Wilfred

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Trying Again

Published August 13, 2012 by Shearaha

Apparently I’m terrible at this, given that it’s been almost a year (8 months) since I last posted. Part of that was laziness, and part feeling like a failure. Wilfred and I have had ups and downs, and every down felt like I was failing him. In the time I haven’t posted we’ve gone to a behavioral vet, Dr. Feltes at The Behavior Clinic http://thebehaviorclinic.com/index.php Wilfred has been placed on L-Theanine and Prozac. He’s doing much, much better now. He’s still his funny silly self, but is better able to focus and cope in situations that used to send him flying off the handle. We’ve made huge strides with his behavior modification program and managed to make a couple of new friends.

Some huge strides we’ve made in the last couple of weeks. We attended monthly sessions called Click-Ins at The Behavior Clinic that are run by Amanda the Vet Tech at the clinic. It’s a time for clients, all of whom have dogs with issues, to work their dogs in a friendly accepting environment. We’ve gone to 5 so far and for the first time this Saturday we made it into the building! We spent all the previous ones out in the parking lot looking in the big floor to ceiling windows at the people and dogs inside.

On Sunday Wilfred made friends with a trainer friend of mine who we’ve done a couple of sessions with, just counter conditioning. This last session, #3, Wilfred didn’t need any help from me and ended with him sitting in Mary Ann’s lap.

In July the hiking trail I’d been using to walk Wilfred was changed into a mountain bike only trail. We’ve been searching for another trail since without much luck. They all are either too crowded, making a pleasant non-working walk impossible, or frequented by folks with off-leash dogs, or are more than an hour drive away. Hoping to find something soon, because he’s getting way too good at catching the flirt pole we’ve been using for excercise in the interim.

Wilfred also had his first real vet appointment. We’ve been doing “fun” visits for months so that the vet is not a scary place. We had to do a blood draw so the vet and I decided that we were just going to sedate him from the get go and try to stress him as little as possible so as to not undo the work we’ve already done with him there. He had no problems, was given a clean bill on his physical, tested negative for HW, and a sample sent off for titers of everything except for Rabies which he got in order to stay legal.

We also drew enough to do a Mars Wisdom blood DNA panel. The results were very unexpected and may well fall into the  margin of error that Mars does not deny.

Wilfred came back as a Shar-Pei, Afghan, Miniature Bull Terrier, Lab mix. None of which were expected, but does answer where his lovely brindle comes from. We all, both vets included, thought he was a Rottweiler, Boxer mix.

I’m going to try to keep up with this a bit more. Though I’m sure that it’s not going to be regular in the least, but hopefully at least once a month. I’ll leave you with a pic of my Will at our favorite spot at the park before the trail usage changed.

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Thundershirt HoOo

Published December 19, 2011 by Shearaha

So Wilfred’s had yet another busy week. No walks except for potty unfortunately. The weather has just been miserable, rain, snow, sleet and slush. Makes hiking in the woods nearly impossible and Wilfred can’t really walk on the bike/hike trails since he’s still too reactive. But we’ve had lots of fun with puzzle toys; tug and we’ve started on a new trick that requires him to exert some control over himself, and lots of long trips.

 On Wednesday the 14th we went down to Columbus Ohio with Jennifer, my mentor and Will’s trainer, her dog Tova her foster ACD puppy Artie (since adopted) and one of her client dogs Handsome Rob. We were going to PosiDog (www.posidog.com) for a trainer get together that Jennifer attends almost weekly. It’s a time for the trainers there and other professional trainers to get together and work on their own dogs for a change. Wilfred needs to get out more and meet more people so it was a perfect opportunity for us.

Our goal was much the same as it was for our trip to the Behavior Clinic, get in the door and try and get his excitement level down to the point where he may listen to a cue. PosiDog has a wonderful training space that allowed Wilfred and I to have a decent amount of distance between us and the peanut gallery.

First trip in we went to the far side and just did click and treat for looking at the people period. We did 2-3 minutes and then went back to the van while other people worked their dogs. These dogs put me to shame. Of course these folks are also training their dogs for competition, and they’ve had their dogs much longer then I’ve had Wilfred.

