There was a little dog. And he had a little curl right in the middle of his forehead. When he was good, he was very, very good. And when he was bad, he was horrid.
Mr. N is very, very good most of the time. It’s that one percent that trips him up. His main “bad” fault is that he is leash reactive to other dogs and will bark and pull and lunge out of excitement. He’s improved a lot over the years and we can go to trials and classes and shows and pet expos with some careful management.
Walks in close proximity and the dogs in our complex are still a challenge. We manage encounters as best as we can but occasionally corners or other things will trip us up. But it’s mostly just embarrassing. Because people look at him like he’s a yappy little untrained dog. And me as an irresponsible owner. And you want to proclaim that you have put hours and hours of training into that dog and he has titles and ribbons even if he has trouble walking past another dog calmly.
The other issue is separation anxiety. That is definitely rooted in fear. He spent the first few years of his life locked up in a crate almost non-stop so I don’t blame him. And I wish there was a way to tell him that I will come back to him. That I will always come back. But fear of abandonment always lurks in his little doggy brain.
He’s progressed from barking almost non-stop while I’m gone to intermittent barking in between watching the window and napping. I don’t think anything will make him happy about me leaving. But it would be nice if he was at least tolerant of the prospect.
So for this Christmas (and possibly the next three Christmases considering the cost), he’s getting a very intangible present. I’m going to take him to a veterinary behaviorist in the new year. Veterinary behaviorists are veterinarians who specialize in treating behavior. They have to do additional training (through a residency or mentorship), write case reports, pass an exam and author a research project. In addition to behavioral modification, they also have the ability to prescribe medication. Kind of like dog psychiatrists (they do treat other animals like cats, birds, horses etc).
I’ve been debating doing it for quite a while. I would have done it sooner but it is not a cheap commitment. Also Mr. N’s behavioral issues are not severe. He’s not living in his life in utter terror and fear or biting anyone or destroying the roof over his head. In which case, we would have found a way to take him in sooner.
But in the end, I do think it will improve his quality of life and hopefully speed up the rate at which he’s improving. Helping him become more comfortable staying home alone would be a boon. And I’m hopeful that one day, we’ll be able to walk past the neighbors’ dogs without him throwing a fit. I don’t think he’s going to be excited about his gift but I hope it will be worth it.
Don’t forget to enter to win a positive dog training package (puzzle toys, treats, trick book)!
Welcome to First Monday’s Positive Pet Training Blog Hop hosted by Tenacious Little Terrier and Rubicon Days. Please share your responsible pet owner positive pet training tips by linking a blog post or leaving a comment below. Our theme for this month is my the gift of positive training but any positive reinforcement training posts or comments are also always welcome. The Positive Pet Training Blog Hop goes all week long. Our next hop will begin January 2nd and continues for a week.