimand inappropriately placed elimination
too sharply under any conditions as the dog may associate his eliminating with
you yelling. Then he will sneak off to do his business and refuse to do it
around you.

if your dog has never marked it isn’t a bad idea to use preventative . With
deep humility, I share the following story of my ‘perfect’ Zeb, a neutered male
Golden Retriever. He and I went to a neighbor’s home which we had visited
regularly. I thought nothing of it as we went into the basement which we had
not previously entered. Before I could prevent or react, my Zeb stopped
smelling a very interesting spot on the carpet, lifted his leg and let go.
Needless to say, I was mortified! He had never marked before and never did
after. But this spot was powerful.

out, these neighbors, who had never had dogs live with them there, had witnessed
a dog of the former owner mark there. They hadn’t cleaned as thoroughly as they
had thought.

three components of the modification of marking in the house are the same as
for basic housetraining. The intention is to never allow the dog to make this
mistake. So he is either outside, crated or contained in a small area or
leashed to you. If he isn’t neutered, that would be a smart step as well.

pet supply stores sell velcro wraps or diapers which can save your furniture
while you are modifying the behavior. The wraps are a short term solution which
help you in the interim. Neutering and the wraps in conjunction with the simple
training will help more dogs remain in their homes. These are excellent for dogs
with incontinence, too, although they can’t be left in them any more than a
baby can be left in a soiled diaper.

with any behavior which occurs suddenly without warning or is accompanied by
possible pain or discomfort, see your veterinarian. Behavior modification will not
resolve a bladder infection.

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