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!


  1. Hari OM
    I don't envy you the worry over Delilah, Meghan; my best mate had Kramer the terrierist who was totally unsocial with anyone but family. The scar on my lip testifies to it... and I was someone he allowed in the house! Part of the joy of dog ownership is the interaction with other dogs and their peeps and if you can't do that, the fun goes all out of it - even if the Love doesn't. Wishing all the very best with this help!!! YAM xx

  2. I can totally relate, Delilah. I act exactly like you do in that first video if I happen to spot or hear a fly in the same room with me. I hate flies and whole lot of other things too!

    Love ya lots♥

  3. Something that helped me with one of my dogs was giving lots of gentle praise whenever my dog was very relaxed. Every time I saw her laying down and comfortable I would sit with her, pet her and praise her. She did start to relax more and more. I know sometimes it must be a little frustrating with Delilha, it's great that you're getting a trainer to help. Looking forward to the updates!

  4. Thanks for the share, hope everything works out well.