Unbelievable New Trick!

Discussion in 'Dog Tricks' started by sara, Apr 27, 2011.

  1. sara Moderator

    A few months back I posted on here about Zoe's first clicker training session. How my paranoid little girl learned to 1- accept the noise of the clicker, 2- what a clicker means, and 3- "shy"... all in one session. I was so seriously proud of her. Zoe has been the biggest challenge of my life. She was such a shut down case. she had to learn everything slowly over time, and she was soooo afraid! It took me 7 years before ever trying a clicker with her. Everything Zoe has learned has been YEARS, not days, not months but YEARS. it took 2 years before she learned to sit, it took one year for her to take a treat outta my hand, it took 3 years before learning to shake a paw, it took 4 years before she stopped having panic attacks over the slightest noise...

    but in one 20 minute session, my 8 year old dog learned the clicker, and free shaping.

    fast forward to yesterday. I haven't been doing alot of clicker training with Zoe, basically, all I've done is put her offered shy on cue. But yesterday I had the dogs at my Mom's and was showing her Mouse's ball trick (she puts her front paws up on a dodge ball sized ball then rolls it towards me... tooo cute!) I then decided to try Scout with the ball, Scout, the little over-acheiver, learned to put her paws up on the ball and balance there. Zoe was watching the whole time, she kept trying to push past me to get some treats too. So I thought, OK Zoe, lets see what you're made of!

    I held the ball in place against one leg with my other foot, so it wont move, and started luring Zoe close to the ball. She, of course, was scared of it, but she wanted to try. I was just hoping to get her to touch the ball with her nose (a great first session with a paranoid dog right?) ummm, no. Zoe PUT HER PAW ON THE BALL!!!!

    I darn near fell over... I was like "MOM LOOK!!!!" so then Zoe had an audience, which made her nervous, but SHE DID IT AGAIN!

    THEN she put one leg on my leg, and the other on the ball!

    K so now I'm nearly hyperventilating!

    Then the terrified, scared, nervous wreck, who used to have a panic attack if she had to step over a CORD ON THE FLOOR...

    PUT BOTH PAWS ON THE BALL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I had her do it over and over again... she kept at it.

    My BRAVE little girl!

    I was nearly in tears... I've had Zoe for 7.5 years, she's nearly 9 now, and she has finally been able to overcome fear enough to try new things, and to accept a new "scary" object.

    I wonder what the next few years'll bring on her [LONG] road to recovery!
    jackienmutts, Dodge and reveuse like this.

  2. tigerlily46514 Honored Member


    that post just about choked me up!! Although my rescue has different issues, there is a commonality, in that things thiat might seem "ordinary" to another person, can feel like we've climbed Mount Everest to me! or you!
    or Zoe!!

    YAY!!! Wish i could have seen Zoe's face!!
  3. sara Moderator

    Thanks Tigerlily!

    Zoe has had me in tears off and on since I adopted her. She's been through hell. I think I cried every night for a month after I adopted her. I wish I could get my hands on the people who did this to her. I do believe she was either horrifically abused, or kept in a box for 1.5 years. She'd had at least one litter of puppies (she had just weaned a litter when I got her) but it's possible she had two litters. At 6 years old she had to have 13 teeth removed, so I'm thinking she had 2 litters, and wasn't fed properly during pregnancy and nursing.

    Zoe was, quite literally a mess. but has come soooo far, and it's utterly amazing that she's willing to try new things, especially since she was afraid of food for the first year.

    she almost gave me a heart attack when she started play barking last Christmas... Zoe DOES. NOT. BARK... but started barking like crazy one night when we were playing with the dogs.

    Zoe is the pretty little dog in my Avatar second from the left, sitting up with the rediculously long ears.

    oh and her facial expressions were a mix of aprehension, hesitation and determination, with a little stubborn thrown in! LOL
  4. tigerlily46514 Honored Member

    Sara, i so understand when you describe your emotions about rescuing your dog. It is the same for me. When i first fully realized how terrified Buddy is of other dogs, it made my eyes water...i felt an overwhelming wave of compassion for him, not anger, not fear, but empathy and compassion. At first, Buddy flinched and growled to even the sound of a distant dog barking far away!!!!!!!! if you can picture THAT!!

    and now, he has some actual friends, today, for first time ever, Buddy layed down and snuggled and napped right next to another dog right beside, touching and snuggling another dog. that is yet another overwhelming first for Buddy.....so far as i know, that is the FIRST time he's ever slept mushed all up against another dog (a dog he once hated, btw)...made my eyes water to see it.

