Acquisition History: Found at a Puppy Adoption Event
Owner History w Dogs: First Dog as adults
Lives with: Adults and Kids
Goal: Able to relax more for possible future boarding or have a dog sitter at the house (basically she is fearful of strange humans and handling by humans, so increasing confidence)
So right away, Olive is displaying what a very fearful dog can be like. While people might not think the circumstances are anything to be afraid of, Olive does. Olive's perception is the only perception that matters at this point. Her perception is her reality.
Olive's symptoms and triggers starting on week 1:
- She was not used to a collar or leash, and was defensive (nipping or biting) on a collar and leash if you were close.
- Any closeness or touching at all made her very worried and defensive. Her neck, her shoulder, her legs, her hips, and her feet are all areas that we are working on with her to accept handling.
- When she walked with me on the long line, she wanted to stay far away.
- Squeaking when she was scared to follow you on leash OR if you were following her on leash.
- Trying to nip or bite when the collar needed to go on or off (just simple slip leash collar).
- Hiding in corners or against walls, even in her dog pen.
How did we go about getting Olive to feel more comfortable on Week 1?:
- On day 1, we allowed Olive her space on a long line. We let her hang out in a room with us on a long line, take relaxation walks with us on a long line, and keep some distance from us.
- Did not force myself on her, unnecessarily. You do have to take the leash and collar off at some point for her safety, but otherwise, I let her have her space on day 1.
- Normally, I would start with calming exercises, but I felt being so close would be unnecessarily stressful for Olive right away. So I started on the Place exercise and allowed her not to have to come close to me.
- Make safe areas for the dog to relax on their down time. It was also important that we did not have to chase her to get her leash and collar on for working.
- I noticed and took note of anything that Olive seemed even slightly excited about. For instance, her toys are something she likes to engage humans with.
- Since like many dogs, Olive was shut down as far as taking food in Week 1. I used other ways to gain her confidence. Things like not forcing myself on her immediately, having her outside for relaxation and relaxation walks that took her mind off how scared she was, and waiting for her to approach me before giving affection.
- Through positive marker words and encouragement, letting her know when she is doing a good job in training. Olive is very smart and (when her behavior is not holding her back) very quick to catch onto training.
- Getting her used to her collar on and off with the help of a "grab it" instead of my hands. By the end of the week, I could use my hands and she was over being fearful of the slip leash going over her head and around her neck.
- She is very well house trained, but in the beginning getting her to go outside to go to the bathroom (she never made a mistake inside) was necessary so she would be comfortable.
- Crate training so we could sleep at night, and also this is part of her owner's goal so could possibly be boarded or have a stay in pet sitter.
- Have her follow me on leash instead of dropping to the floor. I have had a couple of other dogs that have used this as a strategy here lately. Luckily she is small, so walking towards her usually got her up. She seems to realize dead weight won't work.
Those were not very lofty goals, but necessarily to do the real work. Part of the real work that we could start on right away (on Week 1 Day 1) was the place command. This is both a command, and when doing the long place, very effective behavioral work. Olive started learning that she could be in the center of the room and be okay. Also it gets the dog excited about something that they can do without them needing to know anything training wise. There are three steps before this last step on the video. Since it was very scary for Olive to get on our elevated places at this time, we started her on a folded blanket as her place:
There is always a dance going on where you make the work challenging enough, but not so challenging that it will shut the dog down or make them too excited to think. You do have to challenge a fearful dog to do more than they are comfortable with if you wish for them to become less fearful. On Week 2, Olive got a lot more comfortable with handling, although we have a lot more to do. I pay a lot of attention to her body language to gauge how comfortable she is feeling. I can redirect to something else if I feel she is getting to nervous. Vet visits have been a problem with Olive, so we are doing some muzzle training to make it easier for the vet. The handling and touching training is to make it more comfortable for Olive. First she has to get used to the adults doing this with her that she trusts. Then she can start being walked through trusting strangers more.