Friday, September 21, 2007

Lightbulb Moment

I'm reading the book, "Control Unleashed" by Leslie McDevitt and so far its been pretty good, but doesn't really apply to me and Moxie because Moxie doesn't have reactivity issues, and she rarely ever has a "shut down" moment any more. Though its all good stuff to know so I can help others who have dogs that do have these issues. Moxie's big issue that I was hoping the CU course would help with is she becomes so excited over certain things that her brain fogs over and she can't concentrate, listen, or learn anything. Its a big problem in agility, it also happens sometimes in obedience.

Last night, Moxie and I went to our twice a month visit to UBH to do pet assited therapy. On these visits, we set up a short agility course and have the dogs run the course, then get the patients to work the dogs through the course. Moxie gets SO WORKED UP she isn't listening to the patients commands and it ends one of two ways, either everyone laughs at the silly dog, or the patient feels like a failure, which is something I would really like to avoid. Something else she does on these visits is she fixates on treats. She won't calm down for petting, or pay attention to the patients. She keeps her eyes focused on me at all times, ever vigilant, hoping for a treat. So while I was reading the book last night, it was talking about rewarding calm behavior and I finally made the connection that half of Moxie's problem is she is overmotivated by food.

I started to really think about it, and I almost always feed her when she's in an excited state of mind. Including meals, she is always worked up and excited before meals and I reward that state of mind by feeding her. So, the new regiment is no food until she is relaxed. We are going to do some relaxation excercises with the ultimate goal being an ability to cue relaxation. I want to build in an off switch basically. The book has given me some good starting points, but if anyone has any ideas feel free to chime in.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

In other news, SULLY HAS NORMAL POOP! The budesenide has worked wonders for him and so far no unwanted side effects. I am slowly weaning him off all his supplements. Hopefully, once we stop the budesenide, he will continue to have solid stool. Everyone keep your paws crossed!

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket


Debra Kay said...

I know what you mean. My chi's are treated constantly by people who do it in an excited manner. BUT, if Mom is treating while in the lap, she insists they be calm, and they comply instantly-zoom, instant, calm, sitting. She didn't set out to create this behavior intentionally but it's fascinating to watch.

Greta is calm during treating, but when I pull out the food bowl she runs shrieking down the hall into her crate, but then sits quietly because she knows she has to be quiet to be fed.

One of our favorite exercises is just for me to sit in a chair and hand feed treats or food. I don't say a word, but only the dogs sitting quietly are fed. The hardest part is not to speak, just let the exercise run its course.

Cynthia Blue said...

That does sound like a good book! I'm going to have to get it. I want to give Tatum an off switch, too. I'm trying really hard to practice everything I have learned in the last four years to get it all right... she is a clean slate.

I think it's a good idea for you to eliminate the treats when Moxie is high. Chase had problems thinking when he was high, too, but it was mostly running agility or tugging. Now, after months of work, he is really controlling himself better and keeping his brain. I'm impressed! :)

JJ said...

I love the book myself! I have two crazies at my house that need a lot of focus! :-)

Love the pic of Sully!

the Corgi Girls said...

Moxie, what a great name you have! That's my name too! You are so pretty too, we love your coat! I'm very much like a border collie... I also look like one, except for the stubby legs of course!

Moxie & Izzie

Dori said...

I'm hoping I'll find the answer to Boomer's zoomies in CU.. I love that book!

Glad to hear that Sully is doing better!