Saturday, May 1, 2010

a breakthrough?

Oreo has had two acupuncture treatments and been on the full dose of Chinese herbs for about three weeks now. I was going to wait 6 weeks before I wrote about any changes in his behavior. I know these treatments take time to kick in, if they are going to work at all.

Yesterday though, we had a breakthrough.

When I initially talked to the vet about Oreo's anxiety, the goal in the back of my head was for Oreo to be able to relieve himself in the backyard when my next door neighbors' kids & their friends were outside playing.

Recently, Oreo has been unable to get off the deck if kids are in the adjacent yard. He's usually OK with the kids who live on the hill, as long as they're not too loud.

All I have been able to get Oreo to do is come out the back door & take a treat. Then, he immediately runs back inside and circles maniacally. It's horrible. Not to mention inconvenient if we need to go out, and need him to GO before we leave.

Yesterday after work, I went out with the dogs. I saw my neighbor and her two kids outside. I hoped Oreo wouldn't notice them before he did his business.

I thought, "Please, please, please, be quiet neighbors. Please Misty, don't bark!"

Misty saw them, and of course, she ran to the fence and barked.

Oreo looked up, saw the kids, then looked toward the back door. I called out, "touch", and he came to my hand! I clicked (lucky me, I have a clicker in all my pockets!).

I couldn't believe it. Usually, he would have headed immediately back toward the house (I always leave the door open as a means of escape for him).

I went inside for treats. I wasn't going to miss out on this opportunity.

Oreo followed me back outside, peed, and stayed outside. Whenever voices were heard, kids moved, or noises made, he'd start to head toward the house. I'd say "touch", and he'd come back to me.

Eventually, he simply looked to me for support. I clicked for his eye contact. Later, I put his ball on the ground, and sent him to his ball when he got nervous. Oreo did some of his tricks. I doled out a pocketful of treats.

Within half an hour, Oreo was relaxed and hanging out in the dog garden (which abuts our property line), helping me pull weeds.
Now I'll be real, the noise level was nowhere near what it is when they have friends over. Plus, the kids weren't running too close to our property line.

Plus, I realize I may have to start over from scratch today. However, I have never seen Oreo that calm in that situation, at least not since he was a young dog. His anxiety was at a completely manageable level. That gave me hope.

I also hope there aren't a bunch of screaming kids next door today! Baby steps.

19 comments:

Priscilla said...

That's great! I'm so glad Oreo didn't spook out! Maybe you've found a way to help him!!

LauraK said...

How cool! It's always those small little breakthroughs that make us smile. How convenient that you had a clicker in your pocket :) Only us "crazy" dog people would understand that!

Ricky the Sheltie said...

Terrific news! What a breakthrough! I am so happy for you and for Oreo!

Dawn said...

LOL! I always have treats in my pocket. Many times I find them in the washer. Last week she grabed a pair of pants out of the laundry basket and chewed on them trying to get the treats out. My fault.

I'm so glad Oreo is getting over his fear of the noisy children. I still have that fear...little too old to get over it I guess.

madcobug said...

I hope Oreo is overcoming his fear. A good start. Helen

Emma Rose said...

Sweet victory! Every step towards the goal is an important victory. I'd say that was a pretty big step. We are working on some behavior issues too, and with each little success our hope grows.

Congrats!

betty said...

What lovely news. We are so proud of Oreo. I'm wearing a big smile to go with the chickenskin.

Honey the Great Dane said...

Oh, so happy to hear this! Congratulations and well done, Oreo! I know you didn't think it was as challenging as it could have been but it really is baby steps! You have to start SOMEwhere! I'm sure he will only get better.

It's funny - I never reallised how anxious Oreo actually is - I was quite surprised when I read your story. He always looks so happy & confident in the videos. Also, I guess as the owner of a VERY confident, laid-back, placid dog, it's hard for me to imagine living with a dog so sensitive that he can't relieve himself with distractions around...poor thing! Honey is like the total opposite! The house next door to ours is being demolished & rebuilt and she has been outside snoozing on her futon, oblivious to the crates and bulldozers roaring past and whole walls of bricks & tiles collapsing just 10 meters away in the next garden! Ha! Ha! Of course, the downside of all this placidness is that she just doens't get that excited or aroused by much - and so it's really difficult to motivate her to work her! But she sure is easy to live...I guess you can't have everything! :-)

Hsin-Yi

Sara said...

Honey is one of the most laid back dogs on the planet! You have done such a wonderful job socializing her. She's a sweetheart.

Oreo was once very confident in the yard, and around strangers. When he was 1, he got attacked by two dogs. Since then, it has been a struggle. Partly my fault, because I initially isolated him for months after the attack. He was my second dog to be victimized, and I just wanted to keep my dogs safe (ie, away from anywhere dogs could potentially be off leash). Now, I'm trying my best to help him gain back some of his confidence from his early days.

Diana said...

That is so great!!!! This isnt the same thing but sort of. When i go to different places and have to stay in hotels. I hope there arent cars around or bunnies. I also pray that she does her busniness before one of those two things come. Twice Ive been at a hotel were rabbits were everywhere. It took hours for her to be able to go to the bathroom and drove me crazy.

Sara said...

Sounds like the same thing to me! Hotels & rest areas are tough for us too.

Kathy said...

WOW, I am impressed, the chinese herds and the accupuncture can really be cool stuff!!! I am a believer with my own dogs and now with Oreo.....I am really a believer. Give Oreo a HUGE hug and tell him we are sooooo proud of him here in CA.

AC said...

Doing the happy dance for Oreo...
Another round of the happy dance for Oreo...

Yah!! I caught myself holding my breath while you described all the potential freak out triggers. First kids, then Misty sounding the alarm...It could have been bad. But it wasn't!!

I was also chuckling (in solidarity) about the feeling of "please, please, please, don't let this happen." I had the exact thought this morning while trying a neighborhood walk with Kona. A big truck drove down the street and slowed down and all I could think was, "Please, please, please, don't pull over truck!"

Marie said...

That's wonderful news. When you're dealing with dogs with anxieties, any progress is huge! I'm thrilled that you've found something that is helping.

Sooraj V Mathew said...

NIce doggies.............

Jules said...

That is great news!!!

Nicki said...

That's great. How awful for him to have been attacked! I'm so glad he's makingn progress.

Dawn said...

Sara, I just went back and found your post in Dec of 2007 about the attack of Oreo by the two big dogs. That is so sad! And makes me angry too. I hope the owners got a fine or an expensive violation or at least learned to keep their dogs on leashes!!!

Sara said...

Dawn,
The owners did pay Oreo's vet bill, but that was as far as we took it. My previous sheltie Munchkin had suffered a far more vicious attack by another dog, where I got bit as well. We ended up in a two year lawsuit. So, I was just happy this couple was apologetic, and took responsibility. They told me they bought a "chain" to keep their dogs in their yard, but I'm not sure if it is true. I no longer walk past their house. We stick to the cemetery.