Second trip we went to the same spot in the room and started with the same click and treat for looking at the scary people. Then I asked him for a sit. And he did it! I was so proud. I let him get out to the end of his 6ft lead and he recalled back! I know 6ft isn’t that far, but for Wilfred under that much stress from new people to not only recall but sit afterwards was awesome! Then he went back into the van for a break.

Third trip I upped the ante big time and halved the distance between us and the people. He was much calmer to start with this time and this time I had Jennifer post for us. Just in case it was too much for him and therefore me to handle him and all my treats and clicker. But he did great. He sat on cue, looked at the people without major reactivity and just before he left he leaned into me into belly rub posture and asked for a belly rub. He got one and then back out to the van. Thought about bringing him back in for a fourth visit, but we had a 3 hour drive ahead of us to get home and I had work the next morning, so that’s where we ended with Will. Jennifer had a chance to work both Tova and Rob (the client dog) a couple of times as well. I can’t wait for our next trip down!

Thursday and Friday were fairly uneventful. Just lousy weather and work. Saturday my MIL and I went to the annual dog show at the IX Center. We always have fun and I have a blast meeting all the different dogs. It seems like every year there’s a new breed I haven’t met yet, either an import or one that’s been around but not all that popular. I came home with duck feet and filled beef tracheas for Wilfred. He’s been playing around with the duck foot, but hasn’t really crunched it yet, and I’m planning on a piece of beef trachea tonight.

Sunday morning as I was getting ready for my day with Jennifer, Bella Cocaine, one of MILs cats got her head through the handle of a plastic bag. Don’t worry I did get it off of her before she hurt herself. She frightened herself and after 3 laps around the house had everyone else in the household frightened as well. Shearaha ran through Will’s tether area and when Hubby tried to stop him from chasing her Hubby’s had got smashed between Wilfred’s thick head and the computer chair Hubby was sitting in.

Hubby was understandably upset, so I called Jennifer to see if I could bring Will with that day. She had a full van with all of her dogs and her long term foster in it, but she agreed to drop off Asher, her 8yr old intact male Rottweiler, and Shay, her goofy Collie, at her house after puppy class. So Will got loaded up into my car before he’d really had a chance to calm down after the cats went nuts(mistake number 1), he hadn’t even gotten a chance to eat his morning Kong yet, and off we went to puppy class. Wilfred stayed in the car and then we followed Jennifer to her house.

Once there she took Asher and Shay inside and I loaded Will into the crate Asher had just vacated (mistake number 2) As soon as we started moving to go to the first in-home appointment of the day Wilfred started with his most pitiful whining and crying. Which really is unusual as he normally loves car rides, has ridden with Jennifer dozens of times and had just been in her van for the Columbus trip a few days before. So we put on some classical music to try and calm him down. It didn’t work.

Went to the first appointment, as soon as we were back in the car he started up again. And we’re both going “Why is he doing this?” There was a decent break between appointments so I decided that we should stop and try a Thundershirt for him (www.thundershirt.com) the first place we stopped was closed on Sundays. So we headed to the next place a wonderful family owned specialty pet store The Pet Loft (www.thepetloft.com) where they also sell Thundershirts. As we pulled into the parking lot Wilfred had diarrhea in the crate. All over the comforter and out into the back of Jennifer’s van as well. So I took Will out behind the store for a potty break while Jennifer cleaned ( I felt so bad I should have been the one cleaning up my dogs mess ) Then we popped him back in sans comforter and went to get a Thundershirt.

We got inside and they were all out of larges, Wilfred’s size, but lucky for us the owner came in shortly after and pointed out the 2 returns they had in back getting ready to be sent back to the manufacturer for repackaging. I didn’t care at that point I just wanted one so I bought it. Jennifer and I put it on Will in the parking lot. You could see how much more relaxed he was as soon as it was on. Put him back in the crate and he was laying down taking a nap before we left the parking lot.

After all that crying had stopped (thank you Thundershirt) I thought about it and realized that I had put my anxious neutered male in the same crate that Jennifer’s’ uber confident intact male had just come out of. Right next to her intact female who’d just come out of heat and was still being “bitchy”. I hadn’t given him his own crate mat, or anything with his smell on it, on a day where he was already freaked out thanks to Bella Cocaine that morning. No wonder he was crying and anxious and miserable.

