Thursday, April 14, 2011

Juggling Jessie

Just as Jessie settles into our routine and finds her place in the household (primarily in my office, where I spend a lot of time and where I first set up her crate), we shuffle things around a bit. My sister is here for a week's visit, so that meant converting the office to a bedroom, moving the computer and Jessie's crate to other locations.

Jessie's not sure what to make of this. I moved the crate into my bedroom, Jessie's toys into the living room, and pulled out the futon into a bed. Then I went to the washroom and came out a couple of minutes later to discover Jessie had been very busy - carrying each and every toy back into the office!

Later that evening, I was working at my computer (now in the living room) when I realized Jessie was no longer at my feet. I went in search of her. She guessed it....back in the office. And though she had never jumped up on a bed or a couch in this house before, there she was, sound asleep on the bed:

But she is adjusting. She won't willingly go into the crate in my bedroom, but once in she sleeps just fine. Her toys are back in the living room, though she often carries them outside instead. She took a liking to my sister right away, though if I leave the house without them she spends the time running to the back door, ringing the poochie bells to try to get my sister to let her out! Silly girl!

In other Jessie news, she continues to make progress. We have been gradually exposing her to the neighbourhood - a few hundred feet at a time. She is fine with ground she has covered before, very anxious as we cover new ground. Yesterday, she made it to the end of the block, down a half block to a back lane, up the back lane, and home. She did try to bolt when a truck braked at the stop sign with a squeal, and cringed and trembled when a roofer banged a hammer repeatedly, but she is trembling less when we meet the neighbours and will sit calmly while I chat with them.

I take her out on two leashes, a martingale and a harness. The leash attached to the martingale is clipped around my waist - it is the safety line. The harness is a 'no pull' harness as her on-leash skills are very weak. Unfortunately, even a no-pull harness doesn't help a great deal with a dog who doesn't have the sense of marching forward rather than weaving all over. Even more unfortunately, I am so not skilled at teaching a dog to walk on leash - back and hip problems make it very difficult and painful for me, so this is likely an area that will not improve much at all. It also limits where I will be able to take her - the trip around the block yesterday nearly did me in. Potential adopters are going to have to be prepared to leash-train her themselves.

We have not yet attempted to overcome her fear of riding in a car, though she now walks past my van quite comfortably. I do have a strategy in mind to desensitize her to the van. With the van in the driveway alongside the front yard, and the van sliding door open, Jessie and I will spend some time weeding the front flower bed (Jessie leashed to me). We'll begin at the far side and gradually move closer to the van. When I take a break, I'll sit just inside the van, on the floor where the sliding door opens. Jessie, being leashed to me, will be able to sit on the ground if she wants. Gradually I'll move further into the van until she has to jump up in order to stay with me. Over a series of days, we'll spend time just sitting in there, before beginning a series of very, very short trips around the block in the vehicle. Of course, each successful step will be rewarded with lots of fun, games and treats. She is a dog who loves attention!

Jessie is now solid on her potty training - she paces for a moment in the house then runs to the back door and rings the bell. She also often enjoys a game of fetch in the back yard, and is fairly good at bringing the ball or flying squirrel (a frisbee type toy) back to me. She is excellent about stopping inside the mudroom and sitting to wait for me to wipe her paws. While she does bark loudly at anyone who dares to walk down our street, she is quiet on command (unlike certain big black dogs named Sadie!). She occasionally initiates play with Charley (That's a whole 'nother post!), and although she often chases and corners the cat, she never hurts her and will stop on command.

Oh crap!

Is there an escape hatch on this thing?

My sister is also doing well with training - with the help of the signs I have stuck on the doors to the house, she has consistently remembered that Jessie must be crated or on leash before anyone enters or exits the house, and I don't even have to reward her with treats. Having obedient house guests certainly makes juggling Jessie a lot easier! Thanks Big Sis!


georgia little pea said...

That's interesting. I could have sworn the post was a lot LOT longer yesterday when I peeked in but didn't have time to read. I'm feeling a little twilight zone here.

Jessie actually sounds like a dog that might have been trained before but has been abused. Either that or she's a smartie of the first degree.

We've had problems with Georgia in the car for 2 years. She got much better, then in the past few weeks, has gone bad again. Crying and screaming, even on short trips within the city. I wish we could figure it out. It doesn't augur well for future road trips.

Black Jack's Carol said...

I'm finding your strategies to help Jessie gain confidence very interesting. To me, it seems her progress is surprisingly quick, and I feel you are doing a fine job with her! Have you ever read any of Jean Donaldson's books (The Culture Clash was her first), or even heard of her? For pulling, she says to stop and wait every time the dog pulls. Only move ahead when the leash is slack. (She doesn't like any negative reenforcement at all, so advocates no chokers and no jerking of the leash). I had a tiny bit of success with it, but it is so-o-o difficult to be consistent. Sometimes, you just need to get where you're going:) Anyhow, all the best in protecting your back and hips. And, kudos for taking on this challenge and doing so well in a short time!

Jean said...

Georgia LP - I think she is a smartie of the first degree! As forthe car problems, Charley was like this for the first couple of years. She got soooo car sick she became afraid of the car. I used gravol and very short trips to get her beyond it, and she's been fine for twelve years. Recently she began drooling again (a sign of nausea) and I installed a 'static strip' under the car, which seems to have helped. She doesn't like going in the car, but at least she tolerates it.

Carol, I love Jean Donaldson's work, and also Patricia McConnell (The other end of the Leash). I haven't found the technique of standing still each time they pull effective, as the dog never does seem to let the leash go loose - we'd have to stand there all night! What I find is more effective, for me, is to pivot and walk in the other direction. Sometimtes that means it takes twenty minutes to cover a hundred feet, (three steps forward, pivot, three steps back, pivot, .....), but it forces the dog to follow. With Jessie, asking frequently for "sits" (which she does so well!) helps as well, if she's not overly stimulated.