Signs of improvement

We're seeing some signs of improvement in Loki's behavior as it relates to Baby (who is more of a toddler at this point, but let's still call him Baby). In general, Loki moves away when Baby approaches him. The other night, Baby got too close to the dogs while they were eating their dinner (we were right there, don't worry). In response, Loki backed up without having finished his dinner and just moved away. Unfortunately, Juju took the chance to be opportunistic and gobbled up his food. We scolded her and then gave some more food to Loki. I'm not sure if I buy all of the dominance/submissive theories of dogs, but if there is any truth to that, then I think that Loki walking away from his food is a sign of submission to Baby. Also, it seems that Loki has gotten better as Baby started to walk. Baby now stands taller than the dogs. Not much taller, but still taller.

Our approach has included all of the following:

  • Identifying triggers, namely, the couch. We no longer let the dogs on the couch at all. When we are away, we just block off all access to couches.
  • More management. We bought a few more baby gates. That way, we can section off entire rooms to separate the dogs and Baby when we can't actively watch all of them. The dog behaviorist had suggested a crate or a dog pen, but Yun thought that such a small space would make Loki guard that particular space more and potentially become even more aggressive about his crate or his pen. An alternative solution that we agreed on was to use baby gates to section off entire rooms. The space is larger, and if we constantly mix it up, then Loki isn't likely to regard one space as his own to guard. Still, we try to minimize separation. We want the dogs and Baby to mix as much as possible; we just make sure to watch closely when they do.
  • Positive reinforcement. When mixing dogs and Baby (which we try to do as much as possible), we offer Loki treats. We try to make it as positive of an experience as possible. We also do some training with him, so that his focus is not on Baby. Like I said, Loki has been consistently moving out of Baby's way these days
  • More exercise. This one is self-explanatory. More exercise is always good.
  • More training. We are doing more training with both dogs. It helps Loki because it gives him focus and direction, which reduces his overall anxiety. It helps Juju, because she's a stubborn dog who doesn't like to listen to anyone.


jen said...

great news! more management - while a pain to implement - is sometimes the best solution.

NotoriousScrat said...

I noticed from an earlier post that Loki's problem is anxiety. I've heard from people at that using a Thundershirt has helped with some of their Shibas' anxiety problems/fear biting. I haven't read your whole blog so I don't know if you've tried it, but I thought I would make the suggestion.

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