Wednesday, April 30, 2014

What's going on with Royal? - Part 1

As I mentioned in a recent post Royal on a long line we've been busy with Royal.  So, what's going on?  Many dogs that come into foster care are initially a bit shell shocked and we figured that's what was going on with Royal. He was very nervous with the noises in our house & he would startle at most noises and movements by humans. Here's a post of Royal working through the noise where you can see his startle response.
We figured that within a couple of weeks Royal would calm down but, we were incorrect.  He continued to be anxious and he was constantly having wet belly bands when we were home at night.  So we needed to sort out what was going on with the wet bands.  Was this a potty training issue or an anxiety issues.  We began treating it as a potty training issue (while being mindful of anxiety) which meant that we upped our frequently of taking Royal out to go potty while keeping a close eye on him.  Despite going out a number of times within an hour he was still having wet bands - this would happen when he was lying down or just standing still.  We were walking Royal for an hour plus and on those walks he would empty is bladder but, then after being home for less for an hour he would have a wet belly band. 

While all of the above was going on, we took Royal to the vet to rule out any medical issues.  Here's that post Do your financial donations make a difference? Royal had a clean bill of health so no medical issues going on.

The next step was to look at the environment and to see if any adjustments would stop the wetting of the bands.  Again the majority of the wet bands were between when we came home from work and went to bed.  When we were home, Royal would often camp out on the back cushion of the couch - this spot is right by the door and across from the TV.  So perhaps the noise he was taking in from that spot was the problem?


So we moved a bed to the other side of the room and onto the ground.  Thinking that the location change would adjust the noise for Royal and hopefully reduce the wetting of his bands.

Unfortunately this didn't make a noticeable difference.   So, we tried a few more environmental adjustments and it was clear that what we were dealing with was a good amount of anxiety.  It was time for Royal to be evaluated by professionals. 

This is where New Rattitude is amazing!  Remember we are all volunteers and the services we provide to our foster dogs are funded by the financial contributions of our supporters. 

We have a couple of folks within New Rattitude who worked very hard to obtain a grant from Best Friends Animal Society. The grant funds are to be used for NR foster dogs who have behavior issues that need professional consultation.  With the goal of the dog becoming adoptable.  What we needed was for Royal to be evaluated by a behavioral vet and a force free trainer to determine his next steps. While we have this wonderful grant, it was to be used with only one of the consultations.  

However, thanks to an amazing NR donor - we have access to the "Langley Fund".  This fund was created specifically for NR foster dogs who need professional consultation to work towards adoptability.  Langley was a foster dog in the Pacific Northwest who had a number of behavioral issues that were addressed & worked on in foster care.  Despite all of what Langley struggled with he was adopted by an amazing person who was looking for a challenge.  Langley's adopter wanted to pay it forward by creating this fund for other rattie's in need of behavioral consultations.  

Pretty amazing isn't it!
Royal says "Thank you!"
So, our next step was to schedule appointments with a trainer and a behavioral veterinarian.  Lucky for us, the professionals we wanted to see had some openings and we were all set with scheduled appointments.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Kongs - part 2

As you know, Royal enjoys eating his meals out of  Kongs - part 1 and Torii thought Royal's kongs were pretty great! 
So, guess who started eating her meals out of kongs?
She quickly gets the kong out of the bowl

Did I miss anything?!

Torii thinks a food filled kong is amazing!

Love how she hold the kong with her paw

Funny girl having a blast!

Once the kongs are empty, Torii will still work at them to see if she can get a little bit more food!  Silly rattie girl.


Thursday, April 24, 2014

Kongs - Part 1

We've switched things up for Royal!  Royal enjoyed eating out of the Green Feeder but, I thought it was time to challenge his brain with another way of eating. 
So we've introduced the kong and you get to see that Royal knows "mat"!
I put them in a bowl so that he has to solve the puzzle of taking them out of the bowl and then work to get the food out.
What is this & where's the food?!
 Once he had them out of the bowl he had to find a comfortable position to work the kongs.
Royal thinking about how to get the food out!
Work it!!

Time to lay down while still working at the kong

After eating I took Royal out to the bathroom and when we came back the kongs were no where to be found.  I heard some noise coming from the crate and look what I found!
Torii having herself a kong party with empty kongs.