    (that in no way means he is "cured", Buddy does NOT generalize, he will still hate most other dogs he meets) Still, he got to experience that, for the first time. wow...right?

    Sara, one thing, i think ppl like you and i get, that not all dog lovers can get, is those kind of rushes...to anyone else, getting their dog to put their feet on a big ball, or seeing their dog snuggle with another dog, are adorable, and nice, but maybe doesn't make their heart turn over inside their chest like it will for ppl with dogs like ours.
    Dodge and reveuse like this.
  5. tigerlily46514 Honored Member

    //"she almost gave me a heart attack when she started play barking last Christmas... Zoe DOES. NOT. BARK... but started barking like crazy one night when we were playing with the dogs."//

    ha ha, kind of off topic, but, Buddy never barks unless their is a reason...but, once, in first week or two he had him, (he livedi n puppy mill, never around humans, in cage in dark barn, 24/7)
    i was laughing really hard at something (not him, just something) and Buddy started barking, very excitedly, and seemed confused or maybe even worried....and it dawned on me, he's never seen a human laugh before....he doesn't understand what it going on. Was cute and kinda sad, all at once, to see him trying to figure humans out.

    Also, Buddy never ever howls. But one time, we had on a movie, "Walk Like a Man" a Howie Mandel movie about Howie was raised by wolves, see? so in this one scene, Howie is brought to church, and they start playing "Onward Christian Soldiers" hymn, and Howie howls to the song, and Buddy ran over and excitedly watched this on the tv, and started howling along.
    So we found it very amusing, and taped that scene, now, we say, "Buddy, wanna sing the blues?" and Buddy runs over to the tv set...waiting...waiting for HIS song to come on.....and so we cue the scene, and Buddy HOWLS along to the song, and howls his lil heart out, with his lips raised like "oooooh" shape, chin up as high as he can, on tiptoes, just belting it out with all his heart....
    Occasionally, he will start howling, and then, run over to open windows, and howl out the window, too, as the song plays.

    But, that is the ONLY song we've been able to get Buddy to howl to. I've tried songs that sound similar, but, no luck. ONly that song.
    HERE'S FUNNY PART-----------sometimes, Buddy gets in mood to howl, i guess,
    but he just can't howl acapella.
    He NEEDS that song to howl. SO BUDDY WILL GO OVER TO THE TV SET, and put his nose onto screen, and stand there, staring at the tv set,
    like some crazy frozen dog statue,
    just standing there,
    pressing his nose into the tv screen while he stares at the tv screen.....
    if we do NOT turn on "his" song,
    he begins to softly whine, and glances back at us over his shoulder, like "come on!!!" and then, resumes his crazy frozen dog statue stance.....staring at the tv set at the end of his nose.....

    (which interests me, in that Buddy somehow knows WE are in control of that song being played)

    so of course, we HAVE TO play, "Onward Christian Soldiers" for him to HOWL away!!!

    hA, once a neighbor asked me if i'd heard that dog howling last night? i laffed, and said, "why, yes, i did!"
    new bear and Dodge like this.
  6. tx_cowgirl Honored Member

    YAY ZOE!

    I'm so excited for you both!!! Completely understand the emotions described by both of you. :D
    tigerlily46514 likes this.
  7. tigerlily46514 Honored Member

    I KNOW!! CAN YOU BELIEVE IT, my Buddy sleeping curled up against another dog?? I never thought i'd see the day!!!
    And Sara's Zoe putting her paw onto big scarey ball??? WOOHOO!!! High fives all around!!!
  8. tx_cowgirl Honored Member

    Lol, maybe they've all been cahoots...
    Reveuse's Romeo and his accomplishments, Z's good vet visit a few months ago, Sara's Zoe and the ball, and your Buddy snuggling with another dog. ^^

    Speaking of Reveuse.....where on earth has she been? :)
    reveuse and tigerlily46514 like this.
  9. sara Moderator

    I was wondering that myself actually. It's been awhile since we saw her last.

