In the entire past week, our whole family (okay, it's a small family, but a family nonetheless) has been greatly affected by Loki's new lashing out because of his collar. Fortunately, Yun has been making great progress and today he got the new Lupine martingale collar on Loki twice!!
So what happened?
On Monday, the new Lupine collar and leash arrived, so I wanted to test it out. We took his old collar off and that's when all the trouble began. Loki absolutely refused to let us put any collar on him. He barked, growled, ran away, and bit us whenever we tried to get the collar on. This was new behavior. Although Loki never particularly liked having his collar taken on or off, he certainly never protested this much.
My first instinct was that he was afraid of the collar. One hypothesis was that he may have been choked too much during last Saturday's BBQ while he was on the tie-out. Anyways, I posted my concerns on Dogster's message board and also on a Shiba email list that I belong to. The Shiba owners by and large replied that this was a dominance issue and not a fear one. My breeder also thought it was a dominance issue. Okay, so I went with the dominance theory.
With my own fear of getting bit and reluctance to hurt Loki, I wasn't about to try a dominance approach. (Well, actually, I did try picking him up by the scruff as a correction, but Loki let out his Shiba scream. After that, I lost all confidence in myself to correct Loki in this way.) Enter Yun. After a very long time with Yun taking a dominance approach to the problem, it was pretty clear that it wasn't working. Yun ended up getting bit quite a few times, the collar was still not on, and on top of that Loki had become fearful and skittish. Great, we're moving backwards.
Since dominance training moved us backwards, we tried gradual desensitization. The next day, I put the collar and leash on the floor in a non-threatening way and put food around it for Loki to eat up. He seemed perfectly fine with that. Then later on, I held the collar and leash in my hand while feeding him. Additionally, over the course of a few days, Loki noticed that he wasn't getting any walks. Finally, it was Yun who made the real progress in the past two days. Yesterday, Yun created a make-shift slip collar with our leash and was able to get that around Loki's neck. He promptly took Loki out for a walk, since this was what Loki really missed. Today, Yun was able to lure Loki through the Lupine collar and slip it on over his head. Yun held out a piece of cardboard (yes, Loki loves cheap destroyable toys like cardboard) in the middle of collar. Loki bit down on the cardboard and then Yun slipped the collar over Loki's head with pretty minimal protest.
Cheers for Yun
I'm so glad that he figured out how to get a collar on Loki with minimal protest. Now we just have to do it often enough so that Loki won't give a second thought about it anymore. And lastly, I have to be brave enough to try getting that collar on Loki too.