More Bragging - Yesterday Was 100% Success!

Discussion in 'Off-Topic & Chit Chat' started by threenorns, Jul 19, 2013.

  1. threenorns Well-Known Member

    yesterday, we attended the Dusk Dances event at Head Lake in Haliburton (if you have any possibility, it's *well worth* the attendance! free event, too - they run it all on donations!).

    it started with a zumba class open to all - LOTS of fun. saari didn't like it at first - she kept hiding behind me - until i told her she didn't have to do the same steps as the teacher, she can do whatever she wanted and then it was a matter of getting her to settle down from all the spinning.

    dandy looked on in somewhat bemused amazement but he didn't react at all to the sight of about 50 ppl all stepping, swinging, kicking, waving arms, clapping, "woohoo"-ing, etc. he looked a little embarrassed if anything. i had him dancing with me - moving forward and back in time to the music - but then a jetski went by and that had ALL his attention (he *loves* fast-moving recreational vehicles, legacy of a puppyhood spent playing with the guy up the road who would have him chase after the ATV up and down the Rail Trail).

    at first, he was the only dog in the park and he *owned* the park. ppl kept rushing up and asking "omg, what kind of dog is he!??" and raving about his extremely fluffy coat (still fluffed up from swimming int he lake the other day) and how gentle and kind his face it. at one point, he was surrounded by four little girls ranging from about a year old to 5yrs old, all mauling and petting him. even when the baby lost her balance and grabbed his face to stop from falling down, he didn't budge nor did he budge when she then tried to eat his nose. he just put one big lick on her face and she ended up on her bum laughing and wiping her cheek. really good parents, too: they don't have a dog bec the kids are so little and too much of a handful right now but after we talked and they saw how dandy is with the kids, they will seriously consider adopting an older dog.

    behind the bench were two girls. they were sitting cross-legged on the ground and were doing some kind of little craft-y thing - bracelets, i think. they saw dandy and he walked right up to them. i don't know what got into him - he's never done this before to strangers - but he turned around, backed up until he was sitting on one of the girl's lap, then actually rolled over onto his back so she ended up holding him like a giant hairy baby! he did that to me, too - i thought we were leaving but it turned out there was another dance to go so i made a sharp left and sat on the grass. dandy backed into me, then kept on going until i was flat on my back trying to spit his tail out of my mouth.

    there were a lot of other dogs there and i can confidently state that dandy was totally the best behaved dog: penny was the love of the day - she's a very petite nova scotia dog tolling retriever. casper, a wheaten terrier, was devastated when he tried to play with dandy and penny ran him off with a few quick snaps. he ran and his behind his owner then peeped out around the side of his legs - i could SEE the "?" floating in the air over his head! there was a german shepherd/yellow lab mix who was going mental - extremely dog aggressive and the woman who had him could barely contain him. i didn't see him when i took dandy to the lake for a drink and next thing i know, this dog came roaring from the top of the picnic table right after dandy.

    the sweetest of all was a little yorkie-tzu. he was only 6mo old and was about 3x wider than he was long! he looked exactly like one of those dry floor mops made of loops of string and when he flattened down to the ground, his eyes were below grass level and he looked like a little black-and-white puddle on the ground. he *fell. in. love* with dandy and dandy returned the favour. it was so sweet to see them romping around, dandy being so careful and, at the same time, a bit baffled by the puppy's bitty size.

    twice, we lost track of our daughter and both times dandy found her easily.

    so all in all, it was a really fantastic day.
    brodys_mom likes this.

  2. brody_smom Experienced Member

    Sounds like you all had a great day! I can only dream of being able to take Brody to something like that someday in the far distant future. He is such a loving dog with his own family, I sure hope we can help him over his fear of strangers.
  3. threenorns Well-Known Member

    i know it's not a popular approach, but i firmly believe that "suck it up, buttercup, this is just how it has to be" is, in many cases, the best approach.

    with my daughter always around, i don't have time to spend weeks and months doing baby steps, baby steps - i just started taking him to crowded venues and letting him know "this" was great, "that" was not great.

    so far, he's stopped: jumping all over ppl, snatching at long hair, reacting to walkers and sunglasses and hats (esp floppy hats and baseball hats), bolting after bikes/skateboards/scooters/electric wheelchairs, jamming his nose up ppl's butts and crotches, slobbering all over baby's faces, and barking hysterically at random ppl and all ppl with high-pitched squeaky voices or that use baby talk.

    it's wierd: i trust him MORE at a crowded sports arena than i do in the house!