    Shy dogs, fearful dogs and nervous wrecks are so rewarding. the small things that most people take for granted are so special with them.
    tigerlily46514 likes this.
  10. Appy Member

    Wow, thats amazing. As you say its sad and wonderful in turns watching them experience something normal dogs do all the time.

    Not as dramatic, but when I first got my pups, Elsa was terrified of other dogs - she'd run up to me, climb my legs and pee!! After LOTS of socialisation etc, I still find watching her play gives me flutters in my heart. Also, we 'adopted' into our walking group a little dog who was very fear aggressive, especially if the dogs and people were standing still. She was given space to choose whether to talk with our dogs and we just walked with her being given as much space as she needed. Well the other day she flopped down and lay right next to the little whippet who is one of the group - we were all so amazed.

    It colours the normal to extreme hues you don't get to see usually, doesn't it?
    Dodge and tigerlily46514 like this.
  11. sara Moderator

    What great acheivements! I love the way you put that last statement (y) So true!

    I was thinking about it, and as Zoe has fears of new objects and things on the floor, I'm thinking that teaching her to put her feet on the ball will help those anxieties. I'm going to get her putting her feet up on lots of scary things now, a box, an upside down bowl, a new mat, etc. It may just help her learn to STEP OVER CHORDS! and accept new beds quicker (without her having to look at it for weeks, before trying it)

    Zoe is such a special little girl, and brought me so far in my understanding of anxiety and fear in dogs. She's the reason I adopted a fear aggressive dog, I had experience with fear, I could handle that, now I wanted to try to work on fear based aggression. Zoe was easy, no matter HOW scared she was, she would have never bit. She tried to climb a wall to get away from a 2 yo kid that I wasn't fast enough to get inbetween (scared me, I thought Zoe would bite if conered by her worst nightmare, but she only panicked and tried to climb the wall.)

    Oliver, however, wouldn't hesitate to bite.
    Dodge and tigerlily46514 like this.
  12. reveuse Well-Known Member

    Wow Sara! YAYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY for Miss Zoe! I'm so happy this is the first thread I decided to read after being away for the past month (nearly). I've had a lot of problems getting internet access and while they still aren't resolved I do have a solution that seems to be working at least this afternoon.

    Romeo is continuing to improve on-leash . And after the first two weeks of tricks/agility class were totally useless (since he will NOT jump etc on leash) I finally decided just to turn him loose (Under strict supervision) even tho there is a man in my class. --- the first week was a little iffy but we've gone through three classes without him administering a BITE and two with minimal / no growling.

    - That about sums up the past 6 weeks with Whisper.
    tigerlily46514 likes this.
  13. tigerlily46514 Honored Member

    reveuse, we were just wondering about you this week, asking each other where'd you gone!!! Glad your dog is doing so great, and glad you are online again!!
  14. reveuse Well-Known Member

    I'm trying..... the second half of this week I should be popping in quite a bit as I will be working for 2 nights and three days watching the kids while my boss is out of town and I'm going to need her wireless connection for the sake of not losing my mind.... (poor Whis is going to freak about being boarded for that amount of time I'm sure) - i've missed talking to everyone!
  15. srdogtrainer Experienced Member

    Wow! What a great moment and turn-around for a dog trainer to witness! So glad you have been able to teach Zoe so much to make life more fulfilling!
    Dodge likes this.
  16. new bear Well-Known Member

    Really touching! Love clicker training! :)
    Dodge likes this.
  17. jackienmutts Honored Member

    Oh Sara, a big congrats, hi-5s, and paws up to you!! And congrats to all of you for your accomplishments with your pups. I've definitely experienced things with mine before that have made my heart leap, and only a few have understood my emotion. It definitely can bring tears to your eyes. Until now, I had never had dogs with such huge bridges to cross before - I guess I've been very lucky. It's amazing to see what trust can do. Trust, patience and love can truly just about conquer anything, can't it? (Well, maybe with the help of a little clicker and some treats:)). Again, congrats!!!!
    new bear likes this.

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