Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Day 14 of 30DR

It's been raining the last two days so I haven't had my bike ride and the outdoor sessions with P&B have been shorter. None yesterday, I think. One today.

I've been reading Emma Parsons's Click to Calm in preparation for our meeting with the trainers tomorrow. Tomorrow I bring both dogs to meet with the trainer and her assistant to see where things stand and what I should do next to supplement or fine-tune the 30DR. This is a different trainer than the one who assigned the 30DR. I still haven't heard back from her.

So basically here's where things are:


* I really need to keep journaling every day. If it gets too tedious to record my notes in this blog I must still record them somewhere. I like the blog because it has the date/time stamp and makes this process more visible somehow. Even if only to a concerned friend out in cyberspace.

* Yesterday I got a little too comfortable perhaps and then didn't make a blog entry. When I don't write details I overlook details. My recollection of yesterday is that things were pretty much fine all day. I took both dogs out on errands in the car, just to give us all a change of scene.

* I remember now that at the end of the night I caved in and let P-dog sleep on the floor instead of in her crate. I'd kept us all up past midnight while I installed curtains in my bedroom. B went right to his crate, as usual. But P wouldn't budge off her dog bed on the floor so I let her stay there and gated the room so she wouldn't wander all over the house. She didn't try to get up on the bed. But there's a progression here . . .


* Right now P is on the floor doing Part Two of her "settle." Part One was a punishment settle. Here's what happened tonight:

- After a long day at work and a peaceful morning and evening with the dogs I went upstairs to take a bath in the guestroom tub. When I got out of the tub P was on the guestbed. I saw her there as I was towelling off. Told her "Off." But was so bleary-eyed from the long bath (read several chapters of Dickens) that my request was pretty weak. After putting on my pajamas I walked into the room more assertively and said "Off" and she ignored me. I felt myself being hesitant: part of me thought she looked so sweet on the bed, so happy and sleepy, and my first thought was, "I don't blame her. I'd much rather sleep there too." But another part of me felt a little scared. I can't explain this precisely: I wasn't afraid of P but I was afraid she wasn't going to get off the bed at that moment. I feared a confrontation. And I got one (surprise, surprise--I'm doing my best Gomer Pyle as I type this). Instead of grabbing her collar to pull her off the bed (which I *think* is what I usually do), I tried to nudge her rump off the bed. She growled. Then she snarled. A nasty, warning snarl. THAT'S A NEW ONE. I don't remember her ever protesting like that when I've removed her from furniture. In the olden days (pre-30DR) I would nudge her off the bed to change sheets periodically and she would lie there like a lump and then give up and get off. I don't recall any defiance over it.

- I stood there with my arms folded and head up and ignored her for a few moments as punishment. But I was exhausted and wanted to get to bed. So I turned off the lights and walked downstairs. But when I got downstairs I remembered my 30DR says I need to require "sit-ups" (which are really "sit" then "down" then "sit" then "down"--at least that's what I've deduced) as punishment for misbehavior. So I put her on a leash and had her sit, which she did, then down, which she didn't. Now, we've been doing clicker training sit/downs for days. And she knew sit and down years before any of this began. She knows what "down" means. She was just ignoring me. So that's when I walked over to the sofa and started a "settle" and I kept the leash extra short. Not forcing her into a down but giving her very little domain. She struggled a while but at one point I got the feeling she was relieved that I "put my foot down."

- So here I continue to sit. Very sleepy and exhausted emotionally from all this.

* What else about P? Well she ate all her supper today during both eating sessions. I mixed in a little RB's dog food (which our puppy school trainer, years ago, recommended as a training treat).

* At the lake tonight she tugged as we walked but not in an abnormal way. Her tugging really varies. Usually she's much better at not-tugging than B-dog. Tonight she was just average.

* YESTERDAY during our errands I took P into Home Depot. Put her in the cart on a towel and she was very good. Tense at first but really engaged. Very interested in the whole experience, it seemed. She stood up, looking at me rather than out front, ears up, eyes wide, very alert and not too scared.

* Now she has gotten up from her Phase 2 settle (I just have the leash around by ankle now) and is standing looking at me. I'm feeling a little afraid of her, strangely. Afraid there's a confrontation formulating in her mind. All of this could be my karma for the obnoxious teenage years. I know in my bones that my present apprehension is what my mother felt toward and about me. I know this dog cares about me, we have a deep bond, but I feel like she's testing me and I feel incredibly vulnerable because so much depends on her behavior. She must change her behavior or else I'm going to be forced into an awful decision about moving one of these dogs into a new home. And I'm angry at her for putting me into this situation. Even though I accept the fact that my behavior fostered hers.

* And part of me keeps flashing back on EE's interactions with her. When EE played tug (and he did it even though our trainers told us never to play tug with her), EE would start with regular tug--his hands holding one side of the object in P's teeth--and then HE'D PUT THE OBJECT BETWEEN HIS TEETH TO, as P held the other side in hers. And he'd tug that way with her. I'd insist that he stop it but . . . SHEESH! She slept at the head of our bed, in between us. We both loved it. But we may have created a monster. Right now it's all my fault and all my responsibility to fix, if humanly/caninely possible.


* Was really good yesterday at PetsMart and good today at the lake and good just in general.

* Having said that I'm getting increasingly worried that the physical separation weirdness could make it harder to reintegrate them physically later.

* Gave me THE BEST eye contact today on a Sit during one of our clicker sessions. Man, his eyes were so clear and alert and focused on me. It was gorgeous.

* * *

So now what?

* Back on the bike.

* Do walking with both dogs when Mom visits this week.

* There are things I want to ask the trainer:

- What's the best way to reinforce good behavior while their opposite the baby gates?

That's the biggest one, really.

* I need to purchase one or two more baby gates at Target. The Evenflow brand is the best, BTW. It's smooth and quiet and long. Much better than the dogs gate i purchased at PetsMart. I need at least one more so I can block both sides of the fireplace.

* Emma Parsons cautions us that dogs might get worse before they get better, behavior-wise. Maybe that's what this is with P.

* I feel like I need to pick two main behaviors to focus on, clicker-wise, for right now: their name command (to get them to reliably look at me when I say their names); practice walking on-lead without tugging. I've tried multiple techniques the last few days for using clickers to train loose-lead walking but so far they've all been pretty awkward. I'm going to try the 180 degree turn thing next.

I'm too weary to write any more.

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