"Watcha need foster mom?"


Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Patience, reinforcement & relationship building really do work!

Torii arrived to us four weeks ago as of yesterday.  Our work with her has been slow and steady. The focus has been around letting Torii make choices to engage with us and reinforcing her when she chooses to engage with us.  Torii is very food motivated so working for yummy food isn't a bad deal!
When Torii arrived to us, she was skittish and did not trust humans. She's also not one who wants to be picked up and touch towards her has been on her terms.  This is still true today.  Who knows the why of Torii's behavior - again all we can do is work with what behaviors the dog is showing us now.
From day one it was clear that Torii needed a bath.  She's was very dirty, didn't smell good and had some small pieces of dried poop on her back end.  Poor baby girl.  With Torii's presentation, giving her a bath wasn't an option as that would have been a horrible situation for her and probably us as well.  However, giving her a bath was certainly a goal.  When we get foster dogs, I pretty quickly make a list of short term/long term goals and the time frames on those goals shift with the progress of the dog. As with any dog, flexibility by the human is important.
So, we've been moving along reinforcing Torii with food whenever she comes near us.  She's getting good at hand targeting so that's helped a good deal with our progress around relationship building.  Torii will now jump up on the couch to be near us and we can offer our hand to see if she wants to take us up on touch. Some times she does and other times she not interested.  That's no problem for us as she has choice around touch.
This past weekend we were feeling like we had built up enough trust to see about giving her a bath.  We knew it would take both of us - one gently handling Torii and the other reinforcing her with high value food.  So, we got our game plan prepared and were ready to abort at any point in the process should it get too stressful for Torii. 
Our plan was to work on touch for a little bit using a high value treat she hasn't had before - Ziwi Peak.  I've never met a dog who doesn't go crazy for Ziwi Peak and Torii LOVED the new treat.  We'd built up enough trust that I was able to place a towel over Torii and slowly pick her up.  She did great, no wiggling and no air snapping.  We had placed a full size towel in the sink so she wouldn't slip and she could then sit in the warm soapy water which would soften the crusty items on her back end.  We turned the water on before we placed her in the sink.  And then the reinforcing began - reinforcing Torii's behavior of being calm in the bath and allowing me to gently wash her.   
Here's the video of Miss amazing Torii!
 And then when we were done, she did great with me holding her while the towel absorbed more water. Her ears are in their normal position and her eyes are not buggy.  I did not want to towel her off as that would be way too much touch for her.

Pretty & now clean Torii
Holding Torii and she did great
Here's Torii post bath as she shakes off the water and watch her tail - nice to see it not fully flattened to hear back end.  Funny girl is looking at me hoping to be reinforced with a treat - she's a smart little gal.

And both of us reinforce Torii with treats for a job well done!

And here we are a few hours later - Torii wondering what we are up to.

Up she comes on the chair I'm sitting on - yes she was reinforced for this.
Such a great little gal who is really starting to engage with us despite having a bath!

Good girl Torii, you're doing wonderful!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Royal on a long lead

A lot has been going on with Royal - indoors he's pretty anxious dog and we've needed to seek professional assistance to help manage & work through his anxiety.  Over the last two weeks we've met with two amazing trainers and a wonderful behavioral veterinarian. In the coming days I will talk more about why we've done this and the outcomes.  But, for this post we are going to see Royal having some fun! 
One of the recommendations from the trainers was to find a space where Royal can practice life enrichment without the pressure of the environment, people or other dogs. We've done this before - here's the Life enrichment post  but, A) I had D'light along and B) it's hard to find a dog park that is empty C) not many dog parks have a lot of enrichment opportunities.  
I had taken Royal to the small dog park a couple of times but, it proved to be too much and he did not have a good time since there were small pushy dogs.  Royal has great dog skills and he's fantastic with the dogs in my house, however bossy dogs with poor social skills are to much for Royal.  Sweet Royal gave all the appropriate signals for the dogs to back off and they weren't listening and I wasn't going to allow Royal to be bullied.  The humans weren't much help in managing their bossy dogs so we left pretty quickly when it was clear management wasn't going to happen.  Can't say I blame him for not wanting to engage with the dogs we encountered.
Here's a great video by a wonderful force free trainer  Sarah Owings: Life Enrichment Series Two: Exploration Walks
So, I found a great park by our house, we did some practice with the long line to see how Royal would do.  He did great so, off we went on the 25ft long line.  Martin Luther King JR Memorial is a lovely park although I've never seen anyone at this park so, it really works well for Royal. 
The long line is a great tool.  It gives lots of room & choice for Royal to move but, he's still attached to the leash that I'm holding.
"What's this place?"
Off we go!

