Thursday, July 30, 2015

Millimeter by Millimeter: They Add Up

It has been a long slow process rehabilitating our profoundly damaged Finna and our progress has been measured in millimeters. I've been looking at Finna over the last few weeks and realizing just how much those millimeters have added up.

Today when she's barking at something I can say in my happy voice "That'll Do" and she stops barking and waits for  her reward of having the ball thrown. This is the dog that previously was so far over threshold that she needed to be physically hauled away to a distance where she could recover herself.

The dog that would rather lose all her teeth fighting you for a tug toy now responds to the cue "Give" by giving up tug toy when asked. Relinquishing the toy is almost always followed by another game of tug so she is continually reinforced for doing what I ask.

Our resource guarder who always wanted to control all available resources can now be seen contentedly chewing bully sticks side by side with Ranger. She's still a pushy bitch and doesn't like it when Ranger gets something she doesn't but millimeter by millimeter things improve.

At her last vet visit she was much less dangerous than she has been. We even forgot to put a muzzle on her until it was time for her to go in the back (she's a better patient if I'm not around). The vet reported that she actually allowed him to handle her!! It's heartening to see so many many millimeters of improvement.

Of course Finna remains a work in progress with many issues. She's still highly reactive to strangers and other dogs. She continues to react to my husband when he has anything in his hands. And she's in the process of wrecking her left knee. When her knee is especially painful she gets very crabby and snappish. She's come a long long way and for the first time since we discovered what a white hot mess we'd adopted I honestly believe she may reach the point of being a good canine citizen. That's pretty amazing.

One of my commitments this year was to actually finishing projects. That part hasn't been going so well as the lack of blog posts for the last several months can attest. My goal was to write at least one per month.

I also made some commitments to my dogs. That part has been going better although still not what it should be. Having the dogs practice taking turns has been my most successful effort. I'd committed to once a week but they are probably averaging three times a week. And it is going well. Finna will now wait patiently while Ranger licks a plate because she knows she'll get a turn next. It's been a long slow process getting to this point. We still have some crowding issues when I'm trying to pet Ranger but even those are diminishing albeit slowly.

Finna was supposed to practice being in the car at least once a week but sadly that hasn't happened at all. Finna appears to be in the process of shredding the cruiciate ligament in her left knee (you might remember she shredded the one in her right knee until there was only about 15% left and had surgery to replace it.) I've been letting that be an excuse to avoid this training. We have been working on some flashy recalls with Finna. There are three that we use at random. First is "Finna Come" where she is to run to me, go between my legs, around to my left side and sit. The sitting part is still a work in progress but she's mastered the rest of it. Next is "Finna, Front" where she runs to me, sits, and makes eye contact. That one is nearly perfect I just want to polish up the distance at which she sits so that it is consistently right in front of me not anywhere from one to four feet distance. Last is "Finna On" where she is to come and put her nose on my left hand. This is her least favorite and she's been known to punch my hand with her open mouth so that I feel that she has teeth. She doesn't actually hurt me just makes it clear she's not thrilled. It's improving millimeter by millimeter.

Ranger tricks training has been spotty but I was pleased to note the other day when I had him showing off for his veterinarian that his "say your prayers" is looking much better. We need to work on getting his head down between his paws more but it looks pretty good otherwise. We haven't been working on take a bow at all. I have, however, been working both dogs on heeling together, one dog on each side. It's slow but they're getting it.

The Great Catsby was to learn to walk on a leash. We haven't been working on that very much but he will wear his harness and walk around some. He's not entirely comfortable in it but he will move when it's on so that's some progress.

1 comment:

  1. Good going! Progress is progress, however slowly. I feel for Finna; I'm sorry her left knee is damaged. I was crabby and snappish when my knees were hurting, too!

    Good to see you here again!