I left the Thundershirt on until we got home Sunday night. I let him eat his dinner from a bowl, he’d had enough mental stimulation that I wasn’t going to make him work for his dinner that night. And just as I was about to take off the Thundershirt our neighbors came home. Now Will does not like the neighbors, simply because they’re the neighbors. They come and go on no discernable schedule and make lots of noise at odd hours. I don’t know how much was the Thundershirt and how much was Will just being tired, but he didn’t even seem to notice them. No visible reaction whatsoever, when normally their departures and arrivals are met with incessant barking, intermittent growling and standing as close to the door as his tether will allow. Nothing. I don’t think he even glanced at them. And when I went to take it off of him he kept turning his head around like he was going to grab my hands and stop me. I don’t think he wanted me to take it off.

This morning I decided to put it on to see if he reacted to MIL differently when she comes in to potty him at 11:30. I opened it up to put it on him and he dove into it. He acted like he couldn’t wait to get it on. I’m sold. Completely. I was sold on them before just because of what I’ve seen with some of Jennifer’s client dogs, but Wilfred obviously loves it. Now to see if I can talk MIL into using it for her dog Phoenix…

I’ve been bad though and we haven’t gotten any farther with the muzzle training. I keep leaving it in the car since I take it with me just in case every time we go somewhere where Will may be in a confined space with unfamiliar people.

Putting off for too long

Published December 13, 2011 by Shearaha

 I’ve been putting off a new post here. I am ashamed.

So Thanksgiving has come and gone. I had planned a post right after the holiday, but what happened over the holiday made me too embarrassed to post.

Wilfred had a great holiday break. He loved that both Hubby and I were home for 4 whole days and we spent almost every moment with him. We got to go to the park, something we’ve been missing since daylight savings changed, we had 3 wonderful play sessions with Jack, even started to bring Pheonix (Pheeny) into the mix. She’s not so sure, but is thinking about joining in with the boys.

We also learned some things. In the time I’ve known my Willie he’s not been a resource guarder. The most he’d ever do is a little freeze and then relax.

Thanksgiving night after we’d returned from the relatives I gave will a new pork femur (he loves his pork femurs) and we sat down to watch  Punkin Chunkin (if you don’t know it check it out, loads of fun http://www.punkinchunkin.com/ )

 I was paying more attention to the show then to Will, he’s always good with his bones so I thought nothing of it. During a commercial break I looked down to see a long nasty tangle of hair coming out of Will’s mouth. Like any good owner I didn’t want him eating hair since it can’t be digested and can cause blockages or twist around in the bowels. So I reached down to remove the hair. Wilfred bit me. I was shocked. What I hadn’t realized since I wasn’t really paying attention to him is that he had a small piece of the bone entirely in his mouth. As soon as it happened Will dropped the piece of bone and came to lay his head in my lap. It was a small bite, about a cm long gash on my index finger that made it almost all the way through the skin. Bled like mad. After I came back in from cleaning the wound and bandaging it Will climbed up on the couch and spent the next hour snuggled as close as he could get to me. I’m putting my thoughts in his head, but I really do think he was saying “Sorry”

At this point the wound has healed, but is still bandaged because I have a subconscious habit of picking at anything out of the ordinary (doctors hate me when I have to get stitches)

Then on Thursday Dec 8th Wilfred got sick. Hubby called me at work (he gets home 2 hours before I do) to tell me that Will had vomited twice. He vomited 3 more times before I got home. It was nasty, and a decent amount made it out of his crate and onto the carpet under it. I washed his crate mat 3 times before I even put it in the dryer in order to get all the vomit out of it. His membranes were pale, but he acted as if nothing was wrong. Then when I took him out to potty he had water consistency stool. We have no idea what happened. He was fine when I pottied him before work and at 11:30 when MIL pottied him. By 2:00 when Hubby got home he was vomiting badly. By the next day he was OK though. Had a normal stool when I pottied him in the morning and again at 11:30. We even went for a training session at The Behavior Clinic http://www.thebehaviorclinic.com/ . That was mainly for my benefit. It was a Trainer Click In. A time for Positive Reinforcement trainers (and those in training) to get together, exchange ideas, and work on our own dogs in a group setting without old schoolers telling us to use positive punishment or similar.