Lots to smell
And lots of steps - I'm certainly getting some exercise!
Royal is having a great time exploring the environment

Off we go
And go...

He loved walking the walls and stopping to sniff the grass

He wasn't sure about the ledge but, he figured it out. Lots of opportunity to work his brain
Down the hill we go...
And then back up the hill!

A great park for Royal's homework!

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Before the rain arrived....

The dogs were able to enjoy some brief sun along with time deck to relax & watch the birds.
Torii watching a crow
Torii letting me know she needs to go down to use the bathroom! 

"Enough pictures, lets go"

Catty having herself a good time!
Catty is a puzzle queen - this didn't take her long at all

"You're no match for me"

"I wish this would last longer!"

"I LOVE the sun!"

Goof ball D'light resting his eyes sitting up

Time to relax and watch the birds
Pretty Catty girl!

Lovely Torii

back to bird watching!

And if you are wondering where Royal was - stay tuned to find out what his busy self was up to while everyone else was relaxing.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Royal working on hand targeting

You saw Torii working on hand targeting and Royal wants you to know he's a hand targeting king!

As Donna says: This skill is the basic building block of many behaviors such as the retrieve, sending your dog away from you to do distance work, mat training, leading your dog over, under around, heeling, targeting objects etc.
Royal is a dog that loves to engage and work, work, work. Royal is super smart and he's a ton of fun to train with.
During this session I am using the word "yes" as my marker.  Royal is noise sensitive & the noise of a clicker is stressful for him.  We are working on desensitization around the clicker but, that is for another post!
This was Royal's first session in learning hand targeting.  Watching the first video, you can see that my criteria was set to high.  Meaning my hand was too far away for Royal to touch. Remember we always want to try to set the dog up for success and again, the mis-steps are usually on the human!  Lucky for me Royal is super smart and forgiving - so by moving my hand in closer he quickly figured out what I was asking of him.
And here's Royal's second session of hand targeting. This was about 4 hours after the above video.
I love Royal's diligence and I sure do love that beautiful sit that he choses to offer.  Such a great training partner!
Here's another awesome must watch video by Kikopu ·A tutorial on "Touch"  with great ideas of other ways to use Touch!  

Royal relaxing after a great training session!


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Torii working on hand targeting

We foster a lot of fearful & anxious dogs. So, one of our basic tools in building trust is to teach our foster pups hand targeting.  This is a great relationship builder and easy for the dog and human!
Here's a great link on how to Teach Your Dog to Hand Target
And here's Torii's first targeting sessions. This was a couple days into foster care. When this video was taken, we could not touch Torii so this was a nice way to engage with her.
Here we are the next day and Torii has quickly figured out this fun game! Sweet Torii is focused and ready to work - whoever says you can't teach an old dog tricks clearly hasn't met Torii.
Rember that Torii is overweight so we are monitoring her food intake. And food intake includes treats!  You don't need to give a dog a whole treat for them to want to keep working.  So, break down those treats into smaller pieces. 
We are currently using Boulder dog food company turkey bits and the dogs love them!

I can break once piece into 4 to 5 small pieces


Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Lazy sunny morning

We've been lucky to have some beautiful sunny days!  All the dogs think a sunny warm morning is a great thing.
Nothing like sun, a cozy bed and an antler!

All stretched out

Royal relaxing on his mat

Such a handsome

Getting hot!

Our back door is open so Royal can watch what's going on

Torii is up and says "whatcha doing foster mom?"
Torii still wondering what everyone is up to

Torii off to see what Catty & D'light are up to

They too are enjoying the sun
Then a bit later it was musical sun spots...

All the beds are out on the sunny deck and yet these two opt for the hardwood floor.  Makes no sense to me.

Goof ball girls

D'light loving laying on the deck

Royal nice an relaxed out on the deck

Watching the birds on a sunny morning!