Monday, March 31, 2014

Torii sporting new gear

After a couple days with working on introducing the harness, we now have Torii comfortable with wearing a soft harness. It's not the perfect fit but, it's a great start to wearing a harness.  This works much better for Torii as having to hook a leash to her collar was stressful for her.  And if there was any leash pressure, I wanted it off her neck.

"Do you have a treat for me?"
Cute ratties!
Torii chillin!

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Royal's safe spot

Royal has his "safe spot" and it's this sleep sack that he started sitting near when he first arrived to us. I started using this sack in the first week Royal came to us, hoping to establish this as his safe spot.  It's worked!  Royal chews his bully stick on this sack and he gets fed on the sack.  When he's nervous or uncomfortable he will station himself on this sack.  Dogs that are nervous, worried or anxious it's a good idea to help them establish a consistent known safe spot.
Here's Royal during the first couple of days with us - eating on the sack.  He was pretty nervous with eating out of any bowl.  We started with a very easy slow down bowl since Royal is a gobbler of his food. 

Good boy Royal!

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Making progress

If you give a dog space and don't force your agenda on them things can progress quicker than one may expect.  Torii was pacing a lot the first couple of days, not wanting any interaction with us and touching her was not ok with her. We figured earning her trust would take a while and lucky for us, she's decided we aren't to bad to interact with. 
While I was on the computer she came over and with her coming over she was reinforced for that decision.  Torii is a food motivated little gal so we are working with that by "paying her" for her work. Her work consists of her choosing to coming near us.  There's no grabbing at her, forcing touch on her or forcing her to be near us.  Every move she makes towards us is her decision.
Torii not only checking me out but, making the decision to sit near me and stay with me for a bit of time.
We went through this same work with Royal so, he knows the drill and he's all about getting paid with food.

 And check out Tori a couple hours later! She may be 12 years young but this girl is all terrier.  She figured out how to get up to the perch spot and watch my husband as he was eating breakfast.  This picture is lovely -  you can see in her face and body that she's starting to relax.
One of way to gauge Torii's comfort level is to watch her ears and eyes.  If her ears are folded like in the above pictures she's feeling pretty good. Her eyes also appear less buggy when she's relaxed. If you see her ears sitting off to the side or raised that's her sign of discomfort.  Her shelter picture is a good visual example of a stressed Torii.
Torri's shelter picture



Friday, March 28, 2014

Torii's first day

Torii has had a lot of upheaval these last three months.  She had lived in her first home all her life and she was living with at least 3 other chihuahua's before going into the shelter.  We know this as they were all surrendered together in January 2014.  1 of the 3 chihuahuas is still at the shelter looking for his forever home - he's a cute little guy named  Peter 
When Torii came into the shelter, she was in desperate need of a dental which the shelter did for her.  Torii had seven teeth removed and then came down with a cold.  When I first saw her in February, she was coughing and sneezing and she was very stiff when walking.  As I mentioned, Torii was adopted out the day I was filling out paperwork to bring her into foster care.  Sadly for Torii she was returned after a week.  The reason was due to a seizure.  When she came back into the shelter she was placed in observation for over two weeks and they did not witness any seizures.  She'd not had any seizure activity her first time in the shelter and no report of seizure from the person who originally surrendered her.  What we do know is that once she was adopted she went to the vet and was placed on some pretty strong medications of which one had a side effect of seizures.  The medications were to treat diarrhea and some mild nasal congestion that started as soon as she went into the adopters home.
So, we don't know all of what happened but, the shelter vet notes suspect that the seizure was drug related.  I would also guess that stress impacted Torii more than anyone realized and that compounded what was going on.  We often forget how much stress impacts dogs.  Little Torii had been under stress for a long period of time, likely she physically wasn't feeling well and then was placed on some fairly strong medications.  That's a lot for a dog.
Coming into our home also added stress to Torii.  While we know our home is a safe and warm environment for Torii, she doesn't know that.  Like everything else what Torii needs is time and space to settle in while building trust with us.
So, Torri spent her first day with us pacing. This is very typical for new foster dogs and it's a stress response.  When dogs are doing this we really need to pay attention and not force ourselves onto them.  Of course there are going to be moments that we need to be able to guide Torii so, we leave the leash on her so that we can be in contact with her giving her distance from us.  We needed this to be able to take her out potty and to guide her into the room and then lure her into her crate with some amazing treats.
Also during the initial settling it's very important to pay attention to the other dogs in the home.  How they are being impacted by the new dog and then how the new dog is being impacted by them.  Catty does not do well with dogs that pace so, it's important that we keep Catty separated until the foster dog settles down.  We do this management with baby gates, interactive toys, extra training and extra walks for Catty.
Here's Torii moving about the house.  The hope is that in the coming days she will settle down enough for us to put a harness on her. This will be easier should she need to have the leash attached to her.  Torii likes to be in proximity of other dogs so she's doing well with Royal and he's pretty curious about her!
Torii decides this pad might be a good spot to take a rest

