Monday, November 14, 2011

Fun with Finna

Finna has lived with us for 10 days now and I'm beginning to know some things about her. She's very bright and eager to learn. She's already grasped the concept of sit and will sit on command except when the distractions are very high. She suffers from separation anxiety which was a very useful thing this evening when she slipped her leash and ran; as soon as she realized she was getting further and further away from her people she turned and ran back. It also makes teaching come a breeze since there is nothing she wants more than to be with us. Her cries when we leave her are heart breaking. Fortunately, at the moment she's alone (well except for Ranger) for maybe six hours a week. And, thankfully, the family is all very matter of fact about departures and returns. I expect she'll get used to how it works fairly soon.

Finna's surrender paperwork said she was crate trained and that she slept in a crate in the house every night. If her behavior here is any indication she was never crate trained instead she was forced into a crate and abandoned at night. We're trying to retrain her to a crate by making it a happy place. At the moment it's where she gets fed with the door always open. She's reluctant to go in when people are nearby. As she gets used to the idea that she won't be locked up and abandoned if she sets foot in the crate we'll gradually teach her that this is a safe, happy place.

Her paperwork described her energy level as hyperactive. I only observe hyperactive behavior when she's over excited or very stressed. During a typical day she spends much of her time sleeping at someone's feet. She doesn't require attention just nearness. As I write she's sleeping between my feet.

My observations lead me to conclude that her previous environment was inconsistent and lacking in enrichment. I also think that she was frequently punished for being a dog and was subjected to dominance based interaction. Living where positive reinforcement happens for desired behavior and undesired behavior is redirected or ignored has been a revelation to her. Here no one alpha rolls her if she does something undesired. She tired to pull the blanket off my son's bed today. He told her to leave it and tucked the blanket out of her reach. He praised her when she didn't continue to try to get the blanket. That's the norm.

Finna is very protective. Of course what do you expect if you cross a GSD and Corgi and don't give the result a job. She's decided her job is to be hyper-vigilant and protect her people from everything. We're working on finding her a different job. She's learning to fetch, something that she's grasping fairly quickly. Apparently no one ever played with her before. Initially, she was happy to chase after the ball but was afraid to pick it up. Now she picks it up and usually brings it back at least to the vicinity of her playmate.

She's willing to let her people take anything but is very possessive of things if she think Ranger might get them. He is getting heartily sick of her growling and barking at him just because she has a chew and he wants to walk past. Actually, we're all getting heartily sick of that. We're also getting very tired of her being startled and frightened every time my husband comes into the room. Tomorrow he and my daughter will be alone with her and he'll be shoveling treats and leaving and returning steadily.

Despite what it said on her paperwork about her liking soft squeaky toys Finna is actually a killer of soft toys. She will happily spend hours removing every bit of stuffing. Thankfully, she's not interested in eating the stuffing just in removing it. She plays nicely with hard rubber squeaky toys. Interestingly, Ranger prefers the soft squeaky toys and doesn't much care for the rubber ones.

Assorted other observations. Her long back makes her much taller on her back legs than you expect and she can easily get her front paws onto the kitchen counter. She likes cats. The Great Catsby considers her his personal plaything. Her short little stub of a tail is very expressive. She's learning that there are interesting smells to smell on walks. She was mesmerized by the deer we saw on our walk tonight. She hates crows. New things terrify her. She's very muscular and much stronger than you'd expect. She knows where home is now and can't wait to get back when she's been on a walk. She's seldom been in a car before and is very stressed out. She wants to please. She loves music and was fascinated when she heard her boy practicing his guitar.

Finna, you've got a long long way to go but we'll get there. Everyday I see you learning and growing and gaining confidence. I'm so glad you have my son. He has clear goals for you. This month you'll be perfecting your sit, come and fetch. You'll also be learning that it is not desirable to bark and growl at anyone in the house and that outside a soft bark indicating something or someone is all that's necessary. I promise the more you learn the better things will be.

1 comment:

  1. I have to say that I just love Finna's face(even though it's not pictured in this post).

    As for 'loving soft squeaky toys', well, it sounds like she loves to tear them up. Maybe that's what they meant? Maybe?

    I'm really enjoying both your and Trisha's new dog observations.