Rubi has brain freeze. Somewhere between the cooler weather and last week’s full moon, B seems to have back slid a bit in her training. She’s a little faster: fast to respond, but also faster to react, and she’s been a bit more hyper vigilante. A few days ago, we passed a dog being walked on the other side of the street, and Rubi went ahead and had a spaz attack. She accepted treats, but she took a few seconds break from that to whine and spin in a circle. I’d be more upset about this, I think, but for the moment, it’s not hard for me to remember where we were a year ago.
Last year at this time, we were just starting to move the relaxation protocol out of the house. We had just started our first round for Changing Attitudes, and it was a lot harder than I had anticipated. I had just switched from night shift to days, and it was driving everyone, myself included, insane. When B first came to me, she would flip out over dogs half a mile away - and I don’t mean “be a little upset.” She’d entirely lose any ability to do anything but scream and spin in circles. No power in the ‘verse, including treats, could convince her to behave otherwise. So a little whining and a spin that she stopped as soon as I asked? Hell yes, I’ll take that.
Now, I find myself once again planning for the future. This fall, I’d like to get B enrolled in a reactive dog class at another school. I don’t particularly think we need specialized classes anymore, but it’s nice to know that if B does pitch a fit, I’m surrounded by people who understand. Hold on, I'd better go find some wood to knock on. Rubi hasn't been in classes since May-ish. I'm sure she could be a real monster if she put her mind to it.
For now, we're going try something a little new and a little old to give B a bit of an attitude adjustment. We're going to tighten up our "No Freeloaders" policy (aka Nothing in Life is Free), and go back to making Rubi work for the things she really wants. Most programs get a little lax as time goes by, and I think this is a good reminder to me that B needs a certain amount of work in her daily life to be happiest.
We're also going to try tethering. All dogs spend some time being tethered when they come to my house as part of the Two Week Shudown. This will be different. I'm not going to tether her to me, only to stationary objects. She'll be well exercised (not that dogs aren't during the shutdown, but tethering without exercise is cruelty, not training), and I'll give her a nylabone or some sort of chew toy to occupy herself. Then, the house and herd will just go about our daily lives. She's not segregated or ignored, she just can't leave her bed. The idea is that this will teach her about calming herself. She can't instantly go and check something out whenever the thought enters her mind, and she can't follow us around waiting for us to entertain her. She just has to learn to chill.
If it works well for B, Mikey's up next. One word: teenager.