Last night, I noticed that Loki had a small spot of blood on his face in between his eyes. I asked Yun, did Loki and Juju get into a fight? I didn't remember hearing any screaming. Yun also replied in the negative. And why would he be bleeding on his face between the eyes if he got into a fight with Juju? It's such a weird spot.

So what happened to Loki?

This morning I found my answer in the form of a dead mouse in our backyard. EWWW! Gross! Yucky! Waaa! Yun doesn't know it yet, but he's going to be the one removing that thing.

Actually, Yun informs me that it was a chipmunk. Poor little guy.

Juju ate a spoon

Um... that used to be a spoon. Really! Baby threw it on the ground after dinner, and I neglected to pick it up right away. By the time I found it again, the head of the spoon was gone. Uh-oh... At least it's BPA free.

Advice for a shy shiba

From time to time, I get emails from blog readers asking for advice. Last week, I got an email from Kelly and her pup Anubis. She wrote
I got him under unfortunate circumstances because his previous owner abused him badly. Upon first getting him he was extremely hand shy, but that seems to be getting better day by day.  Also, he has scars from what looks to be cigarette burn marks on his hips. I took him in knowing Shiba Inus can sometimes be difficult to handle if not trained properly since I have had experienced with my pitbull (Harley) who was also badly abused and poorly trained. As far as behavioral issues go surprisingly, that's not an problem.
He is really shy and timid because of it being abused. It took him a good couple of months before he was able to fully trust that I would never lay a hand on him. I'm coming to you, an experienced Shiba owner, in hopes you can give me some pointers on how to help him socialize. Other animals are fine (he gets along with my moms pitbull like they've known each other their whole lives). However, when anyone comes into my house its under the bed he goes (his safe spot) while growling and barking and I don't want to force him to be social. My mom and roommate are the only two other people Anubis will go up to. I personally feels as though he wants to be social he's just scared because as long as 'mommy' holds him other people are fine to pet him.
My response to her was:
I am not a dog expert. I am just a dog owner who happens to blog from time to time. I'm not a vet, not a trainer, not a behaviorist.
With the above disclaimer said, I think that you can help by not forcing socialization onto your dog. Use lots of treats when someone comes over. If Anubis goes under the bed, just drop treats along the floor just outside of the bed. And just leave him alone. Don't force him out. Be calm and don't pay too much attention to him. And most definitely, have your friend ignore the dog completely. If you have the time and energy and friends available to devote to training, then I suggest you do this A LOT. So, friend comes over means that treats are dropped all over the ground (and the friend does not interact with the dog). I'd say, do this everyday, but few of us have that kind of time and that many willing friends to help out. So, maybe once a week? Obviously, the more the better.

When your dog stops retreating under the bed, I then suggest moving it up a notch. If your dog comes up to sniff your friend, have your friend continue to ignore the dog. Just let the dog explore the new smells without having to worry about being looked at or being petted. You can drop the treats on the ground near your friend.

When your dog feels safe with approaching your friends, I then suggest that you have your friends offer treats. I think it's easy to think of this step first, but I think of it more as one of the later steps, after you've gotten your dog more comfortable with the idea of your friend in the house.

I also do not recommend that you hold your dog  and then let your friends pet your dog. I am positive that your dog is uncomfortable with this situation. If on his own will, he wants to crawl under the bed, then there is no way that he is comfortable with being restricted and forced to socialize.

I do agree that your dog probably does want to socialize, but he is afraid. And fear is extremely powerful. You have to go slow and on his terms to show him that there is nothing to be afraid of. It takes time to build that new positive association.

And even after you've done a lot of work with him, please keep your expectations realistic. He might never be a very social dog. It is possible that the best he'll do is tolerate your friends. It's possible that he will take to certain friends and not others. We humans don't always get along with every other human. Some we like better than others. Your dog may also be selective about whom he trusts, and that is fine. I think a resonable goal at the moment for you is to get him to not retreat under the bed and bark, and to get him to a point where he will at least tolerate your friends, even if he doesn't necessarily socialize.
So what do you think? Do you have any other tips or advice for Kelly?

More Barking

Between Loki and Jujube, Loki has always been our resident guard dog. He'll let us know whether we have visitors, whether the neighbors are checking their mail, whether children are playing in the street, and whether a leaf is blowing in the wrong direction. Luckily for us, Baby doesn't wake up from Loki's barking. But just because it doesn't bother Baby doesn't mean it doesn't bother our neighbors. Yeah, nowadays, every time we let him out into our backyard, we hope and pray that he doesn't bark, lest our neighbors complain... again. We brought up the issue of barking with our dog behaviorist.

"Has Loki barked more since Baby was born?" she asked us.

"Huh, I don't know. I never really thought about it in relation to Baby's arrival." I thought about it for a minute or two and then assented, "I guess so."

"Sometimes dogs bark more with the arrival of a new baby because there is now an additional person in the household. A new baby to protect."

Huh, weird. So Loki barks more to protect our baby and yet things like this happen? Huh, okay. That's kind of interesting.

To help with the barking, the behaviorist recommended that we let Loki bark for a couple seconds, then go to the window and check out whatever is going on, reply to him with "oh, it's only the neighbors," and then tell him to stop. The idea is that it's Loki's job to alert us, but then our job to actually take care of any potential harm. So we should acknowledge that he's done his part and then we do our part.

I imagine that if we ignored his barking and told him to immediately stop, then his anxiety would escalate and he would think, "But no! Really! Listen to me! You have to come look! There's a man with a machete and a ski mask running down the street towards us! We are all in mortal danger! You have to listen to me! You have to listen to me!!!" So, you actually have to check out what's going on in order to calm him down. Now, this rationale may or may not be true. I've just made it up. But it makes sense in my head that the more you ignore, the louder the alerting barks will be.

Have any of you had a similar experience? If you have had a new baby join your (dog) household, have you found that your dog barked more?

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.

Why is Juju in the bathtub?

Recently, Juju has been hiding in the mornings. Where does she hide? In the bathtub.

Yun tells me that she goes there after I've left for work in the mornings and after he's gotten out of bed. Why does she go hide in the bathtub? Or is she trying to tell us that she needs a bath? Any ideas?
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...