    i started by taking him to community events such as Canada Day - the first time, we lasted about 15min before i had enough and took him home. the second time, it was about 25min before we left. the third time, was an hour and so on.

    on the flip side, more and more ppl became familiar with him so they were definitely a lot more relaxed in their approach to him - "oh, that's dandy! he's a bit bouncy but he's got such a lovely personality!" and so on. i think that went WAY far to helping him calm down and learn "crowd manners".

    today was the Stanhope Heritage Day fair - they had the farm animal display up and he did bark at the cow - once. the lady who was scooping poop turned and *Looked* at him and dandy immediately shrunk down into an apologetic position. she said "apology accepted" and went back to scooping poop and as far as dandy was concerned, that cow ceased to exist. a FAR cry from "before" when he would've gone completely nuts trying to herd the cow in random directions and no way to call him off!
  4. brody_smom Experienced Member

    You know, when we first got him, I took Brody to Petsmart nearly every Saturday (we took a class there) and to the off-leash park twice. I was wary, as he was new to us, but not nervous. Now, since he has turned more fearful of both dogs and people, I won't take him to either one, and have been told repeatedly that I shouldn't.
  5. threenorns Well-Known Member

    oh, definitely not the off-leash park and i wouldn't do petsmart either - too many hyperstimulated dogs in too confined an area.

    what worked with dandy was lots and lots of ppl and dogs, all in controlled and predictable traffic patterns (as happens when you have a bunch of booths and displays set up), all dogs on leashes, everybody there just to have a good time (hence a very chill atmosphere, as opposed to an off-leash park where everybody's on edge waiting for someone to start something), and, most importantly, ample opportunity to avoid a dog you don't like the look of. if you're in the aisle at petsmart and somebody's dahling liddle puddums decides to take a chunk out of Brody's face, he's go nowhere to go to escape so a fight is inevitable.

    instead of an off-leash park, take him to a regular park. keep him on the leash but go watch a soccer game or a baseball game. sit near ppl but not IN ppl and just watch the game. when he tenses up, let him know - "sit". if someone wants to pat him, instead of jumping into a warning and so on, say "i don't know - he's very picky about who he greets" and if you have to, tell them flat out "just wait there and if he comes to you, great, otherwise, maybe next time". it's better psychology than "he's fearful of strangers" which will get them tensed up and reinforce Brody's anxiety.
    brodys_mom likes this.
  6. brody_smom Experienced Member

    This is the sort of thing I have thought of doing. Sometimes just getting out of our house at peak hours is too stressful; too many kids on things with wheels, and dogs barking in their yards. I have yet to get him to the point where he will look at me in distracting situations, so we would have to sit really far from anyone to start with.
  7. threenorns Well-Known Member

    you don't need him to look at you - dandy still doesn't look at me most times, esp in potentially threatening situations, and it's too much to ask of him. when he *does*, though, i make a big reaction and treat him so he's getting much better at it. when it's trick training time, i have his full undivided attention but i rarely can get him to do his tricks out in public if there's a lot going on - he just doesn't hear me.

    and yes, sit far from anyone - not in the back 40, but far enough that you're still around ppl but making it plain to them that it's for a reason. then just have Brody sit or lie down and you watch the game. ignore him. he'll shift around but if he stands up, you calmly put him back into a sit/down and keep watching the game. your calm behaviour will get through to him that there's nothing to worry about. he will probably pant and show other signs of stress - that OKAY. it's not like he's going to have a heart attack. stay there long enough - even if it takes an hour - and he *will* calm down once he gets bored (reward him for doing anything other than stressing: going from a sit to a lie down - reward; licking his paws or cleaning his nose (boredom grooming, not neurotic behaviour) - reward; going from a tense body posture to a relaxed one - reward).

    if someone approaches, you put him back into a sit/down and verbally (calmly) let the person know that he's in training right now so is not available for socialization. if they want to stay back and talk about the dog, that's great - he will see you modelling calm behaviour in front of a stranger and that's the behaviour you want him to copy. the moment he remains sitting or lying down when someone approaches, give him a treat.

    if you're going to something like a county fair - lots of crowds milling in predictable fashion, kind of thing - then you leave when *you've* had enough (because it is exhausting, constantly monitoring and managing his behaviour and reactions). it's important to walk with the ppl, though, not to stand there, because then he's got confrontation after confrontation, whereas when you walk with ppl, he understands he's part of the flow.
    brodys_mom likes this.

Share This Page

Real Time Analytics