Royal giving me a sit!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

And then there were two

For about the last five months I've been trying really hard (and I've been successful) with just sticking to one foster dog.  We desperately need foster homes but, those of us that do foster have to do what is best for ourselves, our families and our own dogs.  This is easier said than done and back in the fall I was getting really burnt out and I needed a break.  I needed to go back down to one foster otherwise I was going to burn out and that wouldn't be helpful for anyone. 
So, we've chugged along and I had no intention of taking on another foster.  If you follow my blog you know that last month I was trying to take 2 different senior dogs in from PAWS and Seattle Humane Society and here's my post about those girls Open foster spot both were adopted out of the shelter which allowed us to bring Royal into foster care.
Well as usual nothing is predictable in rescue.  I recently received an email from Seattle Humane Society saying that the 12 yr old rattie had been returned.  She was struggling with being back at the shelter and would I be able to now take her into foster care.
Torii's shelter picture
My husband and I went out to see her and after talking this through we decided to go into overload to bring this senior gal into our care.  We have named her Torii after  Torii Mor winery

I want to take a quick minute to thank my husband for all of his support and assistance with the foster dogs.  If not for him, I would have burnt out a long time ago and he gives me the encouragement and support to keep at this work.  He's a wonderful, gentle guy who puts up with his crazy rattie rescue wife!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Working on sit - Part 3

Royal and I are continuing to work on sit and he's doing great!  Here's our work from last week:

Royal and I did a number of days of working on sit in the same room we first began our work.   Once Royal was consistantly giving me a sit in the same location, I increased the criteria.  To set your dog up for success, make sure they are confident and consistant in what you have been working on together.

So, down the hallway we go!  We've increased the criteria with a new location, with me standing up, I'm using the word "sit" and D'light has inserted himself in the mix - so lots of change.  While Royal has traveled up and down the hallway a lot - this is still change in the working environment.

Way to go Royal you are one smart rattie boy! 


Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Photo shoot

Anyone that follows my blog knows that I like getting a shot of our current foster dog with our personal dogs.  I have great luck with the below location and this time Catty decided to mix up the photo shoot.
First photo - frikin amazing!  It's never this easy.

D'light assuming his normal photo position

D'light not particularly patient waiting to get his treat

Catty wonders if this photo shot will get her a quicker reward!

Catty takes it up a notch!  She had me laughing with her "sit pretty" move

"Come on mom you cannot resist sit pretty!"
"Mom, ignore those boys - look how cute and focused I am!"

And a great shot!  Everyone got a fantastic reward for their hard work.
Catty - The girl who started all of this rat terrier craziness!

Monday, March 24, 2014

Life enrichment

Royal is doing well in foster care however we are continuing to work through his nervousness in the house.  If a dog has never lived in a house, moving into a house is a big adjustment.  One thing that I've noticed with Royal is that he's calmer outside - likely because that's where he spent most of his life.  We gone on walks but, seems this isn't really cutting it for Royal given he's restricted by the leash.  Our back yard is tiny and not fully fenced so that's not a good option to roam around relax.
I was reminded last week of Sarah Owings - Life enrichment video's.  Sarah Owings is an amazing trainer out of California - I was lucky enough to attend two of her workshops at Clicker Expo back in January and she's amazing!
We have a dog park about a mile from our house.  I don't think it's an appealing dog park (in fact I've never been there before this post) and I don't like that they don't have a small dog section.  However after watching Sarah's video I thought this park could be a good enrichment spot for Royal.  There's a good amount going on for a dog - trees, bushes, water, structures in the park and more.  The small dog parks we usually go to are just a big open space - not much to explore.
So for the last two mornings we've loaded up and hit this part at 6:30am.  With the goal of avoiding seeing any dogs. This outing isn't about running out energy at the dog park.  It's about letting Royal roam off leash and explore.  We've had good luck with avoiding other dogs and I think both D and Royal have had a good time.
Checking out the park

Lots to smell

Royal having a good time

D'light letting everyone know he's been here!
Walking the path
Royal says "Here I come!"
The boys are sure there's something animal that need to be flushed out!