 Wilfred did surprisingly well all things considered. We were in a new place, with lots of new people and lots of new dogs. We made it in the door and he never once switched from his “where are we, is/are it/they dangerous” into his aggressive “get it away from me” though he was bouncing everywhere and was too far strung to pay attention to any one thing for more than half a second. But no growling, no real barking, and he did keep coming back for contact with me. 

He’s also doing much better with one of our cats. Shearaha has decided that he’s no big deal and Will will call off of her right away. Kearith on the other hand still thinks Wilfred’s the devil incarnate and runs like made engaging his prey drive. We’ve also come to realize that Kearith has been peeing behind the couch for a while. Likely since we brought Wilfred home. Something that I’m hoping will stop once we get moved into the new place. There the kitties and the birds will have their own room that is completely off-limits to Wilfred. I hope that with the litter box there and the Feliway diffuser I’m putting in the room Kearith’s anxiety will decrease and she’ll start using the box again. 

Will is up to 10 minutes with his muzzle all the way on, but on the loosest setting. We’re going to start working on tightening it down now, one notch at a time until we’re at the correct fit. We’ve started sitting to have him go in and out of doors, and occasionally on walks. Before he just had to keep a loose lead, now I’m asking him to pay more attention. We don’t get to keep moving until he does the requested behavior. He’s got a very well generalized “sit” so that’s where we’re starting.

 

 

Progress

Published November 16, 2011 by Shearaha

Been a few days since I posted so time for updates.

Saturday was a busy day for me and poor Wilfred was left with the Hubby most of the day while I was constantly running in and out. But for the first time he went and grabbed his muzzle and asked to play the game with it. He even put his nose through the loop and into the basket a couple of time. Played with Jack again and Pheonix watched us through the fence. I think she may be warming up to him so may try an intro soon.

Sunday I was gone from 5:20am to 7:30pm. Hubby worked at the game store in the afternoon and then spent some time with his dad. Will was alone for a good chunk of the day, but did very well with it. According to the Hubby they played a few games of tug before he left for the day.

Will now loves his Kongs. Filled with cheese wiz and his kibble. The fact that he only gets them when he’s in his crate has made it much easier to get him in when we need him in. Going to be buying a lot of the smaller Kongs so we can always have one filled in case we really need him in the crate and don’t have time to prep one.

Monday morning we made another leap forward. Most mornings after we go out for potty and have a snuggle on the couch I fill his morning Kong. This consists of me filling it while he barks loudly, bounces around and nips at my feet and ankles. Nothing hard, just annoying. I started to stop filling the Kong when he did this. Monday morning he moved to just poking me with his nose. This we can live with!

Monday night another leap. He’s been getting all of his dinner while laying on his bed. Little bits at a time to reinforce laying quietly on his bed while Hubby and I do things like watch TV or play our game systems. Getting dinner out has been the same as the morning Kong filling. Monday night he went and laid down on his bed and barked at me. Improvement! Now to work on him not barking his head off while I’m prepping his food.

More muzzle games on Monday night, but didn’t push any farther than Saturday, especially since I was bad and didn’t work with him on it on Sunday.

Tuesday was another banner day. No nipping while filling the Kong, went to his bed as soon as I opened the food bin, probably time to start adding a signal for that other than me walking to the food bin… and we got the muzzle on for a full 10 sec. Massive rewards during that and I took it off before he started pawing at it. Then took him back and did just a few of the really easy ones where he just has to pop his nose in with the strap pulled back. He looked so sad when I put it away. But that’s the plan, get him to love his muzzle. It seems to be working 🙂

 

On a mostly unrelated note I nearly hit a Beagle on my way to work this morning. He ran right out in front of me and when I stopped, nearly got rear ended as well, he ran back to where he started. I pulled off the road and grabbed my spare leash and set off after him. He was wearing a collar so I was hoping to catch him and get him back to his owners quickly. He got away from me by going under a fence into a residential area. I really hope he was just heading home and that I don’t see him laying on the road on my way home tonight.

