Friday, August 26, 2016

Happy National Dog Day!

Happy National Dog Day from me and Delilah!  I hope you all are enjoying the day with your furry friends!

To celebrate, we went on a 2 hour hike today.  We tried a new park, Colchester Pond.  It was great!  Dogs had to be on leash, which is good, because Delilah still needs to be on a long lead and I hate when uncontrolled off leash dogs run up to her when we're training on hikes.  We didn't have that problem at all today!


We ran through a field!

The scenery was beautiful.

I really liked the contrast of the birch bark.


Found this cute little guy (or girl!)


Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Delilah's Behavior Consult

1) Medication
I'm going to make an appointment for Delilah at a different vet clinic and get her on fluoxetine/prozac. I kind of expected that medication would be recommended.

2) Anxiety/Reactivity
Delilah has been very reactive to strangers and becomes very distressed when anyone other than me or my boyfriend are in the house. We talked about exercises we could do to countercondition and desensitize her to visitors. We also came up with a new way to introduce Delilah to visitors by meeting them outside and allowing the visitors to enter the house first. There's actually a whole protocol with a lot of different steps we're supposed to follow for visitors involving Delilah watching them approach the house, enter the house, leave the house, sit down, etc. I already have a few friends who volunteered to help to stage some training situations for me.
We're also going to try out a thundershirt and a calming cap, as well as increasing mental stimulation. She said we were already doing a good job with trick and agility training, and the food puzzles Delilah has, but she gave us some other ideas for mental stimulation as well.

3) Compulsive Disorder
The hope is that fluoxetine will help. We're not supposed to let Delilah engage in any activity that she is unable to complete the motor sequence. Like if she can't physically catch anything. So no chasing dust or light of course, but we're not allowed to play with her with bubbles or water either, which is too bad because she loves those. I'm also not supposed to redirect Delilah with a toy anymore because the trainer thinks that might be reinforcing the behavior at least partially. Delilah's very attached to me and doesn't like being away from me so she said if Delilah doesn't listen when I tell her to stop the compulsive behaviors, I should leave the room or the house for a minute or so. She said Delilah is very fixated but doesn't look like she's completely spaced out so she might be "there" enough to learn and understand consequences.
She said there was likely a genetic component to Delilah's behavior- apparently Wire Fox Terriers are predisposed to compulsive disorder and the Toy Fox Terriers and the Smooth Fox Terriers they are descended from are closely related.

4) Sports/Classes/Agility
Since Delilah's most intense compulsive behavior has occurred during agility classes and barn hunt, she said Delilah was way over threshold and may never be able to handle a class or trial environment.  She encouraged us to continue practicing on our own for mental stimulation and said if Delilah makes any significant progress with her anxiety and compulsive behavior then we could look into private lessons. She recommended an agility trainer to me that she knows that does private outdoor lessons. I'm hoping Delilah can get to that point.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Throwback Thursday: Puppy Pictures!

Mia's been gone for almost 3 months now.  I still can't believe it, I think about her every day.  In memory of Mia, I will be doing Throwback Thursdays on Tiny Paws, Big Adventures to celebrate the adventures we had together.

2 Weeks Old

4 week old Mia and 11 year old me.

In other news, Delilah's consult with the trainer will be tomorrow.  We're very excited and nervous!  Hopefully I can get some help for this dog and get her back on track for agility!

Friday, August 12, 2016


"Chiaroscuro in art is the use of strong contrasts between light and dark, usually bold contrasts affecting a whole composition."

Monday, August 8, 2016

Trip to the Dog Park

Delilah and I went to the Shelburne Dog Park for the first time over the weekend!  It's a pretty nice park- it's well shaded which I appreciate.  Delilah liked greeting the other dogs but didn't play with them too much.  We spent the whole time in the small dog section because she's so tiny and moves so quickly and suddenly a lot of bigger dogs decide she's a toy or a prey animal and behave inappropriately with her.

Delilah's favorite part was playing with the hose and in the pool.  We only did this when she was by herself in the little dog section.  When other dogs are around she gets possessive of water and is kind of a bully and chases them off, so I made sure she was alone. 

Friday, August 5, 2016

Delilah Behavior Update!

I've been talking about it for almost a year now, but we're finally going to consult with a trainer about Delilah's anxiety and compulsive behaviors.

For those of you who are newer to the blog- Delilah has a few behavioral problems that we've been trying to work on pretty much since we adopted her last July.

She is very nervous and vocal around strangers, she does NOT like anyone coming over to our house. She spends the entire time yapping, even if we put her in another room.  Delilah can be reactive towards strangers on leash (but has improved a lot with that). According to my boyfriend, she also gets very upset when I leave, and will spend around 20-30 minutes crying at the door, running around the house, and sniffing all of my things as if she were looking for me. Even when he's still home with her. 

The sound didn't work in this video from last November, but she is making a high pitched whining noise the entire time.

She seems to have some compulsive behaviors as well- fixating on dust, light, spots on the ground- and this occurs most frequently in situations where she's stressed or anxious. The more stressed she is the more intense the behavior is and the harder it is to break her focus and call her away.  When we did barn hunt she did that at the gate to the enclosure we were in and I tried everything: calling her, clapping, yelling, running away from her to get her to chase me, kneeling on the ground, etc to try to get her to leave the dust (we would have been DQ'd if I physically touched or removed her).  She didn't even notice.

This is the behavior she does during agility and barn hunt- except more intense.

She first started doing this in agility class with the agility equipment.  It got to the point where she wasn't learning anything and I was getting embarrassed and frustrated.  She would just chase dust the entire time instead of doing the exercises or practicing with the equipment. 

I thought maybe she would like barn hunt because she enjoys murdering small animals so we tried that in June.  She did really well for her first run but just fixated on dust during her last two runs.  Even when I showed her where the rat was she wasn't interested- she just went back to chasing dust.  The thing is, I moved the dust away so there wasn't anything there, and she still kept pouncing at the gate, like she thought it was.

My vet saw those videos and said he didn't think it looked unusual and was just "her being her."  I persisted, saying that it was interfering with training and that she was very anxious in general.  He gave me some VetriScience Composure chews- which haven't really helped significantly at all.

Lastly, a minor concern compared to the other things, she just doesn't have a great recall. When she was younger we worked a lot on it and it was great, but when she matured her prey drive seemed to take over and now she blocks me out if there's a squirrel or bird or something. So now we can't go hiking unless she's on a leash, which is an inconvenience for both of us.

So those are the things we're hoping to work on with this trainer.  I've had several email exchanges with her and she seems very experienced and knowledgeable, especially with these particular problems.  I'm really hopeful and I think it's going to go well.  We made a date for the 19th and my boyfriend's going to take work off so he can be involved as well!  I'll keep you guys posted!