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Sunny morning

Royal certainly enjoys the warmth of the sun!

"nice and relaxed"
"my eyes are getting heavy"

off to sleep...

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Working on sit - Part 2

Here we are the next day and everyone wants to join the training party!
Smart boy Royal just impresses the heck out of me. He's figured out my hand signal very quickly.  However you can see he wasn't ready for me to use my right hand for the signal - so back to the left hand and there's the sit.
And I get kudos for have the treat bag on my hip, not in my lap and for rewarding the dogs quicker than before.  Again - love video as I can see what I need to be doing differently!

And later in the day - we stick to just the left hand signal.  Good boy Royal!
Royal is doing rat-tastic!  Our next steps will be adding in the word "sit".  I have not doubt that Royal will have the whole sequence down in no time at all.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Working on sit - Part 1

With Royal feeling a bit more relaxed in the house I decided to start working on "sit" with him. Be prepared to see a very smart rattie boy!
You will also see that Catty and I have been working hard on impulse control using her mat.  It use to be that if she was in the same room while I was working with another dog, she would demand bark and be constantly moving to trying to get my attention.  I'm so impressed with Catty and I think she loves being able to be in the mix during training.

Here's one of Royal's first sessions with working on sit.  I'm not reprimanding him for putting his feet up on me, rather I just let my body move aways from the weight of his body.  He quickly figures out that this isn't working and I make sure to mark and reward the behavior I'm looking for.  Here's a great link talking about Using the word no in training. 

Because Royal is noise sensitive I use the "marker" yes instead of a clicker.

An error on my part is having the treat bag on my lap - I'm 99% sure that's the reason Royal is putting his feet up on my legs.  Again most (if not all) errors during training are on the side of the human.


Here we are back at training later the same day. The first attempt at sit you can see he isn't sure  what to do.  So I mark and reward him getting close to putting his rear on the floor.  After that, Royal figures out what I'm looking for so, I move from luring him with the treat to starting to incorporate a hand signal for sit.
And training errors on my part:  again treat bag in my lap AND the worst offense?! Not rewarding Catty for the whole 30+ seconds of this video!  Thank you to Catty for working such a long duration and shame on me for not rewarding her calm behavior quicker.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Yes food is a primary reinforcer!

I often hear people say they don't want to use food when working with their dog.  And my response is why not?   

Here's a great link Treat Please!  that I will start sharing with folks who question using food during training. 

And have you ever wondered what the effect of training has on your dog's brain?

- training stimulates the pleasure center of the dog's brain
-boosts release of pleasure chemical, Oxytocin
-reduces level of stress chemical, Cortisol
- makes your dog want to REPEAT positive behaviors
- increases appropriate response to verbal cues
- builds confidence
- your dog associate you with good feelings & fun
- your dog will be happier, less anxious and more social

And don't skip on the value of the treat - you can do better than kibble! 

Below chopped chicken, hot dogs and cheese

Turkey and bison lung

Monday, March 17, 2014

Going to the vet

Royal and I headed over the vet for a regular check up. We made sure to go early Sunday in hopes of the vet office being quiet. We were successful and Royal did really well.  As usual the staff was amazing. 
Royal came out with a clean bill of health.  The vet believes he's 3-5 so, we are going with Royal being roughly 4 years old. Royal weighed in at 16 pounds which is his ideal weight.
Everyone commented on what a beautiful and sweet boy Royal is!

