Friday, November 6, 2009

MadGrrrl Ellie, When "Park" goes South

Mad Grrrl Ellie. Observing Ellie over the last weeks, I see how she's nearly always in a state of arousal, a hyper alertness. I have elected to back off going to the park during busy times and work on our loose leash walking near the house, where it's busy enough, but not quite so stimulating. She has some creative and quite devious-seeming tactics for trying to up-end a person while grabbing the leash and running that I suspect worked rather well for her in her past. More on my strategies and tactics for that problem in another post.

My bright idea for Thursday evening was to put Ellie in Park as we were watching television. This training technique works pretty well in a dog training class situation. For clients with disabilities, we can tether the dog to a bolted ring in the floor, and then just leave the dog to it's own devices until the dog makes the choice to settle down. It's been demonstrated that it helps a dog self-manage, which is what I want for Ellie.

She chewed through the nylon leash several times pretty handily. I knotted the broken leash, tried again. After the third chew-through, I finally (sometimes I'm slow) could see this wasn't working at all. I had an old leash with a leather handle and chain, so I tried that. She couldn't chew through it, but she gave it her all, for a long, long time. I sat still and ignored her antics as she gnawed, flipped, wound around, worried, pawed, and basically worked herself into a tizzie.

What to do.

I'd committed to this path, and if I simply gave in, then it's quite likely that this high energy obsessive behavior will continue, or get worse. Once again, I suspect that she was able to outlast her previous owners under quite a few circumstances. I bided my time until I could find one moment of respite where I could reward her by removing the leash restraint. Finally, 45 minutes into the activity (did I mention that Ellie has the ability to be intensely focused for LONG periods of time?), she stopped, and I casually reached down, took her off the leash and we went into another room and just had a little bit of toy toss play time.

That night, she went right into bed, slept late, and has seemed 'quieter', not so manic.

Where's the yoga in this? That's for another post.

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