Up all night

Published November 10, 2011 by Shearaha

Last night one of my good friends Natalie came over. Her intro went great, Wilfred loves the ladies. Once we got inside he decided that she would be great to snuggle on the couch with.

We’ve found that he will actually use his Kong in the crate when filled with peanut butter, or any variety of the Kong Stuffins! This is great for us because everything else we’ve tried to give him to entertain himself in his crate he just buries under his bed.

Muzzle training is going well, especially since I’ve switched to peanut butter as his reward. I ended up putting it away last night because he got too excited. I think with the peanut butter instead of the cheese I should be able to start getting him to go through the loop before he sticks his nose in.

Will did wake us up at 11:45pm alarm barking. Usually when he does this if one of us gets up, checks the window and lays back down he goes back to sleep as well. Not so tonight. He kept it up for 30min. A long 30min when you have to wake up at 4:30am. Turns out something in the side yard at the other end of the house spooked MIL’s dog Jack and his much quieter barking set off Wilfred’s much louder barking. I’m just glad that Wilfred decided that he could stop barking after I got up and checked the doors and windows for a third time.

With luck this won’t be an issue when we finally work out the kinks and move into our new place. Only upstairs neighbors and he’ll be the only dog in the house.

Hello!

Published November 9, 2011 by Shearaha

Hello, so this is my first blog so bear with me, this may take a while.

The purpose of this blog is to chronicle the training of Wilfred, also called Will my Rottweiler mix that I just adopted.

A little back story. Will was found abandoned in the back yard of a house in Cleveland. He was wearing a choke collar attached to a 3ft chain, he was emaciated, had no food and no water and had not had any access to either for at least 2 weeks except for the rain water. He was heart worm positive and was being eaten alive by fleas, flies and other nasty bugs. Will was taken in and treated by Dogs Unlimited Rescue. A local rescue specializing in neglected, abused and mill dogs.

I met Will 2 months before I adopted him. I am an apprentice dog trainer with Jennifer Mauger at L’Chaim Canine. She occasionally volunteers with local rescues when they have a difficult dog. Will was through his heart worm treatment at this time and was just learning some self-control. He was very grabby and would grab your arm whenever he got frustrated, still does from time to time but not nearly so much. He was being boarded at a horse stable and dog grooming facility as there were no foster homes available for a dog like Will.

I worked with Will many times in the following months and we developed quite a bond. But it wasn’t until I brought my husband, from here on out known as Hubby, to meet Will because Will needed to work though some minor issues with men. The two of them fell in love instantly. The next day we started through the adoption process.

Four days later disaster struck. Will got out of his pen before his leash could be put on and went to greet one of the boarders and a gentleman friend of hers. As he approached he was attacked by the womans Saint Bernard. The gentlemans’ hand was wounded in the melee. An observer said it was Will that did it.

Now those of us who know dogs know that no dog can be blamed for a bite that happens during a dog fight. But because of state laws and the possibility that Will is mixed with, but doesn’t look much like, a bully breed panic ensued.

Will was placed under a 10 day rabies quarantine while his fate was decided. Lucky for him he had a lot of good people in his corner. The rescue called in Ken McCort to do a behavior analysis to see if Will was too dangerous to adopt out. I knew he wasn’t, my mentor knew he wasn’t and the owner of the property knew he wasn’t. But rules are rules, at least until we can get the legislation changed.

Needless to say Will passed his evaluation with flying colors and came home with us on Oct. 31, 2011.

Will has been doing very well with us this first week. He loves our 2 cats, though they don’t love him. He doesn’t like my cockatiel, Peaches, and has to be kept separated from her, at least until I can work on conditioning her to him. We’re working on the state mandated muzzle training and are starting to make strides. He’s not had a single issue with house breaking, though he doesn’t like to go into his crate. Once he’s in though everything is fine. We’ve only had the opportunity to introduce him to a couple of new people, but he’s done well with them. And he’s been introduced to one of my Mother in Law’s, here after MIL, dogs Jack, a Border Collie/English Setter mix. They’ve gotten along so we’re setting up more playdates for the 2 of them.