Saturday, December 15, 2018

Chronicles of a Rescue Dog--Part 2

Kai, the Australian shepherd rescue that came home with us the day after Thanksgiving, has now been here for three weeks.

(If you'd like to know what's going on in my writing world, you can always check the Tuesday entry each week on Eight Ladies Writing, a blog I co-write with my fellow students from the McDaniel Romance Writing program.)

Things that are good/better:
  • Despite his social anxiety issues (i.e. he barks and lunges at dogs and people), he's been accepted into the Adult Basic Class at Gem City Dog Obedience Club. We start Thursday, January 4th.
  • Working at home, he's gotten a lot better at sit, stay and down. His sit is now good enough to let me get this picture!


  • We've also started working on "muzzle"--getting used to wearing a muzzle, which I suspect he'll need at Gem City.
  • The other command he understands is crate. Yesterday as I was getting ready to go meet friends for lunch, I filled his Kong (a hollow hard rubber dog toy) with peanut butter--something to keep him busy for a while in his crate. When he saw me he sighed and plodded over to his crate and went in and lay down, looking dejected. It was heartbreaking, but really convenient.
  • The mounting behavior that showed up in Week 2 is almost gone. Thank goodness. I spent most of week two shaking him off my leg and peeling him off my back. I understand this behavior is dominance, not sex, but his nails left me covered in bruises. I did not like it.
  • His fear aggression on a leash has gotten slightly better. I watched some YouTube training videos on this topic and learned that if I walk him away from things that trigger him or insert myself between him and the so-called danger, with my back to the danger, it calms him. Unless he's really keyed up (like first thing in the morning), that can be enough to calm him. 


Things that are neutral:
  • He doesn't chase the ball as much as when he came here. At first, it would require 30 throws down the length of our yard, with him running full out, before he was remotely willing to go back inside. Now, after a throw or two he settles down to chew on the ball, or wanders around the yard looking for a place to hide it. 
  • He still barks and lunges at the neighbors at the back fence, but I can read his bark and his body language well enough now to realize he's not really doing the fear-aggression thing, he's just amusing himself. Unfortunately, the neighbors don't really see the nuance--they just know he still barks at them. We've started using the penny can (an empty tennis ball can with pennies in the bottom--he doesn't like the noise it makes.) and the spray bottle (he also doesn't like being hit with a stream of water right between the eye) to provide negative reinforcement for this behavior.
Things that are worse:
  • When he first arrived, if we left the house for a few hours we would leave him free to roam. Lately, though, he's become a bit destructive--he removes the insoles from my shoes and slobbers on them and he pulls the nap from the throw rugs. One day he found a bag of potatoes. He shredded the plastic bag and ate the eyes out of the potatoes. Just the eyes. Very weird. So now he has to be crated. Hoping that will reverse once he's more accustomed.

3 comments:

  1. Sounds like Kai is keeping you busy. Are you getting any writing accomplished?

    ReplyDelete
  2. A Crate is the best thing ever. It sounds like he is adjusting a bit...is he neutered? Those male hormones take awhile to get settled down.
    One thing at a time...who knows what he has been exposed to before you rescued him.
    He is not ball driven if he only chases the ball for a couple of times...seems strange. Have you tried a frisbee? This may sound silly but if they have a sore tooth or a sore leg or hip they won't play ball very hard.
    What fun for you!! You may not think so at the moment but what you do now makes a big difference:)

    ReplyDelete
  3. Kai is such a pretty dog. I hope the lessons work out for you both!

    ReplyDelete

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