Helping dogs to be brave, Another vet visit.
August 4, 2012 at 1:31 am
I am subscribed to the posts on the Functional Rewards (BAT) Yahoo group and I really love some of the wisdom I find on here.
This question recently came up in the group:
if the dog shows a calming signal and you move the dog away, doesn’t that mean that you are afraid of the situation too cause you are moving away? a trainer told me to just go pass the person or dog to show that it does not bother you so the dog will think no big deal either.
Two responses below. First by Jude:
Moving away from a scary thing is a perfectly normal thing to do. If the dog knows that s/he can always retreat, the scary thing becomes no big deal and eventually loses its charge – exactly your goal!
However, if the dog knows s/he must go near it, then it remains a source of concern. Imagine being afraid of a poisonous snake hanging from a tree branch outside your front door and knowing that you can easily avoid it by using the side door vs. knowing that you must pass close to it each time you leave home just because your partner isn’t afraid of it and expects you to be unafraid, too.
Trying to calm an aroused animal by showing that you are not afraid does not work as a general rule and can increase an animal’s fear and/or shut down the animal. We have seen this on TV!
And by Susan Mitchell of C.A.R.E. for Animals :
I can understand what the trainer you spoke with is saying. I agree that dogs take their cues from us and that they often interpret something based on our responses (verbal and behavioral). (Sort of like kids do!) But if BAT is done correctly, it is done with the handler demonstrating calm, and even confident/happy behavior…. and in response to the DOG’S behavior. This conveys to the dog that 1- we can handle this, no need to freak out, and 2- I’m not going to be forced to ‘suck up’ my fear and face that thing over there. It really becomes a “game” or sorts for the dog that they come to understand and maybe even enjoy.
Furthermore, I love what Susan has written below in response to another group post:
I really do believe in my heart of hearts that our dogs do their absolute BEST to do what we ask of them. Sometimes it is just REALLY hard for them and they just can’t always do it. It is our job to understand what they are communicating to us and help them out. Just like they let us know when they need help…. they will also let us know when they don’t need it. And while I know others don’t agree, I personally believe that the more we offer help, the more the dogs learn to trust us, the braver they become, and the less they actually need the help.
I think this is really wonderful and inspiring, in that our ultimate goal is to help our dogs feel brave, independent, make good choices (vs. simply doing as they are told or behaving on cue). Susan adds that in teaching self-control and relaxation to our dogs, it is OK to go slow, be methodical, ask for advice along the way.
On the right is a photo taken today at the vet. This may not seem like a big deal to anybody with a normal dog, but I want to point out something quite amazing. Boogie is LYING DOWN in a room where there are dogs that he doesn’t know. There are three dogs and two cats in the room at the time this photo was taken (Later there were 6 dogs). The pup at the back is off-leash and very well-behaved. When Boogie is in a room with other dogs that he doesn’t know, he is never THIS relaxed. He will sit but never lie down like this.
This week, on two previous occasions I took Boogie out to busy public places and rewarded him with treats for lying down calmly by my side. I have also moved Boogie’s bed closer to my desk so I can reinforce calmness and quiet while he is lying down. Before, the bed was too close to the window and he got distracted very easily… couldn’t relax for long.
“Please, can we go home now?”
In other news, Boogie is suffering again from skin issues. Dr. R said that there is no staph infection this time. The allergic reactions have not (yet) progressed to a staph infection even though Boogie’s itchy skin, hot spots, hair loss, ear infection and goopy eyes don’t look so good. I told Dr. R that Boogie has also been acting sluggish and slower than normal.
Dr R: “Allergies are exhausting.”
And so I am applying Traimcinolone Cream to Boogie’s raw itchy (sometimes bloody) skin, and giving him Temaril-P – which is a steroid med – for 10 days. I really hate the side effects of steroid medications and I’m not happy about this.
I am currently researching supplements to help boost Boogie’s immune system. I am very interested in Canine Immune System Support & Doggy GOO. Any doggies out there familiar with these supplements? I’d love to get your thoughts.
When I was in the vet waiting room, a Yorkie owner advised me to give Boogie Cold-pressed Coconut Oil orally & topically – this will take care of hot spots and infections because coconut oil is anti-bacterial. Elsewhere I have read that Apple Cider Vinegar mixed with water can be used as a flea-repellent spray because of the acidity. Can anyone confirm this info? Anyone tried these natural remedies with success?
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