Thursday, July 22, 2010

circus comes to town

Do they have GED's for relaxation protocol? Because I think we are heading for dropoutville.
OK, we were doing really well through Day Five. I was excited. Thought we were getting somewhere.

Then, came day six. When, I had to open the front door.

Forget it. This threw Oreo so far above threshold, we were done with any sort of relaxation exercise. Let the circling circus begin.

Later in the day, I worked on some desensitization with only the door. We had some success.

So, I tried "day six" again the next day. Same results. Call me ringmaster.

Now what?

There are a lot of door things involved in the protocol. Here are the 4 choices I've come up with:

  1. Continue with protocol, but skip the door stuff.

  2. Continue with the protocol, but use the hallway threshold or closet door in lieu of front door.

  3. Keep doing days 1-5 until we are at a state of relaxation where Oreo can handle day 6. If that is ever a possibility. I'm pretty sure I'll never be able to ring the doorbell without mayhem breaking out.

  4. Dropout, get my GED (i.e. go back to matwork we were doing).

Exactly what is my goal here? I want to teach Oreo to relax, not necessarily deal with door issues. Clearly he has some, but we don't have lots of people coming and going (probably part of the reason why the circus comes to town every time the doorbell rings).

I'm leaning toward choice #2 or #4. What I don't want to do is create stress, which is what I feel like I am doing.

Am I the only person who has dogs that go nuts when people come and go?

Jeff always says, "I don't know why you can teach them to do tricks like circus animals, but can't teach them to stop barking when we leave the house."

Hmmm. Is that the ringmaster's job?


Priscilla said...

Eva is crazy about people and cars coming and going too. We aren't clever enough to find any training solutions for her lol! We hope that you'll find a good solution for Oreo's problems. One thing we find is that the more we try to protect them, the bigger things go wrong.

Ricky the Sheltie said...

I don't think you should give up. Maybe #2 is a good compromise. Ricky goes crazy when people leave (coming is ok). I always thought it was that he didn't want anyone to leave the herd once they were in. LOL! It is embarrassing to have a highly trained dog who can't let people leave without barking and hurling himself at them. And there are plenty of other out-of-control behaviors besides this one. I get tired of trying to fix them and just live with them (mostly although I can make him do down-stays and he does that and postpones the craziness for when I release him). Any way, I don't know what the answers are but I know my husband thinks a lot like Jeff about it.

Keep trying the protocol - I think a certain amount of stress is normal when you are trying to modify an ingrained behavior.


Jules said...

My dogs don't care about people leaving, but talk about excitement when people arrive. It does sound frustrating. If the door behaviors don't bother you than I wouldn't worry about it, UNLESS it is indicative of a foundation problem with Oreo's ability to relac. i.e. if you don't conquer the door you won't conquer other relaxation issues. Does that make sense? I have not done the RP, but will be starting a Control Unleashed class next week. I can't wait!

Sara said...

That does make sense Jules. I think RP would be something I would use LATER to deal with the door anxiety.

Dawn said...

Don't give up!!! Skip the door things if the door doesn't really bug you...but Oreo is so smart he can learn to relax around the household stuff that makes you nuts. Plus he may be just trying to outsmart you!
Or it might be that he needs a ONE day break! LOL

Katie never likes people to leave either, but she runs to get a toy and offers it to them. Once they're "in" the family they are not allowed to leave!

She does bark and bark when they arrive though, until she sees that we've accepted the strangers and it's OK.

My biggest issue is the vacuuming and the garbage and the tinfoil drawer.


I think I want to try to protocol... where did you find it?

Sara said...

Yea, I think the door barking is more of a learned behavior (he picked it up from Misty), and now it is more of a bad habit/fun game, than an anxiety/fear issue.

Here is where you can read about the protocol and see the exercises:

Then if you want to download them onto an mp3 player or computer to listen to them, instead of reading, here is a link for that,

Good luck if you try it!

Kathy said...

I would think the fact he is having trouble points to the need to do more ;-), but I would think that maybe you should note that is higher on the list of triggers for him then it might be for some dogs, so maybe the front door should be put further down the list of things to work, when he understands the whole thing more, or maybe you could have someone else open he door while you treat for calmness, you could try standing by and giving lots of calming signs yourself, looking really relaxed, turning your head, yawning, licking your lips, or start with the other door and work toward the front door....maybe break down even more going to the front door, just putting your hand on the front door, just slightly twisting the knob, barely pulling the door so you get that first whoosie sound when the door is about to open, then pull the door a micro inch open, etc...if he can learn to relax through that and know to defer to you knowing he can relax it seems that would be so huge in him learning to trust you even more and to look to you to know it is ok to relax and he does not have to handle things and let his emotions sky rocket. Anyway, those are my ideas, for what they are worth!

Sara said...

I knew you'd give me good advice Kathy! You bring up some very valid points, and help keep things in perspective, especially what I want to get out of this exercise.... I want Oreo to trust me to take care of the scary stuff.

He is doing OK now with me walking to the door, touching the knob and even turning the knob. That in itself is progress. So, inching the door open gradually seems like a good idea. I'll try that. That is what I do when I work on the door in isolation.

Sam said...

Unfortunately, we were relaxation protocol dropouts, so I probably won't be of much help. :( BUT, I'll be really interested to see what you decide. I keep saying I'm going to try it again...

Diana said...

I think Kathy is right and gave good advice. My dogs go crazy with the door too. But you know what my family tells me. When Im not there the dogs dont act like that. Hmmmm.... Diana

AC said...

Sara, you nailed my issue with RP! I feel like unless you focus on specific triggers through CC, etc., there's no way you can expect your dog to sit and relax through them and just putting them back in a sit after they go nuts doesn't teach anything. (and that's what RP suggests-if a dog has trouble with an exercise, put them back in sit, leave it do something easier, then come back)

Seems like RP can cue a dog to relax around minor excitement/activities, but that's it. Bigger triggers need other work. RP, as it's written, does not go into that other work.

Anyway! I like Kathy's suggestions. Over here, Kona has an IEP, so sometimes we just don't do any work, but that's part of her plan.

Sara said...

LOL. Clearly, Oreo has special needs too. Like Kona, guess I have to write him an IEP! And I thought I was on summer vacation, and wouldn't have to write another one until september.

Marie said...

I'm really glad that I think it was Kathy suggested breaking the door down more. That's my vote too.

I also thought what your husband said about the dogs being trained to do tricks like circus animals but not being able to teach them to stop barking when you leave the house...sounds all to familiar. I often am baffled at how I can seem to find the motivation to train agility and obedience, but can't seem to train the "simple" daily manners, like greeting guests politely, etc.

Dawn said...

Thanks Sara!