Friday, March 14, 2014

Making progress

With each passing day, Royal is feeling more relaxed in the house.  He still has a ways to go in terms of feeling comfortable but, with time and patience he will continue to move forward.  Here's a bit of progress Royal has decided that toys might be kinda fun!
Royal has also started moving to a different bed - again more progress!  He still likes to be in the same area as us (you can see my feet in the picture).  It's nice that he's able to feel safe and comfortable to try out other spots in the house!
Hanging out with a toy

What a sweet boy!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Out and about

Royal is a interesting little fella.  He's a boy who is more comfortable outside of the house.  As you've seen in my previous posts he had a great time at the dog park and here you can see he enjoys walking. 
 We live in a fairly active neighborhood and that often means lots of buses, trucks and other loud nosies.  So far Royal hasn't been phased by any of these loud noises on our walks.

The boys catching sight of a cat - the two rattie boys have healthy prey drive...

Royal says "enough pictures, lets get walking"

As you can see from the video's Royal has great leash walking skills!


Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Working through the noise

With Royal feeling more relaxed in the house, he's starting to show interest in some toys and a nylabone.  Given his concerns with noise, I knew that if he dropped anything on the hardwood floor or if it made noise while he was picking it up that would scare him.  So, I put this sleep sack in front of his bed with the items on it. 

And as hard as we try to reduce stress in the environment, we can't predict or proof everything.  What is concerning Royal in the below video is my wet shoe squeaking on the floor. I didn't even realize it was the noise bothering him until after I watched the video.  I thought his concern with picking up the nylabone.  Another good reason why I love video - it helps you to see and hear all that is going on.  Good news was that Royal made the choice to walk towards me despite the noise. 

And here he is a couple minutes later.  Good boy Royal!

Getting busy!

I love how he holds the bone with his paws


Sunday, March 9, 2014

Royal adjusting to living in the house

Royal has been with us for a little over a week and with each passing day he is getting more comfortable inside the house.  Living in a house has been a bit hard for Royal - he's very concerned about the noises in our house and this concern will result in him rapidly skittering away.  Sometimes he's moving away so quickly that he will lose control of his back legs and he will slide and fall onto the ground.  The noises that bother him are what we consider everyday house noises - dishwasher running, snapping closed Tupperware containers, the taking out of pots and pans, turning on the shower, things dropping on the floor, etc.   We don't know Royal's history before he came to us and really it doesn't matter.  What matters is working with Royal to help him realize that these noises are not going to cause him pain.
Royal has chosen his "spot" or what I think of as his safe place and it's a great choice.  It's a bed in our dinning room that is within a couple of feet from where we sit when we are on the computer.  It also gives him a view into the kitchen and down our hallway.  He can lay in this bed and see and hear what is going on around him.  Royal has complete choice in deciding to stay in the bed or move around the house.  So this bed is a nice spot where he can manage his movements when he hears the noises that concern him.

Royal's "spot"
The "work" that we've been doing inside the house this last week has been just letting Royal make choices of where he moves.  When he's settled down he's often given a treat as a reinforcer for the choices he's making.  This may not seem like much work but, by giving him choice we are building trust and a foundation for the next steps in working with him.  This last week has been stressful for Royal and when a dog is stressed they can't think very well.  So, working at reducing his stress in the environment will allow him to think clearer and then we can begin working on some other things that will help Royal while in foster care.
Royal is a great boy - he's very loving, very smart and wants to connect with people.  I have no doubt that what Royal needs is time, patience and understanding from the humans.  With the humans providing these things for Royal I have no doubt he's going to excel and continue to be a wonderful fella.  

Feeling a bit more relaxed

Friday, March 7, 2014

A new set up...

Royal is not fond of being crated when we are not home.  So, he is reliable enough that we leave him baby gated where he has access to our dinning room and kitchen.  We put his sleeping crate in the dinning room so that he can chose to go in it during the day. As you can see this is a wire crate and if Royal tried to jump up on it, he could get his legs caught and that would be a real problem. So, we put a dog bed on top of the crate.
As you can see Catty and D'light have their own thoughts around Royal's crate...

"I can see so much up here!"
And the next day D'light moves in...  Catty takes the other bed!

Look who likes this new set up!

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Royal and D'light hanging out at the dog park

We were pretty sure that D'light would do well with Royal so, we took him along to the dog park.  Knowing that if this was too much stress for Royal we were ready to have D'light hang out in the car.
Royal seemed to enjoy having D'light along! 
Lots to sniff

Royal can smell the Ziwi Peak in my bag....

Good looking boys!

Something gross to roll on!

And then it was time to run!

Needless to say both boys were tired when we left the park!