Sunday, February 11, 2007

Happy Puppy

Megan, Winnie and I just got back from the park and Winnie had a much much better time than last week. This was her first time back in over a week, as last time she was being very aggressive in a way that was very unlike her and troubling.

But starting this thursday things are rather suddenly back to where they were. This is great news! Now when she gets into semi stressful situations (being left alone, people entering the house, big dog at the park etc) she has been able to turn her nervous self "off" shortly after them like before. Where as recently, she would stay "on" indefinitely. It was as if she was in her own little nervous world, oblivous to anything Megan or I had to say. Something stressful would turn her "on," and that was it. All she wanted was to be close to us, preferably touching.

Her Clomicalm is supposed to start working after 2-4 weeks, and three weeks was last thursday. I don't think its a coincidence that her snap back to normal came so fast. Its kind of like her ears have been unplugged. All the things that used to motivate her are interesting again, and we can use them to try and train her how to react to stress better.

Megan has also worked hard to vary Winnie's schedule even more so she doesn't get bored, as well as some new thinking toys to keep her working. It also helps that her dad's work schedule has shifted towards the evening, so Winnie has been able to stay home a few days a week too. Megan went to a lab on the "Gentle Leader" head halter and now Winnie has one. It has been great for distracting her from situations so she learns not to over react. She starts over reacting, give it a light tug to get her attention, and then reward her for being quiet or whatever. And the treats are back big time! Treats from strangers, treats for being quiet, treats for sitting... Lots of positive reinforcement.

So whatever it is, it seems to be working so far. I am sure there will be good days and bad days. I keep telling my self that It took her eight months to get really house broken. Every time we were sure she was ok, she would relapse and it was back to square one. In the end it became as much about Megan and I learning about Winnie as it was about her learning about "outside." I am sure this is much the same thing.

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